Indo-European Phonological Inventory Database

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Attic Greek

Family: Hellenic

Region: Attica

Time: 500-300 B.C.


Bilabial Dental Velar Glottal
Voiceless stop p t k
Voiceless aspirated stop
Voiced stop b d g
Fricative s h
Nasal m n
Trill r
Lateral l


Front Central Back
Close i iː y yː
Close-mid e eː o
Open-mid ɛː ɔː
Open a aː


/ai/, /oi/, /au/, /eu/, /yi/, /aːi/, /ɛːi/, /ɔːi/, /ɛːu/


  1. The use of <EI> in Ionic alphabet to represent the lengthening of /e/ and contraction of /ee/ shows that the ancient diphthong /ei/ was already articulated [eː]. Thus, the reconstruction of /ei/ for the Attic Greek of the IV century seems to be incorrect.
  2. The same considerations holds for <OY> which was used for the lengthening of /o/ and the contraction of /o/ with other vowels. Hence, the ancient diphthong /ou/ was already changed in /oː/. However, according to Allen (1999:73–75), by the mid of IV century the vowel /oː/ was already fully risen to /uː/ (and probably the change started before the V century), hence /uː/ is here included.
  3. The phoneme traditionally reconstructed as an affricate /dz/ is not here included since there is a lot of evidence for interpreting the value of the grapheme <Z> as /sd/ [zd] in Attic Greek (Allen 1999:53–56). Although according to Aristotle and some other grammarians <Z> is classified as a double consonant, the interpretation as /sd/ is supported 1) by the transcription of Persian names like <Ὠρομαζης> Ōromasdēs in Platon and <Ἀρταοζος> Artaosdos in Xenophon; 2) by the combination <ΣΣΤ> and <ΣΖ> for <ΣΤ> and <Ζ> present in some Attic inscriptions of 480 B.C.; 3) by <Ἀθηναζε> "to Athens" (= Athena[zd]e) from Athēnas (Athens) + de (ancient allative particle, cfr. <ΤΟΥΣΔΕ> as the accusative plural masculine of the demonstrative pronoun hode, hēde, tode); 4) in some dialect, Attic included, /n/ is regularly lost before /s/, but this process is found also before <Z>, suggesting the presence of a fricative, hence supporting the /sd/ interpretation.


Pisani, V. 1973. Manuale storico della lingua greca. Brescia: Paideia Editrice.
Allen, W. Sidney. 1999. Vox Graeca: A Guide to pronunciation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Mattia Canavesi

Credits: apnetwork