Here it is, circled in red. It looks like a greek epsilon, ε, but it is upper case. To me, it looks like a \mathcal{E}, but I'm not sure as it is in text. Furthermore, I don't know if this book was typeset with LaTeX (I think not). But anyway, should I just go for $\mathcal{E}$ the rest of the text, or is there a proper way to render it?

enter image description here

The language is referred to as a dialect of modern Aramic spoken in Alqosh, a small town in northern Iraq. The photo is taken from The Unfolding of Language.

  • Umm, the uppercase form of the Greek lowercase letter "epsilon" (and "varepsilon") and the uppercase form of the Latin lowercase letter "e" are identical: "E".
    – Mico
    Feb 5, 2023 at 16:59
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    Since this is a linguistic gloss, probably the symbol means "empty", possibly the author intended a lower case epsilon which was only available in a different font with somewhat bigger letters. Maybe just $\varepsilon$ would be a good option here.
    – Marijn
    Feb 5, 2023 at 17:00
  • @Marijn, "empty"? Are you saying that symbol, by convention, is used mark a missing thing? Would you please provide a source to support this statement?
    – Enlico
    Feb 5, 2023 at 19:13
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    But since you have the original source, maybe you can tell what is the more plausible explanation. So, which language is it, which book or paper did this example come from, is the symbol used in other places in that publication or not? I tried to look it up but all I found was a Pinterest account about grammar so I doubt that is the original source :)
    – Marijn
    Feb 5, 2023 at 20:28
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    You might want to consider Ɛ U+0190 LATIN CAPITAL LETTER OPEN E, but how to obtain it depends very much on the engine you use for typesetting: is it LuaLaTeX or pdflatex?
    – egreg
    Feb 5, 2023 at 21:27

1 Answer 1


Since this seems to be a phonetic transcription, it may be the symbol for the open-mid front unrounded vowel.

enter image description here

Several packages have phonetic symbols. The image above uses \textepsilon from the tipa package, which supports upright and italic shapes.



\emph{\textepsilon} & \emph{br\=ata} & \emph{kemxaz-y\=a-le} & \emph{brona}\\
that & girl & saw-\textbf{she-him} & boy

`that girl saw the boy'


For a slightly larger symbol you could use \emph{\large\textepsilon}

enter image description here

  • I have to verify with gimp or something whether it's an optical illusion, but to me it looks like the epsilon is uppercase sized in the original text. Here it is a lower case size.
    – Enlico
    Feb 10, 2023 at 7:24
  • @Enlico: You could use \emph{\large\textepsilon}
    – Sandy G
    Feb 10, 2023 at 12:07

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