The sort of thing that drives you crazy at work

I tried today to remember the Greek alphabet. It shouldn't be too awfully hard for me: mathematics and physics use Greek letters all the time. But suddenly when it came down to it today, I fell a little short. (Of course, it didn't help that I couldn't remember how many there were: 22 seemed the right number). These are the ones I could remember:

  1. α Alpha
  2. β Beta
  3. γ Gamma
  4. δ Delta
  5. ε Epsilon
  6. η Eta
  7. θ Theta
  8. κ Kappa
  9. λ Lamda
  10. μ Mu
  11. ν Nu
  12. ξ Xi
  13. π Pi
  14. σ Sigma
  15. τ Tau
  16. φ Phi
  17. χ Chi
  18. ψ Psi
  19. ω Omega (paradoxially the last one I could recall)

    And then there were the 5 I couldn't remember:
  20. ζ Zeta
  21. ι Iota
  22. ο Omicron
  23. ρ Rho
  24. υ Upsilon

On the bright side, the final tally (24 letters) was within 2 of my surmising (22), and within 3 (27) of the Greek guy I asked at work today, who apparently doesn't know his own language as well as I do.

Bonus Greek alphabet link: Wikipedia helpfully covers the Greek letters used in mathematics and what they mean.


Dave said...

A little bored, were we?

Anonymous said...

The original Greek Alphabet had 27 letters which were also the "digits" of the Greek numeral system. And maybe the first use of these 27 signs was arithmetical and not grammatical.