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EXCURSUS TO THE HISTORY OF THE LATIN LETTER C.

Why

CICERO

didn't spell

his name

K

I

K

E

R

O

?

Because he spelled

his name

G

I

G

E

R

O

!

INDEED :

     Like D

is a rounded variant of the grapheme

delta,

   

the latin C

is a rounded variant of the grapheme 

gamma.


The etruscan language didn't know the phoneme [ g ], but three different kays. So, Etruscans used the gamma for one.

Therefore in very early, pre-classical times, Romans   instructed first by etruscan teachers   also began to use that

gamma Latinae, indifferenciated for both, and for their kay   except /kw/, see below   and for their well-existing [ g ].

So, by writing CIRCUS, the Romans actually wrote GIRGUS, but they pronounced KIRKUS.

Later on, already before classical times, a savant  surely a Greek-one   teaching at Rome,

found a very good solution : He put a small mirrored gamma, like a diacritical sign, into the C.

By this, that anonymous savant invented one new letter, the latin letter G.

One placed the new letter on seventh rank, instead of the greek letter zeta [ ts ], unused by the Romans.

However, one also preserved Z, like Y    but Y in greek is latin V !    shifted at the end of the latin alphabet.

Remark :  Romans preserved too, memory of this historical mistake ;  in abbreviations.  Example :  Gaius Julius Caesar is always abbreviated

 C. Julius Caesar, like all the names or words beginning with C are abbreviated K.  Examples :  Caeso is K. and calendae is shortened to kal.

The opposition  vs.  Q  was used to indicate the pronunciation :

 

Example :

CVIVS is pronounced

[kujus] ,

 
 

whereas

QVIVS is pronounced

[kwi:us] .

 

Disposing already of two [k]-letters:  C & Q,  Romans decided to un-use the third one, the actual K-letter. 

The 24, actually 27 letters of greek alphabet and the 23, nowadays 26 letters of latin alphabet.

In the context, please also see the new latin alphabetical numeration.

After invention of the new latin G, the greek zeta is shifted at the end of the latin alphabet.

The invention of the pronunciations   and 

Romans didn't know pronunciations like english charm or french charme. They wrote carmen, pronounced [karmɛn].

Only during Middle-Ages, indo-european languages invented the pronunciations as voiceless post-alveolar fricative.

Schematically one can confirm :

The latin C kept its k-pronunciation before the letters L and R (examples: clime and crater) and before the vowels U and O.

Before the vowel A, the latin C went to tʃ-pronunciation, later on, like in modern french language, even to ʃ-pronunciation.

Before the vowels E, I  & Y  to ts-pronunciation like in german or even to s-pronunciation in french or in english language.

C(i)

==

lat.

CIRCUS

=>

ger.

Zirkus

=>

eng.

circus

C(a)

==

lat.

CARMEN

=>

eng.

charm

=>

fr. 

charme

C(u)

==

lat.

CULTURA

 

 

 

==

 

 

eng.

cultur

If the C in s-pronunciation is regularly assumed in words like circle, city, civilisation a.o.m., the english and french grammarians

introduced an un-etymological " h " into words like: lat. camera, eng. chamber, fr. chambre to indicate the  - or  - pronunciation.

Another way to find the voiceless post-alveolar fricative pronunciation was the contraction  [ sk ]  to  [ ] .  Example :  skip  to  ship.

Conclusion :  Grace to this great Roman confusion, confounding K and G, the SHOL now dispose of a good letter for a sound

unknown in ancient times, the letter C for the  - pronunciation.      What IPA didn't venture, BI-SMH did it !

PS.  If among old, indo-european languages neither the indian languages, nor greek language, (latters, both till nowadays) nor latin language knew post-alveolar fricatives,

however   according to the current linguistic researches   the etruscan language, also an indo-european language, seems to have already developed this phoneme.  

 

 

The three other particularities of the hexadecimal alphabet :

The main meaning of the letter

J

is

i.e.  voiced post-alveolar fricative.

 

The letter Jj was invented in Middle-Ages to distinguish vowel [ i ] and consonant [ j ].

Germans and Spains call this letter by its old name jota , remembering a greek letter-name.

The english orthography uses the letter as  , the french-one as , by calling the letter  ji .

That is the modern and progressive usage of that letter. This is recognized by BI-SMH.

The main meaning of the letter

Y

is

i.e.  palatal approximant.

 

The letter Yy is the greek Uu-letter.

Greeks pronounced it  [ y ] , like the Frenchs pronounce their u.

The attic dialect  at Athens   simplified to [ i ] - pronunciation.

The modern use of the consonant Y is  [ j ] ;  like in English.

The main meaning of the letter

Q

is

i.e.  glottal stop.

 

The letter Qq is the old phoenician letter qof .

Romans didn't dispose of the two newer letters U and W. Therefore, they used QV in the meaning  [ kw ] ( See above.)

However, the modern meaning of this letter is now glottal stop, like for example the arabic letter hamza.

An alphabet without glottal stop letter is just like an arithmetic digit system without digit zero !

 

Otherwise, for English speakers, however in plenary concordance with IPA:

 

X  is never [ ks ], but like greek X or german ch, always [ x ] before u, o and a ;  [ ] before i or e.

 

R  is always consonant, likewise uvular (or as french dorsal) or alveolar trill (italian), never vocalic.

 

G  is always [ g ] , never dj .  The letters  b, p, v, f, z, s, d, t, k, y, w, h, m, n  &  l :  like in English.

 

The vowels  i, e, a, o and u  are always pronounced like in italian language : clear, neat and pure.

The onety-ten letters of the hexadecimal alphabet, in their lexicographical order.

Qq

Bb

Pp

Vv

Ff

Zz

Ss

Dd

Tt

Jj

Cc

Gg

Kk

Yy

Xx

Ww

Hh

Ii

Ee

Aa

Oo

Uu

Mm

Nn

Ll

Rr

Remark, that the BI-SMH doesn't promote any precipitant orthographic reform, no-where.

 


 

This page is online since 2007, February 10