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  5. "μπαμπάς!"



September 1, 2016

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It sounds like the voice is saying "babash," but my very limited understanding of the Greek alphabet leaves me wanting to try to pronounce it "mpampash."


μπ is a dipthong. It is pronounced B (since β is now pronounced V) Greek has several of special rules like this.

ς is just an sigma, same as σ but it only appears at the end of words.

The notes from the ABC lesson discuss this and more. I suggest you review those notes.

  • 2475

Just a little terminology nit-pick, seeing as this is an educational site.

"Diphthong" refers to a sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable, in which the sound begins as one vowel and moves toward another.

What's under discussion here is a digraph, which is two letters that are read as one sound. The English th, ch, sh, for example, are digraphs.


For English grammar, you're correct; did a bit of digging, though, and in Greek, it appears that digraphs are indeed called diphthongs. Unless I'm misreading the information, which is possible, because it's not presented in the most intuitive way.


A diphthong in Greek [δίφθογγος] is actually the same thing as in English, two vowel sounds in one syllable pronounced together (e.g. αηδόνι -> αη-δό-νι nightingale, άδειος -> ά-δειος empty). The digraphs are called either [δίψηφα σύμφωνα] double consonants (a combination of two consonants that makes one consonant sound, e.g. μπ -> b) or [δίψηφα φωνήεντα] double vowels (a combination of two vowels that makes one vowel sound, e.g. αι-> e). If you want, you can check it here, it's the official student's book for the 6th grade.


Here is a good explanation on the difference between consonant blends (or consonant clusters), and digraphs: http://blog.maketaketeach.com/teaching-blends-and-digraphs/ -if this should prove helpful.


Gotcha. Thought I had enough of a handle on the alphabet that I could skip those unit notes, but I guess I was wrong.


'now' implies - in modern Greek (only)?


Just a reminder to other learners who might be confused: μπ makes b, even though separately μ = m and π = p.


If I'm hearing this correctly, it sounds like babas. If that's the correct pronunciation, is there a rule that "μπ" creates a "b" sound like "Ph" creates an "f" sound in English?


Yes, μπ makes the "b" or "mb" sound -- I usually say "b" at the beginning of word, "b" or "mb" in the middle of a word, but this varies a bit by region, some saying "b" everywhere.

Similarly, ντ is "d" or "nd", and γκ is "g" or "ŋg".

(Very rarely, μπ ντ γκ may be supposed to be "mp nt ŋk" in foreign words, but many people just pronounce them the Greek way anyway.)

  • 2475

Yes, that's exactly how the digraph works.

From the notes page: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/el/ABC
ΜΠ μπ = sounds like b
ΝΤ ντ = sounds like d
ΓΚ γκ = sounds like g
ΓΓ γγ = sound like ng
ΤΣ τσ = sounds like ts
ΤΖ τζ = sounds like tz


Though saying that τζ sounds like "tz" looks as if it was written by a Greek :) They would be likely to automatically pronounce "tz" like Greek τζ, rather than the way an English speaker would pronounce that combination.

I think it's more accurate to say that τζ sounds like "dz" (as in "adze" or "ads").

It's not like the "tz" in the name "Katz", for example.

  • 2475

Yeah, I just copied and pasted what was on the notes page.

I agree with you, though, because it is extraordinarily difficult to have a consonant cluster where one is voiced and one is unvoiced. Usually either they both are voiced or neither are voiced.


Can you please provide an audio link with a slower pronunciation of the word?...


I have no idea how is that pronounciation.

  • 2475


μπ is a digraph pronounced "b".


is this a childish word?


But doesn't it also means father in the sense of a priest?


No, it doesn't. "Μπαμπάς" only means dad (oh, and it's also the name of a cream-filled cake!). On the other hand, "πατέρας" that means father can be used to refer to a priest. Another word used for a priest is "παπάς" (maybe you confused it with this one?). The distinction between "μπαμπάς" and "πατέρας" is pretty much the same as in English, the first one shows familiarity, it's more intimate, when the second is more formal. Same applies in "μαμά"(mum/mom) and "μητέρα" (mother).


how come "μπ" m and p sound make "b" sound?

  • 2475

That's just the digraph they use. Like in English we put "s" and "h" together or "t" and "h" together.

  • 68

Try saying mpmpmpmpmp! ;)


When the Greeks borrowed the phonecian alphabet, they had sounds which had no phonecian letter, and likewise letters which had no sound. So they shuffled them a bit to make it work. Then sounds changes happened in the language (In this case, Beta taking on a V sound). But there were new words that actually had a B sound, so they had to pick some way of representing it. mp is actually a reasonably close approximation to a B sound, so they picked that!


Duo says that there are 42 comments here, but when I come and look, I don't see any.

Anyway, when is there an ς on the end of μπαμπα and when is there not?


μπαμπάς is the nominative case. μπαμπά is the genitive, accusative, and vocative.


how do you type the version of sigma for the end of the word?


On the standard Greek keyboard for US keyboards, its the W key.


Q? I've got it on W... Q is semicolon and colon for me. Maybe my keyboard is bound in an unusual way?


Hah! nope, I just made a typo when I answered. I've corrected my post. Thanks.


No problem; you could've totally convinced me that my computer was weird if you'd wanted, though :-P I would've believed it


Shouldn't it be "Μπαμπάς!"?

  • 2475

Perhaps, but unlike the start of many other courses here, this intro lesson is teaching us the alphabet per se, and it seems to be starting with the small letters. Maybe later it will get into the capitals.

  • 1439

How is this meant to be pronounced? I am having a really hard time with the greek audio recordings. They sound very robotic

  • 2475

Roughly, ba-BAS.


I am confused about the pronunciation of this word. How is "μπ" supposed to sound like? Help please! D:


Like /b/ as in "baby". See the other comments on this page.


Thank you very much! For some reason, the Duolingo app did not show to me any previous comments on this topic. In the web browser I can see all of them, though.


Any help with pronunciation, please? English native.

  • 2475

If you read the other comments on this page, your question will be answered.


Why do they put an exclamation mark there?


why is it pronounced babas not mpampas


Because that's how you pronounce Greek.

English "that" is also not pronounced like "t" + "hat" -- the "th" together makes one sound, and so also in Greek, the μπ together makes one sound /b/.


Is the μ silent? It feel so weird to say "mp"

  • 2475

"μπ" is a digraph pronounced "b", just like in English "ph" is a digraph pronounced "f".


Is " μπ "pronounced as " B " ?

  • 2475

Yes, it's a digraph. μπ is pronounced b.


I cannot get the speaker to function to pronounce the words in Greek. Has anybody experienced and overcome this problem?


Whats the sound?

  • 68

Which sound? Please elaborate.


how do you convert the English keyboard to a Greek version? Tnx

  • 2475

Google "greek keyboard" with your OS. For example:
"greek keyboard windows 10"
"greek keyboard el capitan"
"greek keyboard android".


μπ together make a /b/ sound?

  • 2475

Yes, just as "ph" together make an /f/ sound.


That's right.

Sometimes (especially inside a word between vowels) a /mb/ sound.

The difference is generally not significant - you may hear some people saying /b/ and others /mb/ in the same word.


To sounds "b", you use "μπ". Is that?

  • 2475

Yes. Just like in English we use two letters for "sh" or "th" but it's just one sound.


Why does it sound like “babás“? And why isn't it written like “βαβάς“ then?

  • 2475

The digraph μπ is pronounced "b" just the way in English the digraph "sh" is pronounced ʃ.

In Greek, the letter β is pronounced "v".

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