Monday, May 17, 2021

Meaningful letters

From Judith Flanders’s A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order (New York: Basic Books, 2020):

A few letters have retained meanings, or vestiges of meanings, even after millennia. In Greek, for example, omicron is ò mikrón — short, or little, “o” — to make clear the distinction between that letter and omega, ō méga — long, or big, “o”; epsilon, è psilón, or naked “e,” clarifies that that letter is not the same as êta, which, owing to its accent, is not naked, but dressed. In French, the name of the letter “y” is pronounced “ee-grek,’” that is, “Greek ‘i’,” while in English “w” is pronounced “double u,” a reminder that the written letter is made up of two u’s joined together.
Also from this book
On “the preeminence of ABC”

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