[B-Greek] Greek letters discontinued

Ben and Jo Crick ben.crick at argonet.co.uk
Mon Jul 14 19:16:17 EDT 2003


On Mon 14 Jul 2003 (14:17:44), mitchlarramore at yahoo.com wrote:
> Can someone tell me what happened to the following
> Greek letters? Did they all stop being used at the
> same time and for the same reason?
> 
> Digamma
> San
> Koppa

 Dear Mitch

 The Greek Numerical System was not standardised until about the 2nd century
 BCE, because the fiercely individual Greek city-states would not co-operate.
 By the 2nd century BCE, the letters Digamma (aka Stigma), San, Qoppa and Sampi
 were obsolete. Digamma was a W, Qoppa a Q and Sampi another S (IIRC). Digamma
 was also called Stigma because it resembled a ligature of a Sigma and a Tau
 when handwritten; but like a capital F in inscriptions ("double Gamma").
 The letter San was written like an M (7th century BCE), or a "lazy Pi" =| (5th
 century BCE). San was the equivalent of the Hebrew Tsadhe, TS, like a Russian
 Tseh.

 When the numerical system was standardised, the system to represent all
 numbers from 1 to 999 needed 27 symbols, not 24. So the now obsolete Stigma,
 Qoppa and Sampi were pressed into service thus:

     1 alpha            10 iota           100 rho
     2 beta             20 kappa          200 sigma
     3 gamma            30 lambda         300 tau
     4 delta            40 mu             400 upsilon
     5 epsilon          50 nu             500 phi
     6 [digamma/stigma] 60 xi             600 chi
     7 zeta             70 omicron        700 psi
     8 eta              80 pi             800 omega
     9 theta            90 [qoppa]        900 [sampi]

 The obsolete letters survive in ancient inscriptions. No doubt the List
 afficionados will give us details on which letter dropped out first, when
 and why.

 HTH

 ERRWSQE
 Ben
-- 
 Revd Ben Crick BA CF, and Mrs Joanna (Goodwin) Crick
 <ben.crick at argonet.co.uk>
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)
 http://www.cnetwork.co.uk/crick.htm






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