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CHAT: KOPPA (was: Value of Latin _x_)

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Tuesday, April 17, 2001, 21:24
Raymond Brown wrote:

> I'm a little surrised at the Koppas BTW. The form in ancient inscriptions > is a circle with a vertical line beneath it, a bit like a lollipop. > Sometimes, indeed, the vertical line goes through to the top of the circle, > making it look horribly like a phi. Obviously in handwriting shapes > changed and I've no doubt the sort of sideways on Z squiggles of 03DE & > 03DF are found, but I would've expected the original upper-case form to > appear somewhere.
Okay, I finally have the straight story. In Unicode 2.x, the glyph for KOPPA was the lollipop (or hand mirror). The glyphs displayed in charts aren't actually part of the Standard, but are only examples. Apparently the lightning-flash form is that actually used in Modern Greek texts when enumerating paragraphs, document sections, etc. It is considered analogous to Roman numerals. Since many font creators model themselves on the Unicode charts, Unicode 3.x changed the glyph to the forms that are actually needed for modern use. In the *next* release of Unicode, 3.2, a distinct pair of characters, CAPITAL and SMALL ARCHAIC KOPPA (wedged between KAI SYMBOL and STIGMA) will be specifically dedicated to non-numerical use in archaic texts. The glyphs for this will have the lollipop shape. In addition, Unicode 3.2 will add a REVERSED LUNATE EPSILON SYMBOL at U+03F6. The tentative new chart is at .
> The other archaic letters listed - 03DA thru 03E1 are needed as numerals. > But I see this noted only against 03DD. In fact stigma was mistaken by > those who'd forgotten digamma, as the symbol used for six & was in later > times the symbol normally used. Koppa was used for 90 and sampi for 900.
The Unicode tables unfortunately do not systematically supply the numeric values for Greek or Hebrew letters. -- There is / one art || John Cowan <jcowan@...> no more / no less || to do / all things || with art- / lessness \\ -- Piet Hein


Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>