The Greek Alphabet

What's the third letter in the Greek alphabet?

And the answer: Gamma.    

Photo credit: Tinycards – Duolingo. 

The Greek alphabet dates back to the 8th or 9th century BCE and is still used today. With 24 letters in the alphabet, the first five are alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and epsilon.

Even as an ancient language, Greek is still studied and spoken in both its classic and modern forms. Between 12 and 13 million people speak it today in (you guessed it) Greece, as well as Cyrpus and parts of Albania. The origins of this language date back to the Phoenicians, where much of their alphabet is drawn from. Aside from adding a few new letters, the Greeks also assigned some of the letters to vowel sounds. Interestingly, the Greek alphabet was the first alphabet to use vowels.

Around 20% of english words are of greek origin. Words like democracy, marathon, butter and even telephone all originated from Greek. Greek hugely influenced English, and as such, many technical and scientific terms derive from Greek (especially prefixes). For example, mathematics, astronomy, and biology are of Greek origin. Additionally, almost every English word that starts with ph (for example, philosophy, photograph, phobia, and phenomenon) comes from Greek.

Before 1976, Greek had two variations. Demotic was used in most casual contexts, as well as in literature. Katharevousa, on the other hand, was used in academia, law, medicine, newspapers, and the armed forces. In 1976, the Greek government adopted Demotic as the sole official language, as it has remained ever since.

Learn more about the Greek language below.

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