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25. Diphthongs.—The diphthongs were sounded nearly as follows:

αι as in Cairoαυ as ou in outηυ as ēh’-oo
ει as in veinευ as e (met) + oo (moon)ωυ as ōh’-oo
οι as in soilου as in ourangυι as in Fr. huit

In , , the long open vowels had completely overpowered the ι by 100 B.C., so that ι ceased to be written (5 a). The ι is now generally neglected in pronunciation though it may have still been sounded to some extent in the fourth century B.C.—The genuine diphthongs ει and ου (6) were originally distinct double sounds (ĕh’-i, ŏh’-oo), and as such were written ΕΙ, ΟΥ in the Old Attic alphabet (2 a): ΕΓΕΙΔΕ ἐπειδή, ΤΟΥΤΟΝ τούτων. The spurious diphthongs ει and ου (6) are digraphs representing the long sounds of simple ε (French é) and original υ. By 400 B.C. genuine ει and ου had become simple single sounds pronounced as ei in vein and ou in ourang; and spurious ει and ου, which had been written E and O (2 a), were now often written ΕΙ and ΟΥ. After 300 B.C. ει gradually acquired the sound of ei in seize. ευ was sounded like eh’-oo, ηυ and ωυ like ēh’-oo, ōh’-oo, pronounced rapidly but smoothly. υι is now commonly sounded as ui in quit. It occurred only before vowels, and the loss of the ι in ὑός son (43) shows that the diphthongal sound was disliked.

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  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Raphael Kühner, Friedrich Blass, Ausführliche Grammatik der Griechischen Sprache, KG 1.1.1
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