Picture of Guest User
Which letters to use??
by Guest User - Friday, 22 August 2008, 02:58 PM

Hi all.

The letter rho has two lower case variants as shown on


Where would you use each? And what do you call the one with the more rounded tail rather than the straight tail?

And what makes you choose ita, yiota or ipsilon? Are they completely interchangable? do people choose certain preferences?



Picture of Greg Brush
Re: Which letters to use??
by Greg Brush - Saturday, 20 February 2010, 11:17 AM
  The one with the "curved" tail is the standard typesetting font used in Greece; that is, it is the letterform which you'll see in books printed in Greece. You'll also see it in texts of Greek, ancient or modern, printed in Germany.

The one with the "straight" tail tends to be used more in other Western countries such as England, France, and the U.S., as well as in online sources such as websites, blogs, and forums, which use the more "informal" look of Windows fonts.

ita (η), yiota (ι) and ipsilon (υ) are not at all interchangeable, anymore than ee, ea, and ie are in English. Which Greek letter you use depends on the specific word -- each Greek word has a particular spelling, usually going back 2500 years to the ancient/classical language.

Hope this helps,
Greg Brush

[originally posted Friday, 22 August 2008, 08:59 PM]
Picture of Guest User
Re: Which letters to use??
by Guest User - Friday, 19 February 2010, 05:24 AM
  Hi! Regarding your post, does this mean that you've basically got to memorize the Greek words where ita and yiota are used like how you are accustomed to using 'ph' instead of 'f' for certain English words like 'elephant' and 'sulphur'?
Picture of Szabolcs Horvát
Re: Which letters to use??
by Szabolcs Horvát - Friday, 19 February 2010, 06:16 AM
  Exactly. But you'll find that after a while this becomes considerably easier as you become aware of certain patterns, the connections between words (mechanisms of word formation), regular prefixes / word endings, cognates between Greek and European languages, etc.

For example, the /i/ ending of feminine nouns is always spelt with -η (at least in the words I've encountered so far!), the prefix sin- is spelt συν-, dia- is spelt δια-. It's easy to figure out how αυτοκίνητο is spelt once you realise the connection to the English word k[i]n[e]tics, etc.

So, yes, generally we need to learn the spellings, but they're not completely random, and they're still much easier than English spellings.

Try to read as much as possible (don't just listen to the lessons, but read texts), and you'll learn the spellings in no time, without spending a lot of explicit effort on memorization smile
Picture of Guest User
Re: Which letters to use??
by Guest User - Tuesday, 23 February 2010, 02:12 AM
  Add would add, in addition to what the other poster said, that Greek themselves are outrageously bad spellers probably the worst in Europe (My apologies to native Greeks out there but it's true). Even a quick Google of any misspelled will result in thousands of hits. I think this at least in part because of major spelling reforms that took place in the last 30 - 40 years after the demise of the katharevousa, and the Greeklish transliteration, using Latin characters, that's ubiquitous on the web. Whatever the cause, don't worry too much about misspelling. Know how to correctly spell the endings of nouns and verbs, i.e. -εται for -ετε will cause confusion, and likewise the spelling of definite and indefinite articles, and don't worry about the rest. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to write 'correct' prose, download OpenOffice and install the Greek spellchecker.