Representing the Greek Alphabet

David Bar-Tzur

Chart of Greek letters

The names of the letters of the Greek alphabet could be fingerspelled, but this becomes awkward when dealing with equations. Some people represent these letters by taking the handshape for the first Roman letter of the name and bringing it down the nose once or twice, similar to the sign GREECE. This leads to some difficulties with Greek letters whose names start with the same Roman letter, for example, pi, phi,and psi.Another alternative is to trace the shape of the letters in the air, as if you were writing them on an invisible blackboard. This option works for most of the letters, but is not as clear with some of the letters that require "lifting the chalk from the board" to write. It seems more visual to represent these letters by a static handshape (one-handed or two-handed). These special letters are listed below. Explanation of glossing system

uppercase gamma
(2h)[1], NDH PO > DS, DH PO down, FTs touching.
lowercase theta
DH [1], PO down, FO > NDS, is held in front of (or behind) NDH [O], PO > DS.
uppercase lambda
(1) [V], PO towards, FO down. (2) (2h)[1], FOs up at angle, POs ><, meet at FTs to form angle indicated by shape of letter.
lowercase lambda
(1) [3], PO towards, FO down. (2) (2h)[1], FOs up at angle, POs ><, NDFT meet at the second joint of the dominant finger.
lowercase mu
Draw in the air for the regular use of that letter, but use [U] to represent the abbreviation for "micro", as in the Greek letter <i>mu</i> + a for "microampere."
lowercase pi
(1) Index and little fingers of DH are pointed downwards. (2) DH [1], PO down, FO > DS is held above and touching NDH [V], PO away from signer, FO up.
uppercase sigma
(1) DH [1] traces a sigma,behind NDH [W], held with FO > DS. (2) DH [1] traces a sigma.
lowercase tau
DH [1], PO down is held above and touches middle joint to NDH [1:], PO > DS, FO up.
lowercase phi
DH [X], PO down, FO > NDS, touches the top of NDH [1], PO > DS, FO up.
lowercase chi
Cross index fingers, FOs up at an angle to resemble letter.
lowercase psi
Same as the sign PSYCHOLOGY (some people start this sign with THINK, in which case I mean the later half of the compound.)
uppercase omega
[bC], PO down, held so that the omegashape is seen clearly.
lowercase omega
[W:], PO away from signer, FO up.