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Getting started on ancient Greek
Getting started on ancient Greek

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4 ‘False friends’

A few Greek letters resembling English ones can be misleading at first. The letter ‘rho’ (ρ, Ρ), for instance, looks like an English ‘p’, whereas the ‘p’ sound in Greek is represented by the letter ‘pi’ (π, Π).

Activity 5 False friends

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Look at the Greek letters and note any which might be mistaken for English ones. Consider both lower case and capitals.


Your list might differ from the one presented here, but it probably includes some of the following letters:

  • γ (gamma)
  • ν (nu)
  • ρ (rho)
  • σ (sigma), but sigma at the end of a word (ς) looks more familiar
  • χ (chi)
  • ω (omega)

Perhaps you also identified these capitals:

  • Η (eta)
  • Ρ (rho, again)
  • Υ (upsilon)
  • X (chi, again)