Greeklish: Wikis


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Greeklish, a portmanteau of the words Greek and English, also known as Grenglish, Latinoellinika/Λατινοελληνικά or ASCII Greek, is Greek language written with the Latin alphabet. Unlike standardized systems of Romanization of Greek, as used internationally for purposes such as rendering Greek proper names or place names, or for bibliographic purposes, the term Greeklish mainly refers to informal, ad-hoc practices of writing Greek text in environments where the use of the Greek alphabet is technically impossible or cumbersome, especially in electronic media. Greeklish is commonly used on the Internet when Greek people communicate by e-mail, IRC, instant messaging and occasionally on SMS.

Sometimes, the term Greeklish is also used informally for a non-standard language variety used by bilingual speakers of English and Greek, i.e. Greek with heavy admixture of English words or vice versa.



Some older traditions of using the Latin alphabet for Greek existed in earlier centuries. The term frankolevantinika properly refers to the use of the Latin script to write Greek in the cultural ambit of Catholicism. ("Frankos" is the Greek and Levantine term for Western European, and by extension Roman Catholic.) This usage was part of the broader tendency in the region for script to follow creed (e.g. Greek script for Turkish Orthodox Christians -- "karamanlidika", and the use of Greek and Arabic script in Albania), and was routine in the Venetian-ruled Aegean in the Early Modern era. Indeed, the autograph manuscripts of several Greek literary works of the Renaissance are in Latin script (e.g. the comedy Fortounatos by Markos Antonios Foskolos, 1655). This convention was also known as frankohiotika/φραγκοχιώτικα, "Catholic Chiot", alluding to the significant presence of Catholic missionaries based on the island of Chios. Hearkening back to this established term, a common (but derogatory) term for Greeklish is frankovlahika/φραγκοβλάχικα -- "hillbilly Western" (exploiting the negative cultural stereotype among ethnic Greeks of the Vlachs).

Orthographic and phonetic Greeklish

Greeklish may be orthographic or phonetic. In orthographic use, the intent is to reproduce Greek orthography closely: there is a one to one mapping between Greek and Latin letters, and digraphs are avoided, with occasional use of punctuation or numerals resembling Greek letters rather than Latin digraphs. While letters are in the first instance chosen for phonetic similarity, visual equivalence, and corresponding keyboard keys, are used when phonetically similar letters are exhausted. Thus, psi (ψ) may be written as ps or y; xi (ξ) as x or 3 ; and theta (θ) as th or 8.

In phonetic use, there is no concern to reproduce Greek orthography, and the Greeklish is a phonetic transcription (usually with English phonetic norms, sometimes with other languages' like German) of Greek words --- although often there is a mixture of the two. In particular, iotacism is preserved: the various letters and digraphs now pronounced as /i/ are transcribed as i, and not differentiated as they are in an orthographic scheme (e.g. h, i, u, ei, oi for η ι υ ει οι). In a phonetic scheme, xi is usually x or ks or 3; ks or 3 is used if x has been chosen, following orthographic norms, for chi (χ). Psi and theta will usually be the digraphs ps and th. 3 is often used to represent xi (ξ) because of the similar shape of the number 3 to the original letter albeit mirrored.

An example of orthographic Greeklish could be the word "plateia", which in Greek means "square" and using the Greek alphabet is spelled "πλατεία". The word "plateia" derives from the exact replacement of each Greek letter with its Latin respective: π=p, λ=l, α=a, τ=t, ε=e, ι=i, α=a.

An example of phonetic Greeklish could be the same word, "square", written like this: "platia". The reason the same word is, in this occasion, written without the letter "e", is the fact that, phonetically, the word "square" in Greek sounds exactly like this: "platia" (since -"εί"- is now pronounced /i/, as an instance of iotacism).

The most extreme case of orthographic Greeklish, which achieves the greater optical resemblance to the Greek prototypes, is perhaps the so-called "byzantine" or "arabesque" or "calligraphic/artistic" Greeklish introduced in the Hellas mailing list by the mathematician George Baloglou. Main characteristics of Baloglou's "byzantine" is the distinction of σ and s (σ=c ς=s), the distinction οf lower and upper letters, such as π=n, Π=TT or 5, θ=8, Θ=0 or Q, ψ=y, Ψ=4, and the unusual, but with great resemblance with the Greek prototype, transliterations σ=c, π=n ρ=p Ρ=P.

Books written in Greeklish

Giannis Androutsopoulos (see References) talks about Exegesis, a book in Greeklish that was published by Oxy Publications in 2000. The Greeklish transliteration was based on the Greek translation of the original book written by Astro Teller. A novel about Artificial Intelligence, it describes a computer program that has acquired a "mind" of its own. The original book was written entirely in the form of e-mail messages, something that prompted Mr. Androutsopoulos and his collaborators to publish a version of it in Greeklish.

Web sites written in Greeklish

Most Greek personal or informal web sites were written in Greeklish in the past. Today this is not the case, as the use of Greeklish on a web site is considered inappropriate. It has been considered by many as an act of vandalism of the Greek language. However, there are still many Greek web sites which utilize Greeklish.

Greek companies which use Greeklish

Some Internet Service Providers in Greece use both Greek and Greeklish in their emails. For example, the corporate announcements sent to users via email are usually written in English, Greek, and Greeklish.


Use in advertisements

As of 2008, business advertisements using greeklish have appeared in Attiko Metro and other areas. Companies that used greeklish in some of their advertisements include Pizza Hut and Forthnet.

Use in business communication

Use of Greeklish for business purposes or business communication is considered as a lack of business ability or respect.[citation needed]

Current trends

Around 2004 a hostile movement against Greeklish appeared in many Greek online Web discussion boards (forums) where Greeklish was the primary "language" of communication. Administrators threatened to ban users who continued to use Greeklish, thus making the use of Greek mandatory, but using Greeklish failed to become a serious reason to get banned. Examples include the Translatum Greek Translation Forum, the Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network Forum, the Venus Project Forum, the Forum, the forum, the Greek Technological Forum and the greek student forum. The reason for this is the fact that text written in Greeklish is considerably less aesthetically pleasing, and also much harder to read, compared to text written in the Greek alphabet. A non-Greek speaker/reader can guess this by this example: "δις ιζ χαρντ του ριντ" would be the way to write "this is hard to read" in English but utilizing the Greek alphabet.

A counter argument used by forum users is that a lot of users live abroad, and write from computers they don't own (university or internet cafes). There, they don't have the ability to write in Greek (lack of fonts or proper locale), so Greeklish is the only option (because it's much simpler than it seems).

On Greek IRC and IM, most of the time only Greeklish is used.

On the Facebook social networking web site there is a group named "Greeklish" which currently hosts more than 70 members who are pro the use of Greeklish.

Wide use for Greeklish in long texts is nowadays (2006) unusual. It is still used, however, among friends as an informal, alternative means of communication for short messages.

Another current trend in Greeklish is the introduction of Leet phrasing and vocabulary. Many Leet words or slang have been internalized within the Greek spoken language through Greek gamers online in games such as World of Warcraft.


Greeklish Explanation
Tsagia "Good bye", being a word meaning teas, but jokingly used as ciao in supposedly plural
Re c Pronounced "re sy" meaning roughly "you"
Kalimerez, Merez Kalimeres (καλημέρες), meaning (Good) Mornings; note that the final z is inspired from byez
Tpt Tipota (τίποτα), meaning "nothing"
Dn Den (δεν), meaning "not"
M Mou (μου), meaning "my" or "mine"
S Sou (σου), meaning "your" or "yours"
n na (να), meaning "to" or en (εν), meaning "not" in cypriot dialect
tr tora (τώρα), meaning "now"
smr simera (σήμερα), meaning "today"
klnxt kalinixta (καληνύχτα), meaning "goodnight"
tlm ta leme (τα λέμε), meaning "we will talk again"
sks skase (σκάσε), meaning "shut up"
kn1 kanena (κανένα), meaning "no one"
dld diladi (δηλαδή), meaning "so, therefore"
vrm variemai (βαριέμαι), meaning "I am bored"

Cypriot variant

Cypriot Greek has a distinct form of Greeklish, which reflects Cypriot phonology; for instance j can indicate the phone [dʒ], which is written in Cypriot Greek as τζι-, and corresponds to palatalised /k/ in standard Greek. For instance, Standard Greek και /ke/ [ce] "and" = Greeklish kai/ke; Cypriot τζιαι [dʒe] ̠ = Cypriot Greeklish tziai or je. Cypriot Leet/Instant Messaging use of Greeklish reflect this. For instance:

Cypriot Greeklish:

ego n 3ero re pe8kia.. skeftoume skeftoume omos tpt.. n mporo na me fantasto na asxoloume tin ipolipi m zoi me ena single prama.. kathe mera jini i idia i doulia. enna spaso. omos me tes epilogies p ekama .. tino pros iatrika j etsi.. ( , 2006-03-25 )

Cypriot Greek:

Εγώ εν ξέρω ρε παιθκιά... σκέφτουμαι σκέφτουμαι όμως τίποτε... εν μπορώ να με φανταστώ να ασχολούμαι την υπόλοιπή μου ζωή με ένα sinɡle πράμα... κάθε μέρα τζιείνη η ίδια η δουλειά. Εννα σπάσω. Όμως με τες επιλογές που έκαμα... τείνω προς ιατρικά τζιαι έτσι...

IM-isms: n = en εν "not" (in Standard Greek: d = den δεν); tpt = tipote τίποτε "nothing" (tipota τίποτα in Standard Greek); j = je τζιαι "and"


Καλημέρα, πώς είστε;

  • Greeklish 1: kalimera, pos iste? (phonetic)
  • Greeklish 2: kalhmera, pws eiste; (reconciling with spelling rules) (Baloglou's "byzantine" variant: kalhmepa, nws eicte;)
  • Typing as if the keyboard layout were set to Greek, when it is actually set to US English: Kalhméra, pvs eíste?

Θήτα (theta)

  • Greeklish : thita

Greeklish-to-Greek conversion

Since the appearance of Greeklish there have been numerous attempts to develop applications for automatic conversion from Greeklish to Greek. Most of them can cope with only some of Greeklish transliteration patterns and can be found and downloaded in the Internet. The first complete system for automatic transcription of Greeklish into Greek, obtaining correct spelling is All Greek to Me! , developed and provided by Institute for Language and Speech Processing

The first open online application for the transcription of Greeklish to Greek, was developed by Artificial Intelligence Group at University of Patras, named deGREEKLISH.

An initiative has started to create a freely-available, open-source converter using user-supplied word transliteration: Greeklish OUT!. A similar open source Greeklish converter, written in the C# programming language, is available as a stand alone program.

See Also

Volapuk encoding


Jannis Androutsopoulos (Γιάννης Ανδρουτσόπουλος), a linguist at King's College London, conducted extensive research on the history and sociolinguistics of Greeklish in 1998-2001; his publications, as well as publications in the media about the phenomenon, are available on a dedicated site.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:



Proper noun




  1. A system for transliterating Greek into the Latin alphabet, either phonetically (for example, transliterating Νίκη as Niki) or orthographically (for example, transliterating Νίκη as Nikh).


  • Latinoellinika


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