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Headword: Ἦτα
Adler number: eta,614
Translated headword: eta
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
[Meaning] the phoneme [of that name], the letter [of that name].
Greek Original:
Ἦτα: τὸ στοιχεῖον, τὸ γράμμα.
Notes:
Properly speaking, a stoikheion (the first of these glosses) is a simple sound, to be distinguised from a gramma (the second of them), the written letter; but the distinction is not always maintained. See LSJ s.v. στοιχεῖον II.1 (web address 1).
The letter H was used in early Greek alphabets, including that of Attica, for the aspirate (rough breathing). In central Ionic it was sometimes used for the syllable he. As initial psilosis proceeded in eastern Ionic dialects, the letter was no longer recognized as a consonant, but came to represent the open long e vowel sound which had developed from original long a. When the Ionic alphabet was adopted at Athens (officially in 403/2 BC), the letter was used for both inherited long e and long e from long a. What it sounded like may be inferred from its use in representing the bleating of a sheep (beta 250, cf. beta 336). As time went on, the sound of eta succumbed to itacism. In Byzantine and modern Greek, its sound is indistinguishable from that of iota.
References:
Carl Darling Buck, The Greek Dialects (Chicago 1955) 18-19
M. Lejeune, Phonétique historique du mycénien et du grec ancien (Paris 1972), pp. 236-237
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology
Translated by: Catharine Roth on 22 January 2002@19:10:33.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 30 August 2002@09:30:24.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 13 March 2008@01:14:34.
Catharine Roth (updated bibliography) on 5 June 2008@11:15:35.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticule) on 5 June 2008@11:17:45.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 20 December 2012@09:19:09.

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