Questions regarding the English alphabet.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

12
votes
4answers
14k views

What is the proper way to write the plural of a single letter? (another apostrophe question)

When writing (a blog post, script, etc..) what is the proper way to indicate two or more instances of a single letter? For instance, in Monty Python's Bookshop Sketch: C: I wonder if you might ...
5
votes
3answers
572 views

Is the word “formulæ” valid English?

Is the word formulæ, written with an æ at the end, valid in English? I stumbled upon this apparently plural form of formula in the Wiktionary. I had no idea the letter æ could occur in English. Does ...
44
votes
3answers
5k views

Is there a reason behind the ordering of letters in the English alphabet?

Is there a reason behind the ordering of letters in the English alphabet? i.e. why are we taught “A,B,C,D,E,F,...,Z”? Why not “L,A,S,U,I,Z,...,C”? I am asking this because, in some of the languages I ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Where did the names of English letters come from, and why are they all monosyllabic (except for “w”)? [duplicate]

I don't know too many languages, but the ones I know have more elaborate names for their letters than the monosyllabicity of names for English letters. (E.g. - I'll pick on Greek here - ay instead of ...
20
votes
2answers
7k views

Why is X used when we pronounce it Z?

I've seen a lot of words use an X but be pronounced with a Z. Mitch Hedberg put it best: Xylophone is spelled with an X, that's wrong, xylophone's zzzz, X? I don't $%(@#& see it. It should be ...
13
votes
2answers
606 views

Why is a w a “Double u”, but an m is not a “Double n”?

My 4 year old son just asked me this, and I have to say I am totally stumped. I hate not telling him things, so here's hoping you guys can dig me out of this hole. You can't fault his logic!
19
votes
3answers
9k views

Ye olde english alphabet question: Any other letters lost besides thorn, edh, and yogh?

According to this link, we are missing (in Modern English) at least three letters that used to be in common use in English. These are thorn, edh, and yogh. Are there others that were clearly in the ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

Does the letter C serve any unique purpose? [closed]

Does the letter 'C' make any sound that cannot be made by other letters? "Cat" could be spelled "Kat," "Cinder" could be spelled "Sinder," and "Watch" could be spelled "Watsh." Edit: An excerpt ...
9
votes
3answers
800 views

Is there any shorter pronunciation of W than double-U?

When spelling, every letter in the Alphabet is pronounced by a single syllable, with the only exception of W being pronounced "double-U". (Fun fact, in German it's approximately pronounced like the ...
8
votes
4answers
10k views

What word contains the most unique letters?

I'm assuming there isn't a word that contains every letter in the alphabet, so which word contains the most? Examples: antidisestablishmentarianism - 12 [antidseblhmr] psychotherapy - 12 ...
4
votes
2answers
438 views

What is the origin of the different pronunciations of C and G before different vowels?

In English the letters C and G usually have different pronunciation before a/o/u and before e/i. The same is true for Romance languages - French, Spanish, Catalan, Italian etc. What is the origin of ...
1
vote
2answers
679 views

Why is the letter “w” the only letter in (basic) English alphabet that is not read as one syllable? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is a w a “Double u”, but an m is not a “Double n”? Is there any reason/history as to why "w" is the only letter in English alphabet that is ...