Another batch of verbs (Learning a little Greek part 13)

one is never enough

It was sitting there  looking up at me from the page egging me on. I coundt resist it. I had to learn it. First one Greek verb and then another and another and another. They are so more-ish. There is something addictive about knowing that when I have the root I have the “present, active, indicative” endings for free.

Previously I learnt:

1) I loose         λυω

2) I say             λεγω

3) I throw        βαλλω

4) I heal           θεραπευτω

My news ones are:

5) I save          σωζω               (like zozo the robot)

6) I know        γινωσκω          (Gnostic)

7) I write        γραφω             (graphite pencils)

8) I see             βλεπω              (like a blip on the horizon)

9) I eat             ἐστιω               (comestibles, Gloria Estivan)

10) I take        λαμβανω         (an Italian baby “bambino” taking to the floor doing the lambada dance)

(I am still using as I’m not sure which two keyboards to download for keyman )

Another YouTube resources with 26 vocab words that comprise 10% of the NT. to any page  says John Mark Harris  and you will usually find you know 10% of the words on it. Not bad.

Having said that, I made no attempt to learn these just wanted to hear more words. I am hoping it will make it easier to learn them in the future. Just wanting to get more familiar with hearing and saying the language at this point. BTW In another of his vides he goes with the “Farther” sound for alpha.

Vowels (Learning a little Greek part 3)

Me trying to learn the Greek Alphabet

I am learning NT Greek. So far so good. I think I have the sounds of the letters sorted. It took several goes of writing them out and saying them. The first 5, then another 5 or 6 and so on. I would try to recall them at different times during the day. I would jot them down on bits of paper or on my phone. I can write them out pretty much every time now but I am still learning to refine the pronunciations.

I have to remember that:

  • Upsilon is not so much like “up” but more like the German for “u” ie “oo” as in “put”
  • I am not sure exactly how to say Alpha. I’m not actually sure its as in “apple” any more so my first blog title is wrong! Oh dear. I think it’s more like the first part of “a” in “father” but without the “r” sound. Like when the doctor asks you to open your mouth and say “ah”. Except more like an “a” for apple….Oh I don’t know..
  • I am also not quite comfortable yet with Iota. I must remember it’s “ee-ota” and Epsilon is as in “elephant”. Eta is “ate a”.

Next I need to learn the vowels. They are produced by exhaling air form the lungs. There are seven of them: Alpha, Epsilon Iota, Omicron, Upsilon, Eta and Omega.

Two are always short – Epsilon “elephant” and Omicron “fog”. Two are always long – Eta “they, ate” (remember “Zeta ate a theta”) and Omega “. Three can be long or short (called common vowels). Think of the word “aha”. The first half of the sound is the short Alpha and the second is like the long Alpha. Iota can be short as in “bit” or long as in “police” and Upsilon can be short as in “put” or long as in “flute”. I’m not currently sure how you tell is the letter should be long or short for these last three. It might depend on the word itself so you just have to know it or you can just use the short version. I shall just use the short versions until I am told otherwise.

Sometimes two vowels are combined into one syllable or diphthong. There are seven proper or common diphthongs (I think there might have been eight in ancient Greek with the addition of ηυ):

αι              aisle

ει              eight (no distinction is made between this and Eta ( h )

οι              soil

υι              suite (pronounced sweet), sweet, “wee”, quit

αυ             automatic (faust), “aw”

ευ or ηυ       deuce, feud, “you”

ου             soup, “oo”

Interestingly if we think of the English versions of the letters the Greek diphthongs are all made up of vowel letters ie “aeiou”. The first three start with α, ε and ο and end in ι. The last three also start with α, ε and ο but end in υ. In the middle there (or at the end, not sure where it should go) is a diphthong made from υ and ι. The English words given to illustrate them are quite helpful as they correspond to the English equivalent of the letters.

Here is a clearer version of the 7 proper diphthongs:

Sometimes, especially when they come at the end of a word, the long vowels Alpha ( α ), Eta ( η ) and Omega ( ω ) are combined with Iota ( ι ) to make another diphthong but the Iota is paced underneath the vowel. It’s called the “Iota subscript” and it’s not pronounced. They are called “improper diphthongs”: ᾳ (need to use for that as I’m not sure how to do it from the operating system method of changing language input.)

Well I’m not totally clear on some of this stuff, especially the common vowels but I think the best thing to do is press on.

Typing Greek (Learning a little Greek part 2)

I want to blog my attempt to learn a little Greek. Leaning the language is going to be hard but the hardest thing so far is inputting Greek text into the blog. The key seems to be using unicode (Unicode is a single standard for representing all international character sets in a single font.) I have so far found two ways to do this:

1) Paste Greek text in from this web app:

ie πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον

2) Add Greek in as another input language to the operating system via “Regional and language options” in the control panel ( options)

I can now select Greek as an input language in bar at boottom of scren (el). Then use this mapping to type:

Accents are done by these combinations:

ά type ;a

ὰ type ]a

ᾶ type [a

ἀ type ‘a

ἁ type “a (on my keyboard it is actually @a)

ἄ type /a

ἅ type ?a

ἂ type \a

ἃ type |a

ἆ type =a

ἇ type +a

So πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσςπος

Simple. Kind of. No Iota subscript though by the look of it. Now I am ready to tackle vowels and diphthongs.

Alpha is for apple (Learning a little Greek part 1)

I’ve tried it a few times before and got nowhere but I’m going to give it another go. I’m going to teach myself New Testament Greek. I’m not going to set my sights too high though, I just want to learn a little. I am a bit rubbish at memorizing things, and doing grammar and spelling, and writing for that matter. These are all things that tend to come in handy when  learning a language so you might ask, why put yourself through all that pain? (I am already having flashbacks to my experience of learning English spelling which was rather like pulling teeth). Well there are a number of reasons really:

1) I was doing some teaching recently and needed to talk about the words used in the Greek text. I wasn’t even sure of the pronunciation of them let along whether they where singular or plural.

2) I had just tried learning Greek via books before but I suddenly realized I had all the resources of the internet at my disposal including tutorials on YouTube.

3) A few friends I know have learnt or are learning NT Greek which is really inspiring.

4) I’m more excited about the word of God than ever before and the idea of studying it in its original language appeals.

5) I hope soon to have a bit more time to study than I have had before but even if I don’t I have the rest of my life to do it and I’m sure I can find the odd few minutes here and there in the next 40 or 50 years.

So I’m going to start another series. I have quite a few on the go at the moment (

The first helpful YouTube video that I found was this It’s a basic course that’s been videoed. I was greatly encouraged by something the teacher said in his introduction. Apparently “kai”, the Greek for “and” makes up 6.7% of the words in the NT. Wow. I can already translate and understand almost 7% of the NT! At this rate it will only take me a couple of weeks. Turns out it’s not quite that simple although another encouraging fact is that 319 different words make up 80% of text. When I looked into it though even that figure is rather deceptive. There is a little matter of grammar and endings but I think I will put such dark thoughts to one side for a moment and look at the alphabet.

The Greek alphabet with its 24 symbols is descended from the Phoenician alphabet which has 22 letters. It has existed since around the 9th century and gave rise to our modern Roman alphabet which is the most widely used in the world. In 700BC Homer wrote the Iliad in what’s a known as Classic Greek and in 360BC Plato used it to write “the Republic”. The three main dialects of Classical Greek are Doric, Aeolic and Ionix. Alexander the Great was tutored by Aristotle who spoke Attic Greek which is derived from the Ionic dialect. Alexander brought this version to the Mediterranean which gave rise to a common form of Greek called Koine Greek. This is what the NT writers used.

The original manuscripts were written in capital letters without spaces, punctuation, accents or other helpful marks. It was later transcribed into the newly invented lower case script which was easier to write and punctuation and spaces etc were added.

Anyway without further ado, here are the 24 letters of the NT Greek lower case alphabet. (I’m sure I was told I didn’t need to learn the capital ones but actually they are used for proper names and the start of paragraphs).

(I used the font Bwgrkn to write the Greek letters and have noted the keys used to produce them in the table.)

NOTE : I am trying to figure out how to get the Greek font into WordPress. Best I can do right now is a jpg screen shot. Poor I know!

I am familiar with some as I used them a lot in math’s at Uni. Some are also used in physics for particle names and the first and last have a star role in the bible with Jesus saying he is the “alpha and the omega” (Rev 21:6, 22:13).

The first five are the same as the first five letters of the alphabet except Gamma replaces “c” so that’s not too hard to remember. Then we get the rhyming Zeta, Eta, Theta (a girl called Zeta ate a theta). Then  its “i” to “u” except with no “j” or “q” and a “Xi” after “n”. Then comes the home straight with the exotic Phi, Chi, Psi and we finally break the tape with Omega.

Here’s some standard-ish pronunciations I found. (also has an interesting way of remembering the alphabet)

And here is a slightly more Greek sounding pronunciation:

Apparently Erasmus pronounced them in a particular way  (as in my table) that though probably not that faithful to the original does have the advantage that they are pronounced as they are written and spelled as they are spoken. Modern Greek, like English, has different ways of sounding the same letter depending on the word. For example the “c” in “cat” and “circle” sound different. Also words that sound the same can mean different things ie “cubical” (like a cube) and “cubicle” (little booth). I want to keep life simple so I won’t try and do it the flash, Greek sounding way. That means if I can learn what a word sounds like I won’t have to learn it’s spelling. Little sayings like “one collar and two socks” will not be necessary! (a few days after writing this I discovered that that is not quite true – there is a vowel combination that sounds like a letter,  Epsilon Iota = Eta)

My home work now is to learn to write and pronounce the alphabet by heart.