What is Your Name in Greek? How to Hellenize Your Name

July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today we romanize everything. We romanize Russian, we romanize Arabic, we romanize Japanese into Romaji, we romanize Chinese into Pinyin, we romanize Vietnamese into Vietnamese alphabet. How about we do a reverse? Or we better call it Renaissance, because what we are going to discuss is how to hellenize.

It is always interesting to think, about 2,300 years ago, after Alexander the Great (Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μέγας) had conquered the massive land from Aegean Sea to Indus Valley, everything was hellenized or hellenistic-ized. Greek became the lingua franca of many regions for hundreds or even thousands of years and many vocabularies of different languages are hellenized. However with the lose of power of the Byzantine Empire, Greek and all the Hellenization faded in a surprisingly fast speed.

OK, let’s stop the blah blah blah, I know many don’t like history stuff. What we are really talking about today is how to hellenize your name, or to be specific, your English name.

First, I have to say Greek alphabet is not as powerful as say the Cyrillic alphabet. There are some sounds which can be missing from English.

Second, there are several pronunciation systems in Greek, old and new, archaic and modern. So which one we use? Here I’m going to use the classic alphabet, because it covers more sounds that we have in English, and the diphthongs are more understandable. However, actually it doesn’t matter much which alphabet to use, because no matter which we pick, there are always ambiguity.

Now let’s take a look!

The following are the alphabet charts from Omniglot.

 

 

We use ΄ on vowels to mark stressed syllables.

 

After knowing the pronunciation, things become pretty simple. We can thus assign each Greek letter to English letters. Here’s the mapping.

A – α when in ‘dad’, αι when in ‘fate’.
B – β
C – κ when in ‘cat’, σ when in ‘ceaser’ beginning or middle letter, ς when in ‘nice’ end letter
D – δ
E – ε when pronounced.
F (ph) – φ
G – γ when in ‘game’, τζ when in ‘giant’
H – χ when pronounced.
I – η when in ‘list’, αι when in ‘ivy’
J – τζ, there is no j sound in Greek, we use τζ ‘tz’ instead
K – κ
L – λ
M – μ
N – ν
O – ο primary, ω
P – π
Q – κ
R – ρ
S – σ beginning or middle letter, ς end letter
T – τ
U – ου when in ‘Lucy’, α when in ‘cup’.
V – β, there’s no v sound in classic Greek, while there’s no b sound in modern Greek. We use β here for both b and v. Such ambiguity can also be seen in Spanish.
W – ου when in ‘Washington’, β when in ‘Wikipedia’.
X (ks, cs) – ξ
Y – ι, υ when at the end of the word.
Z – ζ
Th – θ when in ‘think’, τ when in ‘Thames’.
Ch – τς when in ‘change’, κ when in ‘Christmas’.
Sh – σ there’s no sh sound in Greek, we use s instead.
Aw – ο

 

Examples

Adam
It reads /a-d-a-m/, stressed on the second a. Then we have
Αδάμ
Pretty simple, right!

Patrick
/p-a-t-r-i-k/. Here ck pronounced k. Thus
Πάτρικ

Emily
/e-m-i-l-i/. Use υ for y at the end.
Έμιλυ

Jonathan
/j-o-n-a-th-a-n/
Τζόναθαν

Simpsons
/s-i-m-p-s-o-n-s/. Here we can use πσ for /p-s/ or more Hellenized ψ for /ps/. Note that σ at the end becomes ς.
Σίμπσονς

Houston
/h-y-ou-s-t-o-n/. There a half vowel y in the pronunciation.
Χιούστον

Jennifer
/j-e-n-i-f-e-r/. double n, t, r, p, m, s etc. become single.
Τζένιφερ

Chuck
/ch-ʌ-k/. We use a sound instead of ʌ sound here. Ch as τσ /ts/.
Τσακ

Sarah
/s-a-r-aa/. h not pronounced here, no need to mark long vowel.
Σάρα

Kate
/k-ei-t/. We use αι for the ei sound. e not pronounced.
Καίτ

Note. There are already some names that are originated from Greek can have specific forms. For example:

Alexander  Αλέξανδρος  ‘Alexandros’
Edward  Εδουάρδος  ‘Eduardos’
Joan  Ιωάννα  ‘Ioanna’
Philip  Φίλιππος  ‘Filippos’
Alice  Αλίκη  ‘Alikie’
Andrew  Ανδρέας  ‘Andreas’

But you can anyway use our morden way to Hellenize these Romanized names.

If you found it fun or useful, you are very welcome to visit our iceCube Creative site.

 

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