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You can read the discussion that led to these rules on the MusicBrainz StyleMailingList archives. For the exact threads, use these links: the first RFC, the first(failed) RFV and its continuation, the second RFC and the (passed) final RFV.

The "V" turns "U" thing

AFAIK (I don't speak/read Latin, it's just gathered from various sources) initially Latin (1) had only what we call capital letters and (2) didn't have the letter "U", instead using "V" (not sure, but I think they had the two different sounds, they just used the same sign for both). The two innovations (lower-caps and the letter "u") were invented around the same time, much later (in the Middle Ages, I think, when Latin was lingua franca, but I'm not sure). Latin was written for a long time with the two changes (and, I think, a couple others), even when it no longer had native speakers.

It is traditional when writing "fancyful" (like release covers or building frontispieces) to use all-caps and "V" instead of "U". This gives the inscription an "old" appearance. There is however no reason to keep this in the database, because it's a style issue.

If anyone more knowledgeable has any comments, please go ahead. If anyone needs proof for anything I wrote, ask and I'll start digging (mainly wikipedia). -- bogdanb

  • Mostly correct. However, the letter "V" was always pronounced the same, as a "U," they simply had no sound which would correspond to the modern "V". The same applies to "I" and "J" -- there was no "J" sound, "I" was always used, and always pronounced as an "I". --BlueDream
    • Do you mean in the phrase "Veni, vidi, vici", all words started with the vocalic sound "u"?! --bogdanb
      • From what I can remember from the small amount of Latin I've done, all "V"s are pronounced as "W"s. So "Veni, vidi, vici" is pronounced as "Weni, widi, wici" --Midness
        • My fiue cents ;-) AFAIK there's really no "spoken" confusion about V and U and there's no rule at all. It's simply that U is a difficult letter to make and guess in stone. So they often use V instead of U expecially because it's quite impossibile to confuse them by the meaning. "Veni" has the exact same sound of "Venice". The military chief was always wtitten "DVX" but is "dux" (where english "conductor" come from) and you can guess how it was pronunced, since it's not posibile to say "dvx". BTW I agree "V" for "U" could be used if uppercase but always converted to "u" if lowercased for any reason --ClutchEr2