Re: Greek questions, on- and off-topic

From: Patrick T. Rourke (
Date: Tue Jan 23 2001 - 08:00:49 EST

Here's a listing of the Unicode names (which are the modern Greek names, I
believe) for diacriticals in the Extended Greek range and the analogous
English *common* names of the Greek accents:

acute = oxia
grave = varia
circumflex = perispomeni
iota subscript = ypogegrammeni
smooth breathing = psili
rough breathing = dasia
diaresis = dialytika

"Tonos" is the Greek word for accent. The letters with "tonos" in the basic
Greek block are called that because all accented Greek characters in modern
Greek script use the same accent - and that is the acute.

The following diacriticals are not used in typeset Greek text, but only in
dictionaries and other books where learners need to be given the length of
alpha, iota, and epsilon (omicron and epsilon are of course always short;
and omega and eta are of course always long, so one would never need the
macron or breve over the other four vowels, even in dictionary listings):

macron = macron
vrachy = breve

The basic Greek block also includes letters that are not used in Classical
Attic (Stigma, Digamma, Qoppa, Sampi, Yot), except that some are used as
numerals, and a number of characters that are only used in Coptic
(post-hieroglyphic Egyptian: Dei, Shei, Fei, Khei, Hori, Shima) and are
derived from the demotic Egyptian script. Also do not use the "symbol"
versions of Greek letters.

Ano teleia is the semicolon (a raised dot). I imagine that the capitals with
diaresis are there for text that's in all capitals but is accented.

Note that ancient, biblical and Byzantine Greek all use the polytonic
version of the script, and modern Greek uses the monotonic (in effect, only
uses the acute accent).

I've been working for some time on an online resource for using Unicode with
ancient Greek, but it's not yet in finished form.

It is VERY important to follow Marco Cimarosti's suggestion to look at the
normalization forms chart.

Patrick Rourke

----- Original Message -----
From: "Marco Cimarosti" <>
To: "Unicode List" <>
Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2001 3:10 AM
Subject: RE: Greek questions, on- and off-topic

> > My Greek textbook has acute, grave, and circumflex (called by
> > those names),
> > but I'm not sure what these correspond to in the Greek and
> > Greek Extended
> > blocks (there seem to be many more diacriticals than those).
> > Is there an on-line guide somewhere?
> There are in fact other diacritics used in Greek in addition to the three
> accents:
> - Dieresis or dialytica (also used in modern spelling)
> - Spiritus asper (romanized with an "h") and spiritus levis
> - Subscript iota (to show an unpronounced etymological "i")
> - Macron and breve (only used in grammar books and dictionaries)
> - Apostrophe (admitting it can be called a diacritic)
> - and something else that I am forgetting, probably...
> To know which Unicode code points should be used for these diacritics, the
> handiest thing is to look up the canonical decompositions in the
> UnicodeData.txt database, both in the basic Greek block (U+03xx) and in
> extended block (U+1Fxx). The canonical decomposition field is the data
> after the 5th semicolon on each line.
> _ Marco

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