The Last Letter Added To The English Alphabet

June 1, 2020

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There are just something you really never think about, such as our alphabet and why it has 26 letters (technically the 27th letter is "et," which is now the ampersand). Although the alphabet song starts with "A" and ends with "Z," that's not the order in which they were added.  In chronological order, "J" was the last letter added. In the Roman alphabet, the English alphabet’s father, “J” wasn’t a letter. It was just a fancier way of writing the letter “I” called a swash. When lowercase “i”s were used as numerals, the lowercase “j” marked the end of a series of ones, like “XIIJ” or “xiij” for 13. It wasn't under 1524 with an Italian grammarian who was set to reform Italian linguistics in which he wrote an essay that identified “I” and “J” as two separate letters. “I” distinguished the aforementioned vowel, and “J” became a consonant that probably sounded more like the “j” in Beijing. Others later adopted his use of “J,” but Romance languages altered its pronunciation to the “j” we’re familiar with (as in jam). As for the first letter, it is indeed "A" and through Phoenician, Greek, Latin, Old English, Middle English and today's Modern English, it has remained the first since 1000BC.

SOURCE: Reader's Digest

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