Lambda (λάμδα) might not be the most difficult Greek letter to pronounce, however, you may have noticed that native speakers often pronounce Lambda similarly to the Slavic digraph “LJ”. This usually occurs when Lambda is followed by the vowel Yota (Ιι) or the digraph Epsilon Yota (ΕΙ, ει) plus another vowel (e.g. λιώνω, τελειώνω). However, when Yota or Epsilon Yota have the accent mark on them, this pronunciation rule does not apply! (e.g. ηλίαση).
It is important to clarify that pronouncing Lambda and Yota in a clear way when followed by two vowels is not a mistake. But it distinguishes native from non-native speakers. Keep in mind that pronunciation varies depending on which part of the Greek speaking world you visit. For example, in northern Greece, Lambda is more pronounced and “heavy” than in southern Greece.
The best way to pronounce the Greek letter Lambda like a native speaker is by listening to modern Greek dialogues. In this video, you will hear sentences in which Lambda is sometimes pronounced similarly to the Slavic digraph “LJ”. Feel free to repeat these sentences after me.
Greek Lambda Pronunciation Examples
«Ο Ηλίας λιάζεται στο λιοπύρι. Ο ήλιος προκάλεσε ηλιακά εγκαύματα στον Ηλία.»
“Helias sunbathes in the blazing sun. The sun caused sun burns to Helias.”
«Η Λιάνα τέλειωσε με την δουλειά της και φεύγει σε λίγο. Εσύ πότε τελειώνεις;»
“Liana finished with work, and she is soon leaving. When are you leaving?”
«Στο λέω λιανά. Εσύ λιώνεις για μένα, όμως η σχέση μας τελείωσε.»
“I am telling you clearly. You melt for me (to melt for smb in Greek: to desire), but our relationship has ended.”
Notice how the pronunciation changes when Yota has the accent mark?
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