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Greek Alphabet

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The Greek alphabet has 24 letters; each letter stands for a single sound. The letters are: alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, zeta, eta, theta, iota, kappa, lambda, mu, nu, xi, omicron, pi, rho, sigma, tau, upsilon, phi, chi, psi, and omega. The word alphabet comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta.

The Greek alphabet emerged around 800 B.C. or earlier (over 2,800 years ago), adapted by the Greeks from the Phoenician alphabet. The Greek alphabet added symbols for vowel sounds; it was the first language that had symbols for both consonant and vowel sounds. The modern (Ionic) Greek alphabet began to be commonly used in Greece about 400 B.C. In the ancient Greek alphabet, only capital letters were used; lower-case letters were added centuries later.

The Greek people today use essentially the same alphabet as the one used in ancient Greece (with lower-case letters added and a few other minor changes). Greek letters are used throughout the world as symbols in mathematics and the sciences.

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