The Benevolent Dictator wrote:
> Hi!
> Just a short question to specialists of Ancient Greek: I noticed that
> in Unicode, the codepoints for all capital upsilons with psili where
> left <reserved> (U+1Fxx range, e.g. missing: U+1F58, U+1F5A, U+1F5C,
> U+1F4E):
> Is there no such thing in Greek?  Why not?

Initial /y/ and /y:/ always had dasia (rough breathing - spiritus 
asper); AFAIK the reason for this is not entirely clear.

> I mean, the small upsilons with psili do have single codepoints in
> Unicode, 

This is needed because when upsilon occurs as the second element of a 
diphthong it could have either psili or dasia (breathings & accents are 
always placed on the second element of a diphthong).

> so you could write a headline in all-caps and there is your
> capital version of the thing that has no single codepoint.  Well,
> maybe the Greek didn't do all-caps headlines either. :-)

The ancient Greeks, of course, always did things in all-caps because the 
lower case forms hadn't been developed   :)

Moreover they did not originally use any diacritics. The various accents 
(acute, grave, circumflex) and the two breathings (rough/dasia, 
smooth/psili) were the invention of Alexandrian grammarians of the 3rd 
cent BCE (indeed, Aristophanes of Byzantion is traditionally attributed 
with their invention). To begin with they were not universally used; 
they began as (a) aids to L2 speakers learning the Greek Koine, and (b) 
to indicate the correct reading of Homeric Greek. Their use gradually 
increased during the Roman period and had become normal by the Byzantine 

In modern Greek it was the practice not to use any diacritics when 
things were written in all-caps (an the so-called 'iota subscript' was 
written as a normal capital iota after the preceding 'long' vowel). 
Therefore no capital upsilon with psili was ever required.

It used to be (and probably still is in many cases) normal in French to 
follow the same practice when things were written in all-caps. But I 
have noticed sometimes accents appearing on French all-caps. I don't 
know if the acute now tends to stay on all-caps in modern Greek since 
they adopted the monotonic spelling but as that spelling doesn't mark 
breathings the question of upsilon, whether small or capital, with psili 
doesn't arise.

"Ein Kopf, der auf seine eigene Kosten denkt,
wird immer Eingriffe in die Sprache thun."
[J.G. Hamann, 1760]
"A mind that thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language".