The K, 11th letter of the Phoenician and other Semitic graphic systems, named Kaph (hollow of the hand), is also the 11th of the English and many other European alphabets, although the letters preceding it do not exactly coincide in both systems. It is the 10th in Greek. In ancient Latin, as long as (J was used as the sign of G, it was the 9th; but after the innovation of C for the hard guttural in all positions, and the introduction of G as its corresponding soft guttural, it became the 10th letter, though used only in a few abbreviations, such as K. for Cceso,kal, for calendce, etc. It is erroneously said to be the 11th in some modern Latin grammars. Sallust, a grammarian of Rome, attributes its introduction into the Latin to one Salvius. Quintilian denies it a place in the Latin, and blames its use even before a, as in kalendce, kalumnia, although it was burnt in upon the forehead of slanderers. It was represented by qu in ancient French, in all positions, though in modern French only in que and qui; while in the same language the K is maintained only in a few foreign words, and in proper nouns. The sound of K is produced like that of G, with this difference, that the larynx does not oscillate during the sudden explosion of the sound.-Some proper nouns are written either with K or C; as, for instance, in German, Carl, Coln, or Karl, Koln; or in French, Coran, Colocotroni, or Koran, etc.
In German, ck is written for kk (in Polish it is pronounced tsk, as in Potocki), and the initial k before consonants is frequently the hardened particle ge deprived of e, as in the words Knecht, servant, from ge-neigt, bent, subject to; and klug, prudent, from ge-lug, looking out.-As a numeral sign, K denotes 20 in the Semitic, Greek, Georgian, and Cyrillic (and hence in the Russian) systems; 40 in the Glagolitic; 60 in the Armenian; 250 (along with E) in the period of Rome's decline. A dash over it raises these values to as many thousands. In rubrication it marks 10, the j not being counted. On Roman coins and other monuments it stands for Kaisar, Kar-thago, kaput, and many other words beginning with Ca in the later Latin. On French coins it designates Bordeaux; on those of Austria, K. B. signify Kormocz-Banya or Kremnitz mine.