The tones

Tonos is used to pronounce a syllable more loud that other syllables. The tonoi are written only in the phoneenta (vowels). There are three tones:

  1. okseia ' (from top right to left)
  2. vareia ` (from top left to right)
  3. perispomene ~ (a wave sign)

Every word has one ore more syllables. We count the syllables from the end of the word. When a word is toned in the first (last) syllable we say this word oksytone. When a word is toned in the second syllable we say this word paroksytone. When a word is toned in the third syllable we say this word proparoksytone.

Some rules

  • There is no word toned in the fourth syllable, because there is no name for the fourth of the fifth syllable.
  • When the first syllable is macrochrone(η, ω and diphtongoi) (see the previous article) the third syllable is not toned.
  • Every vrachychrone syllable is toned with okseia ' or vareia `.
  • Vareia is used if the word is toned in the first syllable and the syllable is vrachychone (ο,ε,αι,οι) and a quotation mark or any other pointing mark is not used.
  • When the first syllable is vrachychrone and the second is macrochone if the second syllable is toned the tone is perispomene ~.

There are many rules of course, but just stay at the basics.


Spirits of the accent or pneymata as we will call them are special marks which are written when a word starts with a vowel, or a diphtongos (two vowels), or with ρ. The pneymata of hellenic language are two:

  1. Psili, ἀντί (note the sign in α)
  2. Daseia, ἅγιος (note the sign in α)

Many of the words that start with a vowel take psili. Daseia is used when a word starts with ypsilon (υ), some pronouns, some numeric words, some pronouns, and many assessed words, due to their pronounciation. The word who use daseia and are now alive in the english language, use the letter h before the vowel, like hydromanteia, hades, harmony, helen, hermes, hestia, hieros, helios,hera, hercules, history, hierarchy, hellenic... Daseia also becoms v, s and c.

Nowadays in hellenic those tonic marks could be found in the polytonic system of writting, which is the correct way to write hellenic. The monotonic system uses one tonic mark, the okseia. It is an oversimplified wrong version of hellenic language. Daseia survives in derivatives and synthesis, and it becomes a consonant (ἕδρα->καθέδρα, θ is the daseia).


If you got sick with the rules of the hellenic language, let's see together the practical use of the tonic marks.

Daseia is pronounced as half of the h (the h of hello). So, it is ok to try and add half of H in the word Hekate (Εκάτη) or harmony (Αρμονία) or horizon (Ορίζων) or Hades (Άδης) or Helios (Ήλιος). It is better if you release the air out of your mouth when you try to pronounce daseia.

Let's see perispomene (~) This is a very interesting tone. You have to increase the tone of your voice and then decrease as you end the pronounciation of the vowel. Is is exaclty like music.

Okseia means that the tone of the word increases like in any other language.

Vareia means that the tone of the word decreases.


φῶς, phos, is a word used to describe Hekate as light, because phos means light. The middle letter is omega, ω, and it is makrochrono. So, it will last longer than o. Fo(tone increases)-o(tone decreases)s
ὀλέτις, oletis means the destroyer. Omikron, ο, takes a psili, that doesn't affects the tone of the word. Epsilon, ε, is vrachycrono and the tone is okseia so it will last shortly and it will increase in tonic at epsilon. ol-et-is
ταρταροῦχος, tartarouchos, is another epithet of Hekate. It means the ruler of the underworld's place called tartaros, the nowadays known as hell. The ου is makrocrono so it will last twice. The tone is perispomene, so it will raise and then it will fall. tar-ta-rou (increase tonic)-ou(decrease tonic)-chos
Ἑκάτη, Ekate, Hekate. The first epsilon, e takes daseia, which means that you have to pronounce half h. The last syllable is makrochrone, so it takes twice the time to pronounce the laste tee like tea. E-ka-te-e

As I have written previously, the tonic marks are so important and the polytonic system is the correct way to write in hellenic. Why? Well, let's see some examples.

  • The word ΟΡΟΣ means mountain if we use psili in the first omikron and it means border if we use daseia.
  • The word ΩΡΑ means time if we use daseia and taking care of someone if we use psili.
  • The ΑΓΟΣ means miasma when we use psili and respect when we use daseia.

So, it is very easy for someone who doesn't understand the hellenic language in depth, to make serious mistakes in translation.

But, what about all those vowels? Let's see some words again. Κλίμα means the weather conditions. (vrachychrono) Κλήμα means the grape bush. (makrocrhono) Στίχος means one line of a poem/text. (vrachychrono) Στοίχος means the line of an army unit. (makrocrhono)

And what about difthongoi of the consonants? Φύλλον means the leaf of a tree. (makrochrono) Φύλον means gender (male or female)

So, nothing is randomly put in the hellenic language. There is a wise reason for everything.