F

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This article is about the letter of the alphabet. For other uses, see F (disambiguation).
For technical reasons, "F#" redirects here. For the programming language, see F Sharp (programming language). For F♯, see F-sharp. For the Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, see F♯A♯∞.
Cursive.svg
Circle sheer blue 29.gif
Circle sheer blue 31.gif
Cursive script 'f' and capital 'F'
F cursiva.gif

F (named ef[note 1] /ˈɛf/)[1] is the sixth letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

History[edit]

Proto-Semitic
W
Phoenician 
waw
Greek
Digamma
Etruscan
V or W
Roman F
Proto-semiticW-01.pngPhoenicianW-01.pngDigamma uc lc.svgEtruscanF-01.svgRoman F

The origin of 'F' is the Semitic letter vâv (or waw) that represented a sound like /v/ or /w/. Graphically it originally probably depicted either a hook or a club. It may have been based on a comparable Egyptian hieroglyph such as that which represented the word mace (transliterated as ḥ(dj)):-

T3

The Phoenician form of the letter was adopted into Greek as a vowel, upsilon (which resembled its descendant, 'Y' but was also ancestor of Roman letters 'U', 'V', and 'W'); and with another form, as a consonant, digamma, which resembled 'F', but indicated the pronunciation /w/, as in Phoenician. (After /w/ disappeared from Greek, digamma was used as a numeral only.)

In Etruscan, 'F' probably represented /w/, as in Greek; and the Etruscans formed the digraph 'FH' to represent /f/. When the Romans adopted the alphabet, they used 'V' (from Greek upsilon) to stand for /w/ as well as /u/, leaving 'F' available for /f/. (At that time, the Greek letter phi 'Φ' represented an aspirated voiceless bilabial plosive /pʰ/, though in Modern Greek it approximates the sound of /f/.) And so out of the various vav variants in the Mediterranean world, the letter F entered the Roman alphabet attached to a sound which its antecedents in Greek and Etruscan did not have. The Roman alphabet forms the basis of the alphabet used today for English and many other languages.

The lowercase ' f ' is not related to the visually similar long s, ' ſ ' (or medial s). The use of the long s largely died out by the beginning of the 19th century, mostly to prevent confusion with ' f ' when using a short mid-bar (see more at: S).

Usage[edit]

In the English writing system 'f' is used to represent the sound /f/. It is commonly doubled at the end of words. Exceptionally, it represents the voiced sound /v/ in the common word "of". In the orthographies of other languages, 'f' commonly represents /f/, [ɸ] or /v/.

In French orthography, 'f' is used to represent /f/. It may also be silent at the end of words.

In Spanish orthography, 'f' is used to represent /f/.

In the Hepburn romanization of Japanese, 'f' is used to represent [ɸ], which is usually considered to be an allophone of /h/ before /u/.

In Slavic languages, 'f' is used primarily in words of foreign (Greek, Latin, or Germanic) origin.

In phonetic and phonemic transcription, the International Phonetic Alphabet uses 'f' to represent the voiceless labiodental fricative.

Related letters and other similar characters[edit]

Computing codes[edit]

CharacterFf
Unicode nameLATIN CAPITAL LETTER F    LATIN SMALL LETTER F
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode70U+0046102U+0066
UTF-8704610266
Numeric character referenceFFff
EBCDIC family198C613486
ASCII 1704610266
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representations[edit]

NATO phoneticMorse code
Foxtrot··–·
ICS Foxtrot.svgSemaphore Foxtrot.svg⠋
Signal flagFlag semaphoreBraille
dots-124

Footnotes[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Spelled eff as a verb

References[edit]

  1. ^ "F", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); "ef", "eff", "bee" (under "bee eff"), op. cit.

External links[edit]