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(3 Posts)
SaucyMare Thu 11-Dec-14 07:22:06

Why is this pronounced hy-per-bol-e

Rather than the prefix as one word hyper-bole

prism Thu 11-Dec-14 08:00:38

Because it’s Greek, and derived from “hyperbola”. The ‘hy” bit is the way aspirated Upsilon tends to be rendered in English- sorry this is sounding ridiculously complicated, but there is no “h” in Greek; instead, a vowel at the beginning of a word can have an accent above it turning it from “e” to “he”, or “o” to “ho” (as in “hoi polloi”). But when the letter is upsilon, ie, “u”, we transliterate it to “hy” in English, so all those Greek words in English starting with “hy” started with U in Greek with a funny mark above it. And the “hy” bit ends up being a syllable in itself, in English. I think the French pronounce it ee-per-bole

Incidentally, a hyperbola (the maths sort) is the kind of curve you see on the side of a cooling tower at a power station.

SaucyMare Thu 11-Dec-14 09:49:35

thanks prism, knew here was the place to ask.

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