1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/K

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16392601911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 15 — KPeter Giles

K The eleventh letter in the Phoenician alphabet and in its descendant Greek, the tenth in Latin owing to the omission of Teth (see I), and once more the eleventh in the alphabets of Western Europe owing to the insertion of J. In its long history the shape of K has changed very little. It is on the inscription of the Moabite Stone (early 9th cent. B.C.) in the form (written from right to left) of and . Similar forms are also found in early Aramaic, but another form or , which is found in the Phoenician of Cyprus in the 9th or 10th century B.C. has had more effect upon the later development of the Semitic forms. The length of the two back strokes and the manner in which they join the upright are the only variations in Greek. In various places the back strokes, treated as an angle <, become more rounded (, so that the letter appears as , a form which in Latin probably affected the development of C (q.v.). In Crete it is elaborated into and . In Latin K, which is found in the earliest inscriptions, was soon replaced by C, and survived only in the abbreviations for Kalendae and the proper name Kaeso. The original name Kaph became in Greek Kappa. The sound of K throughout has been that of the unvoiced guttural, varying to some extent in its pronunciation according to the nature of the vowel sound which followed it. In Anglo-Saxon C replaced K through Latin influence, writing being almost entirely in the hands of ecclesiastics. As the sound changes have been discussed under C it is necessary here only to refer to the palatalization of K followed earlier by a final e as in watch (Middle English wacche, Anglo-Saxon wæcce) by the side of wake (M.E. waken, A.-S. wacan); batch, bake, &c. Sometimes an older form of the substantive survives, as in the Elizabethan and Northern make = mate alongside match.  (P. Gi.)