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Latin alphabet

Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


The alphabet of the Latin language which is attested in inscriptions as of the sixth century bce . It descends from the greek alphabet which spread from the Greek colonies in Sicily and southern Italy to other parts of the Italian peninsula, giving rise to a number of scripts which are usually referred to collectively as old italic scripts . One of them, the etruscan alphabet , is the immediate forebear of the Latin alphabet. The adaptation to Latin took place during the seventh century bce . The oldest known inscription dates from the early sixth century. It is written from right to left on a gold brooch, known as the Praeneste Fibula, and reads MANIOS MED FHEFHAKED NVMASIOI or, in Classical Latin, Manios me fecit Numasio ‘Manius made me for Numasius’ ( figure 2 ). As in Etruscan, /f/ is written as FH in this inscription instead of later F . Other characteristics of the Latin alphabet which indicate its Etruscan origin ( table 5 ) include the triple representation of /k/ by means of the three letters K, O and C . Eventually K fell out of use, and O came to be combined with V , pronounced [kw]. In Etruscan, no distinction was made between voiceless and voiced gutturals, C being used for both. In Latin, however, it was felt necessary to indicate this distinction in writing. Hence the letter G was created, probably in the third century bce , by adding a stroke ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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