The Claudian letters were developed by, and named after, the Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...
Year 41 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Augustus and Saturninus...
Year 54 was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Lentulus and Marcellus...
). He introduced three new letters:
- a reversed C (antisigma) to replace BS and PS, much like X stood in for CS and GS. The appearance of this letter is disputed, however, since no inscription bearing it has been found.
- a turned F (digamma inversum) to represent consonantal U (WWW is the 23rd letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.In other Germanic languages, including German, its pronunciation is similar or identical to that of English V...
/VVV is the twenty-second letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.-Letter:The letter V comes from the Semitic letter Waw, as do the modern letters F, U, W, and Y. See F for details....
- a half H to represent the so called sonus medius, a short vowel sound between U and I before labial consonantLabial consonantLabial consonants are consonants in which one or both lips are the active articulator. This precludes linguolabials, in which the tip of the tongue reaches for the posterior side of the upper lip and which are considered coronals...
s in LatinLatinLatin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...
words such as optumus/optimus, later used as a variant of yClose front rounded vowelThe close front rounded vowel, or high front rounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is y...
in inscriptions for Greek upsilonUpsilonUpsilon is the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 400. It is derived from the Phoenician waw. The name of the letter is pronounced in Modern Greek, and in English , , or...
(as in Olympicus).
These letters were used to a small extent on public inscriptions dating from Claudius' reign, but their use was abandoned after his death. Their forms were probably chosen to ease the transition, as they could be made from templates for existing letters. He may have been inspired by his ancestor Appius Claudius
Appius Claudius Caecus
Appius Claudius Caecus was a Roman politician from a wealthy patrician family. He was dictator himself and the son of Gaius Claudius Crassus, dictator in 337 BC.-Life:...
Censor (ancient Rome)
The censor was an officer in ancient Rome who was responsible for maintaining the census, supervising public morality, and overseeing certain aspects of the government's finances....
, who made earlier changes to the Latin alphabet. Claudius did indeed introduce his letters during his own term as censor, using arguments preserved in the historian Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...
's account of his reign. In time, the letter Y
Y is the twenty-fifth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet and represents either a vowel or a consonant in English.-Name:In Latin, Y was named Y Graeca "Greek Y". This was pronounced as I Graeca "Greek I", since Latin speakers had trouble pronouncing , which was not a native sound...
was added to the Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...
, filling the role of the broken "H" which Claudius had promulgated.
The reversed C is also used as a variant Roman numeral
The numeral system of ancient Rome, or Roman numerals, uses combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet to signify values. The numbers 1 to 10 can be expressed in Roman numerals as:...
Support for the letters was added in version 5.0.0 of Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...
. The letters are encoded as follows:
| TURNED CAPITAL F
TURNED SMALL F
| ROMAN NUMERAL REVERSED ONE HUNDRED
LATIN SMALL LETTER REVERSED C
| LATIN CAPITAL LETTER HALF H
LATIN SMALL LETTER HALF H