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C in copyright symbol C (named cee )[1] the third letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is used to represent one hundred in Roman numerals.



Old Latin
Phoenician gimel Arabic Gim Hebrew gimel Greek Gamma Etruscan C Old Latin

C comes from the same letter as G . The Semites named it gimel. The sign is possibly adapted from an Egyptian hieroglyph for a staff sling, which may have been the meaning of the name gimel. Another possibility is that it depicted a camel, the Semitic name for which was gamal.

In the Etruscan language, plosive consonants had no contrastive voicing, so the Greek (Gamma) was adopted into the Etruscan alphabet to represent . Already in the Western Greek alphabet, Gamma first took a 15px form in Early Etruscan, then 15px in Classical Etruscan. In Latin it eventually took the form in Classical Latin. In the earliest Latin inscriptions, the letters were used to represent the sounds and (which were not differentiated in writing). Of these, was used to represent or before a rounded vowel, before , and elsewhere.[2] During the 3rd century BC, a modified character was introduced for , and itself was retained for . The use of (and its variant ) replaced most usages of and . Hence, in the classical period and after, was treated as the equivalent of Greek gamma, and as the equivalent of kappa; this shows in the romanization of Greek words, as in KA MO , KYPO , and KI came into Latin as , , and , respectively.

Other alphabets have letters homoglyphic to c but not in use and derivation, like the Cyrillic letter Es ( , ) which derives from the lunate sigma, named due to its resemblance to the crescent moon.

Later use

When the Roman alphabet was introduced into Britain, c represented only and this value of the letter has been retained in loanwords to all the insular Celtic languages: in Welsh, Irish, Gaelic, c represents only . The Old English or "Anglo-Saxon" writing was learned from the Celts, apparently of Ireland; hence c in Old English also originally represented ; the Modern English words kin, break, broken, thick, and seek, all come from Old English words written with c : cyn, brecan, brocen, icc, and s oc. But during the course of the Old English period, before front vowels ( and ) was palatalized, having changed by the tenth century to , though c was still used, as in cir(i)ce, wrecc(e)a. On the continent, meanwhile, a similar phonetic change had also been going on (for example, in Italian).

In Vulgar Latin, became palatalized to in Italy and Dalmatia; in France and the Iberian peninsula, it became . Yet for these new sounds c was still used before front vowels ( e, i ) the letter thus represented two distinct values. Subsequently, the Latin phoneme (represented by ) de-labialized to meaning that the various Romance languages had before front vowels. In addition, Norman used the Greek letter k so that the sound could be represented by either k or c the latter of which could represent either or depending on whether it preceded a front vowel or not. The convention of using both c and k was applied to the writing of English after the Norman Conquest, causing a considerable re-spelling of the Old English words. Thus while Old English candel, clif, corn, crop, c , remained unchanged, Cent, c (c ), cyng, brece, s oce, were now (without any change of sound) spelled Kent , ke , kyng , breke , and seoke ; even cniht ('knight') was subsequently changed to kniht and ic ('thick') changed to thik or thikk . The Old English cw was also at length displaced by the French qu so that the Old English cw n ('queen') and cwic ('quick') became Middle English quen quik , respectively. to which Old English palatalized had advanced, also occurred in French, chiefly from Latin before a . In French it was represented by ch , as in champ (from Latin camp-um) and this spelling was introduced into English: the Hatton Gospels, written about 1160, have in Matt. i-iii, child, chyld, riche, mychel, for the cild, rice, mycel, of the Old English version whence they were copied. In these cases, the Old English c gave place to k qu ch but, on the other hand, c in its new value of came in largely in French words like processiun, emperice, grace, and was also substituted for ts in a few Old English words, as miltse, bletsien, in early Middle English milce, blecien. By the end of the thirteenth century both in France and England, this sound de-affricated to ; and from that time c has represented before front vowels either for etymological reasons, as in lance, cent, or (in defiance of etymology) to avoid the ambiguity due to the "etymological" use of s for , as in ace, mice, once, pence, defence.

Thus, to show the etymology, English spelling has advise, devise, instead of advize, devize, which while advice, device, dice, ice, mice, twice, etc., do not reflect etymology; example has extended this to hence, pence, defence, etc., where there is no etymological necessity for c . Former generations also wrote for sense. Hence, today the Romance languages and English have a common feature inherited from Vulgar Latin where c takes on either a "hard" or "soft" value depending on the following vowel.


In the orthographies of English, and in the Romance languages French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, c represents a "soft" value before front vowels and a "hard" value of before back vowels. The pronunciation of the "soft" value varies by language. In the orthographies of English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish from Latin America and southern Spain, the soft c value is . In the Spanish spoken in northern and central Spain, the soft c is a voiceless dental fricative . In Italian and Romanian, the soft c is . However, there are a number of exceptions in English: "soccer" and "Celt" are words that have where would be expected.

All Balto-Slavic languages that use the Latin alphabet, as well as Albanian, Hungarian, Pashto, several Sami languages, Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua, and Americanist phonetic notation (and those aboriginal languages of North America whose practical orthography derives from it) use c to represent , the voiceless alveolar affricate. In romanized Chinese, the letter represents an aspirated version of this sound,

Among non-European languages that have adopted the Latin alphabet, c represents a variety of sounds. Yup'ik, Indonesian, Malay, and a number of African languages such as Hausa, Fula, and Manding share the soft Italian value of . In Azeri, Kurdish, Tatar, and Turkish c stands for the voiced counterpart of this sound, the voiced postalveolar affricate . In Yabem and similar languages, such as Bukawa, c stands for a glottal stop . Xhosa and Zulu use this letter to represent the click . in some other African languages, such as Beninese Yoruba, c is used for . In Fijian, c stands for a voiced dental fricative , while in Somali it has the value of .

c is also used as a transliteration of the Cyrillic in the Latinic forms of Serbian, Macedonian, and sometimes Ukrainian (along with the digraph ts ).

There are several common digraphs with c , the most common being ch , which in some languages such as German is far more common than c alone. In English, ch most commonly represents (which it invariably has in Spanish), but can take the value or ; some dialects of English also have in words like loch where other speakers pronounce the final sound as . Ch takes various values in other languages, such as:

Ck , with the value , is often used after short vowels in Germanic languages such as English, German and Swedish (but some other Germanic languages use kk instead, such as Dutch and Norwegian). The digraph cz is found in Polish and cs in Hungarian, both representing . In Old English, Italian, and a few languages related to Italian, sc represents (however in Italian and related languages this only happens before front vowels, otherwise it represents ).

As a phonetic symbol, lowercase is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and X-SAMPA symbol for the voiceless palatal plosive, and capital C is the X-SAMPA symbol for the voiceless palatal fricative.

Related letters and other similar characters

Computing codes

character C c
character encoding decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 67 0043 99 0063
UTF-8 67 43 99 63
Numeric character reference C C c c
EBCDIC family 195 C3 131 83
ASCII 1 67 43 99 63

1 and all encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representations

See also

  • Hard and soft C


External links

ace:C af:C als:C ar:C an:C arc:C ast:C az:C zh-min-nan:C be:C, be-x-old:C ( ) bg:C bs:C br:C (lizherenn) ca:C cs:C co:C cy:C da:C de:C dsb:C et:C el:C eml:C es:C eo:C eu:C fa:C fr:C (lettre) fy:C fur:C ga:C gv:Couyll gd:C gl:C gan:C xal:C ko:C hsb:C hr:C io:C ilo:C id:C ia:C is:C (b kstafur) it:C he:C ka:C kw:C sw:C ht:C ku:C (t p) la:C lv:C lb:C lt:C lmo:C (letera) hu:C mk:C ( ) mg:C ml:C mr:C ms:C my: ( ) nah:C nl:C (letter) ja:C no:C nn:C nrm:C mhr:C ( ) uz:C (harf) pl:C pt:C crh:C ro:C qu:C ru:C ( ) se:C stq:C scn:C simple:C sk:C sl:C szl:C sr:C ( ) sh:C su:C fi:C sv:C tl:C th:C tr:C uk:C ( ) vi:C vo:C wa:C war:C yi:C yo:C zh-yue:C diq:C bat-smg:C zh:C

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