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5 types of e/i
by Guest User - Monday, 16 April 2007, 01:09 PM
  greek is so hard to learn! theres like 5 types of e's and i's, two s's and two o's!
Its so hard to spell and then u have to deal with the little flicky thing aswell!!! i mean even greeks arnt sure how to spell most words!
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Re: 5 types of e/i
by Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets - Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 09:41 AM
  What about the language you're writing in right now? English, if anything, is even *more* difficult to spell than Greek. At least in Greek when you see a word written you normally know exactly how to pronounce it, including where the stress is (that's that little flicky thing you're complaining about). Try to do anything like that with English, when you are not a native speaker. Good luck! How are you supposed to pronounce "read" for instance? Depending on what the word actually means, it can be pronounced like "reed" or like "red". You are complaining that Greek has two s's (not true, it has only one, with a variant at the end of words, nothing difficult, and pretty common in other alphabets). What about English then? Is it "license" or "licence"?

As for "I mean even Greeks aren't sure how to spell most words!" (you'll notice I corrected your incorrect spelling) how is that different in English, when most native speakers cannot make the difference between "its" and "it's", "u" and "you", or "definite" and "definate"?

See what I mean? Greek spelling is actually the simplest part of the language. If anything it's regular (I've yet to see any really irregular spelling) and largely unambiguous and phonetic (meaning that words are pronounced as they are written, and any spelling leads to a single pronunciation, especially thanks to the accent and the diaeresis). That is not completely true, but in 99% of the cases it is. English spelling, on the other hand, is so complicated and ambiguous that you cannot get the correct pronunciation from the spelling in 60 to 70% of the cases.

However, I agree that when you hear a word for the first time, how to spell it will not automatically be obvious. You need indeed to cater for two different spellings for the /e/ sound: "e" and "ai" (in transliteration, I am at work and don't have access to a Greek font right now), six for the /i/ sound: "i", "h", "u", "oi", "ei" and "ui", and two for the /o/ sound: "o" and "w". But at least those are unambiguous. "oi" is *always* pronounced /i/ (and don't point out "rolói". The accent is there on the "ó" for a reason). You don't have to worry about cases like the English "ea", which can be /e/ or /i/, or the English "a", which has something like 4 different pronunciations, most of them unpredictable without knowing lots of language rules.

So if you want to complain about how Greek is hard to learn, go ahead and complain about its genders, cases, verbs, or anything that is truly difficult for a non-native speaker. Don't complain about the most regular part of the language, only because of a few alternate spellings, when English has hundreds.

Update: please note that I am neither a native English speaker, nor a native Greek one. So my comparison of English orthography and Greek orthography is as unbiased as can get.
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Re: 5 types of e/i
by Guest User - Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 10:19 AM
  I would add that I am not sure that most Greeks don't know how to spell words. I have a lot of trouble with which "i" to use, but that is because I am Greek-American. I think most Greeks who went to school in Greece know how to spell words.

Also, I am not too sure about "ui"...it seems that that shouldn't count as an "i", it's more of "yi" if anything, but I could be wrong.

No one ever talks about the double letters problem! I never know when things have double letters. Like, why is it "gramma" and not "grama"?

I agree with Christophe, the spelling is one of the least difficult things about Greek (as compared to other languages). I mean, in Chinese, you have to memorize each word as a character!
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Re: 5 types of e/i
by Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets - Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 01:55 PM
  It's all a matter of enough time to learn, at a time when your mind is good at learning. I mean, I am French myself, and despite what some people learning French as a second language might say, I don't find French spelling that difficult. It's not simple, and especially not as simple as Greek spelling, but it's still far ahead English spelling in terms of sense and regularity smile .

From what I've seen on the web, "ui" (upsilon-iota) is just pronounced as "i". But it's hardly ever used so it doesn't matter that much I suppose wink .

I see what you mean by double letters. I guess I don't have much of a problem because French has the same issue. Anyway, there's so much Greek in English and French, even in everyday language, that I can often infer which consonants to use when spelling Greek. Vowels are trickier though smile .

Anyway, it's all relative. Greek spelling is quite simple relatively to English spelling. However, Spanish spelling is also far simpler than Greek spelling (it doesn't have the double consonant issue you mention, and there's no vowel problem either). So it just depends what your background is and which languages you already master.

But then, that's always the case, whatever language you're learning.
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Re: 5 types of e/i
by Guest User - Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 02:01 PM
  a) Greeks (who have gone to a Greek school in Greece, Cyprus or abroad) know how to spell. If they don't they are not well educated. This happens in all the languages and countries of the world. I do have a Greek friend who has gone to a Greek school and she does make horrendous mistakes. If only it was only spelling mistakes she made and if only she knew how to speak or a smidgeon of history for example!

b) For Nerses. "Gramma" has to do with ancient Greek and the rules we've inherited from it. To make a long story short, if the root of the word is "f" like in "graf", whenever the ending starts with an "m", the "f" turns into an "m". Grafw, Grafma --> gramma. Same goes with beta and pi (Β,Π)and (πτ, φτ: no word's root ends in βτ) (σκύβω - "σκύβομαι", σκυβμένος --> σκυμμένος/ καλύπτω --> κάλυμμα)smile
There are quite a few rules that help people with spelling and knowing where the word comes from or which words it is made up from (in case of compounds) is also a great help.
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Re: 5 types of e/i
by Guest User - Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 09:12 AM
  Duh! I meant if the root of the/a word ENDS in "f" etc!