A couple of tidbits that I found when reading David Sacks’s Letter Perfect revolved around the letter Omega.
I only recently learned about the sounds of Greek letters (I knew that they had sounds. I didn’t know what the sounds were). Even when Letter Perfect pointed out that omicron was used for a short ‘o’ sound and omega was used for long ‘o’ sounds, I still didn’t get it.
It wasn’t until I looked at a table of letters on page 61 of Letter Perfect that I understood the painfully obvious. The table showed the letters as: ‘o micron (“little O”)’ and ‘o mega (“big O”)’. The names of the letters actually describe the sounds that they make.
The other tidbit was about the evolution of the Greek alphabet. The table on page 61 also tells you that the Greeks formed their alphabet from the Phoenicians around 800 BCE. When they did that, they stopped at tau. They added 4 letters (upsilon, phi, chi, psi) around 750 BCE and omega around 660 BCE.
Which got me wondering. If Greeks hadn’t gotten around to changing their alphabet, could the quote have become “I am the Alpha and the Tau” or “I am the Alpha and the Psi”?
Sacks, David. Letter Perfect: The Marvelous History of Our Alphabet from A to Z. New York: Broadway, 2004. Print.