Letter Name English Equivalenta
Α α Alʹpha a
Β β, ϐ Beʹta b
Γ γ Gamʹma g, hard, as in beginb
Δ δ Delʹta d
Ε ε Eʹpsi·lon e, short, as in met
Ζ ζ Zeʹta z
Η η Eʹta e, long, as in they
Θ θ, ϑ Theʹta th
Ι ι I·oʹta i as in machine
Κ κ Kapʹpa k
Λ λ Lamʹbda l
Μ μ My m
Ν ν Ny n
Ξ ξ Xi x
Ο ο Oʹmi·kron o, short, as in lot
Π π Pi p
Ρ ρ Rho r
Σ σ, ςc Sigʹma s
Τ τ Tau t
Υ υ Yʹpsi·lon y or u,d French u or German ü
Φ φ Phi ph as in phase
Χ χ Khi kh as in elkhorn
Ψ ψ Psi ps as in lips
Ω ω O·meʹga o, long, as in note
Transliteration has reference to the spelling of Greek words with letters of the English alphabet. In most instances it is simply a letter-for-letter substitution, b for β, g for γ, and so on. This is also true of the Greek vowels, a for α, e for ε, e for η, i for ι, o for ο, y for υ, and o for ω.
The above general rule of letter-for-letter substitution also applies to most diphthongs. The Greek letter Yʹpsi·lon (υ) is an exception, as in the following instances:
However, there are occasions when what may at first appear to be a diphthong will have a diaeresis ( ͏̈) over the second letter. The diaeresis shows that it does not really form a diphthong with the vowel preceding it. Thus the yʹpsi·lon with a diaeresis is transliterated y, not u, as in the following instances:
Some vowels (α, η, ω) have a small I·oʹta (ι) (called an I·oʹta subscript) written beneath them. In transliterating these Greek forms the I·oʹta (or i) is not placed below the line, but next to and following the letter under which it appears. Thus ᾳ is ai, ῃ is ei, and ῳ is oi.
There are three types of accents in Greek: the acute (΄), the circumflex ( ͏̑ or ͏͂), and the grave (`). In the Greek these appear over the vowel of the syllables they accentuate. However, in this publication the accent mark in transliterations comes at the end of the accented syllable, and only one mark is used for all three types of Greek accents. Λόγος is thus marked loʹgos; ζῶον would be zoʹon.
As an aid to pronunciation, either a dot or the accent mark is used to separate all syllables in transliterations. A Greek word has as many syllables as it has vowels or diphthongs. Thus λόγος (loʹgos) has two vowels and therefore two syllables. The two vowels of a diphthong make one syllable, not two. Πνεύμα (pneuʹma) has one diphthong (eu) and one other vowel (a) and thus has two syllables.
In syllable division, the following rules have been observed: (1) When a single consonant occurs in the middle of a word, it is placed with the following vowel in the next syllable. Πατήρ would be pa·terʹ. (2) Sometimes a combination of consonants appears in the middle of a Greek word. If this same combination of consonants can be used to start a Greek word, it may also begin a syllable. For instance, κόσμος would be divided koʹsmos. The sm is kept with the second vowel. This is because many Greek words—like Smyrʹna—open with those same two consonants. However, when a certain combination of consonants is found in the middle of a word and there is no Greek word beginning with that same combination, they are separated. Thus βύσσος is transliterated herein as bysʹsos, since ss does not start any Greek word.
A vowel at the beginning of a word requires either a “smooth” breathing mark (᾿), or a “rough” breathing mark (῾). The “smooth” breathing mark (᾿) may be disregarded in transliteration; the “rough” breathing mark (῾) calls for an h to be added at the start of the word. If the first letter is capitalized, these breathing marks occur before the word. In that case, Ἰ becomes I, while Ἱ is transliterated as Hi. When words begin with the small letters, the breathing marks appear over the first, or, in the case of most diphthongs, over the second letter. Therefore αἰών becomes ai·onʹ, while ἁγνός is ha·gnosʹ and αἱρέομαι is hai·reʹo·mai.
Additionally, the Greek letter Rho (ρ), transliterated r, always requires a “rough” breathing mark (῾) at the start of a word. So ῥαββεί is rhab·beiʹ.
a Pronunciation shown here differs from modern Greek.
b Before κ, ξ, χ, or another γ, it is nasal, and pronounced like n in think.
c Used only at the end of a word when Sigʹma occurs.
d Yʹpsi·lon is u when it is part of a diphthong.