Diphthongs, Double consonants, combinations αυ, ευ, μπ, ντ, γκ, γγ, Silent letters


Diphthongs. Two vowels sounds pronounced in a single syllable make a diphthong. For example:[ai] in νεράιδα (neráida), αηδόνι (aidóni) and [oi] in ρόιδι (róidi), βόηθα (vóitha).
Spurious diphthongs. An [i] (ι, η, υ, ει, οι) occurring before a vowel or vowel digraph (ου, αι, ει, οι) is often pronounced together in a single syllable: πιάνω (piáno), γυαλί (yalí), άδειες (ádies), ποιοι (pyí).
Such combinations are called spurious diphthongs

Double consonants*

Many greek words are written with two identical consonants that are pronounced as a single sound: θάλασσα (thálasa). This happens with the consonants: ββ, κκ, λλ, μμ, νν, ππ, ρρ, σσ, ττ: Σάββατο, εκκλησία, άλλος, γράμμα, γέννηση, παππούς, άρρωστος, τέσσερα, περιττός.
These pairs of consonants are called double consonants

*They cannot occur next to other consonant. For example: αγγέλλω-παραγγέλνω, κολλώ-κολνώ, διαστέλλω-στέλνω.
Exceptions are έκκληση, ανέκκλητος, εκκλησία, παρεκκλήσι.
Modern compounds having εκκλησία as their second component are written with one κ. For example: ερημοκλησιά, ξωκλήσι, Φραγκοκλησιά.

An σ before a voiced consonant

An σ is regularly voiced (pronounced as [z]) when followed by a voiced consonant (except in most cases for λ).
Ασβέστης (azvéstis), σβήνω (zvíno), σγουρός (zyourós), προσγείωση (prozyíosi), διείσδυση (diízdisi), Σμήρνη (Zmírni), δυσνόητος (diznóitos), Ισραηλίτης (Izrailítis).
Σλάβος (Slávos), ισλαμισμός (islamismos), Ισλανδία (Islandía).

The combinations αυ, ευ

The vowel combinations αυ, ευ are pronounced in two different ways.
a) They are pronounced [av], [ev] when followed by a vowel or a voiced consonant: παύω (pávo), αυλή (avlí), αύριο (ávrio), Αύγουστος (ávgoustos), Εύα (Éva), εφεύρεση (efévresi), ευλογώ (evlogó).
b) They are pronounced [af], [ef] when followed by a voiceless consonant: ναύτης (náftis), ευχάριστος (efháristos), ευτυχία (eftihía), αυτός (aftós), αυτή (aftí), αυτί (aftí).
The combinations αυ, ευ count as vowel digraphs for the purpose of syllabication and accentuation.

The nasal clusters μπ, ντ, γκ, γγ

In words written with μπ, ντ, the nasal μ or v is usually pronounced separately and the following π or τ pronounced [b] and [d]: αμπέλι (ambéli), Λαμπρή (lambrí), πάντοτε (pándote), πέντε (pénde).
Similarly, in words written with γκ, γγ the first letter is usually pronounced like [n] in “hunger” (represented below as [ng-] and the second letter (κ or γ) is pronounced [g]: αγκαλιά (ang-galiá), φεγγάρι (feng-gári), Αγγλία (ang-glía).
The clusters μπ, ντ, γκ, γγ, in which the first letter is pronounced through the nose as a nasal consonant, are called nasal clusters.
The nasal clusters μπ, ντ, γκ, γγ are pronounced through the nose and thus differ from the digraphs μπ, ντ, γκ, (see digraphs/B. Consonant digraphs). But sometimes the nasal clusters μπ, ντ, γκ, γγ are pronounced in an alternative, more analytical manner, as in words such as σύμπτωμα (símptoma), μέντα (ménta), μπάγκος (bánkos). In these the second consonant –π, -τ, -κ is pronounced not like the corresponding digraph μπ [b], ντ [d], γκ [g], but as if it were free-standing, that is, as [p], [t], [k].
The nasal cluster γγ, alone or followed by another consonant, is pronounced in certain words of learned origin not as [ng-g] but as [ng-y], with y as continuant (y as in word yogurt): έγγαμος (éng-yamos), εγγαστρίμυθος (eng-yastrímithos), εγγράμματος (eng-yrámatos), συγγνώμη (sing-ynómi) [but also συγγνώμη and siynómi], συγγραφέας (sing-yraféas). But the following are pronounced with [ng-g]: γάγγλια (yang-glia), γάγγραινα (yang-grena), παλλιγγενεσία (paling-genesía).

Silent letters

In certain circumstances some letters are not pronounced at all. In such cases there letters are called silent letters. Silent letters in Greek are:
a) The υ in the combination ευ when another labial follows (β or φ): εύφορος (éforos), ευφορία (eforía), ευφωνία (efonía), Εύβοια (évia).
b) One of the pair of double consonants: αλλού (aloú), πολλής (polís), θάλασσα (thálasa).
c) Π is often silent in the cluster μπτ: πέμπτος (pémtos), άμεμπτος (ámemtos).

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