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The modern English alphabet is a
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived ...
consisting of 26 
letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, Object (philosophy ...
, each having an upper- and lower-case form. It originated around the 7th century from
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic writing system based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet, derived from a form of the Cumae alphabet, Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet used by the Etruscan civilizat ...

Latin script
. Since then, letters have been added or removed to give the current Modern English
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semanti ...

alphabet
of 26 letters with no
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
s,
digraphs Digraph may refer to: * Digraph (orthography) A digraph or digram (from the el, δίς ', "double" and ', "to write") is a pair of characters used in the orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a m ...
, nor special characters. The word ''alphabet'' is a
compound Compound may refer to: Architecture and built environments * Compound (enclosure), a cluster of buildings having a shared purpose, usually inside a fence or wall ** Compound (fortification), a version of the above fortified with defensive structu ...
of the first two letters of the
Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script in history to have distinct letters for vowels ...

Greek alphabet
, ''
alpha Alpha (uppercase , lowercase ; grc, ἄλφα, ''álpha'', modern pronunciation ''álfa'') is the first letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A s ...

alpha
'' and ''
beta Beta (, ; uppercase , lowercase , or ; grc, βῆτα, bē̂ta or ell, βήτα, víta) is the second letter of the . In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 2. In , beta represented the . In , it represents the (while in foreig ...

beta
''. The exact shape of printed letters varies depending on the
typeface A typeface is the design of lettering Lettering is an umbrella term In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying ...

typeface
(and
font In metal A metal (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxim ...

font
), and the standard printed form may differ significantly from the shape of
handwritten
handwritten
letters (which varies between individuals), and
cursive Cursive (also known as script, among other names) is any style of penmanship Penmanship is the technique of writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writin ...

cursive
especially. Written English has a large number of
digraphs Digraph may refer to: * Digraph (orthography) A digraph or digram (from the el, δίς ', "double" and ', "to write") is a pair of characters used in the orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a m ...
. It stands out almost uniquely as a
European language European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe ** Ethnic groups in Europe ** Demographics of Europe ** European cuisine, the cuisines of Europe and other Western ...

European language
without
diacritics A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
in native words. A diaeresis may be used to distinguish two vowels with separate pronunciation, such as "coöperation",As an example, this article contains a diaeresis in "coöperate", a cedilla in "façades" and a circumflex in the word "crêpe": . from a double vowel. Very occasionally, a
grave accent The grave accent ( ` ) ( or ) is a diacritical A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph In typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assem ...

grave accent
may be used to indicate that a normally silent vowel is pronounced (as in ''learnèd'', an adjective).


Letter names


Modern letters

The names of the letters are sometimes spelled out. Some compound words (e.g., ''tee-shirt, deejay, emcee, okay,'' etc.), derived forms (e.g., ''exed out, effing, to eff and blind, aitchless'', etc.) and objects named after letters (e.g., ''em'' in printing and ''wye'' in railroading) may be written with the letter names. The spellings listed below are from the
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary A historical dictionary or dictionary on historical principles is a dictionary which deals not only with the latterday meanings of words but also the historica ...
. Plurals of consonant names are formed by adding ''-s'' (e.g., ''bees, efs, ems'') or ''-es'' in the cases of ''aitch, ess'', and ''ex'' (i.e., ''aitches, esses, exes''). Plurals of vowel names add ''-es'' (i.e., ''aes, ees, ies, oes, ues''), but these are rare. Most commonly, the letter (generally in capitalized form) and not its name is used, in which case plural just adds ''-s''.


Etymology

The names of the letters are for the most part direct descendants, via French, of the Latin (and Etruscan) names. (See
Latin alphabet: Origins
Latin alphabet: Origins
.) The regular phonological developments (in rough chronological order) are: * palatalization before front vowels of Latin successively to , , and finally to Middle French . Affects C. * palatalization before front vowels of Latin to Proto-Romance and Middle French . Affects G. * fronting of Latin to Middle French , becoming Middle English and then Modern English . Affects Q, U. * the inconsistent lowering of Middle English to . Affects R. * the
Great Vowel Shift The Great Vowel Shift was a series of changes in the pronunciation of the English language that took place primarily between 1400 and 1700, beginning in southern England and today having influenced effectively all dialects of English. Through ...

Great Vowel Shift
, shifting all Middle English long vowels. Affects A, B, C, D, E, G, H, I, K, O, P, T, and presumably Y. The novel forms are ''aitch'', a regular development of Medieval Latin ''acca''; ''jay'', a new letter presumably vocalized like neighboring ''kay'' to avoid confusion with established ''gee'' (the other name, ''jy'', was taken from French); ''vee'', a new letter named by analogy with the majority; ''double-u'', a new letter, self-explanatory (the name of Latin V was ''ū''); ''wye'', of obscure origin but with an antecedent in Old French ''wi''; ''izzard'', from the Romance phrase ''i zed'' or ''i zeto'' "and Z" said when reciting the alphabet; and ''zee'', an American levelling of ''zed'' by analogy with other consonants. Some groups of letters, such as ''pee'' and ''bee'', or ''em'' and ''en'', are easily confused in speech, especially when heard over the telephone or a radio communications link.
Spelling alphabet Spelling is a set of conventions that regulate the way of using graphemes (writing system) to represent a language in its written language, written form. In other words, spelling is the rendering of speech sound (phoneme) into writing (grapheme). ...
s such as the
ICAO spelling alphabet The International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet, commonly known as the NATO phonetic alphabet, NATO spelling alphabet, ICAO phonetic alphabet or ICAO spelling alphabet, is the most widely used radiotelephone spelling alphabet. The ITU phonet ...
, used by
aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to flight, fly by gaining support from the Atmosphere of Earth, air. It counters the force of gravity by using either Buoyancy, static lift or by using the Lift (force), dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in ...

aircraft
pilots, police and others, are designed to eliminate this potential confusion by giving each letter a name that sounds quite different from any other.


Ampersand

The
ampersand The ampersand, also known as the and sign, is the logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it must be ...

ampersand
(&) has sometimes appeared at the end of the English alphabet, as in Byrhtferð's list of letters in 1011. ''&'' was regarded as the 27th letter of the English alphabet, as taught to children in the US and elsewhere. An example may be seen in M. B. Moore's 1863 book ''The Dixie Primer, for the Little Folks''. Historically, the figure is a
ligature Ligature may refer to: * Ligature (medicine), a piece of suture used to shut off a blood vessel or other anatomical structure ** Ligature (orthodontic), used in dentistry * Ligature (music), an element of musical notation used especially in the med ...
for the letters ''Et''. In English and many other languages, it is used to represent the word ''and'', plus occasionally the Latin word ''et'', as in the abbreviation ''&c'' (et cetera).


Archaic letters

Old Old or OLD may refer to: Places *Old, Baranya Old () is a village in Baranya (county), Baranya county, Hungary. Populated places in Baranya County {{Baranya-geo-stub ..., Hungary *Old, Northamptonshire Old (previously Wold and befor ...
and
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments following ...
had a number of non-Latin letters that have since dropped out of use. These either took the names of the equivalent
runes Runes are the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet), a written element of an alphabet * Letterform, a typographic term for alphabetical letter shapes * Rehearsal letter in an orchestral s ...
, since there were no Latin names to adopt, or (thorn, wyn) were runes themselves. *Æ æ ''
ash Ash or ashes are the solid remnants of fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), products. Fire is hot because th ...

ash
'' or ''æsc'' , used for the vowel , which disappeared from the language and then reformed *Ð ð '''', ''eð'' or ''eth'' , used for the consonants and *Œ œ ''
ethel Ethel (also '' æthel'') is an Old English word meaning "noble", today often used as a feminine given name and sometimes as a surname. Etymology and historic usage The word means ''æthel'' "noble". It is frequently attested as the first elemen ...
'', ''ēðel'', ''œ̄þel'', etc. , used for the vowel , which disappeared from the language quite early *Þ þ ''
thorn Thorne or Thorns may refer to: Botany * Thorns, spines, and prickles, sharp structures on plants * Thorn, quickthorn or common hawthorn (''Crataegus monogyna'') Places * Thorn, Netherlands * Thorn, German name of Toruń, Poland * Thorn, Bedfor ...
'' or ''þorn'' , used for the consonants and *Ƿ ƿ '''', ''ƿen'' or ''wynn'' , used for the consonant (the letter 'w' had not yet been invented) *Ȝ ȝ ''
yogh The letter yogh (ȝogh) ( ; Scots Language, Scots: ; Middle English: ) was used in Middle English and Older Scots, representing ''y'' () and various velar consonant, velar phonemes. It was derived from the Insular G, Insular form of the letter ' ...

yogh
'', ''ȝogh'' or ''yoch'' or , used for various sounds derived from , such as and .


Diacritics

The most common diacritic marks seen in English publications are the acute (é), grave (è), circumflex (â, î, or ô), tilde (ñ), umlaut and diaeresis (ü or ï—the same symbol is used for two different purposes), and cedilla (ç). Diacritics used for
tonal languages Tone is the use of pitch Pitch may refer to: Acoustic frequency * Pitch (music), the perceived frequency of sound including "definite pitch" and "indefinite pitch" ** Absolute pitch or "perfect pitch" ** Pitch class, a set of all pitches tha ...
may be replaced with tonal numbers or omitted.


Loanwords

Diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
marks mainly appear in loanwords such as ''naïve'' and ''façade''. Informal English writing tends to omit diacritics because of their absence from the keyboard, while professional copywriters and typesetters tend to include them. As such words become naturalised in English, there is a tendency to drop the diacritics, as has happened with many older borrowings from French, such as ''hôtel''. Words that are still perceived as foreign tend to retain them; for example, the only spelling of ''soupçon'' found in English dictionaries (the OED and others) uses the diacritic. However, diacritics are likely to be retained even in naturalised words where they would otherwise be confused with a common native English word (for example, ''résumé'' rather than ''resume''). Rarely, they may even be added to a loanword for this reason (as in ''maté'', from Spanish ''
yerba mate Yerba mate or yerba-maté (''Ilex paraguariensis''; from Spanish ; pt, erva-mate, or ; gn, ka'a, ) is a plant species of the holly genus ''Ilex'' native to South America. It was named by the French botanist Augustin Saint-Hilaire. The indig ...

yerba mate
'' but following the pattern of ''café'', from French, to distinguish from ''mate'').


Native English words

Occasionally, especially in older writing, diacritics are used to indicate the
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
s of a word: ''cursed'' (verb) is pronounced with one syllable, while ''cursèd'' (
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
) is pronounced with two. For this, ''è'' is used widely in poetry, e.g., in Shakespeare's sonnets.
J.R.R. Tolkien John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (; 3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary cr ...
used ''ë'', as in ''O wingëd crown''. Similarly, while in ''chicken coop'' the letters ''-oo-'' represent a single vowel sound (a
digraph Digraph may refer to: * Digraph (orthography), a pair of characters used together to represent a single sound, such as "sh" in English * Orthographic ligature, the joining of two letters as a single glyph, such as "æ" * Digraph (computing), a grou ...
), they less often represent two which may be marked with a diaresis as in ''zoölogist'' and ''coöperation''. This use of the diaeresis is rare but found in some well-known publications, such as ''
MIT Technology Review ''MIT Technology Review'' is a bimonthly magazine wholly owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and editorially independent of the university. It was founded in 1899 as ''The Technology Review'', and was re-launched without "The" in it ...
'' and ''
The New Yorker ''The New Yorker'' is an American weekly magazine featuring journalism Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on the interaction of events, facts, ideas, and people that are the "news of the day" and that informs society ...

The New Yorker
''. Some publications, particularly in UK usage, have replaced the diaeresis with a hyphen such as in co-operative. In general, these devices are not used even where they would serve to alleviate some degree of confusion.


Punctuation marks within words


Apostrophe

The
apostrophe The apostrophe ( or ) is a punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of wri ...

apostrophe
(ʼ) is not considered part of the English alphabet nor used as a diacritic even in loanwords. But it is used for two important purposes in written English: to mark the "possessive"Linguistic analyses vary on how best to characterise the English possessive morpheme ''-'s'': a noun case inflectional suffix distinct to ''possession'', a ''genitive case'' inflectional suffix equivalent to prepositional periphrastic ''of X'' (or rarely ''for X''), an ''edge inflection'' that uniquely attaches to a noun phrase's final (rather than ''head'') word, or an ''enclitic postposition''. and to mark contracted words. Current standards require its use for both purposes. Therefore, apostrophes are necessary to spell many words even in isolation, unlike most punctuation marks, which are concerned with indicating sentence structure and other relationships among multiple words. * It distinguishes (from the otherwise identical regular
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...

plural
inflection ''-s'') the English
possessive A possessive or ktetic form ( abbreviated ; from la, possessivus; grc, κτητικός ''ktētikós'') is a word or grammatical construction used to indicate a relationship of possession in a broad sense. This can include strict ownership, or ...
morpheme '''s'' (apostrophe alone after a regular plural affix, giving ''-s as the standard mark for plural + possessive). Practice settled in the 18th century; before then, practices varied but typically all three endings were written ''-s'' (but without cumulation). This meant that only regular nouns bearing neither could be confidently identified, and plural and possessive could be potentially confused (e.g., "the Apostles words"'';'' "those things over there are my husbands")—which undermines the logic of "
marked In linguistics and social sciences, markedness is the state of standing out as nontypical or divergent in comparison to a regular or more common form. In a marked–unmarked relation, one term of an opposition is the broader, dominant one. The ...
" forms. * Most common contractions have near-
homographs A homograph (from the el, ὁμός, ''homós'', "same" and γράφω, ''gráphō'', "write") is a word that shares the same written form as another word but has a different meaning. However, some dictionaries insist that the words must also ...
from which they are distinguished in writing only by an apostrophe, for example ''it's'' (''it is'' or ''it has''), ''we're'' (we are), or ''she'd'' (''she would'' or ''she had'').


Hyphen

Hyphen The hyphen is a punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of written text, ...
s are often used in English
compound words In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
. Writing compound words may be hyphenated, open or closed, so specifics are guided by stylistic policy. Some writers may use a
slash Slash may refer to: * Slash (punctuation), the "/" character Arts and entertainment Fictional characters * Slash (Marvel Comics) * Slash (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Slash (''Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'') Music * Slash (musician), stage n ...
in certain instances.


Frequencies

The letter most commonly used in English is E. The least used letter is Z. The frequencies shown in the table may differ in practice according to the type of text.


Phonology

The letters A, E, I, O, and U are considered vowel letters, since (except when silent) they represent
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

vowel
s, although I and U represent consonants in words such as "onion" and "quail" respectively. The letter Y sometimes represents a consonant (as in "young") and sometimes a vowel (as in "myth"). Very rarely, W may represent a vowel (as in "cwm", a
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
loanword). The consonant sounds represented by the letters W and Y in English (/w/ and /j/ as in yes /jɛs/ and went /wɛnt/) are referred to as semi-vowels (or ''glides'') by linguists, however this is a description that applies to the ''sounds'' represented by the letters and not to the letters themselves. The remaining letters are considered consonant letters, since when not silent they generally represent
consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...
s.


History


Old English

The
English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), g ...

English language
itself was first written in the Anglo-Saxon futhorc runic alphabet, in use from the 5th century. This alphabet was brought to what is now England, along with the proto-form of the language itself, by
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a who inhabited . They traced their origins to the 5th century settlement of incomers to Britain, who migrated to the island from the coastlands of . However, the of the Anglo-Saxons occurred within Britain, and the ide ...
settlers. Very few examples of this form of written Old English have survived, mostly as short inscriptions or fragments. The
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic writing system based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet, derived from a form of the Cumae alphabet, Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet used by the Etruscan civilizat ...

Latin script
, introduced by Christian missionaries, began to replace the Anglo-Saxon futhorc from about the 7th century, although the two continued in parallel for some time. As such, the Old English alphabet began to employ parts of the Roman alphabet in its construction. Futhorc influenced the emerging English alphabet by providing it with the letters ''
thorn Thorne or Thorns may refer to: Botany * Thorns, spines, and prickles, sharp structures on plants * Thorn, quickthorn or common hawthorn (''Crataegus monogyna'') Places * Thorn, Netherlands * Thorn, German name of Toruń, Poland * Thorn, Bedfor ...
'' (Þ þ) and ''
wynn Wynn or wyn (; also spelled wen, ƿynn, and ƿen) is a letter of the Old English alphabet, where it is used to represent the sound . History The letter "W" While the earliest Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the ear ...

wynn
'' (Ƿ ƿ). The letter ''
eth Eth (, uppercase Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minuscule'') in the written represe ...

eth
'' (Ð ð) was later devised as a modification of ''ee'' (D d), and finally ''
yogh The letter yogh (ȝogh) ( ; Scots Language, Scots: ; Middle English: ) was used in Middle English and Older Scots, representing ''y'' () and various velar consonant, velar phonemes. It was derived from the Insular G, Insular form of the letter ' ...

yogh
'' ( ) was created by Norman scribes from the in Old English and
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
, and used alongside their Carolingian ''g''. The a-e
ligature Ligature may refer to: * Ligature (medicine), a piece of suture used to shut off a blood vessel or other anatomical structure ** Ligature (orthodontic), used in dentistry * Ligature (music), an element of musical notation used especially in the med ...
''
ash Ash or ashes are the solid remnants of fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), products. Fire is hot because th ...

ash
'' (Æ æ) was adopted as a letter in its own right, named after a futhorc rune '' æsc''. In very early Old English the o-e ligature ''
ethel Ethel (also '' æthel'') is an Old English word meaning "noble", today often used as a feminine given name and sometimes as a surname. Etymology and historic usage The word means ''æthel'' "noble". It is frequently attested as the first elemen ...
'' (Œ œ) also appeared as a distinct letter, likewise named after a rune, '' œðel''. Additionally, the v-v or u-u ligature '' double-u'' (W w) was in use. In the year 1011, a monk named Byrhtferð recorded the traditional order of the Old English alphabet.Michael Everson, Evertype, Baldur Sigurðsson, Íslensk Málstöð,
On the Status of the Latin Letter Þorn and of its Sorting Order
'
He listed the 24 letters of the Latin alphabet first, including the
ampersand The ampersand, also known as the and sign, is the logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it must be ...

ampersand
, then 5 additional English letters, starting with the Tironian note ''ond'' (⁊), an insular symbol for ''and'':


Modern English

In the
orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions b ...
of
Modern English Modern English (sometimes New English or NE (ME) as opposed to Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th cen ...

Modern English
,
thorn Thorne or Thorns may refer to: Botany * Thorns, spines, and prickles, sharp structures on plants * Thorn, quickthorn or common hawthorn (''Crataegus monogyna'') Places * Thorn, Netherlands * Thorn, German name of Toruń, Poland * Thorn, Bedfor ...
(þ),
eth Eth (, uppercase Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minuscule'') in the written represe ...

eth
(ð),
wynn Wynn or wyn (; also spelled wen, ƿynn, and ƿen) is a letter of the Old English alphabet, where it is used to represent the sound . History The letter "W" While the earliest Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the ear ...

wynn
(ƿ),
yogh The letter yogh (ȝogh) ( ; Scots Language, Scots: ; Middle English: ) was used in Middle English and Older Scots, representing ''y'' () and various velar consonant, velar phonemes. It was derived from the Insular G, Insular form of the letter ' ...

yogh
(),
ash Ash or ashes are the solid remnants of fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), products. Fire is hot because th ...

ash
(æ), and œ are obsolete.
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
borrowings reintroduced homographs of æ and œ into
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments following ...
and
Early Modern English Early Modern English or Early New English (sometimes abbreviated EModE, EMnE, or EME) is the stage of the English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of . It is named after the , one of the ancient th ...
, though they are largely obsolete (see "Ligatures in recent usage" below), and where they are used they are not considered to be separate letters (e.g., for collation purposes), but rather ligatures. Thorn and eth were both replaced by '' th'', though thorn continued in existence for some time, its lowercase form gradually becoming graphically indistinguishable from the
minuscule Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the Letter (alphabet), letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minuscule'') in the written representation ...
in most handwriting. ''Y'' for ''th'' can still be seen in pseudo-archaisms such as "
Ye Olde Image:Ye Olde Mint,1792.jpg, The Philadelphia Mint#First building (1792–1833), first Philadelphia Mint, as it appeared around 1908 "Ye olde" is a pseudo–Early Modern English phrase originally used to suggest a connection between a place or busi ...
Booke Shoppe". The letters þ and ð are still used in present-day
Icelandic Icelandic refers to anything of, from, or related to Iceland and may refer to: *Icelandic people *Icelandic language *Icelandic alphabet *Icelandic cuisine See also

* Icelander (disambiguation) * Icelandic Airlines, a predecessor of Icelandai ...
, while ð is still used in present-day
Faroese Faroese ( ) or Faroish ( ) may refer to anything pertaining to the Faroe Islands, e.g.: *the Faroese language * the Faroese people {{Disambiguation Language and nationality disambiguation pages ...
. Wynn disappeared from English around the 14th century when it was supplanted by ''uu'', which ultimately developed into the modern ''w''. Yogh disappeared around the 15th century and was typically replaced by ''gh''. The letters '''' and '''', as distinct from '''' and '''', were introduced in the 16th century, and ''w'' assumed the status of an independent letter. The variant lowercase form
long s The long s, , is an archaism, archaic form of the letter case, lower case letter . It replaced the single 's', or one or both of the letters 's' in a 'double s' sequence (e.g., "ſinfulneſs" for "sinfulness" and "poſſeſs" or "poſseſs" fo ...

long s
(ſ) lasted into
early modern English Early Modern English or Early New English (sometimes abbreviated EModE, EMnE, or EME) is the stage of the English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of . It is named after the , one of the ancient th ...
, and was used in non-final position up to the early 19th century. Today, the English alphabet is considered to consist of the following 26 letters: Written English has a number of
digraphs Digraph may refer to: * Digraph (orthography) A digraph or digram (from the el, δίς ', "double" and ', "to write") is a pair of characters used in the orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a m ...
, but they are not considered separate letters of the alphabet:


Ligatures in recent usage

Outside of professional papers on specific subjects that traditionally use ligatures in
loanword A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning ...
s, ligatures are seldom used in modern English. The ligatures '''' and '' œ'' were until the 19th century (slightly later in American English) used in formal writing for certain words of Greek or Latin origin, such as '' encyclopædia'' and '' cœlom'', although such ligatures were not used in either classical Latin or ancient Greek. These are now usually rendered as "ae" and "oe" in all types of writing, although in American English, a lone ''e'' has mostly supplanted both (for example, ''encyclopedia'' for ''encyclopaedia'', and ''maneuver'' for ''manoeuvre''). Some
fonts In metal A metal (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxim ...

fonts
for typesetting English contain commonly used ligatures, such as for , , , , and . These are not independent letters, but rather allographs.


Proposed reforms

Alternative scripts have been proposed for written English—mostly extending or replacing the basic English alphabet—such as the Deseret alphabet, the Shavian alphabet, Gregg shorthand, etc.


See also

* Alphabet song * NATO phonetic alphabet * English orthography * English-language spelling reform * American manual alphabet * Two-handed manual alphabets * English Braille * American Braille * New York Point * Chinese respelling of the English alphabet * Burmese respelling of the English alphabet


Notes and references


Notes


References


Further reading

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:English Alphabet English orthography, Alphabet Latin alphabets