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Upsilon uc lc.svg
Greek alphabet
Αα Alpha Νν Nu
Ββ Beta Ξξ Xi
Γγ Gamma Οο Omicron
Δδ Delta Ππ Pi
Εε Epsilon Ρρ Rho
Ζζ Zeta Σσς Sigma
Ηη Eta Ττ Tau
Θθ Theta Υυ Upsilon
Ιι Iota Φφ Phi
Κκ Kappa Χχ Chi
Λλ Lambda Ψψ Psi
Μμ Mu Ωω Omega
Obsolete letters
Digamma uc lc.svg Digamma Qoppa uc lc.svg Qoppa
San uc lc.svg San Sampi uc lc.svg Sampi
Other characters
Stigma uc lc.svg Stigma Sho uc lc.svg Sho
Heta uc lc.svg Heta

Greek diacritics

Upsilon (uppercase Υ, lowercase υ; Greek: Ύψιλον, Úpsilon) is the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 400. It is derived from the Phoenician waw. The name of the letter is pronounced [ˈipsilon] in Modern Greek, and in English /ˈʌpsɨlɒn/, UK: /juːpˈsaɪlən/, or US: /ˈjuːpsɨlɒn/. It is occasionally called "ypsilon" (/ˈɪpsɨlɒn/) in English because of its resemblance to the Roman letter Y.

Contents

Pronunciation

In early Greek it was pronounced like oo IPA: [u] . In Classical Greek, it was pronounced like French u or German ü, IPA: [y]—a sound that is not found in most dialects of English. This was the case at least until the year 1030AD. [1] In Modern Greek it is pronounced like continental i or English ee, IPA: [i], and in diphthongs, [f] or [v]. In ancient Greek it occurred in both long and short versions, but this distinction has been lost in Modern Greek.

As an initial letter in Classical Greek it always carried the rough breathing (equivalent to h) as reflected in the many Greek-derived English words, such as those that begin with hyper- and hypo-. This rough breathing was derived from an older pronunciation which used a sibilant instead; this sibilant was not lost in Latin, giving rise to such cognates as super- (for hyper-) and sub- (for hypo-).

Upsilon participated as the second element in falling diphthongs, which have subsequently developed in various ways: for instance after alpha or epsilon it is pronounced [f] or [v].

Correspondence with Latin Y

The usage of Y in Latin dates back to the I century BC. It was used to transcribe loanwords from Greek, so it was not a native sound of Latin and was usually pronounced /u/ or /i/. The latter pronunciation was the most common in the Classical period and was used by most people except the educated ones. The Roman Emperor Claudius proposed introducing a new letter into the Latin alphabet to transcribe the so-called sonus medius (a short vowel before labial consonants), but in inscriptions was sometimes used for Greek upsilon instead.

The name of the letter was originally just υ (y; also called hy, hence "hyoid", meaning "y-shaped"). It changed to υ ψιλόν, (u psilon, meaning 'simple u') to distinguish it from ου, which had come to have the same [y] pronunciation.[2] Four letters of the Latin alphabet arose from it: V and Y and, much later, U and W. In the Cyrillic alphabet, the letters U (У, у) and Izhitsa (Ѵ, ѵ) arose from it.

Usage

Notes

  1. ^ F. Lauritzen, Michael the Grammarian's irony about Hypsilon. A step towards roeconstructing byzantine pronunciation Byzantinoslavica, 67 (2009)
  2. ^ See W. Sidney Allen, Vox Graeca, 3rd ed., Cambridge 1987, p. 69.
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Simple English

Common letters
ΑaA ΜmEm
ΒbBe ΝnEn
GgGe ΟοO
ΔdDe ΠpPe
hHa ЖжZhe
ΕɛE RrAr
ΖzZe SsEs
ΗeEe ΤtTe
ΘөEth UuU
ΙiI FfEf
JjJe WwWa
ΚkKa ΧxXa
LlEl ОWоwWe
VvVe
Uncommon letters
Digamma Qoppa
San Sampi
Other letters
Stigma Sho

Greek alphabet


Upsilon (uppercase/lowercase Υ υ), is the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet, used to represent the "u" sound in Ancient Greek and "i" in Modern Greek. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 400. Letters that came from it include the Roman U, V and Y, and the Cyrillic У.


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