Pronouncing Sorority Letters | #GreekLife

greek life

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:

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The sororities mentioned are:

  • Chi Omega
  • Kappa Alpha Theta
  • Delta Delta Delta
  • Pi BetaPhi
  • Alpha Chi Omega
  • Alpha Delta Pi
  • Kappa Kappa Gamma
  • Delta Gamma
  • Gamma Phi Beta
  • Phi Mu
  • Alpha Phi
  • Alpha Omicron Pi
  • Alpha Epsilon Phi
  • Zeta Tau Alpha
  • Alpha Sigma Alpha
  • Sigma Delta Tau
  • Delta Zeta
  • Alpha Xi Delta
  • Sigma Sigma Sigma
  • Delta Phi Epsilon

The Greek Alphabet

learn-greek-alphabet

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:

  1. The Greek Alphabet derives from the Phoenician alphabet.
  2. It has been used since the late eighth century BC.
  3. The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters – from Α to Ω.
  4. Each symbol has its own name (e.g. the name of the letter “A” is “Alpha” or “Άλφα”)
  5. 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:

greek-letters

The names of the Greek alphabet

greek-alphabet-names

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: