was introduced in the Old Latin period as a variant of to distinguish voiced // from voiceless /k/. The recorded originator of is freedman Spurius Carvilius Ruga, the first Roman to open a fee-paying school, who taught around 230 BC. At this time had fallen out of favor, and , which had formerly represented both // and /k/ before open vowels, had come to express /k/ in all environments.
Ruga’s positioning of shows that alphabetic order, related to the letters’ values as Greek numerals, was a concern even in the 3rd century BC. Sampson (1985) suggests that: “Evidently the order of the alphabet was felt to be such a concrete thing that a new letter could be added in the middle only if a ‘space’ was created by the dropping of an old letter.” According to some records, the original seventh letter, , had been purged from the Latin alphabet somewhat earlier in the 3rd century BC by the Roman censor Appius Claudius, who found it distasteful and foreign.
Eventually, both velar consonants /k/ and // developed palatalized allophones before front vowels, leading to the situation today’s Romance languages where, and have different sound values depending on context. Because of French influence, English also has this feature in its orthography.
Typographic variants include a double-story and single-story g.
The modern lower case has two typographic variants: the single-story (sometimes opentail) and the double-story (sometimes looptail) . The single-story version derives from the majuscule (upper-case) form by raising the serif that distinguishes it from to the top of the loop, thus closing the loop, and extending the vertical grasshopper stroke downward and to the left. The double-story form developed similarly, except that some ornate forms then extended the tail back to the right, and to the left again, forming a closed bowl or loop. The initial extension to the right was absorbed into the upper closed bowl. The double-story version became popular when printing switched to “Roman type” because the tail was effectively shorter, making it possible to put more lines on a page. In the double-story version, a small stroke in the upper-right, often terminating in an orb shape, is called an “ear”.
Generally, the two minuscule forms are interchangeable, but occasionally the difference has been exploited to make a contrast. The 1949 Principles of the International Phonetic Association recommends using for advanced voiced velar plosives and for regular ones where the two are contrasted, but this suggestion was never accepted by phoneticians in general, and today is the symbol used in the International Phonetic Alphabet, with acknowledged as an acceptable variant.
In English, the letter represents a voiced postalveolar affricate /d/ (“soft G”), as in: giant, ginger, and geology; or a voiced velar plosive // (“hard G”), as in: goose, gargoyle, and game. In some words of French origin, the “soft G” is pronounced as a fricative (//), as in rouge, beige, and genre. Generally, is soft before , , and in words of Romance origin, and hard otherwise; there are many English words of non-Romance origin where is hard regardless of position (e.g. get), and three (gaol, margarine, algae) in which it is soft even before an .
Languages Non-Romance languages typically use to represent // regardless of position. Amongst European languages Dutch is an exception as it does not have // in its native words, and instead represents a voiced velar fricative //, a sound that does not occur in modern English). German, however, is notable for its sparse use of to represent a pronunciation (to represent the sounds //, or /d/) regardless of its position within German words. While the soft value of varies in different Romance languages (// in French and Portuguese, [(d)] in Catalan, /d/ in Italian and Romanian, and /x/ in Castilian Spanish, and /h/ in other dialects of Spanish), in all except Romanian and Italian, soft has the same pronunciation as the .
Several digraphs are common in English. h which came about when the letter yogh was removed from the alphabet, and took various values including //, //, /x/, and /j/. It now has a great variety of values, including /f/ in enough, // in loan words like spaghetti, and as an indicator of a letter’s “long” pronunciation in words like eight and night. n with value /nj/ is also common in loanwords, as in lasagna (though initially, as in gnome, the is simply silent).
In Italian and Romanian, h is used to represent // before front vowels where would otherwise represent a soft value. In Italian and French, n is used to represent the palatal nasal //, a sound somewhat similar to the y in English canyon. In Italian, the trigraph li, when appearing before a vowel, represents the palatal lateral approximant //; in the definite article and pronoun gli /i/, the digraph l represents the same sound.
In Maori (Te Reo Mori), is used in the combination g which represents the velar nasal // and is pronounced like the g in singer.
Strictly speaking, of course, the letter is not present in other scripts, but the sound it represents is present in many world languages, and is represented by many different graphemes.
The Cyrillic alphabet analogue is marked as (e.g. in Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, etc.) or (in Ukrainian as additional letter with some different pronounce). The Hebrew analogue is gimel .
Classical Arabic did not have plain // in its native words (the palatalized form // is believed to have been used) and the sound remains rare in Modern Standard Arabic. However, foreign words containing // are transcribed using (ayn) (most Arab countries) or (jm) (Egypt).
Codes for computing
Alternative representations of G
In Unicode the capital is codepoint U+0047 and the lowercase is U+0067.
The ASCII code for capital is 71 and for lowercase is 103; or in binary 01000111 and 01100111, respectively.
The EBCDIC code for capital is 199 and for lowercase is 135.
The numeric character references in HTML and XML are “G” and “g” for upper and lower case respectively.
Hard and soft G
, – Ge (Cyrillic)
, – Gamma (Greek)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: G
^ “G” Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); “gee”, op. cit.
^ Encyclopaedia Romana
Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary: G
The basic modern Latin alphabet
Letter G with diacritics
history palaeography derivations diacritics punctuation numerals Unicode list of letters ISO/IEC 646
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