Greek Alphabet

The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since the 8th century BC. It was derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was in turn the ancestor of numerous other European and Middle Eastern scripts, including Cyrillic and Latin. Apart from its use in writing the Greek language, both in its ancient and its modern forms, the Greek alphabet today also serves as a source of technical symbols and labels in many domains of mathematics, science and other fields.

In its classical and modern form, the alphabet has 24 letters, ordered from alpha to omega. Like Latin and Cyrillic, Greek originally had only a single form of each letter; it developed the distinction between upper case and lower case in parallel with Latin during the modern era. (The letter sigma ⟨Σ⟩ has two different lowercase forms, ⟨σ⟩ and ⟨ς⟩, with ⟨ς⟩ being used in word-final position and ⟨σ⟩ elsewhere.)

Sound values and conventional transcriptions for some of the letters differ between Ancient Greek and Modern Greek usage, owing to phonological changes in the language.

In traditional ("polytonic") Greek orthography, vowel letters can be combined with several diacritics, including accent marks, so-called "breathing" marks, and the iota subscript. In common present-day usage for Modern Greek since the 1980s, this system has been simplified to a so-called "monotonic" convention.

Letter Name Sound value
Ancient Modern
Α α alpha
Β β beta
Γ γ gamma
Δ δ delta
Ε ε epsilon
Ζ ζ zeta (or )
Η η eta
Θ θ theta
Ι ι iota
Κ κ kappa
Λ λ lambda
Μ μ mu
Letter Name Sound value
Ancient Modern
Ν ν nu
Ξ ξ xi
Ο ο omicron
Π π pi
Ρ ρ rho
Σ σς sigma
Τ τ tau
Υ υ upsilon
Φ φ phi
Χ χ chi
Ψ ψ psi
Ω ω omega

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    I believe the alphabet is no longer considered an essential piece of equipment for traveling through life. In my day it was the keystone to knowledge. You learned the alphabet as you learned to count to ten, as you learned “Now I lay me” and the Lord’s Prayer and your father’s and mother’s name and address and telephone number, all in case you were lost.
    Eudora Welty (b. 1909)

    With astonishment Aschenbach noticed that the boy was entirely beautiful. His countenance, pale and gracefully reserved, was surrounded by ringlets of honey-colored hair, and with its straight nose, its enchanting mouth, its expression of sweet and divine gravity, it recalled Greek sculpture of the noblest period.
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