153 votes
Accepted

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

A lot of the "J" names in English are from the Bible and would have originally been written with an initial I in Latin, as the letter J did not get started until the Renaissance. In modern ...
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  • 1,548
89 votes
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Where does “ö” fall in alphabetical ordering?

TL;DR: Ignore diacritics when sorting English — except to break ties. When sorting English text — but not the text of various other languages — one does not distinguish letters with and without ...
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  • 127k
82 votes
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Is "I" an alphabet or a letter?

In standard US and UK usage, an alphabet is a system or collection of letters, a letter being A written symbol or character representing a speech sound and being a component of an alphabet. [AHD] In ...
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  • 42.6k
20 votes

Is "I" an alphabet or a letter?

Technically, one letter could be an alphabet. By the definition you provided, an alphabet is a set of symbols or letters. This set could theoretically contain any number of letters. The Latin ...
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15 votes

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

A further point is that many of these names are essentially the same name. Your list of 18 names: Jack, Jackie, Jackson, Jill, Janet, Jeremy, Jeremiah, Jake, Jesus, Jacob, Jock, John, Johnny, Jon, ...
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  • 21k
14 votes

Why does English omit diacritics on foreign names?

I, an ignorant, lazy, hubristic, and (most-importantly) impatient American, need to add this preface, so I will have enough letters for this to be counted as an answer. One word: Keyboard Please, ...
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12 votes
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With character or sign

& comes from a Latin scribal abbreviation for et (⁊ which was used as an alternative to & in Old English and is still used that way in Modern Irish comes from a different form of the same ...
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12 votes

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

I tend to follow Omniglot and call them writing systems. This is because Omniglot - and I believe linguistics generally - uses different terms depending on certain characteristics of the writing ...
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  • 6,624
10 votes
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Difference between Letter and Alphabet in English

It may be worth noting that in Indian English, the word alphabet can take on a similar meaning to letter, which can cause confusion. In standard English, the difference is basically that an alphabet ...
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  • 35.8k
9 votes

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

The letter W is known in the NATO phonetic alphabet as "whiskey". I am not sure if that counts as "semi-officially accepted" though.
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8 votes

A perfect (honest) pangram that is understandable for a regular native user?

A Google search turned up a number of candidates. With 28 letters, there are a few which can be made: Waltz job vexed quick frog nymphs (courtesy of Ronan) Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow ...
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  • 94.6k
8 votes

Is there a formal spelling for the English letter names?

Formal yes, universal no. Here's one: We have included each letter with its name and plural below the list of examples. The United States uses zee, while other countries use zed. A a ...
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7 votes

Why does English omit diacritics on foreign names?

The answer is obvious: Modern Standard English does not have diacritics. Why would you expect English copy to include non-English characters? If someone wants to write my English name in a non-English ...
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7 votes

Difference between Letter and Alphabet in English

A letter is a particular symbol used in writing, an alphabet is the set of all the letters. Here is a letter: A Here is an alphabet: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
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  • 1,203
7 votes

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

The Unicode standard, and ISO 15924: Codes for the representation of names of scripts use the term script. So, there is the Latin script, the Han script (which contains the Chinese hànzì / Japanese ...
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  • 173
7 votes

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

As pointed out in one of the answers above, the commonest names in English are biblical: John/Johan/Jean/Juan, James/Jacob, Joshua/Jesus, Joseph, Judah/Judas, etc., all of which are Hebrew in origin, ...
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6 votes

What non-alphabetic characters are valid in English spelling?

No. A hyphen can appear in an English word as well. For example: a five-year-old boy
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6 votes
Accepted

NATO and US Finance Spelling alphabets - Which is more commonly used in everyday situations?

It really doesn't matter much what spelling alphabet you stick to, unless you are working in a specific branch of industry where people expect a specific alphabet. In general, people just want to ...
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  • 35.8k
6 votes
Accepted

Why is the letter "w" not pronounced "double v"?

No. The letter "u" was written like a "v". From here, Roman alphabet for Latin The Romans used just 23 letters to write Latin:
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6 votes
Accepted

What Character Was Removed from the Alphabet?

According to the Wikipedia page on the Ampersand, this is true. The ampersand often appeared as a letter at the end of the Latin alphabet, as for example in Byrhtferð's list of letters from 1011. ...
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  • 2,629
6 votes

Meaningful English sentences containing very few distinct letters

This one has four distinct letters: Madam, I'm Adam. It's also notable because it is a palindrome, and it was also the first sentence uttered by a human being (joke).
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  • 5,952
5 votes

Why does English omit diacritics on foreign names?

As mentioned in comments, since the diacritical markings (and crossed-letter letters) don't (generally and currently) have an analog in English language, the markings will be ignored for the common ...
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  • 4,035
5 votes

Why does English omit diacritics on foreign names?

In a note appended to the question, the OP says 'I am only talking about names using the Latin alphabet, I am not talking about transliterated names'. This implies that the OP regards it as ...
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  • 6,235
5 votes

Why does English omit diacritics on foreign names?

I think it is an attempt to appropriate the word (into English), and I believe it is quite common (in the sense that this is what language users do and will do). For example, the name of the German ...
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  • 6,158
5 votes
Accepted

& as a letter in the alphabet?

According to Wikipedia, the ampersand originated as a ligature in Roman scripts of the letters e an t to represent the Latin word et, meaning and. According to the OED, citing Longman's Magazine (...
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  • 43.8k
5 votes

Why do some nicknames have no apparent relation with their original counterparts?

While @Josh's answer is good and provides quite a lot of historical background for some of the specific nicknames, it doesn't completely address why, in general, names are truncated: the nicknames you'...
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  • 2,425
5 votes

When did '&' stop being taught alongside the alphabet?

If '&' has ever been a letter of any alphabet, then it involved a very strange idea of what an alphabet it. It is the only 'letter' that that spells only one word, namely the word it 'spells'. ...
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  • 9,270
5 votes

Did English have any alphabet or writing before it adopted Latin?

Futhorc was a runic alphabet of Anglo-Saxon tribes that developed out of northwestern Germanic/Scandinavian runes (Elder Futhark). Wikipedia tells us they were likely used to write Old English (Anglo-...
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