[b-greek] Re: final sigma

From: Clwinbery@aol.com
Date: Sat Apr 21 2001 - 13:07:22 EDT

In a message dated 4/21/01 5:55:08 AM, cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu writes:

>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 is probably right about the final sigma coming in in written cursive
Greek. I remember G.D. Kilpatrick ranting against the final sigma. He stated
that no Greek Ms of the GNT used the final sigma. He said that he had the
final sigma filed off of his manual Greek typewriter. However, I have seen a
number of instances in minuscule mss where the scribe used the uncial sigma
"C" at the end of a line or a word. The final sigma used in most Greek texts
now probably is the ancient "stigma" used for the number six in Helenistic
Greek. It is a lot like the "C" except with a tail on the bottom that hooks
beneath the line.

Carlton L. Winbery
LA College

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