Talk:English alphabet

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The 25-letter English alphabet[edit]

A note in another W. article stated that a 25-letter English alphabet somehow excluded the letter "J". If this is factual, it should be added to the article; for I found no mention of a 25 word alphabet by searching for the number "25". Misty MH (talk) 15:56, 13 February 2019 (UTC)[reply]

What article? There might be space for more discussion, or some clarification about the history of the alphabet, but I don't know if there was a notable 25-letter English alphabet. If you read the article, it says "The letters u and j, as distinct from v and i, were introduced in the 16th century, and w assumed the status of an independent letter", so you're talking about an alphabet that included u and w but not yet j, which would be odd. I've worked with early printed English, and seen works that used used u and v, and i and j as positional variants, but not one that used u and v as modern letters but not j.--Prosfilaes (talk) 21:28, 13 February 2019 (UTC)[reply]

"Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz" listed at Redirects for discussion[edit]

An editor has asked for a discussion to address the redirect Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz. Please participate in the redirect discussion if you wish to do so. Soumyabrata (talksubpages) 09:52, 11 February 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Deletion request[edit]

Sorry folks, I did not search the archives. I just want to state (once again?) that this article is written from a very anglocentric (hence not neutral) point of view. If there is such a thing as an English Alphabet (which, according to the textbox, developed out of the Latin alphabet), why is there no, say, Dutch alphabet etc? (talk) 06:01, 24 December 2022 (UTC)[reply]

If you think should be deleted then take it to WP:AFD. Leaving a message here is not going to get it deleted.
As for it being Anglocentric, well yes, it's an article about the alphabet used in the English language. That does not mean it is not neutral. Most modern European languages use very similar alphabets, based on the Latin alphabet. Meters (talk) 06:22, 24 December 2022 (UTC)[reply]

The apostrophe as a letter[edit]

A series of IPs (presumably the same user) are edit warring to claim that the apostrophe is sometimes considered a letter in the English language. There has been at least one range block over this, but the edits are continuing, so let's get consensus on this. Pinging all the named editors who have edited this article in the last week (when I noticed this issue, although I would not be surprised to find it has been going on for longer): user:Silikonz, user:Zzuuzz, user:Bazza 7, user:Scyrme, user:Materialscientist

Initially the claims were unsourced, and simply stated the apostrophe was a letter [1]. This changed to the still unsourced but more subtle statement that apostrophes are usually not considered letters (implying that they sometimes are considered letters [2]. Now a vague claim that "Recently there has been a small movement to recognize the apostrophe as a letter of the alphabet, based on its necessary role in spelling English words." has also been added [3]. Two bare URL sources have been provided: [1] [2] One of the sources is a dead link (from 2018), and the other is nothing but a 13-year-old blog posting. I don't see any justification for changing the wording from "The apostrophe (ʼ) is not considered part of the English alphabet" to "The apostrophe (ʼ) is not usually considered part of the English alphabet" [emphasis added by me], or for adding the fuzzy claim about the "movement" to include the apostrophe as a letter. Anyone want to support keeping these changes? Meters (talk) 01:12, 20 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]

My apologies, I missed pinging one named editor from the the last week: user:SunDawn Meters (talk) 01:20, 20 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
The dead link actually works, if you omit considered. ([4]) It's an opinion piece and isn't entirely serious in tone. However, Pullum seems to sincerely hold this view, and is mentioned in that news article. He's also mentioned in a Times article ([5]). – Scyrme (talk) 02:43, 20 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Since The Times has a paywall, here's the relevant text for the mention:

Yet Mount is wrong to describe this as an issue of grammar. It’s instead about orthography (spelling and punctuation). In usage guides the apostrophe is invariably described as a punctuation mark. In fact, recent scholars of language take issue with this. Geoffrey Pullum, co-author of the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, says that whereas punctuation marks appear between units, the apostrophe appears within words, and is therefore an issue of spelling. He terms the apostrophe the 27th letter of the alphabet.

Perhaps that book, the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, might provide another source. The article doesn't list anyone besides Pullum, regarding "recent scholars"; it's not at all clear that his is not an eccentric view. Even if there are others, it's evidently a recent and marginal view. Coverage for this fringe view is undue, so I agree with reverting the addition of the apostrophe to the list of letters in the article's lead section, but fighting over the inclusion of "usually" seems counterproductive to me.
To be clear, I'm not supporting the addition of "usually"; I just don't see much point in fussing over it. I'm much more concerned by the letter "eng" being listed alongside letters like thorn and wynn, which is what my recent edits were about. – Scyrme (talk) 03:07, 20 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I was pinged, and my main involvement stems from the block I performed. The IP making the change to this page, which is the same user making the other changes, was plain trolling and lost any credibility they thought they had. As for the proposed change, as seen here, I appreciate the sources being supplied, but I still see problems. The apostrophe is indeed having a crisis, but anyone saying the English alphabet consists of either 27 letters, or 26 and a punctuation mark, is clearly on the fringe. It doesn't belong in the lead or other central parts of the article, and even saying "not usually" gives this fringe too much weight, IMO. Even the "Apostrophe Protection Society" calls it punctuation. Saying "Recently there has been a small movement..." also actually requires its own source, and not just what is effectively a link to a 13-year old blog post. It's listed under "Proposed reforms", but is it, really? Then the ABC article uses a grabbing headline, but doesn't actually follow it up in the article. In my opinion the apostrophe belongs consigned to the same section as that other regular part of words - the hyphen, where its status, including any peer-reviewed opinions by Pullum, can be discussed with reliable sources supporting the content. I suggest the IP join the discussion and make their case. -- zzuuzz (talk) 09:04, 20 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I'm reassured that others have recognised the antics of the IP who has now been blocked. Their inconsistent unreferenced "facts" and repeated reversions were almost as annoying as their mocking edit summaries. I am fine accepting any assertion which can be referenced properly, with the number and reliability of such references increasing with the contrariness of the assertion. Although the man on the Clapham omnibus may now work from her home, the concept is still valid and most native English speakers would likely, if asked, say there are 26 letters, and the apostrophe (whose existence I'm happy to pedantically defend) is punctuation. Absent a decent number of uncontentious references, that is how things should be reported here. Bazza (talk) 09:32, 20 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Apostrophe can be seen as a symbol that represents the sound of a missing letter or number, such as in can’t for cannot, or '20 for 2020. Apostrophe can also be seen as a symbol that represents the sound of an added syllable in the possessive case, such as in John’s for John his, or children’s for children es. Therefore, apostrophe meets the criteria of being a letter in the English alphabet.
Moreover, apostrophe has a historical origin that connects it to other letters. Apostrophe comes from Greek apóstrophos (prosōidía), which means "mark of turning away" . It was used to indicate when a vowel was elided or omitted in Greek words. Later, it was adopted by Latin writers to show when letters were dropped in contractions, such as n’t for not. Apostrophe was also used by Old English scribes to mark the genitive case of nouns, such as cyninges for king’s. These examples show that apostrophe has evolved from other letters and has been used to modify them for centuries.
Additionally, apostrophe is similar to other letters that can be silent in some words. For example, the letter k is silent in words like knife or know. The letter e is silent in words like have or name. The letter h is silent in words like hour or honor. These letters are still part of the English alphabet even though they do not always produce a sound. Likewise, apostrophe can be silent in some words, such as its or yours. This does not mean that apostrophe is not a letter, but rather that it has different functions depending on the context.
Furthermore, apostrophe is very different from other punctuation marks that are used to separate sentences or clauses, such as periods, commas, semicolons, colons, question marks, exclamation points, dashes, and parentheses. These punctuation marks do not represent any sounds or letters; they only indicate pauses or intonations in speech or writing. They do not affect the spelling or meaning of words; they only affect the structure and clarity of sentences. Apostrophe, on the other hand, does affect the spelling and meaning of words; it shows when letters are omitted or added to form contractions or possessives. Apostrophe is not just a separator; it is a modifier.
Therefore, apostrophe is not just a punctuation mark, but also a letter in the English alphabet. It has a sound value and a historical lineage that make it comparable to other letters. It is an essential part of spelling words correctly and expressing meaning clearly. 2600:1014:B030:E785:98CA:1925:BCE3:B5C7 (talk) 14:22, 24 March 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Apostrophe is a letter, not a dot with a tail. It makes sounds like uh-oh or hiss. It comes from old Greeks and Romans who liked to skip vowels. It helps us write words like can’t and John’s. It is like other letters that sometimes go quiet, like k in knife or e in name. It is not like other dots and lines that just make us stop or shout. Apostrophe is a cool letter that we need to spell right and talk good. 2600:1014:B030:E785:98CA:1925:BCE3:B5C7 (talk) 14:23, 24 March 2023 (UTC)[reply]
[6], [7], and [8] appear to disagree with your [unreferenced] definitions. Bazza (talk) 14:29, 24 March 2023 (UTC)[reply]
There is no support here for including this fringe view of the English alphabet. We've already had a range block, IP socking, and a page protection because of this. WP:DROPTHESTICK. Meters (talk) 19:59, 24 March 2023 (UTC)[reply]


Old Names of the Letters[edit]

Here are some old sources for the English names of the Latin letters.

Irish Spelling Book[1] Titus D 18[2] Stowe MS 57 BL MS Junius 1[3]
1740 15th century mid 12th century 1170–1185
A a a a a
B bee be be ꝉ bei
C see ce ce ꝉ cei
D dee de de ꝉ dei de
E e e e
F ef ef ef
G ghee ge ge ꝉ gei
H each iche hah ꝉ hake
I i i i
J i Consonant
K ca ka
L el el el
M em em em emm
N en en en
O o o o
P pee pe pe
Q cu cu quu
R ar er er
S ess es es es
T tee te te
U yu Vowel u
V yu Consonant
W Double yu
X ex ix ex
Y wy wi (fix?) ƿi
Z uzzard zede
Ƿ wen ƿen
Ð thorn ðet
Þ thorn þorn

In Stowe MS 57, ꝉ is scribal abbreviation for Latin 'vel' (or). In the same manuscript, uppercase and lowercase forms of the letters are shown as a pair, and sometimes the lowercase letters of the pairs are also part of the letters' names. What actually appears is: Aa; Bbe; Cce; Dde; Ee; Ffef; Gge; Hhah; Ii; Kka; Llel; Mmem; Nnen; Oo; Ppe; Qquu; Rrer; Sses; Tte; Vu; Xxex; Yyfix; Zzede; Ƿƿen; ððet; Þþorn.

Hurlebatte (talk) 02:50, 14 March 2024 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ Hoy, James. “The Irish spelling-book; or, instruction for the reading of English, fitted for the youth of Ireland.” (1740): p 1.
  2. ^ McCarren, Vincent P. and Robert N. Mory. “The "Abecedarium" from British Museum Cotton MS. Titus D 18.” Modern Philology 87 (1990): pp 266-271.
  3. ^ “Y, N.” Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford UP, December 2023.