THE ALPHABET[*] 1. The Latin Alphabet is the same as the English (which is in fact borrowed from it) except that it does not contain J, U, and W.
[*] Note 1.--The Latin alphabet was borrowed in very early times from a Greek alphabet (though not from that most familiar to us) and did not at first contain the letters G andY. It consisted of capital letters only, and the small letters with which we are familiar did not come into general use until the close of the eighth century of our era.
[*] Note 2.--The Latin names of the consonants were as follows:—B, be (pronounced bay); C, ce (pronounced kay); D, de (day); F, ef; G, ge (gay); H, ha; K, ka; L, el; M, em; N, en; P, pe (pay); Q, qu (koo); R, er; S, es; T, te (tay); X, ix; Z, zeta (the Greek name, pronounced dzayta). The sound of each vowel was used as its name.[*] a. The character C originally meant G, a value always retained in the abbreviations C. (for Gāius ) and Cn. (for Gnaeus ).
[*] Note.--In early Latin C came also to be used for K, and K disappeared except before a in a few words, as Kal. ( Kalendae ), Karthāgō . Thus there was no distinction in writing between the sounds of g and k. Later this defect was remedied by forming (from C ) the new character G. This took the alphabetic place formerly occupied by Z, which had gone out of use. In Cicero's time (see N. D. 2.93), Y (originally a form of V ) and Z were introduced from the ordinary Greek alphabet to represent sounds in words derived from the Greek, and they were put at the end of the Latin alphabet.[*] b. I and V were used both as vowels and as consonants (see § 5).
[*] Note.-- V originally denoted the vowel sound u (oo), and F stood for the sound of our consonant w. When F acquired the value of our f, V came to be used for the sound of w as well as for the vowel u.In this book i is used for both vowel and consonant i, u for vowel u, and v for consonant u: iūs , vir , iuvenis .
Classification of Sounds[*] 2. The simple Vowels are a, e, i, o, u, y. The Diphthongs are ae , au, ei , eu, oe, ui , and, in early Latin, ai , oi, ou. In the diphthongs both vowel sounds are heard, one following the other in the same syllable. [*] 3. Consonants are either voiced ( sonant ) or voiceless (surd). Voiced consonants are pronounced with the same vocal murmur that is heard in vowels; voiceless consonants lack this murmur.
- The voiced consonants are b, d,g, l, r, m,n, z, consonant i, v.
- The voiceless consonants are p, t,c (k, q), f, h, s, x.
|Voiced ( mediae ）||b||d||g|
|Mutes||Voiceless ( tenues ）||p||t||c (k, q）|
|Nasals||m||n||n (before c, g, q）|
|Fricatives||(Spirants)||f 1||s, z|
- Mutes are pronounced by blocking entirely, for an instant, the passage of the breath through the mouth, and then allowing it to escape with an explosion (distinctly heard before a following vowel). Between the explosion and the vowel there may be a slight puff of breath （ h ), as in the Aspirates (ph, th, ch).2
- Labials are pronounced with the lips, or lips and teeth.
- Dentals (sometimes called Linguals) are pronounced with the tip of the tongue touching or approaching the upper front teeth.
- Palatals are pronounced with a part of the upper surface of the tongue touching or approaching the palate.3
- Fricatives (or Spirants) are consonants in which the breath passes continuously through the mouth with audible friction.
- Nasals are like voiced mutes, except that the mouth remains closed and the breath passes through the nose.
[*] Note 1.--The Latin alphabet did not distinguish between the vowel and consonant sounds of i and u, but used each letter (I and V) with a double value. In modern books i and u are often used for the vowel sounds, j and v for the consonant sounds; but in printing in capitals J and U are avoided:—IVLIVS ( Iūlius ). The characters J and U are only slight modifications of the characters I and V. The ordinary English sounds of j and v did not exist in classical Latin, but consonant u perhaps approached English v in the pronunciation of some persons.
[*] Note 2.--In the combinations qu, gu, and sometimes su , u seems to be the consonant ( w ). Thus, aqua , anguis , cōnsuētus (compare English quart, anguish, suave). In these combinations, however, u is reckoned neither as a vowel nor as a consonant.5