The Earth is the Lord's,
and the fulness thereof;

Biblical Greek: Accent Marks

In this section we describe some of the accent and other marks marks in Greek.

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Greek Pronunciation Guide:

Gamma Nasal, Accent Marks

Gamma Nasal

A standalone g (gamma) is usually pronounced with a hard G sound, like the "G" sound in God. If the gamma is followed by a second g (gamma), or followed by k (kappa), x (xsi), or c (chi), then the gamma is pronounced with an "n" sound, called a gamma nasal. A very common occurrence is the double gamma, gg, which has an "ng" sound. This brings us to our new word this week, the word for angel. If you have finished the first lesson, the gif image of the Greek word, and the word written in a Greek font should look the same. From this point on, we will mainly be using the Greek fonts, so if you haven't converted your browser to Greek fonts, go back to lesson one!

Transliterated English
angelos a~ggelo" angelos Angel


Note that there are two marks above the a (alpha) character. The first mark is a "Breathing Mark". The second mark is an accent. The rules for accents are quite complex. We will not spend much time discussing accent rules, since we are going to focus on reading Greek, not writing Greek. For further information on accent rules for writing, consult the book by Machen listed in our book section.

The accent marks are used to place emphasis or stress on a particular syllable. In ancient times, the accent marks were used as "Pitch Accents", which implied a change of pitch or tone over the marked syllable. The current practice in pronunciation of Biblical Greek is to treat the accents as "Stress Accents", as in English, instead of pitch accents. It is interesting to note that the earliest Greek manuscripts do not contain accents, punctuation, or even spaces between the words, and were written in all capital letters!! Needless to say, this made it a bit hard to read...

Some believe that during the period of Koine Greek, the pitch accents had actually evolved into stress accents, although other scholars dispute this. Because of this, it doesn't make sense to get involved in detailed study of accent rules and pitch accents at an introductory level - and of course, this is intended as a very basic introduction to Biblical Greek!

Three Accent Types: Acute, Grave, and Circumflex

There are three types of accents that are used in Koine Greek. Although it is not important to learn the pitch accents, for those interested, the pitch changes take the following forms. Note that the physical form of the accent mark gives a hint about the way the pitch changed. For example, the Acute is a rising mark when viewed from left to right, and implied a rising pitch. The Grave is a falling mark when viewed from left to right, and implied a falling pitch. The Circumflex rises at the start of the mark, and falls towards the end of the mark, and implies a rising a falling pitch over the accented syllable:

Acute Accent: (Rising pitch)
The mark is illustrated below by the acute mark over the omicron in qeo":

Grave Accent: (Falling pitch)
The mark is illustrated below by the grave mark over the omicron in qeo":

Circumflex Accent: (Rising and Falling pitch)
The mark is illustrated below by the circumflex mark over the eta in gh, which is usually translated as "earth" or "land":

In our next few lessons, we will cover breathing marks, diphthongs, diaresis marks, and syllabification. Once we have completed these lessons, you should be able to read Greek with the correct pronunciation... then the real work starts, building a vocabulary, and learning grammar!

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The Earth is the Lord's,
and the fulness thereof;