[b-greek] Re: final sigma

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Sat Apr 21 2001 - 06:52:41 EDT

At 12:36 AM -0400 4/21/01, Craig Jackson wrote:
>Why does Greek have a final sigma? Is there another reason besides just
>identifying it as the last letter?

It probably originated with cursive writing and the need to lift the pen
from the paper in a clear word-ending matter; initial and medial sigma
really is a form for continuation. The same distinction was once observed
in written and printed English, as you can see from looking at 17th and
18th century written and printed documents, such as the common facsimiles
of the Declaration of Independence: initial medial S looked like an f with
a stroke that didn't cross the upright line.

I encouraged my own students to use the Lunate Sigma (like a "c") for both
initial-medial and final sigma.


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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