Q or q (pronounced [k ʰ u ː ], in Austria also: [ kve: ] ) is the 17th letter of the Latin alphabet and a consonant. Apart from proper names - - In most languages, the Q comes only in the digraph QU ago, in German this letter group has the phonetic value / kv /. The letter Q has an average frequency of 0.02 % in German texts, and is the rarest letter in German texts.


Whether the letter appeared already in the proto- Semitic alphabet, is controversial. If this is the case, the shape of the spring Q is probably an icon that looks like a 8. The earliest identified with certainty precursor is the letter in the Phoenician alphabet Qoph. This letter has strong similarities with the Latin Q. The reason for the appearance of the Qoph there are two theories: Based on the acrophonic principle, the letter could his name ( qoph means "monkey" ) to the back view of a monkey pose, the line whose tail. Another possibility would be that the symbol represents a human head with neck. When the Phoenicians Kof had the phonetic value of / q / for voiceless uvular plosive. The articulation of the [q ] corresponds to a k, the throat ( the uvula, uvula ) is pronounced.

The Greeks took the letter as Qoppa in their alphabet and changed it so that the vertical line was not pulled through. Since Greek sound / q / did not contain the, they used the Qoppa for the / k / sound in front of the back vowels / o / and / u /, while / k / written before the other vowels with Kappa. Because two letters were found to be redundant for a phoneme Qoppa was abolished early and only stayed as numerals in use.

When the Etruscans took over the Greek alphabet, which Qoppa was still in use and has been taken over in the Old Italic alphabet. The letter V was both the phonetic value / β / and / u / have among the Etruscans, and the Etruscan language contained both sound sequences / kβ / and / ku /. To distinguish between them, the Etruscans used according to the Greek practice the letter Q to / k / before / u / reproduce ( a / o / there was not Etruscan ). In addition to the K that was before / a used /, and that resulting from the Greek gamma C ( Etruscan had no voiced consonants ), which was used before / e / and / i /, the Etruscan including a third letter had with the sound value / k /.

About the Etruscan mediation got the Q in the Latin alphabet, only the lower line migrated over time to the right. Initially we followed the Etruscan practice, and wrote, for example PEQUNIA for pecunia ( "money" ). Later they went on to write the / k / only with C. But the Q is maintained in the letter combination ( = ) in order to be able to write the sound [ k ʷ ]. This had emerged from the Primitive Indo-European labiovelar and presented in Latin not simply a compound of [ k] and [w ] but an independent phoneme dar. As can be seen, among others, from the metrical rules of poetry, was the [k ʷ ] as an independent volume understood, so it was logical to use a special notation for it. So could qui [k ʷ i ː ] ( "who" ) of cui [' kui ] (" who" ) can be distinguished.

In many languages ​​that are written with the Latin alphabet, the grapheme for or has been preserved for historical reasons, although it is not a separate phoneme in these languages. In German, the digraph as / kv /, in many other languages ​​, as English, pronounced as / kw /. In some Romance languages ​​(French, Spanish, Portuguese Language ) is used for the / k / sound before the front vowels / e / or / i /.

Languages ​​in which the Q occurs without subsequent U, are rare. In the spelling of Albanian Q since 1908 represents the voiceless palatal plosive [c ]. In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA ) is the grapheme " in reference to the Qoph the Phoenicians the voiceless uvular plosive. In some modern alphabets of non-European languages ​​, the letter Q is used for this sound, as in Quechua, Aymara, Quiché and Greenland ( Kalaallisut ). In the transcription of Arabic is the Arabic Qaf, which also dates back to the Phoenician Qoph and the same phonetic value has sometimes played with Q ( eg " Qalam "). In Somaliland Q denotes the voiced uvular plosive, in Maltese a glottal stop. "


A tilted to the left Q ( ℺ ) ( ROTATED CAPITAL Q) is contained in the Unicode character set in U 213 a.


" The ahd already in ( Frankish ) occurring tender is the Latin alphabet taken qu (q is not a German letter ....) and corresponds to the Goth. doppelconsonanten di kv kw (for which Vulfila a simple, in the transscription usually with q reproduced characters has, similar to the the Latin qu etymologically corresponding hv ), which in OHG downright to chw ( chuu chu qhu itself, quh, qu, ... ) shifts in MHG and NHG but entirely on the level of the first sound-shift returns, since qu is as ( goth. ) kw, which description next to qu until the 17th jahrh. has received ... "