Monday, June 11, 2012

For Tallulah...

Tallulah, one of this year's REU students mentioned that she'd gone back and read some of my old posts on this blog (props, Tallulah!), giving me one reason to post more often: it's nice to have tangible readership. (Thanks also those of you who've commented on recent posts, particularly this one and this one).

Tallulah also gave me an idea for today's post. After I channeled my inner purist and insisted on specific pronunciations of certain Greek letters, she suggested I post on the correct pronunciations of the Greek alphabet, according to modern standards. Thus...

α: alfa
β: veeta
γ: ghama (it's a guttural, with a little bit of a catch in your throat...)
δ: thelta (where the "th" is voiced, like in "there" and not "theory")
ε: ehpseelon (with a long "o"...all o's following are also long)
ζ: zeeta
η: eeta
θ: theeta (with an unvoiced "th," as in "theory")
ι: yota
κ: kapa
λ: lamvda (yes, you read that right)
μ: mee
ν: nee
ξ: ksee
ο: omikron
π: pee
ρ: rho ( the "h" indicates aspiration: breathe outward slightly as you're saying it)
σ: seegma
τ: tav
υ: eepseelon
φ: fee
χ: khee (this fricative is one of the hardest sounds in Greek for American English-speakers to make)
ψ: psee
ω: omayga

Happy speakin'!

BTW: I don't pronounce β like "veeta" with my class...and I certainly don't pronounce π as "pee." So please don't write me angrily demanding consistency with these pronunciations...and don't even ask me why I didn't use standard IPA symbols. I'm trying to be accessible here, and not erudite.


Bret Benesh said...

Crap. You are telling me that I am pronouncing my own daughter's name incorrectly?

Anonymous said...

tau is pronounced tav? wow!
(Oh, and some of us read every once in a while just to see what our friends are doing...)

Shannon Fehrenbach said...

This is one of my favorite posts. Just sayin'. :)