The ancient voiced stops β, δ, γ appear to have become fricatives first [IPA β, δ, γ], before the
ancient stops φ, θ, χ. Already at the beginning of the Roman period βῆτα was becoming a 'soft'
bilabial fricative, probably like Spanish sound of 'b' in Havana/Habana (the city). γάμμα became
a velar fricative, and even a palatal fricative in conjunction with front vowels. During the Roman
period δέλτα eventually became fricativized everywhere (like the English sound in 'this')18.
Likewise, notice the examples of γάμμα reflecting a fricative abound, in some cases approaching
a palatal [y] sound.20 The insertions and the substitutions with ι would not be probable without
γάμμα having become a soft fricative.
ιγερου for ἱεροῦ ‘of a temple, of holy’ (from 5 BCE)
υγιου for υἱοῦ ‘of a son’ (from 16 CE)
εριευς for Ἑργεύς (frequent in 1c CE)
It appears that the ancient voiced stops β, γ had already gone soft by the first century and
should be pronounced like International Phonetic Alphabet [β, γ].
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