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  5. "ψυχή"



August 31, 2016



Fun fact! words like ψυχή , ζουζούνι are also used in love to call your partner, as in English there would be "honey", "sweety". In Greek the words used are "soul" , "my little bug" , etc.


Oh lovely, I love fun fun facts, in Cyprus I hear γλήκη μου, but it seems to be used for friendships. I can't wait to call my husband " ζουζούνι μου".!


very well used! That's exactly how we would say it!


Thanks a lot for the useful information. You deserve a lingot :)


Omg, psychiatry, psychology... the first part is "soul"...


I always thought the "psych-" root was "mind", but after seeing this the words have more meaning. Could it be the mind is the door to the soul?


Ooh, heavy stuff DraginPolyglot, learning Greek is easier :-)


I thought of Cupid and Psyche :)


Excuse me? More like EROS and Psyche. ;)


The only narrative which has survived is Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius 2nd century AD. However Eros and Psyche appear in Greek art as early as 4th century BC


Does the audio sound like "oo-se-hee" to anyone else? I listened to it like 10 times and that's all I could hear.


To me, I'm hearing the "oo", and no "p", like you, but I am hearing the true Greek "khee" (as Mark indicates it). The ψ should be a true "ps" without intervening vowel sound, like you get in the English word "hops". The χ is most like English h, but when Greek words are transliterated into English, the spelling almost always comes out "ch". The Greeks never use our [ch]ur[ch]-type "ch"-sound (that comes from Germanic-language origins). But when we take the Greek word into English, the χ often turns into a "k"-sound, as it does in psyche, and yet it is spelled with "ch", indicating the Greek origin.

The true Greek pronunciation is rather like "h" (plenty of air/breath), but the blowing comes from the back of the mouth (not as far as the throat), and not from the front, as you do when you blow out a candle. To get the idea, start with "k" again. Feel how the back of your tongue rises to your palate, and the explosive release of air makes the "k" sound. Now, instead of releasing all that air in an explosion, open the passageway more, and let the air escape through a narrow passageway, not all breathy, but like it's getting through a small opening, giving a bit of a hiss (no "s" sound, though). So, no explosion, no s, just forced air. That's χ. If you have it too far back into the throat, and force too much, that's like gathering spit. χ is not wet either. It's dry air. If you practice this some, you may also hear it in the audio better.

Perhaps I should also note that χ is "unvoiced", meaning the sound is made from the mouth only, and does not go through the voice box (vocal cords). If you form a χ perfectly, but also voice the sound (include the vocal cords), then you end up with a Greek γ. Experiment between English "k" and "g" to see the connection, and then "Greekify" it by letting the air flow, and now you've got the key to the softening of these English consonants (which came from Saxon/German) into a more Mediterranean sound. You can find similar softening of consonants in Spanish, and actual Latin, even if not precisely the same. And try the voicing/unvoicing trick (and air) with B and V to see why both these relate to Greek β, and to the soft consonants of Spanish as well. This explains a lot of spelling differences among these languages, when in fact it's mostly a matter of pronouncing roughly the same consonants, hard or soft. And that is why δ is not really a "d". θ is the unvoiced "th" (think), while δ is the voiced "th" (thus). English "d" is basically a voiced "t", which is why in Greek, that sound is spelled with the diphthong "ντ", using ν to indicate the voicing, and τ to indicate the positioning of the mouth, then vocalized as a single sound. That's the same principle as the Greek diphthong "μπ", used to indicate the true English B, a voiced P. And φ isn't a true "f" either, but a non-explosive p, with air: hence, the English spelling "ph" indicating a borrowed Greek word that uses φ.

It's way more than you were looking for, of course. But all this stuff relates, and it makes life in Greek a lot easier once you see those relationships.


This is a really, reeeally helpful explanation. They should integrate this info in the Alphabet guide. Thank you. Lingot +


You're welcome. And thanks also!


This is one of the most helpful comments I've seen in the two + years I've been on Duolingo. I guess I was really having trouble with those Greek letters and could not find any information on how to properly pronounce them. Thank you so much!


Many thanks indeed, and you're most welcome!

I later expanded on the comment at https://www.duolingo.com/comment/17679347 . It's lengthy, even wordy, but it's systematic, and it gives more if you want to wade through it. Best of everything to you.


Haha, I found that post right after I left the above comment. It was long, but very interesting, informative, and helpful. Thanks for writing such gems!


It looks so familiar with no change from ancient Greek. That is wonderful.


Yes, it could be! I added it as alternative choice ;)


Spirit is πνεύμα, same word for breath.


Yes, for without spirit one also lacks life (and breath). Πνεύμα is also the root for English words like pneumatic and pneumonia.


In Russian we called lovers "my soul"


It can be used as a term of endearment in Greek, too ;)


But ψυχή in Russian sounds like "crazy"


that explains the word Psychic, Psychology and other words with psych-


Bingo. Psychosomatic, psychiatry, psychobabble, psychedelic, psycho[path], psyched out, psyched up, sycophant - oops! One of these is not like the others! ;)


Why do I hear an L?? I hear ψυχήλ, why is this??? Is something wrong with the sound file or is it just my ears? Pls can someone explain! I've heard an L at the end of many words in this course...


There are a few problematic exercises because of the TTS recording, but there's no "L" in this one, at least on Android.

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I can confirm that the audio is clear (checked on the website).


Most of the greek letters look similar to the English letters and also sound very similar for instance hello in greek is

Χαίρετε (CHEYE-reh-teh)

Couldn't find a better example sorry just get a book and look at the alphbet I recommend songschool greek to learn the greek alpha-beta


Since this "skill" is the Greek alphabet, when it said "write this in English" I wrote psihi.


Ok I love how they designed this section of the course


ψυχή interesting


Can someone please tell me why when you write any word like for instance lets say excite right, I should expect something like this: Εχξιτε. Instead, I get something so long, I am like what do you mean. Can someone explain why greek is translation is like that :/


You've written an English word in the Greek alphabet. The Greeks have their own words. If you wrote a Greek word in the Roman alphabet (which we use for English), it would not be a word in English. Greek is a language, not just an alphabet.


Gotcha then, I am sorta getting used to Greek =)


It's a little unclear on the recording, but do we pronounce the 'p' at the beginning of this word? Or is it an 'S'? I have a hard time pronouncing 'psee' without it sounding forced.


It's always pronounced, even when it's at the beginning of the word.


In Koine Greek ψυχή can also mean life. It has the nuance "breath" as well. Has modern Greek lost that connection?


Yes, but "ψυχή" can be used as a term of endearment ("ψυχή μου") in Modern Greek (apart from its primary meaning).

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