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Re: Ou[...]



> My understanding is that, yes, u was written as a v (no surprise there).
The
> comment about a Latin v being pronounced as a w was sloppy, for which I
> apologize. The Romans wrote a "u," someone later decided some of them
> letters should be "v." Another listmember (in a private message) is also
> correct that the pronunciations have changed through time; the method
taught
> in the U.S., intended to reconstruct pronunciation at about the time of
> Caesar, emphasizes that the "v" of modern spelling (written the same as
the
> "u" by the Romans) is pronounced as a "w."

BTW, I have mentioned this onlist some months ago; I haven't found out yet,
neither looked up, who exactly those emperors Valerius and Valentinianus
were. (The first was apparently pronounced with w in his lifetime, as Greek
writings let him begin with ou [omikron ypsilon]. The latter shows up with
beta in Greek, which shows that the beta was already pronounced v in the
Greek of that time* and probably indicates that the Latin v was already
pronounced the same way. Or maybe just that the Greeks thought v, rather
than u, was closer to w... I don't know the literature.)

* Which is why the Cyrillic letter for v is B (big and small for upper and
lower case).

> Historically, some Latin "v"s have stayed "v" while others changed to "u,"
> in a manner analogous to the historical propensity to change some Latin
"i"s
> to "j" and some Latin "c"s to "g"s (although I was under the impression
this
> last change occurred while Latin was still a major world language).

That's AFAIK more complicated. The letter G was invented by a certain
?Marcus ? Ruga (rest forgotten...) in some early times (exact date also
forgotten) and is actually a C with an added \ . This confusing phenomenon
arises from the fact that the Etruscan language didn't have soft (voiced)
consonants and therefore used the Greek gamma (toppled into < , then
rounded) for k; then the Romans learned to write from the Etruscans (not
directly from the Greeks, as used to be assumed) and used C for both, until
said Ruga became fed up with it. In contrast, i/j and u/v were apparently
just considered long and short versions of the same sounds, so there was no
need to invent separate letters for them for a very long time.