The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







G is the seventh letter in the Roman alphabet.



The letter G was created by the Romans because they felt that C was not an adequate letter to represent both /k/ and /g/.

Hebrew gimel

Phoenician gimel

Classical Greek gamma

Early Latin

Late Latin

Fascinatingly, the alleged inventor is a known historical figure, Spurius Carvilius Ruga (who flourished around 230 BC). G, which at this time took the place in the alphabet formerly held by Z, came to represent the sound /g/. As the sound /k/ did, /g/ also developed palatal and velar allophones which is why today, G has different sound values in all Romance languages, as well as English (due to French influence).


In English, the letter can be pronounced as a "soft G" (IPA ), as in: giant, ginger, geology, or as a "hard G" (IPA /g/), as in: goose, gargoyle, game. In some words of French origin, as in French generally, the "soft G" is pronounced as IPA /ʒ/, as in rouge, beige, and genre. Generally, G is soft before E, I, and Y, and hard otherwise, but there are many English words of non-Romance origin where G is hard regardless of position, and two (gaol and margarine) in which it is soft even before an A.

Most non-Romance languages pronounce G as /g/ regardless of position (but in Dutch it is pronounced /ɣ/, a sound that does not occur in English) while in Romance languages the soft value varies, such as /ʒ/ in French, Catalan, and Portuguese, /ʤ/ in Italian, and /x/ in Spanish.

Several digraphs are common in English. GH originally represented the letter yogh which English adopted from Old Irish, and took various values including /g/, /ɣ/, /x/, and /j/. It now has a great variety of values, including /f/ in enough, /g/ in loan words like spaghetti, and silence in words like eight and night. GN, with value /n/, is also common, as in sign.

In Italian, GH is used to force a /g/ value before E and I where G would take a soft value, and GN is used for /ɲ/ (rather like English NY in canyon).

In Spanish, G before I or E is pronounced as the same as J. The Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez proposed to simplify the Spanish spelling by using just the versions with j. The rest of Spanish speakers did not follow him, but his works, and the translations of Rabindranath Tagore made by Jiménez's wife Zenobia Camprubí , are published in his spelling.

Alternate representations

Golf represents the letter G in the NATO phonetic alphabet.

In international Morse code the letter G is DahDahDit: - - ·

In Braille the letter G is represented as (in Unicode), the dot pattern,



In Unicode the capital G is codepoint U+0047 and the lowercase g is U+0067.

The ASCII code for capital G is 71 and for lowercase g is 103; or in binary 01000111 and 01100111, correspondingly.

The EBCDIC code for capital G is 199 and for lowercase g is 135.

The numeric character references in HTML and XML are "G" and "g" for upper and lower case respectively.

Meanings for G

See also

Last updated: 10-20-2005 15:12:25
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