Romanization of Greek

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Romanization of Greek is the representation of Greek language texts, that are usually written in the Greek alphabet, with the Latin alphabet, or a system for doing so. There are several methods for the romanization of Greek, especially depending on whether the language written with Greek letters is Ancient Greek or Modern Greek and whether a phonetic transcription or a graphemic transliteration is intended.

The conventional rendering of classical Greek names in English originates in the way Latin represented Greek loanwords in antiquity. The ⟨κ⟩ is replaced with ⟨c⟩, the diphthongs ⟨αι⟩ and ⟨οι⟩ are rendered as ⟨ae⟩ and ⟨oe⟩ (or ⟨æ, œ⟩); and ⟨ει⟩ and ⟨ου⟩ are simplified to ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩. In modern scholarly transliteration of Ancient Greek, ⟨κ⟩ will instead be rendered as ⟨k⟩, and the vowel combinations ⟨αι, οι, ει, ου⟩ as ⟨ai, oi, ei, ou⟩ respectively. The letters ⟨θ⟩ and ⟨φ⟩ are generally rendered as ⟨th⟩ and ⟨ph⟩; ⟨χ⟩ as either ⟨ch⟩ or ⟨kh⟩; and word-initial ⟨ρ⟩ as ⟨rh⟩.

For Modern Greek, there are multiple different transcription conventions. They differ widely, depending on their purpose, on how close they stay to the conventional letter correspondences of Ancient Greek–based transcription systems, and to what degree they attempt either an exact letter-by-letter transliteration or rather a phonetically based transcription. Standardized formal transcription systems have been defined by the International Organization for Standardization (as ISO 843),[1] by the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names,[2] by the Library of Congress,[3] and others.

The different systems can create confusion. For example, the word Άγιος or in polytonic script Ἅγιος ("Holy", "Saint"), common inter alia in many place names, may be variously rendered as Agios, Ayios, or Aghios, or Hagiοs (feminine forms: Agia, Ayia, or Aghia, or Hagia).[4]

Transliteration tables[edit]

The following tables list several transliteration schemes from the Greek alphabet to the Latin alphabet.

Greek Ancient Modern Greeklish[note 1]
Clas-
sical
Scien-
tific
Beta
code
ISO 843 BGN/
PCGN
UN/
ELOT
Iconic Spel-
ling
Simple
phonetic
English
phonetic
Key-
board
Byzan-
tine
Α α a a, ā A a a
Β β b B v b v b
Γ γ g G g g / y[note 2] g y g g/gh g
Δ δ d D d dh / d[note 3] d d
Ε ε e E e e
Ζ ζ z Z z z
Η η e ē H ī i h i e h
Θ θ th Q th 8 / 9 th u
Ι ι i i, ī I i i
Κ κ c k K k k k / c k
Λ λ l L l l
Μ μ m M m m
Ν ν n N n N v n
Ξ ξ x C x 3 ks / x j
Ο ο o O o o
Π π p P p p
Ρ ρ r, rh[note 4] R r r
Σ σ ς s S s s[note 5] s s / 6 s s / ss s c
Τ τ t T t t
Υ υ y u, ū U y i y y / u i y / u / i y
Φ φ ph F f f f / ph f
Χ χ ch kh X ch kh ch x h ch x
Ψ ψ ps Y ps y ps c
Ω ω o ō W ō o w o v
  1. ^ The use of 'Greeklish' (here: writing Greek in the Latin alphabet) has risen enormously with the advent of SMS, email, online chatting, and other digital media, where Greek fonts are not always readily available. Examples:
    • θέλω → thelo or "8elo" or "thelw"
    • ξανά → ksana or xana
    • ψυχή → psyhi or "yuhi" etc
  2. ^ before αι, ε, ει, η, ι, οι, υ, υι.
  3. ^ between ν and ρ.
  4. ^ with rough breathing.
  5. ^ sometimes doubled between vowels (ex. Larissa).
Vowel digraphs[note 1]
Greek Ancient Modern Greeklish
Clas-
sical
Scien-
tific
Beta
code
ISO 843 BGN/
PCGN
UN/
ELOT
αι ae ai AI ai e ai ai / e
αυ au AU au av av,[note 2] af[note 3] ay, au, af, av
ει i / e ei EI ei i ei ei / i
ευ eu EU eu ev ev,[note 2] ef[note 3] ey, eu, ef, ev
ηυ eu ēu HU īy iv iv[note 2] / if[note 3] hy / hu / if / iv
οι oe oi OI oi i oi oi / i
ου u / o ou OU ou u ou ou / u
υι ui / yi ui UI yi i yi yi / gi / i
  1. ^ except when there is a diaeresis¨ ) on the second vowel
  2. ^ a b c before β, γ, δ, ζ, λ, μ, ν, ρ and vowels.
  3. ^ a b c before θ, κ, ξ, π, σ, τ, φ, χ, ψ and at the end of a word.
Consonant digraphs
Greek Ancient Modern Greeklish
Clas-
sical
Scien-
tific
Beta
code
ISO 843 BGN/
PCGN
UN/
ELOT
γγ ng GG gg ng gg / gk / ng / nk
γξ nx GC gx nx gks / gx / nks / nx
γκ nc nk GK gk g,[note 1] ng[note 2] gk g, gk / nk
γχ nch nkh GX gch nkh nch gx / gch / nx / nch
μπ mp MP mp b[note 1] / mb[note 2] b,[note 1] mp[note 2] b, mp / mb
ντ nt NT nt d,[note 1] nd[note 2] nt d, nt / nd
Modifiers (only in Ancient Greek)
Greek Ancient Name
Clas-
sical
Scien-
tific
Beta
code
h[note 3] ( rough breathing, δασεῖα
᾿ none ) smooth breathing, ψιλή
ͺ (i) | iota subscript, ὑπογεγραμμένη[note 4]
  1. ^ a b c d at the beginning of a word.
  2. ^ a b c d in the middle of a word.
  3. ^ on vowel: h before the vowel; on ρ: rh.
  4. ^ under long vowels.
Archaic letters
Greek Ancient  
Clas-
sical
Scien-
tific
Beta
code
 
Ϝ ϝ w V digamma
ϻ ś #711 san
ϙ q #3 qoppa
ϡ š #5 sampi

Diacritics[edit]

The traditional polytonic orthography of Greek uses several distinct diacritic signs to render what was originally the pitch accent of Ancient Greek, and the presence or absence of word-initial h. In 1982, monotonic orthography was officially introduced for modern Greek. The only diacritics that remain are the acute accent (indicating stress) and the diaeresis (indicating that two consecutive vowels should not be combined). The acute accent and the diaeresis are kept in both the BGN/PCGN and the UN/ELOT romanization systems. There is one exception: in the vowel combinations αυ, ευ and ηυ the accent moves from the υ (that becomes v or f) to the preceding vowel.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ISO (2010). "ISO 843:1997 (Conversion of Greek characters into Latin characters)". 
  2. ^ UNGEGN Working Group on Romanization Systems (2003). "Greek". Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  3. ^ "Greek (ALA-LC Romanization Tables)". 2010. 
  4. ^ "Rough Guide to the Dodecanese & East Aegean islands" by Marc Dubin, insert in p. vi