Do You Know All 27 Letters of the Alphabet?

I’ve come across a historical footnote on the English language and I thought everyone would get a kick out of it.

Up until about 2 hundred years ago, there was a 27th letter in the English language. This letter is still in common use today and I would bet that you have used it recently. But this letter is no longer considered a letter; it is now regarded either an abbreviation or punctuation. I’m talking about the (&) ampersand.

There was a time when children recited the alphabet with an extra line (x,y,z) “and, per se, and”. When you translate the Latin, what that means is and, by itself, and. (Try saying the above line real fast and you’ll probably see where the word ampersand came from.)

It’s not clear exactly when this was dropped as a letter, but we do know where the symbol originally came from. It traces back to Latin, where scribes regularly wrote et, the Latin word for and, with the letters mushed together. This was eventually corrupted into its own symbol, and as the centuries passed it came to be used in other languages as valid word. You can even see a hint of the original Latin et in the ampersand at right.

BTW, this one is new to me, but did you know that according to some sources &c is a valid alternative for etc, or et cetera?


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