Writing Cypriot

    Latin letters Pronunciation Greek alphabet equivalents

    a u as in up alpha
    b b pi
    ch ch as in chap tau-sigma(-iota)
    d d tau
    dh th as in the delta
    e e as in egg epsilon, alpha-iota
    f f phi
    g g as in got kappa
    gh like g but uttered without the tongue touching the palate gamma except before e, i sounds
    h harsh h chi
    i i as in in; sometimes iota, eta, upsilon, epsilon-iota,
    y as in yes if unstressed omicron-iota, upsilon-iota
    before a vowel
    j j as in jam tau-zeta(-iota)
    k k double kappa, unvoiced kappa
    kh as h, used after s to chi
    avoid confusion with sh
    l l lambda
    m m mu
    n n nu
    ng ng as in anger double gamma, gamma-kappa
    o o as in on omicron, omega
    p p double pi, unvoiced pi
    ps ps as in caps psi
    psh psh as in chip-shop psi(-iota)
    r rolled r rho
    s s as in sad; z before sigma
    gh, m, n, v
    sh sh as in shop sigma(-iota)
    shh shsh as in fish-shop double sigma(-iota)
    t t double tau, unvoiced tau
    th th as in thin theta
    thh thth as in bath things double theta
    u u as in put omicron-upsilon
    v v beta
    x x as in ox xi
    xh ksh as in book-shop xi(-iota)
    y y as in yes gamma before e, i sounds;
    gamma-iota before vowels
    z z zeta
    zh French j as in jour zeta(-iota)

We have elected to use b, d and g for voiced pi, tau and kappa to reflect more clearly the softer Cypriot pronunciation of these sounds and to avoid the clumsy use of kk, pp and tt to distinguish unvoiced k, p and t sounds.

Some points to note with regard to the pronunciation of Cypriot:

    • Double vowels and double consonants, such as aa and nn, are always emphasised with double or elongated pronunciation; the pronunciation of z and zh also tends to be elongated in the middle of words.
    • The ubiquitous Cypriot terminal n is, in speech, often rolled into any following consonant, imbuing the latter with a nasal or elongated quality; thus, following a terminal n, b sounds like mb, while s sounds like ss.
    • Before vowels, k, p and t are uttered in an aspirated manner, ie with a burst of air.
    • Some traditional speakers tend to voice certain consonant clusters beginning with f, h and th, rendering flanjin (liver) as vlanjin, fkiolin (violin) as vgiolin, hloros (fresh) as ghloros, athrobos (man) as adhrobos, and thkiaolos (devil) as dhgiaolos.

The Cypriot Academy’s approach to writing Cypriot is illustrated below in the Cypriot numbers one to ten:

    1 – enas, enan, mia
    2 – thkio
    3 – dris, dria
    4 – desseris, dessera
    5 – bende
    6 – exi
    7 – efta
    8 – ohto
    9 – ennia
    10 – dhega

For those who prefer to use the customary Greek alphabet to write Cypriot, the following modifications and simplifications are recommended by the Cypriot Academy:

    • iota to replace eta, upsilon, epsilon-iota, omicron-iota, upsilon-iota
    • omicron to replace omega
    • epsilon to replace alpha-iota
    • alpha-beta, epsilon-beta, iota-beta or alpha-phi, epsilon-phi, iota-phi, as appropriate, to replace alpha-upsilon, epsilon-upsilon, eta-upsilon
    • double kappa, double pi, double tau to be used consistently to designate k, p, t sounds when lack of voicing needs to be made clear
    • ’ (or other appropriate marking) to be used after zeta, xi, sigma, tau-zeta, tau-sigma, psi to designate the distinctive zh, ksh, sh, j, ch, psh sounds

In line with leading world languages, and to avoid cluttering the visual impact of the text, we further recommend omitting all stress and other accents in writing Cypriot, whether using the Latin or Greek alphabets.


© Cypriot Academy