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Roman K and C (was: CHAT Achilles & the tortoise)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Saturday, July 17, 2004, 6:53
On Friday, July 16, 2004, at 02:09 , Tristan Mc Leay wrote:

> Peter Bleackley wrote: >> Staving Andreas Johansson: >> >>> Ah. For some reason it didn't occur to me that "Calends" could be an >>> anglicization of _Calendae_ (or _Kalendae_, as my Latin dictionary >>> spells it). >> >> Indeed, I am more familiar with it with the K spelling, which raises an >> interesting question, as in Latin, K is most often found in words of >> Greek >> origin.
In fact in Classical Latin it is *never* found in words of Greek origin; Greek _kappa_ is always transcribed as C. (Even in Medieval Latin, K is very rare)
> In Archaic Latin, the rules for C, Q and K were basically: > - If the sound is /g/, C is used. (I think.)
Yep - 'cause the letter C is derived from form of Greek gamma in western Greek alphabets, and the Etruscans obtained the alphabet from the Dorian speaking Greeks of south Italy.
> - If the sound is /k/, then: > - If the next sound is /o/, /u/ or /w/, Q is used. > - If the next sound is /a/, K is used > - Otherwise, C is used. > > These rules were adopted from the Etruscan, which inherited gamma, kappa > and qoppa(?) from Greek, all to write one sound: /k/.
Yep - the Etruscan had no voiced plosives, but all the letters of the western Greek alphabet were retained; thus both B and D were preserved, but not actually used in writing Etruscan. But they did use C (gamma) to represent /k/, except before /a/ and /o/ (the Etruscans had no /u/, though the retained the Greek upsilon, which was always /u/ in Doric, in alphabet) . The Romans, as Tristan has written, took their alphabet from the Etruscans, thus rehabilitating, so to speak, the redundant Etruscan letters. But they also inherited the Etruscan way of writing /k/ as well as using C = /g/ - not very sensible :)
> By Classical Latin, they'd almost lost them, to be replaced with: > - If the sound is /g/, G is used.
Yep - as I observed in a recent post, G was invented by adding a small vertical stroke to the bottom of C, and the new letter replaced Z, which was not used in Latin. This seems to have happened round about the turn of the 3rd/2nd cent BCE.
> - If the sound is /k/, then: > - If the next sound is /w/, Q is used.
Yep - so that /ku/ could be distinguish from the very common /kw/ combination, thus you could see that CVI = /kuj/ while QVI = /kwi:/.
> (- If the word derives from Greek, K may be used.)
Nope - it never was.
> - Otherwise, C is used. > A handful of words, most notably Kalendae, slipt through and were often > written with /k/.
Yep - carrying on the older tradition of K before A. It is occasionally found still in the Classical period in 'kalo' = 'calo' (servant in the army), 'kalumnia' = 'calumnia' (calumny), 'kaput' = 'caput' (head), 'Karthago' = 'Carthago' (Carthage), and 'Kalendae' = 'Calendae' (Calends). Of these, the only one that was slow to change to the spelling with C was Kalendae, tho by the late Classical period Calendae was normal. The main use of K was in abbreviation, thus: K = Caeso [a proper name] _or_ kaput _or_ Kalendae _or Karthago (but see below) KK = calumnia causa _or_ castra [note doubling of the K to denote plural] KS = carus suis (dear to his own people) Ka = capitalis Kal = Kalendae Kar = Karthago It was probably because of the frequent use of K or Kal in dates (days after the Ides were reckoned as so many days before the Calends of the next month, i.e. about half the dates in the year contained the abbreviation K or Kal) that the spelling Kalendae persisted longer than the other ka- spellings. Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760