Sunday, December 6, 2009

On Alphabet Confusion

Letter confusion, actually. Greek letters being used for artistic effect instead of the conventional Roman letters. Too look different, I guess. I’m guilty of it too, sometimes. I’ve used a ‘γ’ to replace a ‘y’ even though it’s pronounced like a ‘g’. I’ve also used an ‘η’ instead of an ‘n’, even though it should be pronounced ‘ee’. I do it, but it’s still funny when I see it done elsewhere.

In the title of a DVD recently, I saw a ‘Π’ used instead on ‘N’, and it lead me to wonder. Are the people who did that aware that ‘Π’ is pronounced the same as a roman ‘P’, and that the Greek ‘ρ’, which I’ve seen used in place of a Roman ‘p’ (which would have been fine if it was a capital) is actually pronounced as the Roman ‘r’. And then there’s ‘χ’ to replace ‘X’, as in ‘LaTeχ’, where ‘χ’ is pronounced as a good phlegmy ‘ch’.

If that wasn’t confusing enough, using ‘β’ instead of ‘b’ is all very well, since it is pronounced the same in the Greek and Roman systems, but if a German were to pick it up, he’d be seriously confused, since to him, ‘β’ is pronounced as a solid ‘ss’.

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