Ancient Greek Alphabet

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11227

The ancient Greeks gave us more than statues, ruins, and the Olympics. They also gave us many fun vocabulary words, like "ophthalmologist." Learn the fun of writing words in another language today!


Grammar, World

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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"It's all Greek to me!" That's an old expression people use to mean that something is virtually impossible to understand. It probably comes from the fact that the Ancient Greeks used a different alphabet from ours. It's actually only slightly different. In fact, we owe the Greeks a big debt for giving us the alphabet.

Can you recognize any of the letters in this image of the Greek Alphabet?

Greek alphabet

Some of the letters are easy, and some are a real challenge. Would you believe me if I told you, though, that by the end of this lesson, you will be able to translate Ancient Greek?

There are so many writing systems in the world.

Some of them are pictographic, pictures that represent words.

Others are syllabaries, systems of pictures that represent common syllables.

Our writing system is an alphabet, a series of letters that represents individual sounds.

The Greeks didn't invent the alphabet, but they developed it to a form we would later adapt for other languages. Let's take a look at the history of the Ancient Greek alphabet and see how this all came about.

As you read the following article, look for information and ideas that can help answer these questions:

  • What was the origin of the Greek alphabet?
  • How did the Greeks change the use of the alphabet over time?
  • What were the mythic or legendary stories they told about their alphabet?
  • What writing systems were developed from the Greek alphabet?

Now, dig for answers using the article, Who created the first alphabet?, at Write your answers and share your responses with a parent or teacher. Then reflect and discuss:

  • Why was an alphabet probably such a big deal in the ancient world?
  • What value, if any, is there in knowing a language like Ancient Greek?
  • What makes studying other languages challenging or rewarding?

Ancient Greek is known as a challenging language. Most people get scared away by the exotic-looking alphabet. This great ancient language, though, is full of amazing secrets and rewards for many of those who venture to take it on, and the first step is understanding what all those odd little symbols represent.

So, continue on to the Got It? section to go Greek!

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