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A Handbook of the English Language by Latham

And where it replaced the Greek zaeta


164. The differences of this table are referable to one of the following four heads:--a. Ejection. b. Addition. c. Change of power. d. Change of order.

a. _Ejection._--In the first instance, the Italians ejected as unnecessary, letters 7,[44] 9, and 11: _zayn_ (_zaeta_), _teth_ (_thaeta_), and _kaf_ (_kappa_). Either the sounds which they expressed were wanting in their language; or else they were expressed by some other letter. The former was probably the case with 7 and 9, _zaeta_ and _thaeta_, the latter with 11, _kappa_.

b. _Addition._--Out of the Greek _i[^o]ta_, two; out of the Greek _upsilon_, four modifications have been evolved; viz., i and j out of [iota], and u, v, w, y, out of [upsilon].

c. _Change of power._--Letter 3, in Greek and Hebrew had the sound of the g in _gun_; in Latin that of k. The reason for this lies in the structure of the Etruscan language. In that tongue the _flat_ sounds were remarkably deficient; indeed, it is probable, that that of g was wanting. Its _sharp_ equivalent, however, the sound of k, was by no means wanting; and the Greek _gamma_ was used to denote it. This made the equivalent to k, the third letter of the alphabet, as early as the time of the Etruscans.

But the _Romans_ had both sounds, the _flat_ as well as the _sharp_, g as well as k. How did they express them? Up to the second Punic War they

made the rounded form of the Greek [Gamma], out of which the letter C has arisen, do double work, and signify k and g equally, just as in the present English th is sounded as the Greek [theta],[45] and as dh;[46] in proof whereof we have in the Duillian column, MACESTRATOS = MAGISTRATOS, and CARTHACINIENSES = CARTHAGINIENSES.

Thus much concerning the power and places of the Latin c, as opposed to the Greek [gamma]. But this is not all. The use of _gamma_, with the power of k, made _kappa_ superfluous, and accounts for its ejection in the _Etruscan_ alphabet; a fact already noticed.

Furthermore, an addition to the Etruscan alphabet was required by the existence of the sound of g, in Latin, as soon as the inconvenience of using c with a double power became manifest. What took place then? Even this. The third letter was modified in form, or became a new letter, c being altered into g; and the new letter took its place in the alphabet.

Where was this? As the _seventh_ letter between f (_digamma_) and h (_haeta_).

Why? Because it was there where there was a vacancy, and where it replaced the Greek _zaeta_, or the Hebrew _zayn_, a letter which, _at that time_, was not wanted in Latin.

d. _Change of order._--As far as the letters c and g are concerned, this has been explained; and it has been shown that change of order and change of power are sometimes very closely connected. All that now need be added is, that those letters which were _last_ introduced from the Greek into the Roman alphabet, were placed at the end.

This is why u, v, w, and y come after t--the last letter of the original Phoenician, and also of the _older_ Greek.

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