Greek Language/Consonants

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As with the vowels, many Greek consonants are pronounced the same as in Romance languages, especially Italian and Spanish. The main differences between Greek pronunciations and English pronunciations of consonants is that the Greek pronunciations sound lighter, involving palatalization.

Some sounds that are common in other languages simply do not exist in Greek. These sounds are the postalveolar fricatives and affricates: [sh] as in "fish," [Z] as in "mirage," [ch] as in "cheat" and [dZ] as in "jade". Other common sounds, such as [b], [d] and [g], do exist in Greek, but do not have single letters to represent them. Instead, they are represented by two letters.

There is another sound that exists in English and Greek that does not have its own letter in either language: [ŋ] (ingma), which is the sound ending the word "ring". This sound is much rarer in Greek than in English, but when it shows up, it appears as the combination γχ. Examples: άγχος (anxiety), έλεγχος (checking).

Categories[edit | edit source]

Greek consonants are divided into 3 categories according to specific criteria:

  • According to their sound
unvoiced (Greek: άηχα): κ, π, τ, χ, φ, θ, σ, τσ*
voiced (Greek: ηχηρά): γ, β, δ, ζ, λ, μ, ν, ρ, τζ*, μπ*, ντ*, γκ*
  • According to their duration
instantaneous (Greek: στιγμιαία): κ, π, τ, τσ*, τζ*, μπ*, ντ*, γκ*
continuous (Greek: εξακολουθητικά): γ, β, δ, ζ, λ, μ, ν, ρ, χ, φ, θ, σ
  • According to the part of mouth where they are formed
labial (Greek: χειλικά): π, β, φ, μπ*, μ
dental (Greek: οδοντικά): τ, δ, θ, ντ*
alveolar: σ, ζ, τσ*, τζ*, λ, ρ, ν
velar: κ, γ, χ, γκ*

* Two-letter consonants