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Gamma

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This article is about the Greek letter Gamma Γ (and γ) as used in various fields. For the Latin forms like Ɣ see Latin gamma. For other uses, see Gamma (disambiguation).
The alphabet on a black figure vessel, with a Λ-shaped gamma

Gamma (uppercase Γ, lowercase γ; Greek: Γάμμα Gámma) is the third letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 3. In Ancient Greek, gamma represented a voiced velar stop /ɡ/. In Modern Greek, it represents a voiced fricative.

Based on its phonetic value in Modern Greek, gamma has also been introduced in a number of modern Latin-alphabet based phonetic notations (Latin (or latinized) gamma Ɣ).

History

Further information: History of the Greek alphabet

The Greek letter Gamma Γ was derived from the Phoenician letter for the /g/ phoneme (𐤂 gīml), and as such is cognate with Hebrew gimel ג. Based on its name, the letter has been interpreted as an abstract representation of a camel's neck,[1] but this has been criticized as contrived,[2] and it is more likely that the letter is derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph representing a club or throwing stick.[3]

In the archaic period, the shape of gamma was closer to a classical lambda (Λ), while lambda retained the Phoenician L-shape (𐌋).

Letters that arose from the Greek gamma include Etruscan (Old Italic) 𐌂, Roman C and G, Runic kaunan , Gothic geuua 𐌲, the Coptic Ⲅ, and the Cyrillic letters Г and Ґ.[4]

Greek phoneme

The Ancient Greek /g/ phoneme was the voiced velar stop, continuing the PIE voiced velar and palatal stops *g, .

The modern Greek phoneme represented by gamma is realized either as a palatal /ʝ/ (before a front vowel, /e, i/), or as a velar /ɣ/ (in all other environments). Both in Ancient and in Modern Greek, before other velars (κ, χ, ξ k, kh, ks), gamma represents a velar nasal /ŋ/. A double gamma γγ represents the sequence /ŋɡ/ (phonetically varying [ŋɡ~ɡ]) or /ŋɣ/.

Phonetic transcription

Lowercase Greek gamma is used in the Americanist phonetic notation and Uralic Phonetic Alphabet to indicate voiced consonants. In International Phonetic Alphabet, it represents the voiced velar fricative.

In these contexts, gamma is considered as an addition to Latin alphabet, the so-called Latin or latinized gamma ɣ (with an upper-case variant Ɣ based on the minuscule).

Latin gamma is used to represent a voiced velar fricative, both in the International Phonetic Alphabet, and in the alphabets of African languages such as Dagbani, Dinka, Kabiyé, and Ewe,[5] some Berber languages using the Berber Latin alphabet, and sometimes in the romanization of Pashto.

Lowercase Latin gamma is used in the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent the voiced velar fricative. A lowercase Latin gamma that lies above the baseline rather than crossing it (ɤ) represents the close-mid back unrounded vowel. In certain nonstandard variations of the IPA the uppercase form is used.

Mathematics and science

Lower case

The lower-case letter is used as a symbol for:

The lowercase Latin gamma ɣ can also be used in contexts (such as chemical or molecule nomenclature) where gamma must not be confused with the letter y, which can occur in some computer typefaces.

Upper case

The upper-case letter is used as a symbol for:

Encoding

HTML

The HTML entities for uppercase and lowercase gamma are Γ and γ.

Unicode

  • Greek Gamma
Character Γ γ
Unicode name GREEK CAPITAL LETTER GAMMA GREEK SMALL LETTER GAMMA GREEK LETTER SMALL CAPITAL GAMMA MODIFIER LETTER SMALL GREEK GAMMA GREEK SUBSCRIPT SMALL LETTER GAMMA
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 915 U+0393 947 U+03B3 7462 U+1D26 7518 U+1D5E 7527 U+1D67
UTF-8 206 147 CE 93 206 179 CE B3 225 180 166 E1 B4 A6 225 181 158 E1 B5 9E 225 181 167 E1 B5 A7
Numeric character reference Γ Γ γ γ ᴦ ᴦ ᵞ ᵞ ᵧ ᵧ
Named character reference Γ γ
  • Coptic Gamma
Character
Unicode name COPTIC CAPITAL LETTER GAMMA COPTIC SMALL LETTER GAMMA
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 11396 U+2C84 11397 U+2C85
UTF-8 226 178 132 E2 B2 84 226 178 133 E2 B2 85
Numeric character reference Ⲅ Ⲅ ⲅ ⲅ
Character Ɣ ɣ ˠ ɤ
Unicode name LATIN CAPITAL LETTER GAMMA LATIN SMALL LETTER GAMMA MODIFIER LETTER SMALL GAMMA LATIN SMALL LETTER RAMS HORN
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 404 U+0194 611 U+0263 736 U+02E0 612 U+0264
UTF-8 198 148 C6 94 201 163 C9 A3 203 160 CB A0 201 164 C9 A4
Numeric character reference Ɣ Ɣ ɣ ɣ ˠ ˠ ɤ ɤ
  • CJK Square Gamma
Character
Unicode name SQUARE GAMMA
Encodings decimal hex
Unicode 13071 U+330F
UTF-8 227 140 143 E3 8C 8F
Numeric character reference ㌏ ㌏
  • Technical / Mathematical Gamma
Character 𝚪 𝛄 𝛤 𝛾
Unicode name DOUBLE-STRUCK
CAPITAL GAMMA
DOUBLE-STRUCK
SMALL GAMMA
MATHEMATICAL BOLD
CAPITAL GAMMA
MATHEMATICAL BOLD
SMALL GAMMA
MATHEMATICAL ITALIC
CAPITAL GAMMA
MATHEMATICAL ITALIC
SMALL GAMMA
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 8510 U+213E 8509 U+213D 120490 U+1D6AA 120516 U+1D6C4 120548 U+1D6E4 120574 U+1D6FE
UTF-8 226 132 190 E2 84 BE 226 132 189 E2 84 BD 240 157 154 170 F0 9D 9A AA 240 157 155 132 F0 9D 9B 84 240 157 155 164 F0 9D 9B A4 240 157 155 190 F0 9D 9B BE
UTF-16 8510 213E 8509 213D 55349 57002 D835 DEAA 55349 57028 D835 DEC4 55349 57060 D835 DEE4 55349 57086 D835 DEFE
Numeric character reference ℾ ℾ ℽ ℽ 𝚪 𝚪 𝛄 𝛄 𝛤 𝛤 𝛾 𝛾
Character 𝜞 𝜸 𝝘 𝝲 𝞒 𝞬
Unicode name MATHEMATICAL BOLD ITALIC
CAPITAL GAMMA
MATHEMATICAL BOLD ITALIC
SMALL GAMMA
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD CAPITAL GAMMA
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD SMALL GAMMA
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD ITALIC CAPITAL GAMMA
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD ITALIC SMALL GAMMA
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 120606 U+1D71E 120632 U+1D738 120664 U+1D758 120690 U+1D772 120722 U+1D792 120748 U+1D7AC
UTF-8 240 157 156 158 F0 9D 9C 9E 240 157 156 184 F0 9D 9C B8 240 157 157 152 F0 9D 9D 98 240 157 157 178 F0 9D 9D B2 240 157 158 146 F0 9D 9E 92 240 157 158 172 F0 9D 9E AC
UTF-16 55349 57118 D835 DF1E 55349 57144 D835 DF38 55349 57176 D835 DF58 55349 57202 D835 DF72 55349 57234 D835 DF92 55349 57260 D835 DFAC
Numeric character reference 𝜞 𝜞 𝜸 𝜸 𝝘 𝝘 𝝲 𝝲 𝞒 𝞒 𝞬 𝞬

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.

See also

References

  1. ^ Russell, Bertrand (1972). A history of western philosophy (60th print. ed.). New York: Touchstone book. ISBN 9780671314002. 
  2. ^ Powell, Barry B. (27 March 2009). Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization. Wiley Blackwell. p. 182. ISBN 978-1405162562. 
  3. ^ Gordon James Hamilton, The Origins of the West Semitic Alphabet in Egyptian Scripts (2006), 53–56.
  4. ^ "Greek Alphabet Symbols". Rapid Tables. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Practical Orthography of African Languages
  6. ^ François Cardarelli (2003). Encyclopaedia of Scientific Units, Weights and Measures. Springer-Verlag London Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4471-1122-1.