Here is a bunch of fascinating facts about the alphabet for you to share with your class. How many did you or they already know? My favourite is the letter ‘B’ being a nuisance letter!
Welcome to Alphabetrivia!
Along with i, this letter is also the shortest word in English. An ‘a’ written like this – a – is called double storey. Can you guess what a single storey one looks like?
A nuisance letter, added by scholars in the past to make English look more like Latin, and to cause children spelling headaches ever after. So, for example, the Latin debitum became debt. Other examples are subtle and doubtful.
Sometimes hard (like k), sometimes soft (like s). Sometimes both in a single word – circus, cycle for example.
For the Romans, D meant 500.
The most frequently used letter in English.
In Welsh spellings, f is sounded as v and the f sound is spelled ff.
A silent letter in sign but sounded in signal.
A letter seen more in company – ch, ph, sh, th – than on its own. And feel free to pronounce it aitch or haitch, by the way.
Ever wondered what the dot on top of a lower case ‘i’ is called? A tittle. The word means any small mark or item, as in this from Mark’s Gospel: …till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Ch. 5, v 18)
This is the last letter to be added to our alphabet – around 1500.
A silent letter – but only before n, as in knee, knowledge, knuckle. The shape of the letter is thought to have derived from a hieroglyph (a picture of a thing to represent a word) for a hand.
Pronounced just the same whether alone, as in lamp, or in a pair, as in full. And then completely silent, as in walk.
A whopping 1000 to the Romans and the Head of MI6 in James Bond world.
The letter shape is thought to derive from a hieroglyph for a snake.
Only one country starts with O: Oman. However, O is the longest surviving letter shape in any alphabet, perhaps over 3000 years old.
Back when printers had to make a text by setting type, letter by letter, they had to do so by putting each letter in backwards. Put backwards, lower case p looks just like q and this caused those typesetters real problems.
The only letter not to appear in any US State name.
Sometimes called the ‘dog’s letter’ because it can sound like growling. As here in Act 2, Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet:
Nurse: Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin both with a letter?
Romeo: Ay, nurse; what of that? Both with an R.
Nurse: Ah, mocker! That’s the dog’s name.
The most frequently used letter to start words in English.
The most frequently used consonant in English.
ewe, you, yew – three words that sound like u but start otherwise.
Confusingly, in old texts, v could mean u and u could mean v. So, at the start of a word upon would be spelled vpon; and in the middle of a word have would become haue.
The only letter to have a 3-syllable name. Pronounced double U, it is written with double V.
A little used letter, but one with many meanings – a chromosome and a kiss, here it is in the X Factor and now standing for Christ in Xmas.
Ye was never meant to be said Yee. The symbol was called a thorn and printers used it consistently in the past for the sound th.
We say zed and they say zee. But the Americans have logic on their side, as several letters, B, C, D, etc. rhyme double ee, while no other letter rhymes ed.
David and Mike from Goodeyedeers.