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23

I'll briefly summarize the analysis of W. Sydney Allen in Vox Latina, 111ff., which is itself a summary of A. E. Gordon's The Letter Names of the Latin Alphabet. First, the vowels. These have the phonetic value of the letter in its long form: ā, ē, ī, ō, ū. This is well established both by grammarians (Allen cites Pompeius, "quando solae proferuntur, ...


20

The best way we know how consonantal V being pronounce as /w/ is in transcriptions into other languages. For example, the Roman name Valerius is transcribed as Ουαλεριος (Ooalerios) in Greek inscriptions. Greeks did not have a /w/ sound, but if you pronounce ου (ou) quickly enough, you get an approximate to it. You do not, though, get close to /v/. ...


18

The letter Γ was sometimes written 𐌂 and was taken into the Latin alphabet as C, so the position did not change. The letter G was only added later (3rd century BC) to the Latin alphabet, to disambiguate the sound /g/ from /k/ (i.e. soft C from hard C) and took the spot of Z (at that time /r/), which was dropped, only to be reintroduced two centuries later (...


17

Since this is not exactly my area of expertise, I will quote Rex Wallace (Wallace 2011). He argues that the earliest Latin inscriptions were written from right to left and from left to right (p. 22). He mentions three examples of right-to-left inscriptions in Latin: the Vetusia inscription (ET La 2.1) and the Fibula Praenestina (CIL I².3). Not everyone ...


16

I wrote a Python script to analyze every couplet in the Aeneid: I quickly realized that the only instances of "K" occur in inflections of Karthago. If I include k, there are no pangram couplets. If I exclude k (as well as z, but not y), my program produced the following couplets: venerat, insano Cassandrae incensus amore, et gener auxilium Priamo ...


16

Z is not originally a Latin letter! In fact, the letter we call Z wasn't Greek either, but rather had either an "sd" or "dz" sound (the jury is still out on which is correct, and there may have been regional variations). But with Latin, it's not just that no words started with Z, but that the letter itself is Greek. They borrowed the letter to represent the ...


16

The Etruscan alphabet you presented in your question is actually a transliteration. The actual Etruscan inscriptions are in one of the "Old Italic" alphabets derived from the Greek one. Unicode now has separate code points for these (although it unifies various related alphabets like Etruscan, Oscan, and Old Latin) and if you download the right fonts, you'...


15

Z, allegedly, has a strange story. It was a Latin letter, then it became obsolete and was removed. It was then added back to accommodate words derived from Greek According to a few sources, one of them Dictionary.com, Z was actually included in the original Latin alphabet, which itself was a derivation of the Etruscan alphabet: A B G D E V Z H Θ I K L M ...


14

Ancient and late antique scripts Roman cursive was sometimes mixed indiscriminately with Roman square capitals: There was no difference in meaning between upper case and lower case letters. The differences in the shapes of the letters were simply the result of the handwriting of the individual writer.(Source — not the best, nor I have not found an ...


12

We do in fact have a couple. The best little collection of Old Latin inscriptions is found in Warmington's old Loeb, Remains of Old Latin IV: Archaic Inscriptions. It's a tiny bit out of date, but otherwise holds up well as an anthology of old inscriptions with a very good translation to go along with it. Thumbing through quickly, I noticed a couple ...


11

Yes, the spelling DVCITIS was absolutely valid in the Roman Republic and early Empire. The introduction of the letter U allowed people to mark the difference between the sound used as a consonant (sounding like our letter w) and the sound used as a vowel (sounding like our oo). I don't know when folks started using U, though. Interestingly, there are ...


11

Not best of my elegiac couplets, but here goes: Sic tibi rex iuvenis gracili ore piloque Kalendis      hac forma lyrica littera quaeque datur. Free translation: Young king with simple face and hair, this is how you are given every letter through this lyrical form on the first day of the month. I never use J when writing Latin, ...


11

The following is based mostly on Clackson and Horrocks 2007/2011, Leumann 1977, and Wallace 2011. First of all, something to keep in mind, as Weiss 2009/2011 puts it, is that "Long vowels were generally not distinguished in Latin orthography" (p. 29; emphasis mine - Alex B.). That being said, there were four exceptions. Geminatio vocalium (the double ...


11

There have been various theories about the phonetic value of ττ and σσ, but it`s often held that they were pronounced as might be expected, i.e. as [tt] and [ss]. The philologist Sidney Allen argues as follows: These facts have led some scholars to suppose that both the ττ of Attic and the σσ of other dialects represent different attempts to write ...


11

I'd guess it's the symbol for 6, originally digamma, but later taking on an S-like shape. (It's a bit hard to make out, but I think the last two cells contain ΙΑ and ΙΒ, indicating a series of 1 to 12.)


9

We can only speculate about the exact underlying nature of the "foreign phoneme"; on the other hand, its surface realization is obvious, [tt] or [ss], and there is nothing interesting or puzzling about that. Below is my summary of the most relevant research on this problem. Everyone agrees that θάλασσα is Pre-Greek (i.e. not IE), one of the reasons being ...


8

A quick first point: I believe the premise of this question is mistaken: there is not some monumental divide between how a letter is written and how it is spoken. As noted: In Hebrew, the first letter is written "אָלֶף" and spoken "aleph." In Greek, the first letter is written "άλφα" and spoken "alpha." If we have already established, in the cited ...


8

Rex Wallace argues that the letter z “remained part of the alphabetic series until the third century BCE even though it seems to have been used sparingly – if at all – in Very Old and Old Latin inscriptions” (Wallace 2011: 15). He also cites Colonna 1980, who reportedly mentions a late 7th century BCE graffito ZKA on a fragment of a ceramic. Interestingly, ...


8

W. Sydney Allen, in Vox Latina, page 41, gives several examples that support the [w] pronunciation of the consonantal u in Classical Latin. The first example appears in the writings of Nigidius Figulus (Gellius, x, 4, 4), in which he apparently equates the lip position of the consonant and vowel sounds: in a discussion of the origins of language, he ...


8

This is what Rex Wallace wrote in Zikh Rasna: A manual of the Etruscan language and inscriptions (Wallace 2008): “In our discussion, we employ the ancient Greek letters for the letters of the [Etruscan - Alex B.] alphabet because we do not know by what names the Etruscans referred to them” (p. 20) [emphasis mine - Alex B.].


7

The last line of an AD 49 boundary stone uses the Ⅎ twice, representing the consonantal v: The last line reads: ampliaℲit terminaℲitq[ue]. (Illustrated Introduction to Latin Epigraphy, 118). According to John Wordsworth, a few other examples include: VOℲIMVS, ℲOℲEMVS, ARℲALES, ARℲALIVM [...] BOℲE, IOℲI [...] ℲELINA, ℲIR As for the Ⱶ, its use is ...


7

Came across this single line in the Poetae Latini Minores (author uncertain): Sic fugiens, dux, zelotypos quam Karus haberis. The translation I see floating around the internet is odd, though: Thus fleeing, O leader, you are regarded with jealousy like Karus. Making that work would take some loosening of the grammar. My guess is that there might have ...


7

The letter K was common in the old Latin alphabet, but somehow it all but died out before the classical age. It may have been ousted by the letter C, but I'm not sure why that happened. Sometimes things happen for no apparent reason, arbitrary developments. Lewis & Short have this to say: K, k, was used in the oldest period of the language as a ...


7

All three are valid, and I would recommend 1 or 2. The difference between 2 and 3 is the macron, the bar above the vowel U. The macron is used to indicate a long vowel, and it is an auxiliary mark. Such auxiliary symbols are often used in textbooks, dictionaries and such places where the reader is not assumed to be familiar with the word in advance and is ...


7

First, a pretty banal orthographic point. In Greek, only initial rho has a breathing mark, and there are only two recorded words (ῤάρος and its diminutive ῤάριον) that use a smooth breathing. Though it's not entirely clear why these words have a smooth breathing, they are obviously anomalies. The above strongly suggests that smooth rho wouldn't have been ...


7

There are plenty of examples of a foreign [ʃ] being transcribed by Latin "s" (or medially "ss") but the vast majority come via Greek. Apart from the numerous Hebrew names found in the Greek Bible, there are various Parthian or Sassanian names that contained [ʃ], for examples "Arsaces" for the Parthian king "Arshak", but this too comes via Greek Ἀρσάκης. ...


7

I doubt that the letter names themselves were ever declined, but I expect that if the need arose, one could use litera in apposition, e.g. literae R. (I expect that's why you say "y at least seems to be feminine" - from an implicit litera assumed.) P.S. I now see that W. Sidney Allen cites quite a few quotations in Appendix A of his Vox Latina. There ...


7

Incomplete answer while I do more research! Here are all the ones I've found: Letters that survived as numbers: Digamma/waw (Ϝϝ) was originally used for /w/, and left traces of itself all over Homer's writing, but the phoneme disappeared from Attic quite early so the letter never caught on there. It remained alive in Aeolian, so we find the letter used in ...


6

Wikipedia's answer The article Latin Alphabet of Wikipedia gives an answer to your question. In short, the Latin alphabet is believed to be founded on the Cumæ alphabet (7th century). The Archaic Latin and Old Latin alphabets have then the letters 𐌂, 𐌊, and 𐌒, corresponding to C, K and Q. At first, the letter C was used to note the sound /k/ and /g/, ...


6

I think that the two forms of the letter Y given on that page are purely aesthetic variations of the same character. It also makes the letter array a neat 6 × 4 array, like the Greek one on the other page of the specimen book. Palatino was a typographer, after all. However, for a short time in antiquity, there were two different forms of the Y, the Y as we ...


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