B

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B
ISO basic Latin alphabet
AaBbCcDdEeFfGg
HhIiJjKkLlMmNn
OoPpQqRrSsTtUu
VvWwXxYyZz
 
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B
ISO basic Latin alphabet
AaBbCcDdEeFfGg
HhIiJjKkLlMmNn
OoPpQqRrSsTtUu
VvWwXxYyZz
Cursive.svg
Circle sheer blue 29.gif
Circle sheer blue 27.gif
Cursive script 'b' and capital 'B'

B (named bee /ˈb/[1]) is the second letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is used to represent a variety of bilabial sounds (depending on language), but most commonly a voiced bilabial stop.

History

The capital letter 'B' may have started as a pictogram of the floorplan of a house in Egyptian hieroglyphs. By 1050 BC, the Phoenician alphabet's letter had a linear form that served as the beth.

Egyptian hieroglyph
cottage
Phoenician 
beth
Greek
Beta
Etruscan
B
Roman
B
Egyptian hieroglyphic housePhoenician bethGreek betaEtruscan BRoman B

Typographic variants

The modern lowercase 'b' derives from later Roman times, when scribes began omitting the upper loop of the capital.

Blackletter BUncial BModern Roman BModern Italic BModern Script B
Blackletter BUncial BModern Roman BModern Italic BModern Script B

Use

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 with the 'b' final and immediately preceded by an 'm', such as 'lamb' and 'bomb'; a few are examples of etymological spelling to make the word more like its Latin original, such as 'debt' or 'doubt'.

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 /pp/ (in Estonian) or an aspirated /pʰ/ (in Chinese, Danish and Icelandic), represented by 'p'. In Fijian 'b' represents a prenasalized /mb/, whereas in Zulu and Xhosa it represents an implosive /ɓ/, in contrast to the digraph 'bh' which represents /b/.

Finnish only uses 'b' in loanwords.

'B' is also a musical note. Its value varies depending on the region; a 'b' in Anglophone countries represents a note that is a semitone higher than the B note in Northern Continental Europe. (Anglophone B is represented in Northern Europe with 'H'.) Archaic forms of 'b', the b quadratum (square b, ) and b rotundum (round b, ) remain in use for musical notation as the symbols for natural and flat, respectively.

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

Related letters and other similar characters

Computing codes

CharacterBb
Unicode nameLATIN CAPITAL LETTER B  LATIN SMALL LETTER B
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode66U+004298U+0062
UTF-866429862
Numeric character referenceBBbb
EBCDIC family194C213082
ASCII 166429862
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representations

NATO phoneticMorse code
Bravo–···
ICS Bravo.svgSemaphore Bravo.svg⠃
Signal flagFlag semaphoreBraille
dots-12

References

  1. ^ "B" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "bee", op. cit.

External links


AaBbCcDdEeFfGgHhIiJjKkLlMmNnOoPpQqRrSsTtUuVvWwXxYyZz
Letter B with diacritics
ḂḃḄḅḆḇɃƀƁɓƂƃ
Related