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The letter digamma, “ϝ”, which belonged originally to most—if not all—Greek alphabets, means literally double gamma, from its form “ϝ”. Its value was that of the English w; when vocalized, it became υ. When epic poetry began to flourish, it was a living sound; but in the progress of the ages during which the Iliad and Odyssey were transmitted, it seems to have disappeared from the Ionic dialect; and when at last these poems were written down, no sign was used to indicate a sound with which the scribes themselves were possibly unacquainted. Nevertheless traces of the letter survive in lengthened syllables and in instances of hiatus which otherwise would be irregular; compare § 27, § 37, 38.

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