30 October 2020

The other aftermath of Zeta

The other day, the weather forecasters warned us that Storm Zeta will be going thru where we live. Which got me thinking how many storms have we had this year? US storm naming has an interesting pattern. Every year we start with the letter A (first storm is named starting with A – it was Arthur this year) and then go thru B, C … The names alternate between male names and female names. The starting name alternates between male and female every year. Did you know you can submit your own names to NOAA?

Back to the count. There are no names with Q, U, X, Y, Z any year. So, there are 21 names every year. What happens when we have more storms like we did this year? Turns out, we give up all pretensions to innovation and go straight for Greek Alphabets – Alpha, Beta etc etc.

Back to Storm Zeta. The Greek letter (upper case) for Zeta is “Z”. This is where my confusion started… Did we have 45 storms this year? (21 English names and then 24 letters in the Greek Alphabet).

It was Sunjay Talele who reminded me that “Z” is only the sixth letter in Greek Alphabet. Which, in turn reminded me that, once upon a time (my ninth grade to be precise), I had found all the Greek letters enumerated in a page in the back of the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary my dad had bought for me. I had even learnt them by rote.

I figured, 40 years later, might as well learn once more the letters and how to write them in lower case and upper case. After four days, I can now write all the letters backwards (omega to alpha) and can ace all the quizzes on Greek Alphabets – at least the ones I could find on the internet.

Will see how much recall I have a week from now…

The confusing letters for me included eta (“H”), zeta and xi (cannot write the letters in English script). And I always get confused with “o”. Tend to think of it as omega rather than omicron.


Posted October 30, 2020 by Rajib Roy in category "Musings


  1. Pingback: Scripts of five different languages – Rajib Roy

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