LEARN ANCIENT GREEK – LESSON 1 copyright Judith Koffler 2016
Here’s the 24- letter ancient Greek alphabet to sing to the tune of the Alphabet Song (or to “Twinkle, twinkle little star”) with Upper case and Lower case letters:
Α α Alpha (like English A a, as in “pat”)
Β β Beta (like English B b, – pronounced “bay-ta”)
Γ γ Gamma (like English hard G g)
Δ δ Delta (like English D d)
Ε ε Epsilon (like English short E e as in “pet”)
Ζ ζ Zeta (like English Z z and pronounced “dzay-ta” “dz” )
Η η Eta (sounds like the “a” in “fate” – pronounced “ay-ta”)
Θ θ Theta (like English “th” in “thick”, pronounced “thay-ta”)
Ι ι Iota (pronounced like “ee” but corresponds to English i)
Κ κ Kappa (like English K k)
Λ λ Lambda (like English L l)
Μ μ Mu (like English M) (sounds like “Moo”)
Ν ν Νυ (like English N) (sounds like “New”)
Ξ ξ Xi (like nothing in English; sounds like k+ s together, = k’sigh)
Ο ο Omicron (like English o, as in “pot”)
Π π Pi (like the “p” in “pot”)
Ρ ρ Rho (like the r in “road”)
Σ σ ς Sigma (like the s in “set”)
Τ τ Tau (like the t in “tad”)
Υ υ Upsilon (like the u in “put”)
Φ φ Phi (like the f in “fed”)
Χ χ Chi (like the “ch” in “Loch” in Scots or “ch” in German)
Ψ ψ Psi (combines “p” with “s” to sound like “psy”)
Ω ω Omega (big “o”, like the “o” in “poet”)
Here’s a question for YOU:
Q: How do you think that Zeta, the 6th letter of the Greek Alphabet, became Z, the last letter of our English alphabet? Here’s what one 4th grader suggested:
“Well, the alphabet was climbing a staircase one day, and since Zeta (the 6th letter of the Greek alphabet) ate a Theta (Zeta Eta Theta, or ΖΗΘ), she got very fat and rolled all the way down to the bottom.”
Maybe you can form your own fraternity or sorority called Zeta Eta Theta (Zeta Ate a Theta) and have pie-eating contests (oops, I mean “π eating”).
Here are a few fun things with ancient Greek:
1. Mary had a little λ (lambda).
2. “Ρ Ρ Ρ your boat” is not “pee pee pee” your boat but rather rho rho rho (ρ ρ ρ ). It seems confusing at first, but then you get used to the Greek letter Ρρ signifying the sound of “r”. Other alphabets use “P” to signify the sound of “r”, like the Russian (Cyrillic) alphabet does.
3. The farmer raises many crops, including α α.
If you say “alpha alpha” very fast, you will recognize “alfalfa”!
4. “Mom, please pass the apple π.” Π π = Pi, an important letter of the Greek alphabet and even more important in your math and science courses.
5. Where is the Mississippi River Δ (delta)?
6. Would you please give me a Κ hot cocoa? (a kappa hot cocoa)
Now — here is your homework for today and the next days till you’ve conquered the Greek alphabet :
-take a lined piece of paper,
-fold it twice lengthwise so you have four columns, and
-copy the Greek letters with their names on the front and back of the paper.
Do this two or three times, and practice daily till you can sing the whole Greek alphabet without a mistake – and can teach your friends or parents the same thing.
B. Write out the fun sentences above and learn the word play until you have memorized them.
C. Where does the word “alphabet” come from?