Upsilon

Upsilon (/ˈʌpsɪlɒn, ˈjp-, ˈp-, ˈʊp-, -lən/; or UK: /ʌpˈslən, jp-/;[1][2][3][4] uppercase Υ, lowercase υ; Greek: ύψιλον ýpsilon [ˈipsilon]) or ypsilon[5] is the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, Υʹ has a value of 400. It is derived from the Phoenician waw .

Etymology

The name of the letter was originally just "υ" (y; also called hy, hence "hyoid", meaning "shaped like the letter υ"), but the name changed to "υ ψιλόν" u psilon 'simple u' to distinguish it from οι, which had come to have the same [y] pronunciation.[6]

Pronunciation

In early Greek, it was pronounced [u]. In Classical Greek, it was pronounced [y], at least until 1030.[7] In Modern Greek, it is pronounced [i]; in the digraphs αυ and ευ, as [f] or [v]. In ancient Greek, it occurred in both long and short versions, but Modern Greek does not have a length distinction.

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 that 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.

Correspondence with Latin Y

The usage of Y in Latin dates back to the first 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 mostly by uneducated people. 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, the new letter was sometimes used for Greek upsilon instead.

Four letters of the Latin alphabet arose from it: V and Y and, much later, U and W. In the Cyrillic script, the letters U (У, у) and izhitsa (Ѵ, ѵ) arose from it.

In some languages (most notably German), the name upsilon (Ypsilon in German, ípsilon in Portuguese) is used to refer to the Latin letter Y as well as the Greek letter.

Usage

Similar appearance

Symbolism

Upsilon is known as Pythagoras' letter, or the Samian letter, because Pythagoras used it as an emblem of the path of virtue or vice.[9] As the Roman writer Persius wrote in Satire III:

and the letter which spreads out into Pythagorean branches has pointed out to you the steep path which rises on the right.[10]

Lactantius, an early Christian author (ca. 240 – ca. 320), refers to this:

For they say that the course of human life resembles the letter Y, because every one of men, when he has reached the threshold of early youth, and has arrived at the place "where the way divides itself into two parts," is in doubt, and hesitates, and does not know to which side he should rather turn himself.[11]

Character encodings

  • Greek Upsilon
CharacterΥυϒ
Unicode nameGREEK CAPITAL LETTER UPSILONGREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILONGREEK UPSILON WITH HOOK SYMBOL
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode933U+03A5965U+03C5978U+03D2
UTF-8206 165CE A5207 133CF 85207 146CF 92
Numeric character referenceΥΥυυϒϒ
Named character referenceΥυϒ
DOS Greek14894172AC
DOS Greek-2209D1239EF
Windows 1253213D5245F5
TeX\Upsilon\upsilon

[12]

  • Coptic Ua
Character
Unicode nameCOPTIC CAPITAL LETTER UACOPTIC SMALL LETTER UA
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode11432U+2CA811433U+2CA9
UTF-8226 178 168E2 B2 A8226 178 169E2 B2 A9
Numeric character referenceⲨⲨⲩⲩ
  • Latin Upsilon
CharacterƱʊᵿ
Unicode nameLATIN CAPITAL LETTER UPSILONLATIN SMALL LETTER UPSILONMODIFIER LETTER SMALL UPSILONLATIN SMALL LETTER UPSILON WITH STROKE
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode433U+01B1650U+028A7607U+1DB77551U+1D7F
UTF-8198 177C6 B1202 138CA 8A225 182 183E1 B6 B7225 181 191E1 B5 BF
Numeric character referenceƱƱʊʊᶷᶷᵿᵿ
  • Mathematical Upsilon
Character𝚼𝛖𝛶𝜐𝜰𝝊
Unicode nameMATHEMATICAL BOLD
CAPITAL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL BOLD
SMALL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL ITALIC
CAPITAL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL ITALIC
SMALL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL BOLD ITALIC
CAPITAL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL BOLD ITALIC
SMALL UPSILON
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode120508U+1D6BC120534U+1D6D6120566U+1D6F6120592U+1D710120624U+1D730120650U+1D74A
UTF-8240 157 154 188F0 9D 9A BC240 157 155 150F0 9D 9B 96240 157 155 182F0 9D 9B B6240 157 156 144F0 9D 9C 90240 157 156 176F0 9D 9C B0240 157 157 138F0 9D 9D 8A
UTF-1655349 57020D835 DEBC55349 57046D835 DED655349 57078D835 DEF655349 57104D835 DF1055349 57136D835 DF3055349 57162D835 DF4A
Numeric character reference𝚼𝚼𝛖𝛖𝛶𝛶𝜐𝜐𝜰𝜰𝝊𝝊
Character𝝪𝞄𝞤𝞾
Unicode nameMATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD CAPITAL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD SMALL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD ITALIC CAPITAL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD ITALIC SMALL UPSILON
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode120682U+1D76A120708U+1D784120740U+1D7A4120766U+1D7BE
UTF-8240 157 157 170F0 9D 9D AA240 157 158 132F0 9D 9E 84240 157 158 164F0 9D 9E A4240 157 158 190F0 9D 9E BE
UTF-1655349 57194D835 DF6A55349 57220D835 DF8455349 57252D835 DFA455349 57278D835 DFBE
Numeric character reference𝝪𝝪𝞄𝞄𝞤𝞤𝞾𝞾

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.

Notes

  1. "Upsilon". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  2. "Upsilon". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  3. "Upsilon". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  4. Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "upsilon, n." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2013.
  5. "Home : Oxford English Dictionary". oed.com.
  6. W. Sidney Allen, Vox Graeca, 3rd ed., Cambridge 1987, p. 69.
  7. F. Lauritzen, "Michael the Grammarian's irony about Hypsilon. A step towards reconstructing Byzantine pronunciation", Byzantinoslavica, 67 (2009)
  8. Mihalas and McRae (1968), Galactic Astronomy (W. H. Freeman)
  9. Brewer, Ebenezer Cobham. The reader's handbook of famous names in fiction, allusions, references, proverbs, plots, stories, and poems, Vol. 2, p. 956. Lippincott, 1899.
  10. Persius. Satires.
  11. Lactatius. The Divine Institutes. pp. Book VI Chapter III.
  12. Unicode Code Charts: Greek and Coptic (Range: 0370-03FF)
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