Pronunciation of the Greek diphthong "ei" and (vs.) the Greek letter "eta"

Larry Baker lbaker at
Fri Jan 10 11:35:12 EST 2003

A simple, phonetic [pedagogical] way of pronouncing and remembering the
Greek diphthong [in class], "ei," is "eh" [epsilon] plus "ee" [iota] as
"eh-ee" [much as our English's long a] which is a diphthong sound!!  

However, the eta is a pure, long vowel and not a blended vowel-sound
which would appear to be half way between the sound of epsilon and iota
["ee"] and very much like our English "e" as the first "e" in "here" or
"where" or the French "fete" [with the first e having French's "rooftop"
symbol].  This is noted by Herbert Smyth in his GREEK GRAMMAR (pp.12-13,

This approach will give a student phonetic distinctions in pronouncing
the eta, epsilon, iota, epsilon-iota, and alpha-iota, that the student
can say what he sees and see what he says.

Larry Baker, biblical languages
American Christian College and Seminary

P.S., I do have difficulty with the diphthong, omicron-upsilon, having
the long, pure sound of "oo" as in "group" and not a diphthong sound.
Otherwise, phonetically, as diphthong sound, it would sound like our
English pronunciation of the omega: oh-u [or oh-oo].  I pronounce the
omicron-upsilon as "ou" in group and the upsilon as the German, umlauted
"u" and let it go at that.

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