Friday, September 10, 2010


I've long been fascinated with other alphabets. All of these strange and unusual symbols, it's almost like a code. This love of secrets was one of the reasons that I studied Ancient Greek. After reading and writing quite a bit of Greek, reading the alphabet became second nature. I even began taking notes using the Greek alphabet but using English words (since my Greek vocabulary is sadly inadequate). Performing simple character substitution sounded like a perfect one-hour project so I whipped up a simple web page to convert English text into a Greek alphabet equivalent. I call it Greekish. For example, the phrase
So long and thanks for all the fish.
Σο λονγ ανδ θανκσ φορ αλλ θε φισh.
which would be quite confusing to a Greek speaker but perfectly natural to an English speaker who knows the Greek alphabet.

Note that some English characters do not have direct equivalents in Greek. A c would be a κ, a σ, or a χ for ch. The h is one of the more interesting stories. For a leading h before a vowel Greek uses a breathing mark. When combined with a consonant, special characters are used, like θ for th, χ for ch, and φ for ph. I chose to use φ only for the English f, not ph, since ph does not make the f sound in some English contexts. The word uphill is one example. Also, I didn't bother to handle the special case of s at the end of word, for which ς is used instead of σ.

Now that you know more than you ever wanted to about the Greek alphabet, what is a simple project that you can tackle in an hour? Don't just think of one, go do it!