Greek Pronunciation Guide:
In addition to the accent marks discussed in our last lesson, there are two other marks, called Breathing Marks, that affect pronunciation. They look like single quotes (illustrated below), and only occur at the beginnings of words beginning with vowels (a, e, h, i, o, u, w) or rho (r). The breathing marks appear on top of the minuscules (lower case letters), or before the uncials (upper case letters). The two types of breathing marks are called Smooth Breathing Marks and Rough Breathing Marks.
Smooth Breathing Marks:
The smooth breathing mark was seen in lesson one, where we introduced the word ajgavph. Notice that the first letter of the word, alpha, has a small mark over it. This is a smooth breathing mark. The smooth breathing mark has no affect on the pronunciation of the alpha, meaning that the alpha has its normal pronunciation, as listed in our first lesson on pronouncing the alphabet.
Rough Breathing Marks:
The rough breathing mark adds an "h" sound to the start of a word. An example of the rough breathing occurs in the Greek word oJ. This word is the definite article, usually translated as "the" in english (there is no indefinite article in Greek). It is pronounced as "ho", with an "h" sound at the beginning. Notice the difference in appearance between the smooth breathing mark and the rough breathing mark.
There is one more mark, called the diaeresis, that has an impact on pronunciation. This will be covered in our next lesson, dealing with diphthongs.
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