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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How to pronounce the Greek letters –the letters of the Greek alphabet– like a Greek. Although Alpha (Αα), Epsilon (Εε), and most Greek letters are easy to pronounce, there are a few that absolutely confuse most Greek language students. These Greek letters are Ββ, Γγ, Δδ, Θθ, Ρρ, Υυ. Students who learn Greek outside of Greece often pronounce these letters as if they read Latin scriptures. But why is that and how can someone overcome their pronunciation difficulties?
“Karavaki” means “little boat” in Greek. Although many Greek households decorate Christmas trees during the holidays, the original Greek Christmas tradition is to decorate the family’s boat or a tiny miniature vessel. Helinika has created two designs for Christmas cards, featuting a “karavaki”. “Χρόνια πολλά” (Chronia polla), a common Greek greeting during the holidays, is written across the card. It means “may you live many years”. Order the cards and send them to your friends and family this or next year!
If you are interested in learning Greek but there are no classes taking place in your area, don’t be discouraged. Helinika, a platform dedicated to the Greek language, history, and culture, offers affordable Greek language lessons online. Learn Greek during Quarantine.
Many American Universities include social organizations such as fraternities and sororities. These groups are named after Greek letters, a tradition that reportedly started with the Phi Beta Kappa Society at the College of William and Mary. That is because in the 18th and 19th Centuries, higher education in the United States focused on the study of Latin and Ancient Greek. Knowing Latin was a requirement to study in a University, whereas knowing Greek meant that you were very cultured and significantly increased someone’s chances of getting accepted.
The only difference is that ancient and biblical Greek -sometimes modern Greek as well- were taught with the Erasmian pronunciation, which is different than the native speakers’ pronunciation.
Here is how some sororities would sound like in Greek:
Introduction to the letters of the Greek alphabet. Learn how to read and write in Greek.
You’ve seen them in trigonometry, in physics, and probably in chemistry. Or you might have noticed them over the entrances of fraternities and sororities in many American Universities. The symbols look so familiar to the ones in the Latin alphabet but, at the same time, they are so different.
The letters of the Greek alphabet are indeed very popular. However, they are often mispronounced and used incorrectly. Here, you will learn how to properly write and pronounce them. This should be your first step in your learning journey. The alphabet is the A and Ω of every language.
Facts about the Greek alphabet:
The Greek Alphabet derives from the Phoenician alphabet.
It has been used since the late eighth century BC.
The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters – from Α to Ω.
Each symbol has its own name (e.g. the name of the letter “A” is “Alpha” or “Άλφα”)
The English term “alphabet” is a combination of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet (“Alpha” and “Beta”).
The Greek alphabet letters and symbols:
The names of the Greek alphabet
Pronouncing the Greek letters
One of the biggest mistakes that people who study modern Greek make is pronouncing the Greek alphabet according to the Erasmian pronunciation. Many schools in the West are using alternative pronunciations of ancient Greek that change the phonetic values of the letters. The aim is to imitate the phonological system of the student’s native language, hence making ancient Greek easier to pronounce. As a result, many non-native speakers assume that modern Greek uses the same alternative pronunciations. The reality is that the Greek letters are pronounced in this way: