B littera

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B litteram greci vita vocant et in sono .u. consonantis proferunt. Nam dicunt vasilica, latini vero in sonum nostri .b. transferunt et dicunt basilica, aliter autem greci litteram .b. non proferunt nisi quando .m. antecedit .p. tunc illud .p. in sono .b. proferunt, nam scribunt ampelos et legunt ambelos .b. vero arabes eodem modo secundam scribunt in serie sicut latini et eundem sonum habet, verum sepe sine vocali aliqua per additionem notarum variatur et facit ba, be, bi, bo, vel bu, ut cetere consonantes eorum.


In print B the wrong initial, i.e. A instead of B, was used but crossed out and corrected to .b. in the left margin.
vita | vitam jp
{vero} in sonum ABC efp | in sono j
nostri om. f
aliter autem greci litteram .b. non proferunt om. p
{greci litteram} .b. | be ms. e
.p. tunc illud om. e
{.p.} in sono .b. (nostri add. B ep) ABC ep | in nostro sono .b. ms. j | in sonum .b. nostri f
nam scribunt om. f
{ambelos .b.} Vero - new paragraph f | vero AC jp | verum f | nota ms. e
additionem AC j | adictionem B e | addicioneʒ f | aditionem p
variatur om. e
bi, bo om. p
ut cetere A | et cetere C | sicut et {et om. f) cetere B efp | sic et cetere j
eorum om. f

Yann Dahhaoui L'Atelier ... (2001: 208) established the same text on the basis of his collations:


The Greeks' name for the letter B is vita and in sound they pronounce it like the consonant /v/. For they say vasilica, but we Latin speakers assign to it the sound of our /b/ and we say basilica. On no other occasion do the Greeks pronounce the letter B like /b/ unless in a word the letter M precedes the letter P; then this letter P they pronounce like a /b/, i.e. they write ampelos but they read it as ambelos with /b/.

The Arabs also write this letter as the second in their alphabetic sequence just like the Latins and it has the same sound value; but often it is written without any vowel and this can only be changed by the addition of diacritics which then results in ba, be, bi, bo or bu, something they do with their other consonants, too.


The Greek letter is βῆτα /bḗta/ Β,β and it is the 2nd letter in the Greek alphabet.

Simon comments on some Koine Greek sound changes.
The change from /b/ > /v/ occurred relatively early in the 1st century AD.
Also 'η' > 'ι', /ē/ > /i/, which results in Classical Greek /bḗta/ > /vita/, the latter pronunciation is also used in Modern Greek.

Somewhat later the sound /p/ - represented by "π" - when preceded by "μ" {representing /m/} became voiced in this environment in Koine, i.e. it changed into /b/. Simon chooses for illustration the word ἄμπελος Classical Greek /ámpelos/ but Koine /ámbelos/ "any climbing plant with tendrils, esp. grape-vine". This sound change is also characteristic of Modern Greek, cf. Ὄλυμπος written /Ólympos/ but pronounced /Ólimbos/. Cf. Ambelos

The Arabic letter is ﭚ, named ﺑﺎﺀ /bāʔu/, and it is the 2nd letter in the Arabic alphabet.

Concerning Arabic, Simon rightly says that on the whole only consonants are written down, but the Arabic script has diacritic marks available for three distinct places of vowel articulation: /i,ī - u,ū – a,ā/. However these diacritics are only ever used in exceptional circumstances, e.g. to disambiguate holy texts.

Simon's apparently un-Arabic syllables "be" and "bo" reflect variant Arabic pronunciations as heard by Europeans but not felt to be any different by native speakers of Arabic; cf. the appropriate section on vowels in Arabic in (A littera).

WilfGunther (talk) 12:06, 31 December 2016 (GMT)

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