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The 27th letter of the alphabet that is still in common use

posted 23 Sep 2012, 22:07 by Maria Johnston
Found some interesting trivia today as I searched for a word meaning "opportunity" but that starts with an N.
 
Apparently the alphabet used to have a 27th letter - and it was &
 
The shape of the ampersand predates word ampersand by over 1500 years - since Roman scribes writing in cursive linked their letters as they wrote et - which we know means and. Over time, the linked letters, &, came to signify the word "and" in English as well.
 
In the early 1800's, children learning the alphabet would recite & after the letter Z, but because of how confusing it would be to say "X, Y, Z, and", the children would instead say X Y Z and per se and. Per se means by itself, so the children were effectively saying "and by itself, and". Over time, this was slurred and the word ampersand came about. This, just by the way, is known as a mondegreen - a word that has come about by common mispronounciation.
 
Mum - this makes for an interesting addition to A you're Adorable. & you're...?
 
 
 
 
 
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