Saturday, October 01, 2005

Siculate Sigma?

A few weeks ago Michael Hendry was wondering about certain orthographical conventions (adscript iota and the like) and was surprised to find that 'siculate sigmas' hadn't caught on.

I tried to post a comment asking for more information, but it doesn't seem to have taken (apologies if it does, and this is redundant), so I thought I'd ask our readers for input.

Does anyone know what a siculate sigma is?

The way I see it there are three possibilities:

1) A sigma which resembles a Sicilian girl (from Siculus, -a, -um)
2) A sigma which resembles a small curved dagger, with handle (final sigma, ς)
3) A sigma which resembles a small curved dagger, sans handle (lunate sigma, ϲ)

Little help? I know others (such as Caelestis at Sauvage Noble) have been wondering.


Anonymous said...

From looking online and in the OED "siculate" seems to be a neologism. The context of the original blog post also suggests he meant lunate. But I might be wrong. David

Michael Hendry said...

As it happens, I just changed it to lunate in an update, since I can't now retrieve where I first heard of siculate sigmas and whether it's another name for lunate or refers to the traditional end-of-word form. I thought 'siculate' meant 'sickle-shaped', which might refer to either, depending on whether we include the handle or not. It's been decades since I last heard of siculate sigmas, and I don't recall the source.

As for your comment, I just edited my template to make it clear that comments are moderated and will not appear until I approve each one individually, which can take up to 8 hours if I'm asleep or at work. I get hundreds of poker and body-part spam comments every week, and I'll be damned if I'll let a single one of them appear even briefly.

dennis said...

Thanks for the response!

I hope you didn't take that negatively. I was honestly curious and just thought the linguistic possibilities were humorous.

I've personally gone back and forth on lunate sigmas. I like the idea of using them, but I always end up reverting unconsciously.

Chris Weimer said...

At curculio I mentioned that the TY Ancient Greek was the only book I saw it in, but now that I think about it, N. J. Richardson in his book The Homeric Hymn to Demeter Oxford: 1974 also used the lunate (siculate) sigma.