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Irene Droppert
Dutch - Modern Greek
Vlaardingen -
The Netherlands

The syllable- Η συλλαβή

The words are divided into syllables. A syllable is composed of:

  • a vowel
  • a vowel and one or more consonants

The word «πόρ-τα» has two syllables, as the word «βι-βλί-ο» has three.

An hyphen is not normally used in MG to indicate a division in a single word, except at line-break

At line-break an hyphen is used for a word-break. The rules are as follows:

  • an hyphen for a word-break may be placed before a consonant that appears between two vowels e.g. «έ-χω»
  • an hyphen may only be placed to break a word in two between two vowels that represent two different vowel sounds (thus, the word «μαόνι» - mahogany can be broken ass «μα-όνι», but the word «παύση» - pause not as «πα-ύση», but as «παύ-ση»)
  • an hyphen may be placed before the first of two consonants that are placed between two vowels as long as there is a greek word, that follows, beginning with the same pair of consonants (thus «φιλό-φρων» following up by «φροντιστής»kindly caregiver or «ύπο-πτος» «πτώμα» - suspect corpse); in other cases the hyphen must be placed between the two consonants «φλυτ-ζάνι» - cup or «βάρ-κα» - boat
  • an hyphen may be placed before the first three or more consonants placed between two vowels as long as the greek word which is following begins with at least the first two of the three consonants e.g. «αισχρή σχέση» - disgraceful relationship, otherwise the break must appear after the first consonant e.g. («αισ-χρότητα» - obscenity or «αν-θρακικό» - carbonic)

There is an old rule which describes that combinations of consonants such as «γγ», «γκ», «μπ» en «ντ» either should be placed after the hyphen or can be split by the break according to the pronounciation. But because of the variability in the pronunciation of the combinations it is normally not done in practice.

When the verb-stem is a one syllable form, beginning with a consonant and the verb has a one syllable ending such as «μένω», the «ε-» with a stress is prefixed the stem as an extra syllable in the imperfect and aorist. This phenomenon is called the augment, which only occurs in past tenses and which means enlargement or expansion.

The augment has been set up because of the antepenultimate rule (with the stress on the third 3rd syllable from the end). Normally the stress tends to fall on the third syllable from the end in the past tenses of active verbs with more than two syllables, whereas the same syllable retains the stress in the non-past tenses throughout the declension.

When augmentation occurs in Modern Greek it can be divided in three categories viz:

The accent is a sign that we put on words that have more than one syllable.

  • the following words we put for example an accent:
  • τώρα, Ελένη, Έλλη
  • But we do not put accents on the words:
  • για, και, να

The syllable with the accent is more emphasized than the other syllables.

  • Some words only differ from each other because of the position of the accent:
  • Πότε θα πάμε σινεμά; - When shall we go to the cinema
  • Δεν θα σου ξαναμιλήσω ποτέ. - I'll never speak to you again

The words «πως» en «που», get even though they have only one syllable an accent, when they are at the beginning of a question:

  • Πού πας; - Where are you going?
  • Πώς είσαι; - Where are you?

The accent is only placed on words written in lowercase. We put the accent on the word «τώρα» for instance, but not on the word «ΤΩΡΑ»

The accent is always placed on one of the last three syllables of a word. We don't place the accent before the third syllable from word-ending.

  • αυ-το-κί-νη-το - (car - 3rd syllable from behind)
  • κα-ρα-μέ-λα - (candy - 2nd syllable from behind)
  • υ-πο-λο-γι-στής - (computer - 1st yllable from behind)

When the letter combinations «αι», «ει», «οι», «υι», «ου», «αυ» and «ευ» get an accent it will be placed on the second letter.

  • είναι (be), αυτοί (they), αύριο (tomorrow), εύκολος (easy)

If the accent is placed on the first letter, we read the two letters separately:

  • Μάιος (mei) - γάιδαρος (donkey)

We also read them separately as the second letter contains the diaeresis «¨».

  • γαϊδουράκι (little donkey)