Re: Final sigma in fonts

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Nov 01 1995 - 15:44:44 EST

At 12:18 PM 11/1/95, Bill Mounce wrote:
>I am asked about this a lot, so thought y'all would like to hear about it.
>It has to do with the final sigma not printing properly.
>Final sigma problems are caused when you have smart quotes turned on your
>word processor. It turns the double quote character (final sigma in most
>Greek fonts) into the" option-[" character. This is a problem with the
>mapping of most of the Greek fonts for the Macintosh (SuperGreek
>[Linguists], Alexandria [Zondervan], Mounce, but not Helena [acCordance]).
>We are working on a new font that will move this character and a utility
>for changing your text files over to the newmapping. We will also make it
>agree with the Windows side.

I realize that this will not solve the problem with the conventional fonts
that people are mostly using--from the SMK fonts that I prefer to the
SuperGreek fonts that some like because they have the Nestle-Aland
text-critical markers, etc., etc.--but there's been something of a move
afoot aong some Classicists to start using the lunate sigma which doesn't
distinguish between initial/medial and final sigma. Recent Oxford Classical
Texts have been printed using the lunate sigma, and it's a direction which
I think is eminently sensible. Tradition is the only thing that keeps
people making this stupid distinction, and, to be honest, in the long
history of the Greek language, this distinction between initial/medial- and
final sigma is a RELATIVELY modern thing. The ancients, who had no cursive
alphabet, didn't need to make the distinction, and it doesn't really make
any sense unless one is writing connected cursive letters.

My .02 worth.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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