The most common transcription of Latin qu into the Greek alphabet seems to have been κου in general, but there are some others: κο as in κοις for quis, κοι as in κοιιδ for quid, and κυ as in κινκυε for cinque. I took these examples from the dissertation "The Second Column (Secunda) of Origen’s Hexapa in Light of Greek Pronunciation," by Benjamin Paul Kantor (2017), pages 141-142.

Kantor gives the overall frequencies of these in his corpus as 55.00% κου, 20.00% κο, 15.00% κοι, 10.00% κυ, but doesn't give information on how the following vowel affects these frequencies. All of the examples of  "κο", "κοι", "κυ" that I've seen so far are before a front vowel (although Kantor's examples show that "κου" is also a possible transcription of "qu" before a front vowel).

W. Sidney Allen (Vox Latina, 2nd. ed., 1989, page 17) says that qui can be κυ as well as κυι, giving the examples Κυιντιλιος = Quintilius and Ακυλ(λ)ιος = Aquilius. Allen uses these spellings as part of an argument that the Latin sequence /kʷi/ was pronounced something like [kɥi]. Allen says qua can be found as κουα or κοα (no specific examples mentioned).

Based on Allen's argument, I would assume transcriptions like κυα, κυο, κοια, κοιο do not exist, but I wanted to ask for more information about the relevant corpora of evidence, and the frequencies of transcriptions like κυε vs. κουε and κυι vs. κοι vs. κουι. (Does κοιε exist?) Does anyone know of either a summary, or a way for me to calculate these kinds of frequencies?

  • 1
    I would love to see this broken down by era/year, author, and medium/genre as well. Might be worth it to email Kantor outright and see if he has more specific data.
    – cmw
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 8:09


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.