A somewhat unusual question here. Naturally, while reading through Ancient Greek philosophy, I've encountered many Ancient Greek words like παιδεία, οὐσία, as well as sentences like 'πάντες ἄνθρωποι τοῦ εἰδέναι ὀρέγονται φύσει'. I was wondering how academics and scholars typically pronounce these words and read aloud such passages from Plato, Aristotle, and others in the original Ancient Greek during lectures. Is it common practice to use the Modern Greek pronunciation? Or do they tend to use some kind of reconstructed Ancient Greek pronunciation instead? I'm curious about the conventions followed within academic circles.

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    Ancient Greek pronunciation? Almost all of the ancient Greek I've heard, as a native English speaker by other native English speakers is Anglicized contemporary Greek. Even the Greek alphabet I was taught in high school was Anglicized. I took a Greek class from an Athenian, and I essentially had to relearn the entire alphabet to actually sound Greek.
    – J D
    Commented May 13 at 17:35
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    Just mispronounce them. Who will stop you?
    – causative
    Commented May 13 at 20:00
  • Search the internet for "how to pronounce X" for any word X and you will find videos showing you how. Look for the shortest video you can find, the long ones contain a bunch of crap to try to increase their ad revenue. What you will get is the most common current English pronunciation, though, not the ancient Greek pronunciation. Commented May 13 at 21:42
  • There are books written on this topic of pronunciation. See the youtube channels like Polymathy who has many videos and book suggestions.
    – Michael16
    Commented May 14 at 5:18
  • Ancient greek words were written in CAPITAL letters only, without accents. Commented May 14 at 10:41

2 Answers 2


The simple fact is, we don't know how ancient Greek was pronounced. In the 16th century, the Dutch scholar Erasmus devised a pronunciation system that is still widely used in academic settings in many countries. It assigns sounds to the Greek letters based approximately on modern Greek equivalents. But it does not take into account pitch accents or vowel length distinctions that appear to have been present in ancient Greek. Modern scholars tend to adjust these pronunciations slightly depending on their own mother tongue, so for example, French and German speakers might sound slightly different.

There have been schemes designed to attempt to reconstruct ancient pronunciation as it would have been during the classical period. These take into account evidence such as spelling variations, descriptions from ancient texts, and metrical patterns in poetry. In the UK, there have been efforts to make this reconstructed pronunciation the standard one in teaching. But as far as I know, it is not so common elsewhere.

Some people prefer to use modern Greek pronunciation, particularly if they are native speakers of modern Greek. But there is no doubt that many vowel and consonant sounds have changed over the centuries.

There is a website here that provides a reconstructed ancient pronunciation guide.


Ancient Greek pronunciation is different from todays Greek pronuncation, notably in pronouncing certain vowels.

The following link displays the text and reads some passages in ancient Greek from a work of Aristotle.


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