Regarding the pronunciation of this letter in Modern Greek…
It sounds like / th ama/, where / th / is voiced, as in "those". Am I hearing this correctly? If not, what is γ supposed to sound like in these modern times?
UPDATE: I listened to it again, and now it souns like /zama/ to me, with the American pronunciation of /z/. I am very confused as to how this letter is supposed to sound. Can anyone please clarify?
Before back vowels, it's pronounced [ɣ] :)
It's the voiced version of chi ‹χ› before back vowels, which is pronounced [x] if I'm not mistaken.
Neither sound exists in native English words, though the sound of chi before back vowels is used by some speakers in words such as "Bach" (the composer) or "loch" (a lake in Scotland).
So the voiced version of that is a bit like gargling without any liquid in your throat, just "ghghgh" -- though a bit further forward in your mouth than gargling. (It's a voiced velar fricative, while gargling might give you a uvular sound.)
Before front vowels, gamma is [ʝ] (similar to the "y" in "yes" but a bit more raspy) and chi is [ç] (similar to the "hy-" sound in words such as "human" or "huge", at least for some people).
That's fine; my post was full of linguistics jargon because I wasn't sure how to explain this non-English sound without it.
So I hoped somebody could also post something less technical.
Then should sound more like the English hard /g/ than it does in the audio. Also, I listened to audio on a Wikipedia article on the voiced velar fricative . I swear it sounds like man is saying "zzzzah". However, when I place my tongue as the article describes, I make more a gagging noise, which is closer to your description. So I think I am doing better than Duolingo in that respect. ;-)
I also listened to the voiced velar approximate, which was more like the gargling/gagging sound.
Tell me which of these is closer to modern Greek gamma (γ)?
Modern Greek gamma before back vowels should be a voiced velar fricative, not an approximant.
(Before front vowels I'm less sure whether it has to be a voiced palatal fricative or whether a voiced palatal approximant is also fine.)
Back vowels are /a o u/: α, ο (ω), ου.
Front vowels are /e i/: ε (αι), ι (ει, οι, η, υ, υι)
They're called that because of the position of the tongue in your mouth when you say them.
Mizinamo and jaye16's advice is sound. Students of the Greek course can find more information about the voiced velar fricative [ɣ] using the following links and search queries:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiced_velar_fricative https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=voiced+velar+fricative https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=greek+voiced+velar+fricative http://www.internationalphoneticalphabet.org/ipa-sounds/ipa-chart-with-sounds/
The last link has a very handy IPA Chart with Sounds. Learning even just a little about phonetics and phonology can be a great asset in language-learning more generally—for example, the basic anatomy of the vocal tract, the manner and locations in which sounds are produced (or articulated), and the mechanisms by which they are produced (Wikipedia breaks this down in their articles, as do other resources and textbooks dealing with these topics). This will help you develop more accurate pronunciations and accents from the start so that you can turn your focus more and more to producing and understanding meaning rather than investing so much effort into just producing and recognizing the sounds, as it is necessary to do early on.
This is one of the 2-3 hard to explain sounds. It is closer to "g" but not as hard. Imagine you are starting to say "gum" that's pretty close. Sorry if the audio is not clear enough it's a machine generated voice and in all is very good. Try here go to Greek and type in any word you need.
Please see my reply to mizinamo re audio that I was listening to and the sound that γ is supposed to make. It sounds like are talking about one of the sounds I was listening to, possibly.
How do I know when it's asking for the letter and when it wants the letter's name? I typed "γαμμα"; but it was rejected. The voice said it, though!
Just use the magic dots. Under each word/letter you'll see light gray dots. Those are some Hints it's usually the first that suits the exercise. Try it you!
But it said translate γάμμα which would seem to be gama. I cannot say often enough that I simply hate this unit!
Yes, they are inconsistent about that! I have reported it twice. This language is still "in beta," which I suppose means they are still working out the bugs!
The audio for this sounds like "vamma" to me. I'm sorry, I don't know the phonetic symbols (would it be a good idea for Duolingo to have a course teaching them?) but in the case of this word for the letter g could someone tell me where you put tongue and lips when saying it? Not in every use of it - later, later! but just in the word in Greek for the letter gama?
I just don't understand what letter it's saying is the english version. I am trying to learn greek, and I am failing miserably, although I can write it I forget quite often.
You are just at the beginning and there is no way you are failing. It's a new language and a new alphabet on a new program. There are bound to be difficulties. But we are here to help.
First of all, you will never be asked to write anything in Greek just through the audio. If you have a Listening exercise it will ask you to 'write what you hear" and that will be in Greek. If you read the comments on this page you'll get lots of hints.
Here are just two:
Read the Tips & notes right below the list of lessons on your Homepage
Read the drop down hints. Pass your cursor over a word with tiny dots under it and the translation will appear.
See and listen to the alphabet here: http://www.xanthi.ilsp.gr/filog/ch1/alphabet/alphabet.asp?vletter=1
These links will not only show you how to get the Greek keyboard but also how to find the Greek letters on it.
And here is another to help you navigate Duolingo
FAQ - General Questions, Bugs & Reports