Could someone tell me why φ is transliterated as "ph". When I ask why a word like "photograph" has "ph" instead of "f", I get told that it is because it derived from Greek. Yet I see no logical reason for transliterating φ into "ph" when a single letter would do. "ph" doesn't even sound like "f", even in "catastrophe".
In Ancient Classic Greek pronounciation φ was pronounced as ph (ie an aspirated p,π) something like πφ. In latin, that was written as "ph" when they took words derived from Greek. Those words were taken by English from Latin, and not directly from Greek (were the pronouncation had already changed by 100 AD or something to the modern pronounciation). That's why they have the "ph". Nowadays, they don't sound as an aspirated p in Greek, or English. Both pronounce it as "f".
For the last part, ph does sound like f... it's pronounced "kuh-tahs-troh-fee"...
I'm struck by the similarities between the greek and cyrillic alphabets: ф φ п π д Δ г Γ
Also several of the "english" looking letters with different pronunciations are the same: e.g. x = h, p=r etc.
It's actually making it a little easier to learn the letters, but harder to locate them on the keyboard as I'm pressing the russian location for the greek letters....