Scrabble players are acutely aware that Q is a tricky letter. To use a Q in the game, a player must also find an available U. The fact that Q is the second most rarely used letter in the alphabet certainly doesn’t make using Q any easier.

Let’s quest towards resolving the questions of quarrelsome Q, the 17th letter in the alphabet.

In English QU is always used as a digraph (a pair of letters representing a single speech sound) for the sound /kw/ (a voiceless labiovelar stop). Q’s pairing with U is a Latin invention that has its origin in Greek. The letter Koppa, which Q is based on, would appear before a rounded vowel where otherwise a sound like /k/ or /g/ would be used. But a few other letters, like C, also designated the same sound but in different letter combinations. As C gradually came to represent more and more of these instances, Q became primarily dependent on U to express any sound at all. This is quite a quibble for a full-fledged member of the Latin (now English) alphabet.

(On a related note, why is W called “double-U” when it is in fact represented visually by two V’s? Find out here.)

Q without U is used to represent sounds not often found in English but typical in Semitic languages. Loan words such as Quran and Iraq are examples of Q’s guttural /k/ sound.

Q’s shape may have its origin in the Egyptian hieroglyph for a cord of wool, pronounced “qaw.” The symbol of a circle with a descending line was used in the Greek Koppa and is similar to the shape of the basic modern Latin character you see on your keyboard.

Speaking of keyboards, QWERTY is one of the few English words that does not have a U directly following the Q. Click here to find out why.


US Fed News Service, Including US State News August 27, 2011 CARNEYS POINT, N.

J., Aug. 26 — Salem Community College issued the following news release: in our site cumberland county college

Salem Community College and Cumberland County College recently signed agreements to offer additional joint degree programs.

Salem County residents may now enroll in these CCC-based programs through SCC:

* Agribusiness, * Agriculture, * Horticulture, * Justice Studies/Corrections and * Justice Studies/Homeland Security.

Cumberland County residents may enroll in these SCC-based programs through CCC:

* Glass: Applied Craft and Design and * Scientific Glass Technology. here cumberland county college

This expands last year’s agreement to offer joint associate degree programs in Sustainable Energy Technology and Nuclear Energy Technology, both based at SCC.

For programs in Agribusiness, Agriculture, Horticulture and Justice Studies, full-time students take their first two semesters at SCC and complete their studies at CCC. Students who successfully complete the second-year requirements at CCC will receive a joint associate degree from SCC and CCC.

For more information, call 856.351.2716 or visit www.salemcc.edu. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at htsyndication@hindustantimes.com



  1. Ken Lyneham -  September 7, 2013 - 4:53 am

    As far as I know, ALL English words beginning with a ‘Q’ are followed with a ‘U’. The word QANTAS, is a proprietary/business word and therefore is not an ‘English word” in the true sense.
    Because the ‘Q’ comes from the word ‘Queensland’, the ‘Q’ in QANTAS is pronounced ‘kw’ as in any other word starting, ‘Qu’..

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