This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Nuts and Bolts: getting a beta.

Transliteration when someone writes down a language in an alphabet which isn't its usual one. 

The Word Den does this rather often with Greek words.

Well, when The Word Den says Greek, it generally means Ancient Greek, and when it says Ancient, it mostly means before the fall of Constantinople in 1453. 

Yes, it makes a difference. 

The Greek letter beta, β, for instance, is pronounced as a b in Ancient Greek (βιβλος, which sounds like biblos, for example, means book (yes, as in bible)). But to get that b sound in Modern Greek you have to write the letters mu pi: μπ.

The letter β in Modern Greek makes the sound we in English write down as v.

Mind you, if you think that's confusing, the Greeks have always pronounced a capital P as an R. 

Still, they were there first, so fair enough.

Thing To Consider Today: beta, β. The name of this letter comes from the Hebrew bēth, from beyith house, which seems to comes ultimately from the Egyptian hieroglyph for house: O1.

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