B – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted By on October 6, 2015

B or b (pronounced , bee)[1][2] is the 2nd letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet. In English, it represents the voiced bilabial stop, although it sometimes represents other bilabial sounds when used in other languages.

Old English was originally written in runes, whose equivalent letter was beorc , meaning "birch". Beorc dates to at least the 2nd-century Elder Futhark, which is now thought to have derived from the Old Italic alphabets' either directly or via Latin .

The uncial and half-uncial introduced by the Gregorian and Irish missions gradually developed into the Insular scripts' . These Old English Latin alphabets supplanted the earlier runes, whose use was fully banned under King Canute in the early 11th century. The Norman Conquest popularized the Carolingian half-uncial forms which latter developed into blackletter . Around 1300, letter case was increasingly distinguished, with upper- and lower-case B taking separate meanings. Following the advent of printing in the 15th century, Germany and Scandinavia continued to use forms of blackletter (particularly Fraktur), while England eventually adopted the humanist and antiqua scripts developed in Renaissance Italy from a combination of Roman inscriptions and Carolingian texts. The present forms of the English cursive B were developed by the 17th century.

The Roman B derived from the Greek capital beta via its Etruscan and Cumaean variants. The Greek letter was an adaptation of the Phoenician letter bt . The Egyptian hieroglyph for the consonant /b/ had been an image of a foot and calf ,[4] but bt (Phoenician for "house") was a modified form of a Proto-Sinaitic glyph probably adapted from the separate hieroglyph Pr meaning "house".[5][n 1] The Hebrew letter beth is a separate development of the Phoenician letter.

By Byzantine times, the Greek letter came to be pronounced /v/, so that it is known in modern Greek as vta (still written ). The Cyrillic letter ve represents the same sound, so a modified form known as be was developed to represent the Slavic languages' /b/. (Modern Greek continues to lack a letter for the voiced bilabial plosive and transliterates such sounds from other languages using the consonant cluster , mp.)

In English, most other languages that use the Latin alphabet, and the International Phonetic Alphabet, b denotes the voiced bilabial plosive /b/, as in 'bib'. In English, it is sometimes silent. Most instances are derived from old monosyllablic words where a terminal b is immediately preceded by an m, such as 'lamb' and 'bomb', but a few are etymological spellings intended to make a word more like its Latin original, such as 'debt' or 'doubt'. As /b/ is one of the sounds subject to Grimm's Law, English words may find their cognates in other Indo-European languages appearing with bh, p, or f instead.

In Estonian, Icelandic, and Chinese Pinyin, b does not denote a voiced consonant. Instead, it represents a voiceless /p/ that contrasts with either a geminated /p:/ (in Estonian) or an aspirated /p/ (in Pinyin, Danish and Icelandic), which are all represented by p. In Fijian b represents a prenasalized /mb/ whereas, in Zulu and Xhosa, it represents an implosive //, in contrast to the digraph bh which represents /b/. Finnish only uses b in loanwords.

B is also a musical note. In English-speaking countries, it represents Si, the 12th note of a chromatic scale built on C. In Central Europe and Scandinavia, "B" is used to denote B-flat and the 12th note of the chromatic scale is denoted "H". Archaic forms of 'b', the b quadratum (square b, ) and b rotundum (round b, ) are used in musical notation as the symbols for natural and flat, respectively.

In Contracted (grade 2) English braille, 'b' stands for "but" when in isolation.

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B - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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