Eta

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Not to be confused with ETA.
This article is about the Greek letter. For other uses, see Eta (disambiguation).

Eta (uppercase Η, lowercase η; Greek: Ήτα Ēta) is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet. Originally denoting a consonant /h/, its sound value in the classical Attic dialect of Ancient Greek was a long vowel [ɛː], raised to [i] in medieval Greek, a process known as iotacism.

In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 8. It was derived from the Phoenician letter heth Phoenician heth.svg. Letters that arose from Eta include the Latin H and the Cyrillic letter И.

History[edit]

Consonant h[edit]

Eta (Heta) in the function of /h/ on the ostrakon of Megacles, son of Hippocrates, 487 BC. Inscription: ΜΕΓΑΚLES HIΠΠΟΚRATOS. On display in the Ancient Agora Museum in Athens, housed in the Stoa of Attalus.
Eta in the function of /h/ on an Attic red-figured calyx-krater, 515 BC. Amongst the depicted figures are Hermes and Hypnos. Inscriptions: HERMES - HYPNOS.
Main article: Heta (letter)

The letter shape 'H' was originally used in most Greek dialects to represent the sound /h/, a voiceless glottal fricative. In this function, it was borrowed in the 8th century BC by the Etruscan and other Old Italic alphabets, which were based on the Euboean form of the Greek alphabet. This also gave rise to the Latin alphabet with its letter H.

Other regional variants of the Greek alphabet (epichoric alphabets), in dialects that still preserved the sound /h/, employed various glyph shapes for consonantal Heta side by side with the new vocalic Eta for some time. In the southern Italian colonies of Heracleia and Tarentum, the letter shape was reduced to a "half-heta" lacking the right vertical stem (Ͱ). From this sign later developed the sign for rough breathing or spiritus asper, which brought back the marking of the /h/ sound into the standardized post-classical (polytonic) orthography.[1] Dionysius Thrax in the second century BC records that the letter name was still pronounced heta (ἥτα), correctly explaining this irregularity by stating "in the old days the letter Η served to stand for the rough breathing, as it still does with the Romans."[2]

Long e[edit]

In the East Ionic dialect, however, the sound /h/ disappeared by the sixth century BC, and the letter was re-used initially to represent a development of a long vowel /aː/, which later merged in East Ionic with /ɛː/ instead.[3] In 403 BC, Athens took over the Ionian spelling system and with it the vocalic use of H (even though it still also had the /h/ sound itself at that time). This later became the standard orthography in all of Greece.

Itacism[edit]

During the time of post-classical Koiné Greek, the /ɛː/ sound represented by eta was raised and merged with several other formerly distinct vowels, a phenomenon called itacism after the new pronunciation of the letter name as ita instead of eta.

Itacism is continued into Modern Greek, where the letter name is pronounced [ˈita] and represents the sound /i/ (a close front unrounded vowel). It shares this function with several other letters (ι, υ) and digraphs (ει, οι), which are all pronounced alike (see iotacism).

Cyrillic script[edit]

Eta was also borrowed with the sound value of [i] into the Cyrillic script, where it gave rise to the Cyrillic letter И.

Uses[edit]

Letter[edit]

In Modern Greek the letter, pronounced [ˈita], represents a close front unrounded vowel, /i/. In Classical Greek, it represented a long open-mid front unrounded vowel, /ɛː/.

Symbol[edit]

Upper case[edit]

The upper-case letter Η is used as a symbol in textual criticism for the Alexandrian text-type (from Hesychius, its once-supposed editor).

In chemistry, the letter H as symbol of enthalpy sometimes is said to be a Greek eta, but since enthalpy comes from ἐνθάλπος, which begins in a smooth breathing and epsilon, it is more likely a Latin H for 'heat'.

Lower case[edit]

The lower-case letter η is used as a symbol in:

Character Encodings[edit]

  • Greek Eta / Coptic Hate
Character Η η Ͱ ͱ
Unicode name GREEK CAPITAL LETTER ETA GREEK SMALL LETTER ETA GREEK CAPITAL LETTER HETA GREEK SMALL LETTER HETA COPTIC CAPITAL LETTER HATE COPTIC SMALL LETTER HATE
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 919 U+0397 951 U+03B7 880 U+0370 881 U+0371 11406 U+2C8E 11407 U+2C8F
UTF-8 206 151 CE 97 206 183 CE B7 205 176 CD B0 205 177 CD B1 226 178 142 E2 B2 8E 226 178 143 E2 B2 8F
Numeric character reference Η Η η η Ͱ Ͱ ͱ ͱ Ⲏ Ⲏ ⲏ ⲏ
Named character reference Η η
DOS Greek 134 86 158 9E
DOS Greek-2 170 AA 225 E1
Windows 1253 199 C7 231 E7
TeX \eta
  • Mathematical Eta
Character 𝚮 𝛈 𝛨 𝜂 𝜢 𝜼
Unicode name MATHEMATICAL BOLD
CAPITAL ETA
MATHEMATICAL BOLD
SMALL ETA
MATHEMATICAL ITALIC
CAPITAL ETA
MATHEMATICAL ITALIC
SMALL ETA
MATHEMATICAL BOLD ITALIC
CAPITAL ETA
MATHEMATICAL BOLD ITALIC
SMALL ETA
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 120494 U+1D6AE 120520 U+1D6C8 120552 U+1D6E8 120578 U+1D702 120610 U+1D722 120636 U+1D73C
UTF-8 240 157 154 174 F0 9D 9A AE 240 157 155 136 F0 9D 9B 88 240 157 155 168 F0 9D 9B A8 240 157 156 130 F0 9D 9C 82 240 157 156 162 F0 9D 9C A2 240 157 156 188 F0 9D 9C BC
UTF-16 55349 57006 D835 DEAE 55349 57032 D835 DEC8 55349 57064 D835 DEE8 55349 57090 D835 DF02 55349 57122 D835 DF22 55349 57148 D835 DF3C
Numeric character reference 𝚮 𝚮 𝛈 𝛈 𝛨 𝛨 𝜂 𝜂 𝜢 𝜢 𝜼 𝜼
Character 𝝜 𝝶 𝞖 𝞰
Unicode name MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD CAPITAL ETA
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD SMALL ETA
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD ITALIC CAPITAL ETA
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD ITALIC SMALL ETA
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 120668 U+1D75C 120694 U+1D776 120726 U+1D796 120752 U+1D7B0
UTF-8 240 157 157 156 F0 9D 9D 9C 240 157 157 182 F0 9D 9D B6 240 157 158 150 F0 9D 9E 96 240 157 158 176 F0 9D 9E B0
UTF-16 55349 57180 D835 DF5C 55349 57206 D835 DF76 55349 57238 D835 DF96 55349 57264 D835 DFB0
Numeric character reference 𝝜 𝝜 𝝶 𝝶 𝞖 𝞖 𝞰 𝞰

These characters are used only as mathematical symbols. Stylized Greek text should be encoded using the normal Greek letters, with markup and formatting to indicate text style.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nick Nicholas (2003), "Greek /h/"
  2. ^ παρὰ τοῖς ἀρχαίοις ὁ τύπος τοῦ Η ἐν τύπῳ δασείας ἔκειτο, ὥσπερ καὶ νῦν <παρὰ> τοῖς Ῥωμαίοις Alfredus Hilgard (ed), "In artis Dionysianae §6" in Grammatici Graeci. Scholia in Dionysii Thracis Artem Grammaticam (1901), p. 486.
  3. ^ Sihler, Andrew L. (1995). New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin (illustrated ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 10–20. ISBN 0-19-508345-8.