Greek script for English (Γρίκ σκριπτ φωρ Ιν̣γλισ̣)

Greek was one of the first alphabetic writing systems to be created, and its letters are widely used as symbols in the mathematics, science and engineering fields. This is my take on using Greek script to write English phonetically.

Adaptation process

When adapting Greek, the biggest challenge was finding a way to distinguish the /b/ and /v/ sounds, as the letter that once represented /b/, beta ‘β’, is now pronounced /v/ in Modern Greek. The same issue arises with /d/ and /ð/ for delta ‘δ’. (This is not the case for gamma ‘γ’, as its modern Greek pronunciation /ɣ/ does not exist in English.) And then there’s the problem of differentiating /s/ and /ʃ/ without resorting to digraphs.

My solution was pretty simple: put a dot underneath the aforementioned letters (U+0323 Combining Dot Below) to indicate the fricative version (that is, /v/ instead of /b/ and /ð/ instead of /d/, since the stop consonants are more common than the fricatives). I selected this diacritic because it was able to display on many devices in a highly consistent way (other diacritics did not render properly), and ended up using it to distinguish the following phonemes:

  • β /b/ -> β̣ /v/
  • δ /d/ -> δ̣ /ð/
  • ν /n/ -> ν̣ /ŋ/
  • σ /s/ -> σ̣ /ʃ/
  • ζ /z/ -> ζ̣ /ʒ/
  • κ /k/ -> κ̣ /tʃ/
  • γ /g/ -> γ̣ /dʒ/

Note: depending on your font, the dot diacritic may not show as intended, especially on older devices.

Vowels, on the other hand, were fairly straightforward. There was a redundancy in the modern Greek orthography that I used to my advantage – ‘η’ was now pronounced /i/, but there was already another letter ‘ι’ with the same pronunciation, so I assigned ‘η’ to the schwa vowel /ə/. All other vowels were marked with an acute accent in a similar vein to my Latin phonetic orthography, EBEO.

Letters

Consonants

/p/ Π π (port)/b/ Β β (born)/f/ Φ φ (free)/v/ Β̣ β̣ (van)/m/ Μ μ (muse)
/t/ Τ τ (tree)/d/ Δ δ (drive)/θ/ Θ θ (thank)/ð/ Δ̣ δ̣ (the)/n/ Ν ν (new)
/k/ Κ κ (call)/g/ Γ γ (get)../ŋ/ Ν̣ ν̣ (sing)
/s/ Σ σ (soon)/z/ Ζ ζ (zoo)/ʃ/ Σ̣ σ̣ (share)/ʒ/ Ζ̣ ζ̣ (azure).
/tʃ/ Κ̣ κ̣ (change)/dʒ/ Γ̣ γ̣ (joke)...
/ɹ/ Ρ ρ (run)/l/ Λ λ (laugh)/h/ Χ χ (house)/w/ Ύ ύ (way)/j/ Ί ί (yell)

Special contractions

Greek also comes with 2 letters that represent consonant clusters, both of which exist in English and can be used as such.

/ks/, /gz/ Ξ ξ (box)/ps/ Ψ ψ (hipster)

Vowels

/a/~/ʌ/ Α α (sun)/æ/ Ά ά (can)
/ə/~/ɜ/ Η η (sure)/ɛ/ Ε ε (red)
/ɪ/ Ι ι (bid)/iː/ Ί ί (bead)
/ɔ/ Ω ω (pot)/ɔː/ Ώ ώ (call)
/ʊ/ Υ υ (pull)/uː/ Ύ ύ (pool)

Diphthongs

/aɪ/ ΑΙ αι (side)/aʊ/ ΑΥ αυ (now)
/ɔɪ/ ΩΙ ωι (toy)/oʊ/ Ο ο (dough)
/eɪ/ ΕΙ ει (say)/ɪə/ ΙΗ ιη (hear)
/ʊə/, /wə/ ΥΗ υη (tour)/juː/ ΊΥ ίυ (news)

Syllable structure

Greek is a linear alphabet that works just like Latin does.

E.g. /stɹakt/ = στρακτ

Sample texts

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Ίυνιβ̣ηρσηλ Δικλάρεισ̣ην ωφ Χίυμην Ραιτσ

Ωλ χίυμην βίν̣σ αρ βωρν φρί άνδ ικυηλ ιν διγνιτι άνδ ραιτσ. Δ̣ει αρ ενδαυδ ύιθ ρίζην άνδ κωνσ̣ηνσ άνδ σ̣υδ άκτ τουηρδσ ύαν ηναδ̣ηρ ιν η σπιριτ ωφ βραδ̣ηρχυδ.

(Αρτικηλ 1 ωφ δ̣ι Ίυνιβ̣ηρσηλ Δικλάρεισ̣ην ωφ Χίυμην Ραιτσ)

Excerpt from a short story I wrote a while ago

For comparison, you can view the original one here.

Αι χάδ η στρεινγ̣ δρίμ δ̣άτ ναιτ.

Ιν δ̣άτ δρίμ, Αι φαυνδ μαισελφ ηύεικηνιν̣, λαιιν̣ ων σωφτ γρίν γρασ, ιν η φάντησι 8-βιτ υηρλδ σηραυνδηδ βαι κωμπίυτηρσ. Δ̣η λυμινηνσ ωφ βλιν̣κιν̣ μοδεμσ άνδ ύώμ, κ̣ιηρφυλ κ̣ιπτίυν μίυζικ φιλδ δ̣ι ερ. Ωλδ̣ο εβ̣ριθιν̣ λυκδ βλωκι άνδ σκύερ, ιτ βρώτ μι βάκ τυ δ̣οζ δεισ. Ωφ ωλ δ̣η κωμπίυτηρσ Αι σώ, 1 ωφ δ̣εμ υησ πλειιν̣ μαι φειβ̣ηρητ σων̣! Αι γ̣αμπ άνδ λίπ ιν γ̣ωι οβ̣ηρ δ̣η σαιτ. Αι δ̣εν σώ μαι χαυσ, άνδ Αι σεδ “Χαι” τυ μαι βεστ μειτσ, χυ υηρ ύειτιν̣ αυτσαιδ. Ύι ύώκδ τυγεδ̣ηρ, χάβ̣ιν̣ η κ̣ιηρι κ̣άτ ηβαυτ δ̣η κωμπίυτηρ γειμ Αι υησ υηρκιν̣ ων ηρλιηρ.

“Σο ύατσ δ̣άτ κυλ γειμ γωνα βι ηβαυτ, ει?” ύαν ωφ δ̣εμ ασκδ.
“Ιφ ίυ ληβ̣δ Μαριο, ίυλ ληβ̣ δ̣ισ!” Αι σεδ.
“Ώσημ!!! Καντ ύειτ τυ σί ιτ!” Ινσαιδ μι δ̣η φαιηρ τυ κίπ μι γοιν̣ βικειμ στρων̣γηρ.

Ύι ύώκδ ιντυ η β̣ιβ̣ιδ σανσετ. Αι ρεμινισδ δ̣η μεμωρισ ωφ παστ σαμηρσ, πλειιν̣ ρετρο β̣ιδιο γειμσ ιν δ̣η κυλ σ̣ειδ, ιβ̣ην δ̣ο δ̣η σαν αυτσαιδ πίκδ άτ 42 διγρίσ άνδ μελτηδ εβ̣ριθιν̣ ελσ.

2 thoughts on “Greek script for English (Γρίκ σκριπτ φωρ Ιν̣γλισ̣)

  1. Hey there! I’m really happy to have found your blog because during this lockdown I have been working on alternative scripts for English as well. For me I am mostly using it to write my diary. So far I have developed phonetic scripts using Greek, Georgian, Anglo-Saxon Runes and Japanese Katakana. For my Greek script, I wanted it to be representative of both American and RP English. I think it was a coincidence that we both used “η” for schwa haha. I actually developed my script before visiting your website haha. Here is the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in my script. The F symbol is digamma, an ancient letter for the “w” sound.

    Όλλ χιουμην πίινγς άρ πορν φρί αντ ίκχϝηλ ιν τιγκνιτθί αντ ραϊτθς. Δεϊ άρ ινταωτ ϝιδ ρίζην αντ κχονσχηνς αντ σχωλτ ακχτθ τθϝορτζ ϝην ηνηδηρ ιν η σπιριτθ ηβ πρηδηρχωτ.

    Anyway, greetings from California!

    Like

    1. Glad you find my content interesting! I’ve been adapting writing systems from around the world since 2016 as I really enjoy learning how to read different writing systems, even if I don’t understand the language.

      I picked ‘η’ for schwa as it didn’t really have any purpose being just a 2nd ‘i’ letter, so I gave it to one of the most common vowels in English and moved on from there. I also considered using the same ‘mb’ and ‘nt’ diagraphs used in modern Greek to write ‘b’ and ‘d’, but decided it took too much space, hence the use of the dot diacritic. Always interesting to see different takes on the same idea, of course.

      And greetings to you from Sydney!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.