Topics: Greek alphabet, Unicode, Latin alphabet Pages: 8 (1583 words) Published: June 21, 2013


Alpha (uppercase Α, lowercase α; Greek: Άλφα Álpha) is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 1. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Aleph . Letters that arose from Alpha include the Latin A and the Cyrillic letter А. In English the noun alpha is used as a synonym for "beginning", or "first" (in a series), reflecting its Greek roots.[1]

In Ancient Greek, alpha was pronounced [a] when short and [aː] when long. Where there is ambiguity, long and short alpha are sometimes written with a macron and breve today: Ᾱᾱ, Ᾰᾰ. • ὥρα = ὥρᾱ hōrā Greek pronunciation: [hɔ̌ːraː] "a time" • γλῶσσα = γλῶσσᾰ glôssa Greek pronunciation: [ɡlɔ̂ːssa] "tongue" In Modern Greek, vowel length has been lost, and all instances of alpha represent the short Greek pronunciation: [a]. In the polytonic orthography of Greek, alpha, like other vowel letters, can occur with several diacritic marks: any of three accent symbols (ά, ὰ, ᾶ), and either of two breathing marks (ἁ, ἀ), as well as combinations of these. It can also combine with the iota subscript (ᾳ). Greek grammar In the Attic-Ionic dialect of Ancient Greek, long alpha [aː] fronted to [ɛː] (eta). In Ionic, the shift took place in all positions. In Attic, the shift did not take place after epsilon, iota, and rho (ε, ι, ρ; e, i, r). In Doric and Aeolic, long alpha is preserved in all positions.[2] • Doric, Aeolic, Attic χώρᾱ chṓrā — Ionic χώρη chṓrē, "country" • Doric, Aeolic φᾱ́μᾱ phā́mā — Attic, Ionic φήμη phḗmē, "report" Privative a is the Ancient Greek prefix ἀ- or ἀν- a-, an-, added to words to negate them. It originates from the Proto-Indo-European *n̥- (syllabic nasal) and is cognate with English un-. Copulative a is the Greek prefix ἁ- or ἀ- ha-, a-. It comes from Proto-Indo-European *sm̥.

Math and science
The letter alpha represents various concepts in physics and chemistry, including alpha radiation, angular acceleration, alpha particles, alpha carbon and strength of electromagnetic interaction (as Fine-structure constant). Alpha also stands for thermal expansion coefficient of a compound in physical chemistry. It is also commonly used in mathematics in algebraic solutions representing quantities such as angles. Furthermore, in mathematics, the letter alpha is used to denote the area underneath a normal curve in statistics to denote significance level[3] when proving null and alternative hypotheses. In zoology, is used to name the dominant individual in a wolf or dog pack. The proportionality operator "∝" (in Unicode: U+221D) is sometimes mistaken for alpha. The uppercase letter alpha is not generally used as a symbol because it tends to be rendered identically to the uppercase Latin A.



International Phonetic Alphabet
In the International Phonetic Alphabet, a letter based on the lower case of alpha represents the open back unrounded vowel.

History and symbolism
Alpha was derived from aleph, which in Phoenician means "ox".[4]

Plutarch, in Moralia,[5] presents a discussion on why the letter alpha stands first in the alphabet. Ammonius asks Plutarch what he, being a Boeotian, has to say for Cadmus, the Phoenician who reputedly settled in Thebes and introduced the alphabet to Greece, placing alpha first because it is the Phoenician name for ox — which, unlike Hesiod,[6] the Phoenicians considered not the second or third, but the first of all necessities. "Nothing at all," Plutarch replied. He then added that he would rather be assisted by Lamprias, his own grandfather, than by Dionysus' grandfather, i.e. Cadmus. For Lamprias had said that the first articulate sound made is "alpha", because it is very plain and simple — the air coming off the mouth does not require any motion of the tongue — and therefore this is the first sound that children make. According to Plutarch's natural order of attribution of the vowels to the planets, alpha was connected with...

References: [1] http:/ / www. merriam-webster. com/ dictionary/ alpha [2] Herbert Weir Smyth. Greek grammar for colleges. paragraph 30 (http:/ / www. ccel. org/ s/ smyth/ grammar/ html/ smyth_1b_uni. htm#30) and note (http:/ / www. ccel. org/ s/ smyth/ grammar/ html/ smyth_1b_notes. htm#30D). [3] "Chapter 5: Analysing the Data Part II : Inferential Statistics" (http:/ / www. une. edu. au/ WebStat/ unit_materials/ c5_inferential_statistics/ what_alpha_level. html). Research Methods and Statistics PESS202 Lecture and Commentary Notes. . [4] alpha (http:/ / www. etymonline. com/ index. php?search=alpha) on the Online Etymology Dictionary [5] Symposiacs, Book IX, questions II & III On-line text (http:/ / etext. library. adelaide. edu. au/ p/ plutarch/ symposiacs/ chapter9. html#section91) at Adelaide library [6] Hesiod, in Works and Days (see on Perseus Project (http:/ / www. perseus. tufts. edu/ hopper/ text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0132:card=405)), advises the early Greek farmers, "First of all, get a house, then a woman and third, an ox for the plough." [7] "Character Encodings" (http:/ / www. kreativekorp. com/ charset/ ). . Retrieved 14 January 2013.
Article Sources and Contributors
Article Sources and Contributors
Alpha  Source:  Contributors:, 334a,, Aaron Brenneman, Aaron Kauppi, Adam2288, AdjustShift, Aeusoes1, Akanemoto, Alana Smithy, Anaxial, AndreasJS, Anonymous Dissident, ApprenticeFan, Asdofj, Atura, Avochelm, Avs5221, B9 hummingbird hovering, Bart133, Bonechilla, BorgQueen, Bromcq, Calathea, Catgut, ChongDae, Christian List, Codex Sinaiticus, Conversion script, D6, Danny, Davidiad, Delirium, Deucalionite, Dirac1933, Doublepoison, Dpv, Draven5, E Pluribus Anthony, EdC, Egil, El C, Eloquence, Epl18, Erutuon, Freakofnurture, Fresheneesz, Future Perfect at Sunrise, Gaius Cornelius, Galoubet, Grika, Grk1011, Hayabusa future, Henningklevjer, HenryLi, Herbee, HiDrNick, Hriber, Hymyly, Im.a.lumberjack, Jay-Sebastos, Jiy, Jnestorius, JohnCD, JorgeGG, Kaimbridge, Kanjilearner, Karl Naylor, Katieh5584, Kpjas, Kwamikagami, Kwekubo, LachlanA, Lacrimosus, Leszek Jańczuk, Lfh, Lowercase Sigma, MSGJ, Macrakis, Magioladitis, Marco3769, Max Naylor, Me Three, Megapixie, Melsaran, Mernen, Mintleaf, Mzajac, NawlinWiki, Nimic86, Obradovic Goran, Octahedron80, Odysses, Olli, Parakalo, Pharsuderoah00, Plugwash, Postdlf, Qwerty450, Raywil, Rbb l181, Rich Farmbrough, Rocastelo, Rogper, Romanm, Rubbishremover, Shalom Yechiel, Shoessss, Skittleys, Sl, Smsarmad, Stephen C. Carlson, TAIntedCHInese, Tamfang, Tarquin, Tbhotch, Tchoř, Ted Longstaffe, Template namespace initialisation script, Tetraminoe, That Guy, From That Show!, Tible, Til Eulenspiegel, Timwi, TomeHale, Unyoyega, Vanisaac, Verloren, Victoriaedwards, VirtualDelight, Wickey-nl, Wikiuser100, Wiknerd, Woohookitty, Wıkınger, Xvn, Yacht, Zenohockey, 102 anonymous edits
Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors
Image:phoenician aleph.svg  Source:  License: Public Domain  Contributors: Ch1902 Image:Memorial Stained Glass, Yeo Hall, Chapel, Royal Military College of Canada 605 Oliver Tiffany & 203 Williiam Bermingham.jpg  Source:,_Yeo_Hall,_Chapel,_Royal_Military_College_of_Canada_605_Oliver_Tiffany_&_203_Williiam_Bermingham.jpg  License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0  Contributors: User:Victoriaedwards
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