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Eta and Iota[edit]

The article says that the reported pronounciation of the Greek letters "Eta" and "Iota" are exactly the same for modern Greek. This can't be right, can it?. Need help of an expert on this one. —Preceding unsigned comment added by H.M.S Me (talkcontribs) 21:36, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Eta and Iota are pronouced exactly the same, see Greek orthography.  Andreas  (T) 22:46, 18 January 2008 (UTC)


I copy from el:Συζήτηση:Ελληνικό αλφάβητο#Heta

Let me summarize my findings and try to clarify the issue. The english article is inaccurate and in that sense wrong. It should be merged with eta, they are the same letter.

  • heta and eta are the same letter pronounced differently in different dialects ἧτα or ἦτα respectively.
  • there is no distinct letter heta
  • the same letter (H) represented in the beginning and in most dialects h (consonant)
  • in the ionic dialect spiritus asper disappeared, so heta became eta and then H was used to represent the long e (as in the beginning of the word eta)
  • after the ionic alpabet prevailed, H was used for long e
  • but there was still need for the no longer represented h, so a derivative form of heta-H ("half H") appeared for this purpose, which later developed to the diacritic for spiritus asper we use nowadays. I found no special name for it.
  • χητα appears to be a completely wrong transliteration

This article should either change its name or be merged to Eta (letter). Heta and Eta are the same letter pronounced differently. The name of the developed form of heta (half heta) used as a diacritic for spiritus asper is unknown to me, so I propose merge. A page about unicode signs is not a good source, as accurate as it might be, because it deals with the issue from a different perspective.--Archidamus (talk) 22:04, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Yep, I'd support merging. Fut.Perf. 22:14, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
My bold merge attempt was reverted by another editor, on the grounds that these are two separeate letters. Well, maybe yes, but they are ultimately the same historical alphabetic entity, and their histories are inextricably linked so much that you can't really understand the one without the other. In fact, the existing Eta (letter) article did already cover the history of Heta all along - my merger just added a little bit more detail to what was already there. And this Heta (letter) article here is quite dubious: Heta "is[!] the eighth[!?] letter of the Greek alphabet"? It also gives undue emphasis to just the one phase in its history when it was written with the half-H tack shape. Consonantal Heta was the same entity already in those variants of the alphabet where it had the full H glyph shape, or indeed any number of other alternative glyphs. For all these reasons, I still think treating them all together in a single article is the better thing to do. Fut.Perf. 23:21, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

The funny thing is that, even if they are different letters (which I doubt), they share the same name. Heta is namely the form of the word Eta in all dialects which didn't undergo "psilosis" (loss of initial spiritus asper).--Archidamus (talk) 23:34, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Merge. There is no separate letter Heta, and anything that should be said about the left half of H belongs either in the Eta (letter) article or the Spiritus asper article (or both). --Macrakis (talk) 23:36, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Merge to Eta. The only proof so far for the existence of "heta" as a letter on its own right is the Unicode codepoint adopted recently. Unicode is not an authority on language. Unicode is just trying to render two different characters, not two different letters (thus the "h"-eta erroneously transliterated to a non existant "χήτα"), also as per the linguist's homepage that's given as a source. I'd also suggest removing the "Heta" from Template:Greek alphabet and Template:Table Greekletters.-Badseed (talk) 23:44, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Okay, merger reinstated, thanks for the input. I've also now discussed this with User:Grk1011, who reverted me previously, so I guess we can call it consensus. Fut.Perf. 23:57, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

If Sampi is derived from San and is separate letter, then when Heta is derived from Eta, why Heta cannot be separate, as Sampi is? CBMIBM (talk) 09:03, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Because Heta is cognate to Eta, and both words are variants of the same word, while comparing various Greek dialects, Heta and Eta is the same letter. San and Sampi are not cognates, thus can be different letters. (talk) 22:00, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

This is not true for letters themselves, despite of names being cognate, because consonant and vowel sounds are different class of sounds. Thus Heta should be separate, even there: Heta is defined as separate letter, placed alphabetically directly after Eta. CBMIBM (talk) 14:59, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Although Heta in Unicode is ultimately my fault (I being Nick Nicholas who submitted the proposal to Unicode), I agree with the merger. They are historically the same letter; they are distinct glyphs, and arguably in some contexts distinct characters (though the distinction is not at all clearcut, as Badseed argues) --- but there is no point keeping them apart in Wikipedia. Oh, and naturally the Greek for Heta is ἧτα --- which is a problem for Monotonic Greek, but χήτα is certainly not a solution. Opoudjis (talk) 06:30, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

This is not fault, because you wrote here: that in Delphi, Heraclea/Tarentum, and Cnidus eta and heta were used simultaneously. Example: ο Μικος ο Μαγνητος τἀθαναιαι̣ μ' ανεθηκε. (Jeffery 1990:415) what means: Mikos son of Magnes dedicated me to Athena. CBMIBM (talk) 14:14, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

CBMIBM (talk) 12:04, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

"Tack heta" glyphs[edit]

"Tack heta" example glyphs

I'm removing the image with the "tack heta" glyphs for unicode U+0370 and U+0371. While unicode charts do show such glyphs, they appear to be unhistoric, especially the lowercase version, and in fact may be only invented for Unicode. Actual epigraphic scholarship apparently uses simpler glyphs that are really just a vertical and a horizontal bar (like |- ). Examples of actual usage in modern typography can be found in Nick Nicholas' original encoding proposal for Unicode. Reference glyphs in the Unicode charts have no normative value and really need not concern us here very much. Fut.Perf. 10:07, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

P.S. I've asked our two resident experts for input, User:Evertype and User:Opoudjis. Fut.Perf. 10:13, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Bad idea. You may wish to add discussion about epigraphy, and indeed images of epigraphy, but the Unicode characters are and will be used in editions and so should be shown. I've reverted the commenting out. Thanks for asking. -- Evertype· 12:18, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Can you enlighten us as to the origin of that specific lowercase glyph form, and its use or non-use pre-Unicode? Fut.Perf. 12:54, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

I have the same 2 questions with Fut.Perf., namely come we have lowercase half-heta, when at the time lowercase greek alphabet was developed, spiritus asper had already been further developed to the modern inverse apostrophe and 2. isn't the unicode sign a bit too sophisticated? I have only seen the simple vertical and horizontal lines Fut.Perf. mentions. These are genuine questions by the way, since I am not an expert myself.--Archidamus (talk) 15:54, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

It's all about the needs of modern typography in modern edition work, that much I understand. The paper by Nicholas does state that some scholarly editions have used two distinct tack glyphs to render tack-Heta in uppercase and lowercase environments. But nothing with such elaborate Roman-style serifed glyphs. Fut.Perf. 20:51, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Whether it is a good idea (useful, aesthetic, etc.) to have a lower-case form of symbols which historically never had them, such as tack-H, is up to classicists, epigraphers, typographers, etc., not up to Wikipedia editors. All we need to determine here on Wikipedia is whether they are in fact in (non-trivial) use. As to choosing a glyph to represent them, on the one hand it would be useful to choose a relatively-commonly-used one; on the other, it would be nice to have one that is consistent with other glyphs used on WP. Perhaps both. --Macrakis (talk) 21:20, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I slightly disagree. When one comes to the eta article and sees some images of an obsolete letter, one expects that these are the traditional forms found by archaeologists. I would agree with Macrakis when talking about eta: we are free to choose any form we wish from the several ones in use. But when we are talking about a letter which ceased to exist ages ago, in my opinion priority goes to the traditional form. How some classicists decided to print it in their books is of secondary importance (unless of course it has become standard, which I doubt from my scarce sources). I start getting a bit irritaded by this whole Unicode POV-pushing. This article is not about unicode, it's about the letter eta/heta and its history. How and why Unicode chooses to represent it could be mentioned in a paragraph at the end of the article. But choosing a (in my opinion quite controversial) artificial serifed form over the one delivered by epigraphs themselves is a bit too much. There was no calligraphy (as far as I understand) at the times of half-heta, no lowercase either, so there is no point in trying to make it look nice. And consistency with other letters is not a question, when we are talking about an obsolete letter. It's like having found just one form of present of one obsolete verb and then trying to reconstruct all other tenses according to the rules -we might do it in school for practice, but not in an encyclopedia. I'm sorry if I'm wrong, but I still don't have a credible explanation why the Unicode half-heta forms must belong to the article, when there are no real half-heta images. I find it misleading --Archidamus (talk) 23:23, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I would agree that the question of the Unicode encoding shouldn't be of top importance to this article. Also, I'll say again, there really is no such thing as a "Unicode glyph". If I'm not mistaken, Unicode doesn't prescribe glyph shapes. They simply assign the code points, define what the character is supposed to be used for, and then leave it to font designers how to shape it. Somebody just designed one arbitrary glyph shape for use in Unicode's reference tables, and somebody else made a rough copy of that for the Wikipedia image. Fut.Perf. 01:10, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
When the three archaic characters which were added to Amendment 3 it was decided to add them as casing pairs because in the modern computing environment that's a reasonable requirement. The exact glyphs for the three characters were drawn by me, in consultation with a number of Greek-savvy experts in font design. The letters were designed to harmonize with Modern Greek letterforms, so in a Times font HETA has, and should have, serifs. In a non-serif font of course it would not. (Actually, the .svg file was incorrect; the horizontal middle bar on the capital does not have a serif (though the analogous U+2C75 LATIN LETTER HALF H does). These choices were made by pretty well-informed experts. You can rail against Unicode if you like, but there's not much point. You say that the letters "ceased to exist ages ago" but in fact, they exist, now, again, for use. the typographic examples given should, in my view, represent what people are likely to find in fonts (and that does mean serifs). What would be nice however would be some photos of actual HETAs in use. -- Evertype· 13:11, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
Obviously I didn't make myself clear. I don't have anything against Unicode and from what I saw there are some very well qualified people working there (better than me in these issues for sure). My objection does not concern Unicode. My irritation had more to do with the edit war in greek WP about heta in the name of Unicode. My objection concerns only this article here. From what you describe and from what I have found out in a very short research this image of the half-heta is clearly a work of fiction. No lowercase half-heta has been found and ancient Greeks didn't use serif fonts. There must have been a good reason though why Unicode developed it, I'm sure. But as a work of fiction it either does not belong to this article or it should be labelled as such to avoid confusion. The letters are not used anymore, that's why they are called obsolete, and thus their form is not subject to evolution anymore. They are used only to transcribe epigraphs in books. We can develop some mathematical model and predict that, if dinosaurs hadn't ceased to exist, they would look nowadays very much like elephants. That's fine and could be a very respectable and serious theory in biology. But it would be wrong to include a drawing of an elephant-like dinosaur in the WP article about dinosaurs, because it would create confusion among the readers. Theories should be separated from facts. That's my point. (As a matter of fact half-heta did develop further into the apostrophes used nowadays for spiritus asper and spiritus lenis and that's another reason why I find it an oxymoron to use in an encyclopedia article serif fonts for a letter that had already developed into something else before serif fonts were invented). I hope I've made my point, I think it's not worth arguing more about this issue and I certainly don't want to underestimate the serious work of Unicode. It's only my opinion, I see that not everyone shares it and I can live with that.--Archidamus (talk) 14:12, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
Modern scholars use the letter. Let's say someone writes an article and wants to cite a word which had this letter in it. One might write it in all caps: ͰΥΡ’ ͰΕΛΛΕΝΟΣ, but one might wish to write it, say in a dictionary, in lowercase: ͱυφ’ ͱέλλε̄νος. It's reasonable for scholars to want to use all lower-case, isn't it? The alphabet is a human invention. Lower-case heta is not a "fiction". It is an "innovation". It may be used to transcribe "epigraphs in books" as you say. but it may also be used to cite forms in other linguistic discussions. -- Evertype· 16:15, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
Okay, I quite agree the Unicode treatment should be mentioned and possibly illustrated. It just should be done in a way that clearly marks the glyph innovations as such, so that the reader doesn't get mislead into believing they are historical. Fut.Perf. 17:27, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Here: is stated, that tack heta is a distinct letter, and not variant of eta, but rather letter derived from eta, that is defined as separate letter, placed alphabetically directly after eta. CBMIBM (talk) 14:34, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
This [1] and [2] may help.Grk1011 (talk) 14:39, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
CBMIBM, that interesting discussion by Nicholas mentions one inscription where Heta and Eta are found together. Interesting fact, and worth mentioning in the article as long as it is not given undue weight. He also mentions that there is no evidence about its alphabetical order, by the way. --Macrakis (talk) 18:41, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Indeed. The sentence that CBMIBM seems to have misunderstood is about the technical status of the proposed codepoints in the Unicode standard and their sorting properties, not about the status and position of Heta in the historical alphabet. Entirely different thing. Fut.Perf. 19:09, 20 January 2008 (UTC)


Why are the Unicode codes given for the tack-eta characters, but not for eta itself?

CielProfond (talk) 02:01, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Edit request from Athowhen[edit]

Please add to the Uses section:

"Note: To enter the lower case character on a computer, hold down the alt key and type "+03b7" then release the alt key. See Unicode input for other options."

Not done. It's a bit too much like a how-to manual; we don't need to include instructions for every special symbol. Also, computer ≠ MS Windows. Feezo (send a signal | watch the sky) 04:44, 19 August 2011 (UTC)


η0 is the intrinsic impedance of free space η0=√(μ0/ε0) η0=376.73 Ω η0~=120π Ω

Cite: Stutzman,Thiele. "Antenna Theory and Design" 2nd edition


η is used to repretent the backscatter yield in electron microscopy —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:48, 9 March 2011 (UTC)