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Re: The Letter "K"

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 2, 2004, 18:24
On Monday, March 1, 2004, at 11:16 PM, Thomas R. Wier wrote:

> On Sat, 28 Feb 2004 15:51:37 -0800, Akhilesh Pillalamarri > <valardil@...> wrote: > >> It makes no sense the letter K is in the latin alphabet, if the original >> "C" in latin coveyed that sound. All the places i've searched said that >> "k" >> was used in greek words, but the romans didnt borrow "pi" to represent >> greek >> words tat could otherwise be spelled with "p." I suspect tat the "k" >> might >> have been pronounced [x]. Does anyone know the purpose of k? > > Originally, <K> was in Old Latin the only way to represent /k/.
What is your evidence? All the evidence of which I'm aware points to the earliest Latin use as being a fairly unthinking adoption of Etruscan use, i.e. C = /k/ before /e/ , /i/ & cons.; K = /k/ before /a/; Q = /k/ before /o/ and /u/. For the non-Etruscan /g/, C was adopted simply because it would appear that the tradition of B, C, D having once denoted voiced plosives (the letters were originally western Greek variants of beta, gamma & delta) was preserved by the Etruscans even tho they didn't use them as such.
> Gradually, over time <C> (which at that time represented /g/) came > to replace <K> in almost all its uses. Even later, but still during > the Republic, <G> was invented based on <C> to represent /g/.
That would surely be an even more bizarre scenario than the one I've understood. Why, if you have a perfectly good letter, i.e. K. which always represents /k/, should you at some stage replace in most cases by one which already represents /g/ and then go on to invent an unnecessary addition? It doesn't make sense. Why didn't D similarly replace T, leading to the development of a new letter for /d/, or B replace P? Also, your scenario, for which I await evidence, completely ignores Q. Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760