Speak Koine (Biblical) Greek 15 – Pronunciation 3

As in the previous articles, if you are just speaking the verses you can skip this article until you are ready to learn to read the Greek. If you are reading the Greek, you may be wondering how the words are split when you read them.

In this lesson we will look at the rules for splitting words.  The rules for splitting Koine Greek words are very similar to splitting English words. Because they are so similar to English I am going to give the examples in English.

I want to look at diphthongs and consonant clusters first because they form an exception to the usual patterns of splitting words.  Remember that while rules generally hold that there are always exceptions.  But learning these rules will carry you a long way to reading Greek correctly.

Diphthongs and Consonant Clusters Are Not Split

Remember, diphthongs (ai, au, ei, etc.) are the sounds made when two vowels are combined to make a single sound. Therefore diphthongs are not split.  Straight, freight, and break are examples of diphthongs in English.

A consonant cluster is a string of consonants used to form a single sound.  We have one in the previous sentence: “string”.  The “str” is a consonant cluster used to form a single sound.  Other examples include “th”, “wh”, “cr”, “dr”, “fr”, “gr”, “pr”, “wr”, “thr”, and “st”. Consonant clusters are not split.  Again, straight, freight, and break are examples of consonant clusters.

Compound Words Are Split Into Their Individual Words for Pronunciation

Lifetime, passport, sunflower, railroad, football, moonlight, and grandmother are all common English compound words.  We all know how they are split: life-time, pass-port, sun-flower, rail-road, and so forth.  The same will apply in Greek.

Now, for rules for most words:

Multiple Vowels in a Row Are Split, (Except, Of Course, That Diphthongs Are Treated As a Single Vowels)

Aria, idea, and oleo are examples of vowel splits:  a–ri–a,  i–de–a, o–le–o.

Consonants Go With the Vowels That Follow It

Examples are “ago” and “because” which are split so: a–go and be-cause.

Consonants are split, unless they are a consonant cluster:

Examples are “forgone”, and “danger” which are split so: for–gone and dan-ger.

© copyright 2011 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.

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