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Author Topic: Omicron  (Read 363 times)
Leedscot
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« on: February 12, 2020, 09:34:47 AM »

Common? When??
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TRex
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2020, 09:56:23 AM »

All the names of the letters in the Greek alphabet are common. I think it better to have the consistency than to argue over which letters should be common and rare.
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jancsika
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2020, 06:45:52 PM »

All the names of the letters in the Greek alphabet are common

Are they really though? For sure many of them are commonly used in English expressions (alpha male, beta blocker, gamma ray, delta wing, etc.) but others not so much (I can’t think of any occasion to use “omicron” except to refer expressly to the Greek letter itself, although I am happy to be proved wrong on this!).

I can see where the argument for consistency is coming from, but this isn’t applied to other categories (currency units, for example: “dollar” and “krone”’ are  common whereas “forint” and “ringgit” are rare). Yes, the diving line between “common” and “rare” will always have an arbitrary element to it, but trying to second guess where the dividing line is is half the fun!
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Jacki
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« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2020, 07:18:11 AM »

That is a very good point - just take the eland and springbok discussion. Consistency is not the rule.
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TRex
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2020, 08:08:40 AM »

Somewhere there is (or was) something to the effect that common words were those words which should be known to a well-read person (or words to that effect). ISTM any well-read person should be familiar with the Greek letters.
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mkenuk
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2020, 11:02:54 AM »


These days, unfortunately,very few schools in UK offer Latin and far fewer are able to teach classical Greek.
[An echo of Ben Jonson's words to Shakespeare ('Thou hadst small Latin and less Greek') perhaps!]
Consequently, how the 'well-educated, well-read' members of the present generation (the Chi players of the future!!) will learn the Greek Alphabet is not at all clear.

As Jancsika says, many of the names of the Greek letters have become known to English speakers in other ways, but I am not convinced that (of those Greek letters spelled in English with four or more letters) 'kappa', 'omicron', 'epsilon' and 'upsilon', for example, would be familiar to someone without 'a classical education'.

I'm all for consistency when it comes to classifying words in Chi, but I'm not sure it is appropriate here.

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yelnats
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« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2020, 09:21:37 PM »

Quote
but I am not convinced that (of those Greek letters spelled in English with four or more letters) 'kappa', 'omicron', 'epsilon' and 'upsilon', for example, would be familiar to someone without 'a classical education'.

I didn't have a classical education but modern Greek was common in parts of Melbourne and my kids learned Greek at Richmond Primary school, which also had bilingual classes.
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Dragonman
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2020, 02:44:13 AM »

Many of the players have learnt new words thanks to Chi, TINEA comes to mind for myself ( I knew RINGWORM but didn't know TINEA).
If all the ''rare'' common words were demoted new players might not have the same opportunity to increase their vocabulary.
I think OMICRON should stay common, I knew the word and I didn't have a classical education.
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TRex
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2020, 07:03:43 AM »

Many, many years ago, I had a friend in university who was pledging a fraternity. One of the requirements was striking a cardboard match, holding it with fingers, then reciting the letters of the Greek alphabet in order three times before dropping/extinguishing the match. It required speeding through the letters, i.e. one had to be able to recite the Greek alphabet nearly as well as the English alphabet.
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anonsi
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« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2020, 03:00:15 AM »

Whenever I hear omicron, I think of the Futurama TV show:


Omicron, kappa, epsilon, and others are also used in fraternity and sorority names and in honor societies, so Greek letters will show up in pop culture over here too.
https://www.imdb.com/poll/cGDN208yAgA/
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rogue_mother
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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2020, 07:40:21 AM »


<snip>  but I am not convinced that (of those Greek letters spelled in English with four or more letters) 'kappa', 'omicron', 'epsilon' and 'upsilon', for example, would be familiar to someone without 'a classical education'.

I'm all for consistency when it comes to classifying words in Chi, but I'm not sure it is appropriate here.


Maybe it's a North American thing (those pesky Americans, again!). As anonsi just mentioned, universities in the United States, maybe even most, have fraternities, sororities and honor societies that identify themselves with Greek letters, frequently including those that MK specifically names. Phi Beta Kappa, the premier collegiate honor society in the U. S., comes to mind. Even many high schools have honor societies that are identified by Greek letters.

As for why some of the lesser known Greek letters are classified as common, I refer you to this forum post from 2009. [Hint: It's for the kind of consistency that some Chihuahua players claim to long for.]
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mkenuk
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2020, 11:35:48 AM »


Maybe it's a North American thing....As anonsi just mentioned, universities in the United States, maybe even most, have fraternities, sororities and honor societies that identify themselves with Greek letters, frequently including those that MK specifically names. Phi Beta Kappa, the premier collegiate honor society in the U. S., comes to mind. Even many high schools have honor societies that are identified by Greek letters.


I think it is an American thing - fraternities and sororities are the North American equivalent of the British 'Old Boy / Old Girl / Old School Tie' network, which, ironically, came up for discussion on this forum a few weeks ago.

So, leaving aside their use in naming N. American academic societies, how many of the 24 letters, 14 of which are spelled in English with 4 or more letters, are likely to be known by the proverbial 'Man on the Clapham omnibus'? ('John Doe' to North Americans).
I would add 'iota' and 'omega' to Jancsika's original list of four; many of the others are used in Science and Mathematics, but often to denote quite advanced concepts.

I learned them at school more than sixty years ago.
I could probably still, if my life depended on it, (very slowly!!) decipher a line or two of Homer.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 12:42:32 PM by mkenuk » Logged
rogue_mother
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2020, 02:35:49 AM »


So, leaving aside their use in naming N. American academic societies, how many of the 24 letters, 14 of which are spelled in English with 4 or more letters, are likely to be known by the proverbial 'Man on the Clapham omnibus'? ('John Doe' to North Americans).


Ah, but is the 'Man on the Clapham omnibus' reasonably well-read? If not, then he doesn't get much say as to what's in the Chihuahua common lexicon.
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mkenuk
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« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2020, 03:10:01 AM »

From Wikipedia (my italics)

'The man on the Clapham omnibus is a hypothetical ordinary and reasonable person, used by the courts in English law where it is necessary to decide whether a party has acted as a reasonable person would – for example, in a civil action for negligence. The man on the Clapham omnibus is a reasonably educated, intelligent but nondescript person, against whom the defendant's conduct can be measured.'

I would guess that, like Shakespeare, he would have 'small Latin and less Greek'.


« Last Edit: February 17, 2020, 03:42:50 AM by mkenuk » Logged
jancsika
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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2020, 07:31:52 PM »


I would add 'iota' and 'omega' to Jancsika's original list of four; many of the others are used in Science and Mathematics, but often to denote quite advanced concepts.


Yes, as in “not one iota” and “ I am the alpha and the omega” (or omega-3, for the health conscious among us.)

Most of the Greek letters are used as mathematical symbols (although I don’t recall “omicron” ever being used, I guess its resemblance to the letter “o” and the digit “0” render it it a bit useless!). Of these, I’d be tempted to include “theta” as common, as it is generally used to refer to an unknown angle, even in high-school mathematics.

The one that has me wavering is “epsilon”. It’s used in maths to demote a very small or infinitesimal quantity, which probably counts as “advanced” (and therefore “rare”). On the other hand, , it also is used to refer to the lowest caste of workers in Huxley’s classic “Brave New world” which just might tip it in the balance towards “common”!
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