Greek is amazing, but I need a little help :)
Bulgarian guy here, I have fluent English, Russian and almost Spanish, and I speak a bit of German. But none has given as hard a time as Greek.
It blows my mind that I was born 300km from Ελλάδα and our two languages have absolutely NOTHING in common, apart from the "Aide" word, which I think we adopted from Greeks. And to make it worse in Bulgarian "Не" means no and in Greek "Ναί" means yes... hahaha
Anyway, can anyone give some quick advice on how to learn to read greek, because even though I know the Alphabet I just can't pronounce the words when I read them. Sentences sound like they're one big word. Also... when do I use η and when ι And when σ or ς . IS there a difference in the pronunciation ... just help ... :D
P.S. It's one of the most beautiful languages out there.
Greek diverged from the indo-european languages rather early and is hence as distinct from the rest as slavic is from germanic.
What can you read? I would suggest comic books as an intro. The wording is usually very simple and easy to understand. Plus you can infer a lot from context, even if you don't speak the language. I would at all cost suggest you avoid media like newspapers or books. In the former, there tends to be a lot of idioms and the quality/complexity of the texts can vary wildly. The later is usually a disappointing expirience because you don't understand enough for the texts to start being meaningful - your principally practicing interaction with a dictionary, not reading.
When to use σ and ς? ς is used exclusively at the end of words instead of σ. Coming from Attika I can say that there is no difference in pronunciation.
When to use η and ι? There are grammatical tomes over when to use η and when to use ι in words: It depends on which syllable is emphatic, the type and gender of word and partially even the ancient greek origin of the word.
As a very rough rule of thumb: ι is a predominant ending used for the neutral genus, such as το σκυλί or το παιδί. η is used as an ending in the feminin genus, for example η πόλη or η κόρη.
Take it slowly and the pronunciation will be easy. With very few exceptions each letter is always pronounced the same. Check here for a list of the letters and those few exceptions. I'm not suggesting you learn the alphabet just keep this as a reference to look at. You'll also find some Bulgarian and Greek letters and their pronunciation are similar for example:
Α, Β, Γ, Δ, Ε, Κ, Λ, Μ, Ο, Π, Ρ, Τ, Φ, Χ
In addition you can use this link to listen to native Greeks:
Phil682961 and EpicRuler1414 have already explained σ and ς very well.
Check out the Greek Forum here:
And don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.