F

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This article is about the letter of the alphabet. For other uses, see F (disambiguation).
For technical reasons, "F#" redirects here. For the programming language, see F Sharp (programming language). For F♯, see F-sharp. For the Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, see F♯A♯∞.
Cursive.svg
Circle sheer blue 29.gif
Circle sheer blue 31.gif
Cursive script 'f' and capital 'F'
F cursiva.gif

F (named ef[1] /ˈɛf/)[2] is the sixth letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

History[edit]

Proto-Semitic
W
Phoenician 
waw
Greek
Digamma
Etruscan
V or W
Roman F
Proto-semiticW-01.png PhoenicianW-01.png Digamma uc lc.svg EtruscanF-01.svg Roman F

The origin of 'F' is the Semitic letter vâv (or waw) that represented a sound like /v/ or /w/. Graphically it originally probably depicted either a hook or a club. It may have been based on a comparable Egyptian hieroglyph such as that which represented the word mace (transliterated as ḥ(dj)):-

T3

The Phoenician form of the letter was adopted into Greek as a vowel, upsilon (which resembled its descendant, 'Y' but was also ancestor of Roman letters 'U', 'V', and 'W'); and with another form, as a consonant, digamma, which resembled 'F', but indicated the pronunciation /w/, as in Phoenician. (After /w/ disappeared from Greek, digamma was used as a numeral only.)

In Etruscan, 'F' probably represented /w/, as in Greek; and the Etruscans formed the digraph 'FH' to represent /f/. When the Romans adopted the alphabet, they used 'V' (from Greek upsilon) to stand for /w/ as well as /u/, leaving 'F' available for /f/. (At that time, the Greek letter phi 'Φ' represented an aspirated voiceless bilabial plosive /pʰ/, though in Modern Greek it approximates the sound of /f/.) And so out of the various vav variants in the Mediterranean world, the letter F entered the Roman alphabet attached to a sound which its antecedents in Greek and Etruscan did not have. The Roman alphabet forms the basis of the alphabet used today for English and many other languages.

The lowercase ' f ' is not related to the visually similar long s, ' ſ ' (or medial s). The use of the long s largely died out by the beginning of the 19th century, mostly to prevent confusion with ' f ' when using a short mid-bar (see more at: S).

Usage[edit]

In the English writing system 'f' is used to represent the sound /f/. It is commonly doubled at the end of words. Exceptionally, it represents the voiced sound /v/ in the common word "of". In the orthographies of other languages, 'f' commonly represents /f/, [ɸ] or /v/.

In French orthography, 'f' is used to represent /f/. It may also be silent at the end of words.

In Spanish orthography, 'f' is used to represent /f/.

In the Hepburn romanization of Japanese, 'f' is used to represent [ɸ], which is usually considered to be an allophone of /h/ before /u/.

In phonetic and phonemic transcription, the International Phonetic Alphabet uses 'f' to represent the voiceless labiodental fricative.

Related letters and other similar characters[edit]

Computing codes[edit]

Character F f
Unicode name LATIN CAPITAL LETTER F     LATIN SMALL LETTER F
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 70 U+0046 102 U+0066
UTF-8 70 46 102 66
Numeric character reference F F f f
EBCDIC family 198 C6 134 86
ASCII 1 70 46 102 66
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representations[edit]

NATO phonetic Morse code
Foxtrot ··–·
ICS Foxtrot.svg Semaphore Foxtrot.svg ⠋
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille
dots-124

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spelled eff as a verb
  2. ^ "F", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); "ef", "eff", "bee" (under "bee eff"), op. cit.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to F at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of F at Wiktionary
  • The dictionary definition of f at Wiktionary