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Classical Alphabet check.

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Classical Alphabet check.

Postby Sesquipedalian » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:03 pm

Hello all,

Is it just me or does it seem the more you read the more confusing things can become? I was under the impression that the classical latin alphabet was the same as the modern latin/english alphabet, except that it lacked 'U', 'J' and 'W' ?

I was just browsing and came across this quote by Lucus:

'It took me a long time to get over it, but ultimately I was convinced by some of the masters here at Textkit that such a course makes the most sense, for the Romans possesses no letter 'v', nor did they write a letter by the shape 'V' except monumentally — Roman handwriting possessed 'u's with a distinct curve, and often a little tail, like this very letter 'u'.'

Can someone shed some light on this? When I google, all I find is sites that say classical latin did not have the letter 'u' and instead used 'V'.

Cheers :D
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Re: Classical Alphabet check.

Postby adrianus » Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:51 pm

It's claiming too much to say that the Romans only wrote "v" in inscriptions. Look at the evidence for both "v" and "u" as the same letter in handwriting.
Romanos "v" litteram non aliter quàm in inscriptionibus scribere in dicendo est nimietatem postulare. Perscrutare in litteris textualibus vestigia ambarum (v et u) ut eiusdem litterae.


I recommended these books in the thread mentioned above // Hos libros in filo suprà citato commendavi
Jean Mallon, L'Écriture Latine (Paris, 1939)
Jean Mallon, Paléographie Romaine (Madrid, 1952)
Bernard Bischoff, Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages (CUP, 1990)

or see // vide http://vindolanda.csad.ox.ac.uk/tablets/TVII-4-2.shtml
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Classical Alphabet check.

Postby Imber Ranae » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:44 am

Meh. Whatever the shape of the letter, the important thing to know is that the Romans did not distinguish vocalic and consonantal V/u. Take a look here to see all sorts of examples of written Latin from antiquity to the Middle Ages. You'll soon realize just how similar they all are, and how they're really just different styles of the same letter. It's no different from us moderns having several variations of single letters in both print and handwriting, e.g. a/a.

The litterae quadratae or "square letters", upon which our modern capitals are based, were mostly used for inscriptions and always had the angular V. Other types of Latin writing had different forms of this same letter, some with a similar angular shape but a rounded base, others completely rounded like our U, and still others with a tail like our u. It's erroneous to say that the Romans had one but not the others.
Ex mala malo
bono malo uesci
quam ex bona malo
malo malo malo.
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