THE third letter in the English alphabet, C? as it is in the Latin and in those of all the modern European languages. Its form is derived by Scaliger from the Greek kappa (K), by dropping the upright stem, and rounding the < into 0. Suidas calls it the Roman kappa, and Montfaucon, in his Palceographia, gives several forms of the K which approach nearly to 0. Others derive it from the Hebrew caph ( ), which has nearly the same form, but is inverted, since the Hebrews and Latins read in opposite directions. Others, from its position in the alphabet, derive it from the Hebrew gimel ( ), and make its affinities with the Coptic gamma, the Ethiopic gemel, and the Russian glagol. In the early Latin language 0 held the place which is now occupied by G, as appears from the inscriptions on the Duilian column raised in the Roman forum about 200 B. C, in which we find macistratus for magistrate, leciones for legiones, pucnando for pug-nando, and exfociont for effugiunt. Thus Au-sonius says, Gammce mcefunctaprius C. The 0 also sometimes represented the Greek kappa, since in the same inscriptions Cartaciniensis occurs for Karthaginiensis; but this function was more frequently fulfilled by the letters qu; thus the Greek , , became the Roman que, querquerus, and querque-dula. The tendency of the western languages has been to soften the oriental articulation, and the gamma or 0, after being softened by being brought forward in the mouth to the front palate, and becoming K phonetically, superseded the qu which had been common in old Latin words. The Latins made no further phonetic change of 0, always during the most flourishing period of their literature pronouncing it like kappa. If they had given the sibilant sound of C in the enunciation of the word Cicero, the Greeks in adopting the word would have written it with a sigma. Modern languages, however, have carried the process on further. The English has softened the aspirated C (ch) in church, chime, chivalry, and the French still more in chevalerie, chemin; while the unaspirated C has become a pure sibilant, as in circle, cent, cycle. Thus the English teach comes from the Latin doceo, and the English please and the French plaisir from the Latin placeo. Some words, however, have not followed this phonetic change from the original pronunciation. Thus the modern Scottish kirk still embalms the sound of the old English church.
Kindle and candle show that the pronunciation of cinder is perverted; and the patois* of northwestern France still preserves the hard sound of C in chemin, and so links it to the English come. But though the Latins did not soften the C to a sibilant, they did worse. Having aspirated it into K, they next dropped it, preserving only the aspirate to mark the hiatus, as, tracto, traho; kerdona, herdona. This same process is noticeable in the cognate languages; thus: collum (Lat.), Hals (Ger.), halter (Eng.). In French the phonetic softening of the C is traceable in the word Karolus till the 9th century, then Carolus, and afterward Charles; and the comparatively modern use of the cedilla records the further progress of the change. C is also interchanged with some other letters besides the Q and K with which it is cognate; as with P in pepo, coquo, cook; co-lumba, palumba; while prox(cs)imus has supplanted propsimus, but not prope and propius. The phenomenon of the disappearance of O occurs in sacramentum (Lat.), serment (Fr.); lacrima (Lat.), larme (Fr.); and in many other cases for purposes of euphony. - As a numeral, C signifies 100, CC 200, and so on to 400. Among the Latins it stood for Csesar, Cains, Cassius, centum, and condemno; and on account of the last use it is called litera tristis by Cicero. CC stood for calumnies causa or concilium cepit; coss. for consules; CI. for Claudius; C. V. for Centum Viri; and C. R. for Civis Romanus. In Italian C stands for canto.
In French, a single C stamped on money marks it as the issue of the mint of Caen, and CC as the issue of the mint of Be-sancon. - In music, C is the name of one of the notes of the scale. It is the tone with which the so-called natural scale begins, and was designated by Guido ut, a name subsequently changed to do by the Italians. C is considered the key note, and its pitch is regulated by tuning forks. It is also a character used for the signification of time.