How is the γ in verbs like γιγνώσκω and γίνομαι pronounced in ancient Greek? Is it pronounced like g in get or like g in gem?

  • 3
    The softening of g, c, etc. before e and i is not universal. Pronounce the γ hard as in get.
    – cmw
    Jun 10, 2017 at 15:57
  • 2
    Depends if you are asking about modern or classical Greek. Jun 11, 2017 at 0:07
  • 2
    @SimpliciterChristianus Modern Greek is off-topic, so I took the liberty to restrict the question to older Greek.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 13, 2017 at 18:09

2 Answers 2


The letter gamma was pronounced like the g in get in Ancient Greek, a voiced velar stop. But before another gamma, before kappa, chi, or xi, the gamma was pronounced like ng, as in boring. It's also pronounced like ng before at least some cases of nu or mu (possibly all).

More information, including the pronunciation in New Greek, can be found on Wikipaedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma

  • 1
    Gamma is thought to have been nasal (ng) also before nu and mu, either always or at least in some words.
    – TKR
    Jun 10, 2017 at 19:05
  • @TKR: Added! <filler tex>
    – Cerberus
    Jun 10, 2017 at 21:41
  • I like how "stop" ends with a stop consonant, and "voiced" ends with a voiced consonant. If only "velar" ended with a velar.
    – ktm5124
    Jun 16, 2017 at 8:17
  • @ktm5124: That would be quite the coincidence!
    – Cerberus
    Jun 17, 2017 at 14:55
  • @ktm5124 Actually, voiced ends with a voiced consonant in writing, but usually not in pronunciation, due to the unvoiced /s/ preceding it.
    – Canned Man
    Jul 9, 2021 at 13:55

In modern Greek it is pronounced exactly like y in yet.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site! Can you be a little more specific? Most importantly, I would like to know what kind of Greek this answer applies to (modern?) and what it is based on (personal experience?).
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 10, 2017 at 19:26
  • I don't think anyone can know how the ancients pronounced it...But when a greek today pronounces these words (in modern or ancient greek) they pronounce "γ" as "y" in "year" and not any "g"
    – ZaMoC
    Jun 10, 2017 at 20:02
  • 5
    I edited your answer to give the context. Feel free to re-edit. // In fact, we do have knowledge of how things were pronounced two millennia ago. In fact, "How can we know how ancient Greek was pronounced?" would make a nice question if we don't have it already.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 10, 2017 at 20:10
  • 4
    This is true before front vowels only. Modern Greek γ followed by back vowels is IPA [γ], a voiced guttural fricative.
    – fdb
    Jun 10, 2017 at 22:28
  • 1
    @CannedMan do you also have an opinion about the main question? The accepted answer is wrong. When we (modern greeks) read modern or ancient greek, we do not pronounce γ as english people say gamma. So, "get" is wrong. γ is "γαμμα" and not "γκαμα" as you pronounce it. Just use google translate and hear it. here is the link: translate.google.gr/…
    – ZaMoC
    Jul 9, 2021 at 15:02

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