YΦXΨΩ were the letters added by the ancient greeks to the early northsemitic (phoenician) alphabet.
In very few ancient cities
of the Western-Eastern
greek alphabet groups it had the form V
The addition of this new letter was intended to represent the [u] sound (later written as OY).
Here is the story: The indoeuropean semiphone waw
appeared in greek 1) as vowel [u] (letter Y
) and 2) as consonant [v] (letter F
). It is said that the northsemitic letter: wāw in its Samaritan version influenced digamma F [v]
and by its Phoenician sound influenced Y [u]
. Very soon, in ancient Attic
the Upsilon was pronounced [y] as in french tu
and the OY
combination represented [u]. The /y/ pronunciation survived till the 9/10th century e.v.
It was a 'dichronic' (two-valued)
vowel: short [y] or long [y:
After the 3rd century e.v. the Y
pronunciation coincided within the iotacistic
tendency of turning many sounds to [i] (See this Y-OI interchange at this inscription
). After the middle times, Upsilon was pronounced [i].
Y was always preceded by a /h/ sound.
times, this lost /h/ took the form of daseia breathing mark
. Although it is not pronounced in modern greek, it is retained in most european languages.
ALL words starting with Upsilon received the hellenistic diacritic mark: daseia
to represent a /h/ preceding sound. It is not pronounced in greek. (check discussion on breathing accent marks
Initial name/spelling was «»
. The Romans called it y Graecum
since they had no sound [y] (their U was pronounced [u]). The coincidence of Y and OI diphthong
pronunciation after 3rd century e.v. gave the idea to the byzantines
to name it ψιλόν
i`lon] = i light, thin (in analogy to e psilon
which during some time had represented the EI
diphthong). Hence its final name ὕψιλoν
(now written with a daseia, following the rule -see GRAMMAR-).
: OY for [u] sound
For vowel+Y check AY, EY, the rare HY
and rare YI
MORE GREEK WORDS STARTING WITH Y
always with daseia:
•υπέρ=above,over - hyper
•υπό=under - hypo υπoκριτής= answerer,actor,hypocrit
•υδρ...=water... - hydraulics