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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar


1. The Latin Alphabet is the same as the English (which is in fact borrowed from it) except that it does not contain J, U, and W.

Note 1— The Latin alphabet was borrowed in very early times from a Greek alphabet (though not from that most familiar to us) and did not at first contain the letters G and Y. It consisted of capital letters only, and the small letters with which we are familiar did not come into general use until the close of the eighth century of our era.

Note 2— The Latin names of the consonants were as follows:—B, be (pronounced bay); C, ce (pronounced kay); D, de (day); F, ef; G, ge (gay); H, ha; K, ka; L, el; M, em; N, en; P, pe (pay); Q, qu (koo); R, er; S, es; T, te (tay); X, ix; Z, zeta (the Greek name, pronounced dzayta). The sound of each vowel was used as its name.

a. The character C originally meant G, a value always retained in the abbreviations C. (for Gāius) and Cn. (for Gnaeus).

Note— In early Latin C came also to be used for K, and K disappeared except before a in a few words, as Kal. (Kalendae), Karthāgō. Thus there was no distinction in writing between the sounds of g and k. Later this defect was remedied by forming (from C) the new character G. This took the alphabetic place formerly occupied by Z, which had gone out of use. In Cicero's time (see N. D. 2.93), Y (originally a form of V) and Z were introduced from the ordinary Greek alphabet to represent sounds in words derived from the Greek, and they were put at the end of the Latin alphabet.

b. I and V were used both as vowels and as consonants (see § 5).

Note— V originally denoted the vowel sound u (oo), and F stood for the sound of our consonant w. When F acquired the value of our f, V came to be used for the sound of w as well as for the vowel.

In this book i is used for both vowel and consonant i, u for vowel u, and v for consonant u: iūs, vir, iuvenis.

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