V littera

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V littere vocalis figuram greci non habent sed faciunt eam ex oy dyphthongo interdum tamen iungunt ambas et hanc figuram faciunt arabes vero ut iam dictum est nec .o. nec .u. habent sed unam litteram medium sonum inter .o. et .u. habentem, quam oao vocant, per hanc scribunt oard quod est rosa et oaril quod est stellio verum translatores assueverunt eius sonum velle exprimere per .gu. et scribunt guard et guaril.


vocalis figurã ACD | nocalis figurã propriã B | vocalis figuraʒ propriaʒ e

ex oy dypbibẽgo A | ex oy dyphthongo (dyphthõgo D) CD | ex oy diptũgo B | ex ou diptongon e

& hãc figurã (faciunt AC) faciũt ABCD | ex hac figuraʒ faciũt U e

oard ABCD | orad e

stellio ABCD | stilio e

assueuerũt AC | assueuerunt D | consueuerũt B e

guard ABC e | guar. D


{N.b. It should be borne in mind that until the 16th c. AD 'U,u' and 'V,v' were not distinguished.}

The Greeks do not have a vocalic letter shaped 'V,U', but they write it {i.e. represent the sound} with the 'oy' diphthong, and for this occasion the two are combined, and thus they create a new letter {for the sound /u/ pronounced as in ooze}.

However, the Arabs – as was said before – have neither a letter for 'o' nor 'u', but they have a single letter with a sound halfway between 'o' and 'u', which they call oao {i.e. ﻭﺍﻭ /wāw/}, and with it they write the word oard {ﻭﺭﺩ /ward/}, which means "rose" and oaril {ﻭﺭﻝ /waral/ "varan, monitor lizard"} which means stellio {"newt, spotted lizard"}; but the translators tend to think that this sound needed to be expressed by the letters 'gu' and they write guard {instead of oard} or guaril {instead of oaril}.


Latin stellio, stēlio refers to any spotted lizard, from stella, "star".

Wehr (1976): ﻭﺭﻝ /waral/ "varan, monitor lizard (zool.)". Siggel (1950: 73): ﻭﺭﻝ /waral/ Lacerta nilotica, Nilechse; e. Varanus {i.e. "Nile monitor"}.


Archaic Greek did have a letter for the sound /u/ - as in English "ooze" – but a sound change turned /u/ into /ü/ – like German 'ü', French 'u' in "rue" - which made this letter now stand for the "new" sound /ü/, i.e. the Greek letter 'Υ,υ' our transliterated /Y,y/.

The somewhat awkward Greek writing –ου- for the sound /u/ is a leftover from its linguistic history. By chance an old Greek diphthong ου = /oy/ underwent a sound change and changed into /u/ - as in "ooze" – and thus the digraph 'ου' /oy/, traditionally transliterated as /u/ or /ou/, came to stand for the sound as in "ooze", cf. the entry Ura, etc.


The Arabic sound system has only these eight vowel sounds: /a,ā,i,ī,u,ū/,/ai/ analyzed as /ay/, and /au/ analyzed as /aw/.

In writing, only consonants are written, but long vowels are normally indicated by using consonantal signs, e.g. ʔ {alif} for ā, y {as in yes} for ī, and w {as in water} for ū. So the word for "rose" /ward/ is written wrd, /zait/ "oil" is written zyt, and /ṯaur/ "bull" is written ṯwr. The word for "hyssop" /zūfā/ is written zwfʔ, and the word for "elephant" /fīl/ is written fyl. This is of course fundamentally ambiguous, thus zwfʔ could also be read as /zawafʔa/ and in many other ways. However, the context makes the correct reading clear in almost all cases. The letter ﻭﺍﻭ /wāw/ can therefore stand for the consonant /w/ {as in water}, the long vowel /ū/ {as in ooze} and the diphthong /au/ {as in cow}. In dialectal Arabic the diphthong /au/ = /aw/ is often changed into /ō/, e.g. the word meaning "bull", written "ṯwr", is pronounced /ṯaur = ṯawr/ in classical Arabic, but dialectally /ṯōr/. So for some speakers ﻭﺍﻭ /wāw/ can therefore stand for /w/,/ū/ and /ō/. This may account for Simon's frequently expressed opinion that ﻭﺍﻭ /wāw/ is a letter between 'o' and 'u'. Nonetheless all of Simon's examples above are in fact consonantal.

Short vowels can also be indicated in the Arabic script but by diacritica above or below the consonant they follow . However – except for the qurʔān – they are generally never written.


In classical Latin the letter 'U,u,V,v' could stand for the vowel /u/ as well as for the consonant /w/. In post-classical times Latin had lost /w/ as a sound and had changed it into /v/; e.g. ventum "wind" was probably pronounced /wentum/ in classical times, but then changed to /ventum/. When Late Antiquity speakers of Latin were confronted with the sound /w/, as it occurred e,g, in words loaned from the Germanic languages, cf. Old English weardian {"to ward"} and Old High German wartēn, then pronounced with /w/ {but Modern German "warten" is pronounced /varten/} - both verbal forms meaning 'to protect, look after' - Romance speakers tried to imitate this sound, which was by now foreign to them, by pronouncing it as /gu/, cf. Italian guardare and Old French guarder. This same representation had by the Middle Ages become traditional and was therefore also applied, when at a later date Arabic words with /w/ were encountered. Simon is aware that a closer phonetic approximation could be achieved by writing oard rather than guard for Arabic /ward/.

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