Greek Letters That Look Like Pitchforks

Greek Letters That Look Like Pitchforks – A slab on display in the Acropolis Museum in Athens dates back to B.C. It shows decrees written in the Greek alphabet around 446. (Universal History Archive/Universal Image Group/Getty Images)

The 15th letter of the Greek alphabet was a relatively innocuous entity for 2,500 years. But in less than two weeks, it became popular. Omicron went beyond classical philosophy texts, beyond the realm of 13 million native Greek speakers, and exploded into urgent scientific reports, breaking news headlines and social media feeds around the world.

Greek Letters That Look Like Pitchforks

Greek Letters That Look Like Pitchforks

The Greek alphabet is a millennium wonder, and it didn’t necessarily need this boost of visibility. But the world is getting a Greek lesson, one unpleasant variant of the coronavirus at a time. The same letters used by Plato and Aristotle are becoming symbols of a global plague, and knowing the difference between delta and omicron is essential to understanding whether we are emerging from the pandemic or still mired in it.

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“This is not the way I wanted to learn the Greek alphabet,” wrote Isla McKetta, 43, of Seattle, on Twitter after learning about the omicron, which she, like many Americans, did not know until it was named a letter. “concern variant”.

Although many people knew only a few letters of the Greek alphabet, it is the creation of the omicron that set off a crash course. According to Google data, online searches for the phrase “Greek alphabet” have increased. Even some scientists say they are forced to brush up.

“Most of us know a few critical letters: alpha, beta, gamma,” said Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “And then it starts to get hairy.”

For the Greeks, there is a certain shock at seeing their language fall into the hands of others. (In a news release, President Biden mistakenly added an “n” to the name of the variant, calling it “Ohm-nee-kron”). But the Greeks say they see their language as a universal heritage, and they are proud of how the parties. they are widely used in science, mathematics and technology.

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Public health officials took to the airwaves on December 5 to explain the dangers posed by the omicron variant of the coronavirus after cases were reported in the US (Video: Zach Purser Brown/The Washington Post)

Before the pandemic, there were alpha particles and gamma rays. Sigma, as any Microsoft Excel user knows, is the symbol for addition. And perhaps no letter is more famous than pi.

“For us, such things do not inspire respect,” said a senior Greek government official, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak candidly.

Greek Letters That Look Like Pitchforks

The official referred to Facebook’s new corporate name, Meta – which usually means “self-referential” in English, but means “after” or “beyond” in Greek.

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“It’s not like they asked us,” the official said with a laugh. “The use of Greek words is fairly well established.”

For many Americans, until the pandemic, the primary association with Greece came through college fraternities and sororities. In response to McKetta’s tweet, which was retweeted some 14,000 times, many people made jokes about Greek campus life or said they were taken to initiation rites.

“Nothing I learned as a drunken sorority girl ever prepared me for today’s world climate like learning the Greek alphabet,” one person wrote.

Greek letters only got their pandemic role a few months ago, and somehow they came to the rescue. Before June, scientists used their own naming systems for variants—B.1.1.7, for example. And in public, the new variants were being described colloquially in the countries where they were first detected, a practice the World Health Organization called “stigmatizing and discriminatory.”

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So the WHO called a series of meetings. One idea involved basing variant names on bird species. Another required the use of the names of Greek gods. Mark Pallen, professor of microbial genomics at the University of East Anglia, who attended several of the meetings, said any system would have to give “gravitas” and “notoriety” to the variants. He suggested drawing the names of characters from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

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Almost every idea had a problem. There were concerns about trademarks and lawsuits. There were concerns about the behavior of the ancient gods: their morality and violence. Finally, with the feeling that “everything was falling apart,” Pallen said, a senior WHO official, Frank Konings, decided to “only use Greek letters.”

When the new, highly mutated variant was discovered in late November, the next letter in line, alphabetically, was nu. But the WHO decided that a homophone for “new” would be too confusing. Officials dismissed the “new nu variant”.

Greek Letters That Look Like Pitchforks

The next letter in the Greek alphabet is Xi, which is spelled identically to the Chinese leader’s surname – an unflattering echo of President Donald Trump’s insistence on referring to the “China virus”. Even the WHO skipped that.

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“Xi was not used because it is a common surname,” the WHO said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Looking ahead, scientists see another problem. There are many variations—and probably more significant ones on the way—but the Greek alphabet only has 24 letters, and only nine remain on the list.

The once-dominant alpha and now-dominant delta obviously deserve their names, scientists say. Similar to beta, first identified in South Africa in late 2020, it was more likely than its predecessors to cause severe disease. But other variants – and, theta, iota – spread quickly and are now irrelevant.

“I think we used too much of the Greek alphabet too quickly,” said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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For those who use the Roman alphabet, the Greek alphabet consists of a series of easily identifiable letters: A (alpha), B (beta), and K (kappa), for example, all of which look and sound as they would in English, Spanish. or French

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But the Greek alphabet also has letters that are familiar but have different sounds: P makes an R sound. Then there are the unfamiliar letters, such as psi, which look like a little fork.

Maria Kaliambou, a professor of Greek at Yale University, said it takes her class about three months to nail the pronunciations and internalize the sounds. Greece is rarely offered in American high schools, so its courses begin for true beginners. But he said people can learn quickly.

Greek Letters That Look Like Pitchforks

In one of her classes for middle school students, a 21-year-old, Kincaid MacDonald, used the pandemic as inspiration for an end-of-semester creative writing assignment: “Greek Letters vs. WHO.”

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He described the letters as little characters with arms and legs who lived in the basement of an eccentric Greek professor. And they wanted to sue for defamation.

At a conference table last Thursday, MacDonald read the story aloud to the small class in Greek, drawing occasional bursts of laughter. The story took several twists and turns, eventually leading away from the pandemic. But the story emphasized that letters were sick of being associated with disease and death. They were harmless, and they wanted to restore their reputation.

In a subsequent email, MacDonald explained that his feelings about the Greek letters had not been clouded. “I’m lucky that I learned the alphabet by mistake a few months before the pandemic started,” he said, “which, you might say, ‘immunized’ me against this poisoned association.”

“The number of times I’ve heard ‘delta’ or ‘omicron’ to refer to a Covid strain far exceeds the number of times we’ve used it in our regular Greek studies,” MacDonald wrote. “I worry that people learning Greek for the first time (or thinking about learning it) don’t have that immunity.”

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Halo, Saya adalah penulis artikel dengan judul Greek Letters That Look Like Pitchforks yang dipublish pada October 9, 2022 di website Caipm

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