I have read about alpha, but back in time there was another notation, using the vertical sign |. I'd like to know how they pronounced it.

EDIT: with a bit of more research, I've actually found that the vertical sign was iota, the only letter which wasn't used due to being the first of the number name. Here's the link: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/greek.htm. So, was hen the name of 1?

  • 1
    Are you asking how they wrote and said their word for 'one'? If so that's not really on-topic.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 5 '14 at 1:25
  • Where's your authority for "back in time there was another notation, using the vertical sign"? And what makes you think that anybody would know how they pronounced that sign back then -- if they pronounced it -- except to say something like /eka/?
    – jlawler
    Oct 5 '14 at 2:59
  • 3
    Whatever the notation used, presumably Greeks would have pronounced it as their word for "one", which was heis (masc.), mia (fem.), hen (neut.). (@jlawler, eka is Sanskrit.)
    – TKR
    Oct 5 '14 at 4:15
  • @jlawler I've added my authority in the body of the question. Oct 5 '14 at 7:07
  • @TKR So I guess that in a general context (I need this for a mathematical thing), I should go for hen, right? Oct 5 '14 at 7:09

When counting, the Greeks (like everyone else) obviously used their word for “one”; they did not read the names of the letters that were used as numerals (α´, β´, γ´ etc.). It could be debated which gender they used when counting. Presumably, when counting specific items they would have used the gender of the thing in question. For simply counting in an abstract way maybe they used the masculine (like Russian один), maybe they used the neuter (German “eins” is etymologically neuter, though in modern German used only as a number name); two-gender languages seem always to use the masculine (French “un”, Arabic wāḥid etc.).The modern Greeks use the neuter ένα, if that is anything to go by.

  • Small correction: the modern Greeks say ένα, not ένας.
    – RP_
    Oct 5 '14 at 12:41
  • You are right. I have corrected it.
    – fdb
    Oct 5 '14 at 15:24

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