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Cursive script 'c' and capital 'C'

C in copyright
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
C (named cee /si/
) is the third letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.
1 History
2 Later use
3 Use in orthographies
3.1 English
3.2 Other languages
3.3 Ch
3.4 Other digraphs and trigraphs
4 Other usage
5 Related letters and other similar characters
6 Computing codes
7 Other representations
8 See also
9 References
10 External links
Old Latin
C (G)
'C' comes from the same letter as 'G'. The Semites named it gimel. The sign is possibly adapted from an
Egyptian hieroglyph for a staff sling, which may have been the meaning of the name gimel. Another possibility
is that it depicted a camel, the Semitic name for which was gamal. Barry B. Powell, a specialist in the history of
writing, states "It is hard to imagine how gimel = "camel" can be derived from the picture of a camel (it may
show his hump, or his head and neck!)".
In the Etruscan language, plosive consonants had no contrastive voicing, so the Greek '' (Gamma) was adopted
into the Etruscan alphabet to represent /k/. Already in the Western Greek alphabet, Gamma first took a ' ' form
in Early Etruscan, then ' ' in Classical Etruscan. In Latin it eventually took the 'C' form in Classical Latin. In
the earliest Latin inscriptions, the letters 'C K Q' were used to represent the sounds /k/ and // (which were not
differentiated in writing). Of these, 'Q' was used to represent /k/ or // before a rounded vowel, 'K' before 'A', and
'C' elsewhere.
During the 3rd century BC, a modified character was introduced for //, and 'C' itself was
retained for /k/. The use of 'C' (and its variant 'G') replaced most usages of 'K' and 'Q'. Hence, in the classical
period and after, 'G' was treated as the equivalent of Greek gamma, and 'C' as the equivalent of kappa; this shows
in the romanization of Greek words, as in 'KAMO', 'KYPO', and 'KI' came into Latin as 'CADMVS',
'CYRVS' and 'PHOCIS', respectively.
Other alphabets have letters homoglyphic to 'c' but not in use and derivation, like the Cyrillic letter Es (, )
which derives from the lunate sigma, named due to its resemblance to the crescent moon.
Later use
When the Roman alphabet was introduced into Britain, 'c' represented only /k/ and this value of the letter has
been retained in loanwords to all the insular Celtic languages: in Welsh, Irish, Gaelic, 'c' represents only /k/. The
Old English or "Anglo-Saxon" writing was learned from the Celts, apparently of Ireland; hence 'c' in Old
English also originally represented /k/; the Modern English words kin, break, broken, thick, and seek, all come
from Old English words written with 'c': cyn, brecan, brocen, icc, and soc. But during the course of the Old
English period, /k/ before front vowels (/e/ and /i/) were palatalized, having changed by the tenth century to [t],
though 'c' was still used, as in cir(i)ce, wrecc(e)a. On the continent, meanwhile, a similar phonetic change had
also been going on (for example, in Italian).
In Vulgar Latin, /k/ became palatalized to [t] in Italy and Dalmatia; in France and the Iberian peninsula, it
became [ts]. Yet for these new sounds C was still used before front vowels e, i. The letter thus represented
two distinct values. Subsequently, the Latin phoneme /k/ (spelled QV) de-labialized to /k/ meaning that the
various Romance languages had /k/ before front vowels. In addition, Norman used the Greek letter 'k' so that the
sound /k/ could be represented by either 'k' or 'c' the latter of which could represent either /k/ or /ts/ depending
on whether it preceded a front vowel or not. The convention of using both c' and 'k' was applied to the writing
of English after the Norman Conquest, causing a considerable re-spelling of the Old English words. Thus while
Old English candel, clif, corn, crop, c, remained unchanged, Cent, c (c), cyng, brece, soce, were now
(without any change of sound) spelled 'Kent', 'ke', 'kyng', 'breke', and 'seoke'; even cniht ('knight') was
subsequently changed to 'kniht' and ic ('thick') changed to 'thik' or 'thikk'. The Old English 'cw' was also at
length displaced by the French 'qu' so that the Old English cwn ('queen') and cwic ('quick') became Middle
English 'quen' 'quik', respectively. [t] to which Old English palatalized /k/ had advanced, also occurred in
French, chiefly from Latin /k/ before 'a'. In French it was represented by 'ch', as in champ (from Latin camp-um)
and this spelling was introduced into English: the Hatton Gospels, written about 1160, have in Matt. i-iii, child,
chyld, riche, mychel, for the cild, rice, mycel, of the Old English version whence they were copied. In these
cases, the Old English 'c' gave place to 'k qu ch' but, on the other hand, 'c' in its new value of /ts/ came in largely
in French words like processiun, emperice, grace, and was also substituted for 'ts' in a few Old English words,
as miltse, bletsien, in early Middle English milce, blecien. By the end of the thirteenth century both in France
and England, this sound /ts/ de-affricated to /s/; and from that time 'c' has represented /s/ before front vowels
either for etymological reasons, as in lance, cent, or (in defiance of etymology) to avoid the ambiguity due to
the "etymological" use of 's' for /z/, as in ace, mice, once, pence, defence.
Thus, to show the etymology, English spelling has advise, devise, instead of advize, devize, which while advice,
device, dice, ice, mice, twice, etc., do not reflect etymology; example has extended this to hence, pence, defence,
etc., where there is no etymological necessity for 'c'. Former generations also wrote sence for sense. Hence,
today the Romance languages and English have a common feature inherited from Vulgar Latin where 'c' takes
on either a "hard" or "soft" value depending on the following vowel.
Use in orthographies
In English orthography, 'c' generally represents a "soft" value of /s/ before the vowel letters 'e' (including the
Latin-derived digraphs ae and oe), 'i' and 'y' and a "hard" value of /k/ before the vowel letters 'a', 'o' and 'u'.
However, there are a number of exceptions in English: "soccer" and "Celt" are words that have /k/ where /s/
would be expected.
The soft c may represent the // sound in the digraph 'ci' when this precedes a vowel, as in the words 'delicious'
and 'appreciate'.
The digraph 'ch' most commonly represents /t/, but can take the value /k/ (mainly in words of Greek origin) or
// (mainly in words of French origin); some dialects of English also have /x/ in words like loch where other
speakers pronounce the final sound as /k/. The trigraph 'tch' always represents /t/.
The digraph 'ck' is often used to represent the sound /k/ after short vowels.
Other languages
In the Romance languages French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, 'c' generally has a "hard" value of /k/ and a
"soft" value, the pronunciation of which varies by language. In French, Portuguese, and Spanish from Latin
America and southern Spain, the soft 'c' value is /s/ as it is in English. In the Spanish spoken in northern and
central Spain, the soft 'c' is a voiceless dental fricative //. In Italian and Romanian, the soft 'c' is [t

All Balto-Slavic languages that use the Latin alphabet, as well as Albanian, Hungarian, Pashto, several Sami
languages, Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua, and Americanist phonetic notation (and those aboriginal languages of
North America whose practical orthography derives from it) use 'c' to represent /t

s/, the voiceless alveolar or

voiceless dental sibilant affricate. In romanized Chinese, the letter represents an aspirated version of this sound,

Among non-European languages that have adopted the Latin alphabet, 'c' represents a variety of sounds. Yup'ik,
Indonesian, Malay, and a number of African languages such as Hausa, Fula, and Manding share the soft Italian
value of /t

/. In Azeri, Kurdish, Tatar, and Turkish 'c' stands for the voiced counterpart of this sound, the voiced
postalveolar affricate /d

/. In Yabem and similar languages, such as Bukawa, 'c' stands for a glottal stop //.
Xhosa and Zulu use this letter to represent the click //. in some other African languages, such as Beninese
Yoruba, 'c' is used for //. In Fijian, 'c' stands for a voiced dental fricative //, while in Somali it has the value of
The letter 'c' is also used as a transliteration of the Cyrillic '' in the Latinic forms of Serbian, Macedonian, and
sometimes Ukrainian (along with the digraph 'ts').
There are several common digraphs with 'c', the most common being 'ch', which in some languages such as
German is far more common than 'c' alone. 'Ch' takes various values in other languages, such as:

/ in Spanish
// in French and Portuguese
/k/ in Interlingua and Italian
/x/ in the West Slavic languages (e.g. Polish, Czech and Slovak)
/x/ (comprising the mostly allophonic sounds [x] and []) or sometimes /k/ in German
/x/ or // in Dutch
/t/ in Romanized Standard Chinese
Other digraphs and trigraphs
As in English, 'Ck', with the value /k/, is often used after short vowels in other Germanic languages such as
German and Swedish (but some other Germanic languages use 'kk' instead, such as Dutch and Norwegian). The
digraph 'cz' is found in Polish and 'cs' in Hungarian, both representing /t

/. The digraph 'sc' represents // in Old

English, Italian, and a few languages related to Italian, (however in Italian and related languages this only
happens before front vowels, otherwise it represents /sk/). The trigraph 'sch' represents // in German.
Other usage
As a phonetic symbol, lowercase 'c' is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and X-SAMPA symbol for the
voiceless palatal plosive, and capital 'C' is the X-SAMPA symbol for the voiceless palatal fricative.
It is used to represent one hundred in Roman numerals.
Related letters and other similar characters
: Latin letter C with acute
: Latin letter C with circumflex
: Latin letter C with caron
: Latin letter C with dot above
: Latin letter C cedilla
: Latin letter C with cedilla and acute
: Latin letter C with hook

c : Latin letter C with diaresis

: IPA symbol C with back-curl
: Cyrillic letter Es identical in shape
with the Latin C c, but the equivalent of the
Latin S s.
: Cyrillic letter Tse
: Roman numeral
: stretched C
: double struck C
: blackletter C
: degree Celsius
: enclosed C
: copyright symbol
: cent (currency)
: coln (currency)
: Brazilian cruzeiro (currency)
: Ghana cedi (currency)
Computing codes
C c
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 67 U+0043 99 U+0063
UTF-8 67 43 99 63
Numeric character reference C C c c
EBCDIC family 195 C3 131 83
67 43 99 63
Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of
Other representations
NATO phonetic Morse code
Signal flag
Flag semaphore
See also
Hard and soft C
^ "C" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the
English Language, Unabridged (1993); "cee", op. cit.
^ Powell, Barry B. (27 Mar 2009). Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization
q=Gimel%20shaped%20like%20a%20camel's%20neck&f=false). Wiley Blackwell. p. 182. ISBN 978-1405162562.
^ Sihler, Andrew L. (1995). New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin (
/books?id=IeHmqKY2BqoC) (illustrated ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-19-508345-8.
External links
Media related to C at Wikimedia Commons
The dictionary definition of C at Wiktionary
The dictionary definition of c at Wiktionary
Retrieved from ""
Categories: ISO basic Latin letters
This page was last modified on 27 February 2014 at 21:44.
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