Greek is an Indo-European language, which, unlike English, seems to be unrelated to any other language, as indicated by Rutgers English professor Jack Lynch. In spite of this, Greek has a very long and influential history in world literature and languages. The Bible and many early Western texts were written in Greek. Even many English words have Greek root words. Writing and translating Greek is challenging since Roman block letters, common in English, are not used. The pronunciation of even familiar-looking letters differs from what is encountered in English. Greek is a beautiful language, however, and is worth learning, even if it is just a few phrases.
Identify Your Resources
Determine the type of Greek you want to learn. There are various forms that may be best depending on your needs. A form of Greek called Koine is the language the New Testament was written in. There are two forms of modern Greek, the most common called Dimotiki and a form based on ancient Greek called Katharevousa. This article will refer to Dimotiki since it's the most common form of the language. For learning other forms, check the Tips and Resources sections.
Search for books that teach modern Greek. These include \"Teach Yourself Greek\" by Aristarhos Matsukas and the \"Hugo Language Course: Greek in Three Months.\" Both come with cassette or CD audio guides.
Find websites that teach modern Greek, such as iLearnGreek and Foundalis.com. All have audio files and even music to provide a better understanding of Greek culture and language.
Begin with Fundamentals
Start learning the Greek alphabet. This is not the easiest thing to do, since Roman block letters are not used. It is more of a script-type of writing.
Go through the alphabet on the audio cassette, CD or website. Hear what each letter sounds like, while looking at it. Do this a few times in order to get a better understanding of Greek pronunciation, which differs from English. For instance, the second letter in the alphabet, ? , is often called \"beta\" in English. In Greek, however, it is called \"veta.\"
Write the letter as you pronounce its name to yourself. Do this several times to help you identify the letter with the sound.
Learn Helpful Phrases
Start learning basic phrases in Greek such \"hello\" and \"good-bye.\" It may help to first see the words using transliteration. The transliterated form of hello, with syllable separators, is ghia'soo if speaking to one person and ghia'sas if speaking to multiple people, according to Harry Foundalis. Note that the \"gh\" sounds similar to the English \"y.\" The Greek form of the word \"hello\" is ???? ??? (s.), ???? ??? (p.).
Move on to more complex phrases such as \"How are you?\" The transliterated phrases, including syllable separators, are ti'ka'nis when addressing an individual and ti'ka'nete when addressing multiple people. The Greek form of the word is ?? ??????; (s.), ?? ??????; (p.), as mentioned by Foundalis. Also learn important place names such as Greece and Athens.
Learn a little about grammar. Greek, like English, is a subject-verb-object language. This means that an affirmative sentence, according to Foundalis, begins with the subject, is followed by the verb and then the object. There are various word endings used, depending on where in the sentence the word is placed. In other words, there's no confusion as to what the subject, verb or object are since each has its own ending indicating it is the subject, verb or object in the sentence. Learn more about Greek grammar if you plan to study the language or visit Greece.
Things You Will Need
- Modern Greek language book and pronunciation CD
- When learning Greek, the Athenian accent is considered the most proper form of the language.