Pronunciation Charts for Latin, Greek, and Hebrew

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Latin, Greek, and Hebrew are the “Three Sacred Languages” at the root of Christian religious tradition as well as Western magical literature, and I’ve sometimes been asked about how to pronounce these languages correctly. I’m more than happy to oblige.

Below are the pronunciation charts given in what I’ve come to call the “core books,” The Magic of Catholicism and Ritual Magic for Conservative Christians.

You’ll note that pronunciations given here reflect systems used outside the classroom.

The Latin, for example, is the pronunciation you’ll hear in horror movies, Church services, and pretty much everywhere outside secular classrooms (who use the Classical or “Reconstructed” system) and German classical music recordings (who use the Continental system).

The Greek as given is the pronunciation you’ll hear in real life. While classics departments and seminaries teach a Reconstructed or “Erasmian” system, everywhere else Greek is pronounced as given here: the conversational language, Orthodox Church services, and of course when ordering at your local gyro shop.

Hebrew pronunciation is the subject of controversy, a controversy I wish to avoid because I believe both Ashkenazic and Sephardic pronunciations are valid. My preferred pronunciation is Ashkenazic because it’s how my Jewish friends talk, the pronunciation my parents learned from their Jewish friends, the tradition of sticking to the pronunciation of your parents (or the rabbi to whom your parents send you). Occultists might also remember that Ashkenazi is the pronunciation Israel Regardie personally preferred (The Golden Dawn, p. 52) and is found in earlier editions of some of his works, such as when he gives “Keser” instead of “Kether.”

I’m posting these charts here on this blog for the sake of giving everybody a link for future reference.

I also have this as a .pdf file, which will be uploaded to the Free .PDF Library and a direct link posted here once that happens.

NOTE: No prejudice is intended or implied against other systems of pronunciation, as these charts are simply intended to acquaint the reader with systems in common use. As always, the reader is free to use the Classical, Continental, or Erasmian systems in his or her working, and in the case of Hebrew is advised to follow the pronunciation of his or her parents, rabbi, or a qualified language teacher.


Pronunciation of Latin

Page from the Rawlinson Manuscript, 15th century

Page from the Rawlinson Manuscript, 15th century

There are three major forms of Latin Pronunciation: Classical, taught in classrooms; Continental, most often heard in classical music recordings; and Italianate, used in Church services, horror movies, and most occasions one hears Latin. We give the Italianate, because it’s the most commonly heard and used.

VOWELS:

a as in father

e as in they or met

i as in machine

o as in alone

u as oo in moon

y as i in machine

DIPTHONGS

ae like ey in they

oe like ey in they

au like ou in out

When a dieresis mark occurs, it means two vowels should be pronounced individually. For example, should be pronounced “ah-ay” instead of “ay.”

CONSONANTS

Consonants are pronounced just like in English, with the exception of the following:

c before e, i, y, ae, or oe: like ch in chair

ch always hard as in ache

g before e, i, y, ae, or oe: like j in jar

h is silent

j like y in yes

sc before e, i, y, ae, or oe: like sh in shall

th always like t in talk

ti before vowels, like tsee


Pronunciation of Greek

Greek Horoscope

Ancient Greek Horoscope Fragment. Oxyrhynchus, Egypt.

As with Latin, Greek has two pronunciation schemes: the Erasmian taught in Classics departments and seminaries, and the Modern which people actually speak outside the classroom. This chart gives the Modern pronunciation, used in conversational Greek as well as the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Churches.

LETTERS

Α, α Alpha (a as in father)

Β, β Beta (v as in victor)

Γ, γ Gamma (g as in go)

    (Before e, e, i, y, y as in year)

Δ, δ Delta (th as in that)

Ε, ε Epsilon (e as in met)

Ζ, ζ Zeta (z as in zebra)

Η, η Eta (i as in machine)

Θ, θ Theta (th as in theater)

Ι, ι Iota (i as in machine)

Κ, κ Kapa (k as in keep)

Λ, λ Lambda (l as in lake)

Μ, μ Mi (m as in music)

Ν, ν Ni (n as in new)

Ξ, ξ Xi (x as in excellent)

Ο, ο Omicron (o as in alone)

Π, π Pi (p as in plastic)

Ρ, ρ Rho (r as in rhyme)

Σ, σ Sigma (s as in sail)

    (written ς at the end of a word)

Τ, τ Tav (t as in talk)

Υ, υ Ypsilon (i as in machine)

Φ, φ Phi (f as in fun)

Χ, χ Chi (guttural ch or ḥ sound)

Ψ, ψ Psi (ps as in oops)

Ω, ω Omega (o as in alone)

DIPTHONGS

αι (ey in they)

ει (i in machine)

ηι (i in machine)

οι (i in machine)

υι (i in machine)

αυ (like ov in “mazzel tov”)

ευ (like ev in everlasting)

ου (like oo in moon)

CONSONANT GROUPS

νδ (nd as in sandwich)

(beginning of word, d as in data)

μπ (mb as in thimble)

(beginning of word, b as in boy)

 

γγ (ng as in angle)

(beginning of word, g as in go)

γκ (ng as in ankle)

(beginning of word, g as in go)

τζ (dz as in adze)

When a dieresis mark occurs, it means two vowels should be pronounced individually. For example, αϊ should be pronounced “ah-ee” instead of “ay.”


Pronunciation of Hebrew

Torah from Yemen

Torah from Yemen, c. 1470.

Hebrew is read from right to left, and each consonant has a numerical value.

There are two main forms of pronunciation, the Sephardi and the Ashkenazi, with several lesser known systems such as Yemenite and Mizrahi. While the reader is free to employ either pronunciation, this chart reflects the Ashkenazic which is used by the author.

CONSONANTS WITH NUMERICAL VALUES

א Alef (silent), 1

ב Ves (V), 2

בּ Bes (B), 2

ג Gimel (G), 3

גּ Gimel (G), 3

ד Dales (D), 4

דּ Dales (D), 4

ה Heh (H), 5

ו Vav (V), 6

וֹ Vav (O), 6

וּ Vav (U), 6

ז Zayin (Z), 7

ח Ḥes (CH or Ḥ, gutteral), 8

ט Tes (T), 9

י Yod (Y), 10

כ Khaf (CH or Ḥ, gutteral), 20

ך Khaf (at the end of a word), 20

כּ Kaf (K), 20

ל Lamed (L), 30

מ Mem (M), 40

ם Mem (at the end of a word), 40

נ Nun (N), 50

ן Nun (at the end of a word), 50

ס Samekh (S), 60

ע Ayin (silent), 70

פ Fe (F), 80

ף Fe (at the end of a word), 80

פּ Pe (P), 80

צ Tsade (TS), 90

ץ Tsade (at the end of a word), 90

ק Qof (K, Q), 100

ר Resh (R), 200

שׁ Shin (SH), 300

שׂ Sin (S), 300

ת Sav (S), 400

תּ Tav (T), 400

VOWELS (Under consonants. Alef used as example)

אַ Patach (a in father)

אׇ Qamats (aw as in saw)

אֵ or אֵי Tsere (ey as in they)

אֶ Segol (e as in met)

אִ or אִי Hiriq (i as in machine)

וֺ or אֹ Holam (o as in alone)

אֻ Qubuts (oo as in moon)

וּ Mapiq (oo as in moon)

אְ Sheva (end of syllable or schwa)

אֲ Hataf Patach (quick “a” sound)

אֳ Hataf Qamats (quick “aw”)

אֱ Hataf Segol (quick “eh”)

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About Agostino

Brother A.D.A. (Agostino Taumaturgo) has been a student of Christian spirituality and magic for almost 30 years, specializing in theology and orthodox methods of manifestation. His father was a metaphysics teacher, and Brother A.D.A. learned much from him. After being ordained a traditionalist Catholic priest in 2002 and consecrated a bishop in 2007, he learned even more but returned to the magical community because exoteric ministry just wasn’t for him. Brother A.D.A. now writes, teaches, and lectures on spirituality, magic, and manifestation within a Christian paradigm, and is available for workshops, speaking engagements and one-on-one coaching. He can be reached at agostino@thavmapub.com.
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