hard g


G is the seventh letter in the Latin alphabet. Its name in English is spelled gee or occasionally ge ().


The letter G was introduced in the Old Latin period as a variant of C to distinguish Latin voiced velar /ɡ/ from voiceless /k/. The recorded originator of the letter G is freedman Spurius Carvilius Ruga, the first Roman to open a fee-paying school, who taught around 230 BC. At this time, K had fallen out of favour, and C, which had formerly expressed both /ɡ/ and /k/ before open vowels, had come to express /k/ in all environments.

Ruga's positioning of G shows that alphabetic order, related to the letters' values as Greek numerals, was a concern even in the 3rd century BC. Sampson (1985) suggested 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, Z, 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 /ɡ/ developed palatalizations and allophones before front vowels, which is why today, C and G have different sound values in the various Romance languages, as well as English (because of French influence).

Typographic forms

The modern lower case G has two written and typographic variants: the single-story (sometimes opentail) G and the double-story (sometimes looptail) G . The single-story version derives from the majuscule (upper-case) form by raising the serif that distinguishes it from a C to the top of the loop, thereby closing the loop, and extending the vertical 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 left 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 IPA, with acknowledged as an acceptable variant.


In English, the letter represents a voiced postalveolar affricate /dʒ/) ("soft G"), as in: giant, ginger, and geology; or a voiced velar plosive /ɡ/ ("hard G"), as in: goose, gargoyle, and game. In some words of French origin, the "soft G" is pronounced as a fricative (/ʒ/), as in rouge, beige, and genre. Generally, G is soft before E, I, and Y, and hard otherwise, but there are many English words of non-Romance origin where G is soft or hard regardless of position (e.g. "get"), and two (gaol, margarine) in which it is soft even before an A. Languages which are neither Romance nor Germanic in origin typically use G to represent /ɡ/ regardless of position (however, the Dutch language does not have /ɡ/ in its native words, and instead G is pronounced as a voiced velar fricative /ɣ/, a sound that does not occur in modern English). German, however, is notable for its sparse use of G for a "soft G" sound within the language (to represent the sounds /ʒ/, or /dʒ/, or the voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/) regardless of its position within German words. While the soft value of G varies in different Romance languages (/ʒ/ in French, Catalan, and Portuguese, /ʤ/ in Italian and Romanian, and /x/ in Castilian Spanish and /h/ in other dialects of Spanish), in all except Romanian and Italian, soft G is pronounced the same as the J of the same Romance language.

In languages that use Cyrillic alphabet it is marked as Г (in Russian) or Ґ (in Ukrainian). In Hebrew it corresponds to letter gimel and is marked as ג.

Several digraphs are common in English. GH originally represented the letter yogh which English adopted from Old Irish, and took various values including /ɡ/, /ɣ/, /x/, and /j/. It now has a great variety of values, including /f/ in enough, /ɡ/ in loan words like spaghetti, and as an indicator of a letter's "long" pronunciation in words like eight and night. GN, with value /n/, is also common, as in gnaw. When not initial it appears mostly after i, rendering it "long" in the process (eg. sign) but it is not obvious whether this should be interpreted as a similar GN digraph or instead an IG digraph, equivalent to i + gh in words such as sigh.

In Italian and Romanian, GH is used to represent a /ɡ/ value before front vowels where G would otherwise represent a soft value. In Italian and French, GN is used to represent the palatal nasal /ɲ/, a sound similar to the NY in canyon.

G is used an average amount in the English language. While not one of the letters that appears rarely, it is also not one of the most commonly used consonants.

Codes for computing

In Unicode the capital G is codepoint U+0047 and the lowercase g is U+0067.

The ASCII code for capital G is 71 and for lowercase g is 103; or in binary 01000111 and 01100111, correspondingly.

The EBCDIC code for capital G is 199 and for lowercase g is 135.

The numeric character references in HTML and XML are "G" and "g" for upper and lower case respectively.


External links

See also

af:G als:G ar:G arc:G ast:G az:G bs:G bg:G ca:G cs:G co:G cy:G da:G de:G dv:G el:G es:G eo:G eu:G fa:G fur:G gan:G gd:G gl:G ko:G hr:G ilo:G is:G it:G he:G ka:G kw:G sw:G ht:G la:G lv:G lt:G hu:G mzn:G ms:G nah:G ja:G no:G nn:G nrm:G pl:G pt:G crh:G ro:G qu:G se:G scn:G simple:G sk:G sl:G fi:G sv:G tl:G th:G vi:G vo:G yo:G zh-yue:G bat-smg:G zh:G

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