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K
K k
(See below)
Writing cursive forms of K
Usage
Writing systemLatin script
TypeAlphabetic and Logographic
Language of originLatin language
Phonetic usage[k]
[]
[]
[ɡ]
/k/
Unicode codepointU+004B, U+006B
Alphabetical position11
History
Development
Time period~-700 to present
Descendants • K
 •
 •
SistersК
כ
ך
ک
ك
ܟ


𐎋

Կ կ
Հ հ
Խ խ
Variations(See below)
Other
Other letters commonly used withk(x)
This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

K, or k, is the eleventh letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is kay (pronounced /ˈk/), plural kays.[1] The letter K usually represents the voiceless velar plosive.

History

Egyptian
hieroglyph
D
Proto-Sinaitic
K
Proto-Canaanite
kap
Phoenician
kaph
Greek
Kappa
Latin
K
d
Proto-semiticK-01.svg
Protokaf.svg
PhoenicianK-01.svg
Kappa uc lc.svg
Latin K

The letter K comes from the Greek letter Κ (kappa), which was taken from the Semitic kaph, the symbol for an open hand.[2] This, in turn, was likely adapted by Semitic tribes who had lived in Egypt from the hieroglyph for "hand" representing /ḏ/ in the Egyptian word for hand, ⟨ḏ-r-t⟩ (likely pronounced /ˈcʼaːɾat/ in Old Egyptian). The Semites evidently assigned it the sound value /k/ instead, because their word for hand started with that sound.[3]

K was brought into the Latin alphabet with the name ka /kaː/ to differentiate it from C, named ce (pronounced /keː/) and Q, named qu and pronounced /kuː/. In the earliest Latin inscriptions, the letters C, K and Q were all used to represent the sounds /k/ and /ɡ/ (which were not differentiated in writing). Of these, Q was used before a rounded vowel (e.g. ⟨EQO⟩ 'ego'), K before /a/ (e.g. ⟨KALENDIS⟩ 'calendis'), and C elsewhere. Later, the use of C and its variant G replaced most usages of K and Q. K survived only in a few fossilized forms such as Kalendae, "the calends".[4]

After Greek words were taken into Latin, the Kappa was transliterated as a C. Loanwords from other alphabets with the sound /k/ were also transliterated with C. Hence, the Romance languages generally use C, in imitating Classical Latin's practice, and have K only in later loanwords from other language groups. The Celtic languages also tended to use C instead of K, and this influence carried over into Old English.

Pronunciation and use

Pronunciations of Kk
Language Dialect(s) Pronunciation (IPA) Environment Notes
Faroese /k/ hard
/tʃʰ/ soft
Greek /c/ soft Latinization
/k/ hard Latinization
Icelandic // soft
/ç/ soft, lenited
// hard
/x/ hard, lenited
Mandarin Standard // Pinyin latinization
Norwegian /ç/ soft
/k/ hard
Swedish /k/ hard
/ɕ/ soft
Turkish /c/ soft
/k/ hard

English

English is now the only Germanic language to productively use "hard" ⟨c⟩ (outside the digraph ⟨ck⟩) rather than ⟨k⟩ (although Dutch uses it in loan words of Latin origin, and the pronunciation of these words follows the same hard/soft distinction as in English).[citation needed]

The letter ⟨k⟩ is silent at the start of an English word when it comes before the letter ⟨n⟩, as in the words "knight," "knife," "knot," "know," and "knee".

Like J, X, Q, and Z, the letter K is not used very frequently in English. It is the fifth least frequently used letter in the English language, with a frequency in words of about 0.8%.

Number

In the International System of Units (SI), the SI prefix for one thousand is kilo-, officially abbreviated as k: for example, prefixed to metre/meter or its abbreviation m, kilometre or km signifies a thousand metres. As such, people occasionally represent numbers in a non-standard notation by replacing the last three zeros of the general numeral with K, as in 30K for 30,000.

Other languages

In most languages where it is employed, this letter represents the sound /k/ (with or without aspiration) or some similar sound.

Other systems

The International Phonetic Alphabet uses ⟨k⟩ for the voiceless velar plosive.

Related characters

Ancestors, descendants and siblings

Ligatures and abbreviations

Computing codes

Character information
Preview K k
Unicode name LATIN CAPITAL LETTER K LATIN SMALL LETTER K KELVIN SIGN
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 75 U+004B 107 U+006B 8490 U+212A
UTF-8 75 4B 107 6B 226 132 170 E2 84 AA
Numeric character reference K K k k K K
EBCDIC family 210 D2 146 92
ASCII 1 75 4B 107 6B
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representation

NATO phonetic Morse code
Kilo
  ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ 
ICS Kilo.svg

Semaphore Kilo.svg

Sign language K.svg
BSL letter K.svg
⠅
Signal flag Flag semaphore American manual alphabet (ASL fingerspelling) British manual alphabet (BSL fingerspelling) Braille dots-13
Unified English Braille

Other usage

References

  1. ^ "K" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "kay," op. cit.
  2. ^ "K". The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1977, online(registration required)[dead link]
  3. ^ Gordon, Cyrus H. (1970). "The Accidental Invention of the Phonemic Alphabet". Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 29 (3): 193–197. doi:10.1086/372069. JSTOR 543451. S2CID 161870047.
  4. ^ Sihler, Andrew L. (1995). New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin (illustrated ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-19-508345-8. Archived from the original on 2016-11-09. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  5. ^ "Latin Extended-D" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-03-25. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  6. ^ Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-02-19. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  7. ^ Ruppel, Klaas; Aalto, Tero; Everson, Michael (2009-01-27). "L2/09-028: Proposal to encode additional characters for the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  8. ^ Everson, Michael; Jacquerye, Denis; Lilley, Chris (2012-07-26). "L2/12-270: Proposal for the addition of ten Latin characters to the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-03-30. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  9. ^ Everson, Michael; Baker, Peter; Emiliano, António; Grammel, Florian; Haugen, Odd Einar; Luft, Diana; Pedro, Susana; Schumacher, Gerd; Stötzner, Andreas (2006-01-30). "L2/06-027: Proposal to add Medievalist characters to the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-09-19. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  10. ^ Stephen Phillips (2009-06-04). "International Morse Code". Archived from the original on 2014-02-12. Retrieved 2014-02-10.