For some people, the Greek language is synonymous with something unusual, hard to understand – hence the phrase “it’s all Greek to me” in English. And Greek may be confusing at first: for instance, its alphabet looks rather unusual. However, it is not as hard as it seems.
Greek punctuation is also not as scary as it may seem. The symbols used are mostly the same as in English and other European languages, and the rules of using them are similar in some ways.
That said, there are a few differences and peculiarities that you should take into account. Let us take a look at them in this article.
Here are the Greek punctuation marks:
- η τελεία (.) – i teleia – period
- η άνω τελεία (·) – i ano teleia – semi colon
- το κόμμα (,) – to komma – comma
- η διπλή τελεία (:) – i thipli teleia – colon
- το ερωτηματικό (;) – to erotimatiko – question mark
- το θαυμαστικό (!) – to thavmastiko – exclamation mark
- τα αποσιωπητικά (…) – ta aposiopytika – ellipsis
- η παρένθεση () – I parenthesis – parenthesis
- τα εισαγωγικά ( « ») – ta isagogika – quotation
- η παύλα (-) – i pavla – dash
The comma in Greek serves as the decimal point (and in this use is called the hypodiastole) and it also functions as a silent letter in a handful of Greek words, principally distinguishing ό,τι (ó,ti, “whatever”) from ότι (óti, “that”).
The full stop serves as the thousands separator, and guillemets (εισαγωγικά) and em-length quotation dashes (παύλα) typically serve to indicate direct speech.
One of the most striking differences is the Greek question mark (;), which developed a shape so similar to the Latinate semicolon (;).
The ano teleia middot serves as the Greek semicolon but it is so uncommon that it has often been left off of Greek keyboards.
The exclamation mark (Θαυμαστικό) is mostly used as in English.
The hyphen, the brackets, the colon, the ellipsis, and the slash are also in use.
The slash has the additional function of forming common abbreviations like α/φοί for αδελφοί ‘brothers’.
The ligature kai (ϗ) is sometimes used for the same function as the English ampersand (&).
As you can see, there are a few key features that distinguish Greek punctuation. You need to be aware of them from the very beginning of learning the language to be able to write and understand the texts you read correctly.