Questions tagged [alphabet]

Questions regarding the English alphabet.

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37
votes
4answers
106k 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 have ...
15
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
30
votes
3answers
17k 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 ...
58
votes
3answers
23k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
5k views

Is there a formal spelling for the English letter names?

The English alphabet has a common pronunciation. For example, the letter b is pronounced like the word bee, the letter c like the word see, and the letter i like the word aye. Is there a formal ...
78
votes
5answers
135k views

If the letter J is only 400–500 years old, was there a J sound that preceded the design of the letter?

I understand that the letter "J" is relatively new — perhaps 400–500 years old. But since there has long been important names that begin with J, such as Jesus, Joshua, Justinian, etc., and which ...
26
votes
2answers
47k 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 a ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

What non-alphabetic characters are valid in English spelling?

Is ' (the apostrophe) the only character which is not part of the English alphabet that can appear in the correct spelling of an English word?
16
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
21
votes
2answers
3k 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!
6
votes
2answers
24k views

Is the “Roman alphabet” what we use for English?

I understand that the alphabet for the English language is not strictly English as languages such as French, Dutch and many more use the same alphabet, with few additions in other languages. Is Roman ...
6
votes
2answers
8k views

I'm trying to teach Non-English kids the alphabet. What is a good list of words starting with A-Z? [closed]

I am writing a small software program to teach non-English-speaking kids English Alphabets from A to Z. Is there any list of simple English words which begin with each letter? For example Apple for "...
3
votes
1answer
823 views

& as a letter in the alphabet?

I've been googleing and ran across this little blog post. It has a bit of information stating the the & symbol was at one point the 27th letter in the alphabet. For years the & symbol (now ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

Is there a collective word for the different “alphabets” used by different languages?

As I believe "alphabet" refers specifically to the latin a-z, is there a term that collectively refers to all collections of writing characters. ie, if I had a list that contained the entries "Latin, ...
91
votes
3answers
15k views

Why are names starting with a “J” common, while words starting with a “J” are uncommon?

There's a reason "J" is worth 10 points in Word feud, it's a quite uncommon letter. According to Lewand, arranged from most to least common in appearance, the letters are: ...
16
votes
4answers
3k 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 "...
9
votes
7answers
2k views

Why does English omit diacritics on foreign names?

Why does English omit diacritics from foreign names that still use the Latin alphabet? For example, why are the Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych, the Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø, or the Polish ...
6
votes
1answer
340 views

Why don't ligatures have names?

It is common to see ligatures such as Æ or Œ in reference to classical works such as Œdipus or Æsop but these do not seem to have names. Strangely enough in the Old English alphabet there were similar ...
3
votes
2answers
64k views

Difference between Letter and Alphabet in English [closed]

Can anyone please explain what is the difference between "Letter" and "Alphabet" in English?
8
votes
2answers
932 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
7k 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 not ...