Letter C


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Doggerel: Cosy cats curiously contemplate creature comforts

Media and materials: Chocolate, cutting, card, cardboard, corrugated cardboard, canvas

Style: curvy, comfortable, cosy, cut out.

Assessment of spread so far

I am pretty pleased with this one – maybe because I enjoyed the chocolate! The image started off a a very different concept – around crazy cactuses and crying children with only one chocolate cat. But there was something so very sensuous and comforting using my fingers to get very different effects of different dilutions at different temperatures on different types of card/cardboard. Like using paint, but non-toxic. So my concept changed to one of comfort and cuddling and lots of cats.

I like the warm comforting effect of the image. And the puzzle of what the cats are actually looking at. The shadow at the back of the large cat was an accidental smear on the corrugated cardboard behind – I think this also adds ‘curiousity’. I was not sure whether I should blend the cats in more, or leave the cut out feel. In the end because ‘cut out’ also begins with c, I chose to leave things. I think this also adds an extra layer of meaning – obviously artificial. But I may change the doggerel to get another word for ‘chocolate’.

I tried several spread variants (see below). This final one has the large cats with a back-to-front C – like the Etruscan C. This closes the cuddliness, and I decided to leave it that way – the fire grate and cats on the left have the ‘C’ shape in the modern direction. I decided not to complicate the Cs on the letter page by adding the Etruscan and earlier versions. But I quite like the Greek X variant in the background.

Initial brainstorm sketch and digital mockup

My initial brainstorm originally led me to a very different idea for this image – focused on a crazy cactus, with children. Using chalk, cork and canvas. Just one chocolate cat at the top of the cactus – like a Christmas tree fairy – was envisaged.

Original doggerel: Chubby children crying for chocolate cat cuddle crazy cactus carving cavernous canyon

Sketch details

I played around with some of the sketches – chimps, chubby and so on.


And I started by drawing the cactus with crayon and chalk on canvas. Also using carbon paper and cutting. I found carbon paper very interesting because you could not see exactly what you were drawing – so produced more crazy effects.

Corrugated cardboard

More on card and cardboard

Chocolate cats

But then I started on the chocolat! and the cat. I just got hooked on the sensuous feel of drawing curves with my finger. And also the different types of effect produced on different types of card. It was impossible to really control. But smooth white card glided, absorbent card gave a more water colour effect.

By the end, I thought it would be a great shame not to use all my cats. So, together with the corrugated fire grate, I completely rethought the image, and the doggerel.

More on the technique of drawing with chocolate

Other media tried

My original idea for the curly cactus had been to use the texture lines in cork blow up large. I also liked the scanned holes in the canvas – but for another image.

Alternative versions of the Spread

Final Image







Adobe Typefaces

History and development of the letterform (all to be shortened and edited)

Edited and extended from: Letter C Wikipedia

C is the third letter in the English alphabet and a letter of the alphabets of many other writing systems which inherited it from the Latin alphabet. It has a complicated derivation and is confusing as to its pronunciation and probably redundant. c generally represents:

  • “soft” value of /s/ before the letters e (including the Latin-derived digraphs ae and oe, or the corresponding ligatures æ and œ), i, and y
  • “hard” value of /k/before any other letters or at the end of a word.

However, there are a number of exceptions in English:

  • soccer” and “Celt” are words that have /k/ where /s/ would be expected.
  • “soft” c may represent the /ʃ/ sound in the digraph ci when this precedes a vowel, as in the words ‘delicious’ and ‘appreciate’.

The digraph ch most commonly represents //, but can also represent /k/ (mainly in words of Greek origin) or /ʃ/ (mainly in words of French origin). For some dialects of English, it may also represent /x/ in words like loch, while other speakers pronounce the final sound as /k/. The trigraph tch always represents //.

The digraph ck is often used to represent the sound /k/ after short vowels.


  •  : Semitic letter Gimel, from which the following symbols originally derive (see post on letter G)
  • Γ γ : Greek letter Gamma, from which C derives
  • G g : Latin letter G, which is derived from Latin C
Old Latin
C (G)
Phoenician gimel Arabic Gim Hebrew gimel Greek Gamma Etruscan C Old Latin

In the Etruscan language, plosive consonants had no contrastive voicing, so the Greek ‘Γ’ (Gamma) was adopted into the Etruscan alphabet to represent /k/. Greek has no equivalent of ‘C’, using only Gamma or Sigma.

In Classical Latin ‘K’ eventually took the ‘c‘ form. In the earliest Latin inscriptions, the letters ‘c k q‘ were used to represent the sounds /k/ and /ɡ/ (which were not differentiated in writing). Of these, ‘q‘ was used to represent /k/ or /ɡ/ before a rounded vowel, ‘k‘ before ‘a‘, and ‘c‘ elsewhere. During the 3rd century BC, a modified character was introduced for /ɡ/, and ‘c‘ itself was retained for /k/. The use of ‘c‘ (and its variant ‘g‘) replaced most usages of ‘k‘ and ‘q‘. Hence, in the classical period and after, ‘g‘ was treated as the equivalent of Greek gamma, and ‘c‘ as the equivalent of kappa; this shows in the romanization of Greek words, as in ‘KAΔMOΣ’, ‘KYPOΣ’, and ‘ΦΩKIΣ’ came into Latin as ‘cadmvs‘, ‘cyrvs‘ and ‘phocis‘, respectively.

When the Roman alphabet was introduced into Britain, c represented only /k/, and this value of the letter has been retained in loanwords to all the insular Celtic languages: in Welsh, Irish, Gaelic, c represents only /k/. The Old English Latin-based writing system was learned from the Celts, apparently of Ireland; hence c in Old English also originally represented /k/; the Modern English words kin, break, broken, thick, and seek, all come from Old English words written with c: cyn, brecan, brocen, þicc, and séoc. But during the course of the Old English period, /k/ before front vowels (/e/ and /i/) were palatalized, having changed by the tenth century to [tʃ], though c was still used, as in cir(i)ce, wrecc(e)a. On the continent, meanwhile, a similar phonetic change had also been going on (for example, in Italian).

In Vulgar Latin, /k/ became palatalized to [tʃ] in Italy and Dalmatia; in France and the Iberian peninsula, it became [ts]. Yet for these new sounds c was still used before the letters e and i. The letter thus represented two distinct values. Subsequently, the Latin phoneme /kʷ/ (spelled qv) de-labialized to /k/ meaning that the various Romance languages had /k/ before front vowels. In addition, Norman used the letter k so that the sound /k/ could be represented by either k or c, the latter of which could represent either /k/ or /ts/ depending on whether it preceded a front vowel letter or not.

The convention of using both c and k was applied to the writing of English after the Norman Conquest, causing a considerable re-spelling of the Old English words. Thus while Old English candel, clif, corn, crop, cú, remained unchanged, Cent, cæ´ᵹ (cé´ᵹ), cyng, brece, séoce, were now (without any change of sound) spelled ‘Kent’, ‘keȝ’, ‘kyng’, ‘breke’, and ‘seoke’; even cniht (‘knight’) was subsequently changed to ‘kniht’ and þic (‘thick’) changed to ‘thik’ or ‘thikk’. The Old English ‘cw’ was also at length displaced by the French ‘qu’ so that the Old English cwén (‘queen’) and cwic (‘quick’) became Middle English ‘quen’ ‘quik’, respectively. The sound [tʃ], to which Old English palatalized /k/ had advanced, also occurred in French, chiefly from Latin/k/ before ‘a’. In French it was represented by the digraph ch, as in champ (from Latin camp-um) and this spelling was introduced into English: the Hatton Gospels, written about 1160, have in Matt. i-iii, child, chyld, riche, mychel, for the cild, rice, mycel, of the Old English version whence they were copied. In these cases, the Old English c gave place to k qu ch⟩.

c in its new value of /ts/ came in largely in French words like processiun, emperice, grace, and was also substituted for ‘ts’ in a few Old English words, as miltse, bletsien, in early Middle English milce, blecien. By the end of the thirteenth century both in France and England, this sound/ts/ de-affricated to /s/; and from that time c has represented /s/ before front vowels either for etymological reasons, as in lance, cent, or to avoid the ambiguity due to the “etymological” use of s for /z/, as in ace, mice, once, pence, defence.

Thus, to show the etymology, English spelling has advise, devise, instead of advize, devize, which while advice, device, dice, ice, mice, twice, etc., do not reflect etymology; example has extended this to hence, pence, defence,etc., where there is no etymological reason for using c. Former generations also wrote sence for sense. Hence, today the Romance languages and English have a common feature inherited from Vulgar Latin spelling conventions where c takes on either a “hard” or “soft” value depending on the following letter.

Other languages

Other alphabets have letters homoglyphic to ‘c’ but not analogous in use and derivation, like the Cyrillic letter Es (С, с) which derives from the lunate sigma, named due to its resemblance to the crescent moon.

In the Romance languages French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian and Portuguese, c generally has a “hard” value of /k/ and a “soft” value whose pronunciation varies by language. In French, Portuguese, and Spanish from Latin America and southern Spain, the soft c value is /s/ as it is in English. In the Spanish spoken in northern and central Spain, the soft c is a voiceless dental fricative /θ/. In Italian and Romanian, the soft c is [t͡ʃ].

All Balto-Slavic languages that use the Latin alphabet, as well as Albanian, Hungarian, Pashto, several Sami languages, Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua, and Americanist phonetic notation (and those aboriginal languages of North America whose practical orthography derives from it) use c to represent /t͡s/, the voiceless alveolar or voiceless dental sibilant affricate. In romanized Mandarin Chinese, the letter represents an aspirated version of this sound,/t͡sʰ/.

Among non-European languages that have adopted the Latin alphabet, c represents a variety of sounds. Yup’ik, Indonesian, Malay, and a number of African languages such as Hausa, Fula, and Manding share the soft Italian value of /t͡ʃ/. In Azeri, Crimean Tatar, Kurmanji Kurdish, and Turkish c stands for the voiced counterpart of this sound, the voiced postalveolar affricate /d͡ʒ/. In Yabem and similar languages, such as Bukawa, c stands for aglottal stop /ʔ/. Xhosa and Zulu use this letter to represent the click /ǀ/. in some other African languages, such as Beninese Yoruba, c is used for /ʃ/. In Fijian, c stands for a voiced dental fricative /ð/, while in Somali it has the value of /ʕ/.

The letter c is also used as a transliteration of the Cyrillic ц in the Latinic forms of Serbian, Macedonian, and sometimes Ukrainian (along with the digraph ts).

 Other uses

The Roman numeral represents the number 100.

 Other representations

NATO phonetic Morse code
Charlie –·–·
ICS Charlie.svg Semaphore Charlie.svg ⠉
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

Derived ligatures, abbreviations, signs and symbols

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