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F

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Writing cursive forms of F

F (named ef[1] /ɛf/)[2] is the sixth letter in the modern English alphabet and 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 the ancestor of the Roman letters 'U', 'V', and 'W'); and, with another form, as a consonant, digamma, which indicated the pronunciation /w/, as in Phoenician. Latin 'F,' despite being pronounced differently, is ultimately descended from digamma and closely resembles it in form.

After sound changes eliminated /w/ from spoken Greek, digamma was used only as a numeral. However, the Greek alphabet also gave rise to other alphabets, and some of these retained letters descended from digamma. In the Etruscan alphabet, 'F' probably represented /w/, as in Greek, and the Etruscans formed the digraph 'FH' to represent /f/. (At the time these letters were borrowed, there was no Greek letter that represented /f/: the Greek letter phi 'Φ' then represented an aspirated voiceless bilabial plosive /pʰ/, although in Modern Greek it has come to represent /f/.) When the Romans adopted the alphabet, they used 'V' (from Greek upsilon) not only for the vowel /u/, but also for the corresponding semivowel /w/, leaving 'F' available for /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).

Use in writing systems[edit]

English[edit]

In the English writing system ⟨f⟩ is used to represent the sound /f/, the voiceless labiodental fricative. It is commonly doubled at the end of words. Exceptionally, it represents the voiced labiodental fricative /v/ in the common word "of".

Other languages[edit]

In the writing systems 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]. This sound is usually considered to be an allophone of /h/, which is pronounced in different ways depending upon its context; Japanese /h/ is pronounced as [ɸ] before /u/.
  • In Welsh orthography, ⟨f⟩ represents /v/ while ⟨ff⟩ represents /f/.
  • In Slavic languages, ⟨f⟩ is used primarily in words of foreign (Greek, Latin, or Germanic) origin.

Other systems[edit]

The International Phonetic Alphabet uses ⟨f⟩ to represent the voiceless labiodental fricative.

Related characters[edit]

Ancestors, descendants and siblings[edit]

  • F with diacritics: Ƒ ƒ Ḟ ḟ Ꞙ ꞙ ᵮ [3][4]
  • Ꞙ ꞙ : F with stroke is used in the Teuthonista phonetic transcription system[5]
  • ꬵ : Lenis F is used in the Teuthonista phonetic transcription system[5]
  •  : Modifier letter small f is used for phonetic transcription[3]
  • ꜰ : Small capital F was used in the Icelandic First Grammatical Treatise to mark gemination[6]
  • Ꝼ ꝼ  : Insular F is used in Norse and Old English contexts[7]
  • ꟻ : Reversed F was used in ancient Roman texts to stand for filia (daughter) or femina (woman)[8]
  • Ⅎ ⅎ : Claudian letters[9]
  • 𐤅: Semitic letter Waw, from which the following symbols originally derive
    • Ϝ ϝ : Greek letter Digamma, from which F derives
      • 𐌅 : Old Italic V/F (originally used for V, in languages such as Etruscan and Oscan), which derives from Greek Digamma, and is the ancestor of modern Latin F
      • Y y : Latin letter Y, sharing its roots with F
      • V v : Latin letter V, also sharing its roots with F
      • U u : Latin letter U, which is descended from V
      • W w : Latin letter W, also descended from V

Ligatures and abbreviations[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 Sign language F.svg ⠋
Signal flag Flag semaphore American manual alphabet (ASL fingerspelling) Braille
dots-124

Footnotes[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spelled eff as a verb
  2. ^ "F", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); "ef", "eff", "bee" (under "bee eff"), op. cit.
  3. ^ a b Constable, Peter (2004-04-19). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF). 
  4. ^ Constable, Peter (2003-09-30). "L2/03-174R2: Proposal to Encode Phonetic Symbols with Middle Tilde in the UCS" (PDF). 
  5. ^ a b Everson, Michael; Dicklberger, Alois; Pentzlin, Karl; Wandl-Vogt, Eveline (2011-06-02). "L2/11-202: Revised proposal to encode "Teuthonista" phonetic characters in the UCS" (PDF). 
  6. ^ 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). 
  7. ^ Everson, Michael (2006-08-06). "L2/06-266: Proposal to add Latin letters and a Greek symbol to the UCS" (PDF). 
  8. ^ Perry, David J. (2006-08-01). "L2/06-269: Proposal to Add Additional Ancient Roman Characters to UCS" (PDF). 
  9. ^ Everson, Michael (2005-08-12). "L2/05-193R2: Proposal to add Claudian Latin letters to the UCS" (PDF). 

External links[edit]

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