In Shakespeare's First Folio (please see the picture), I found that a letter 'u' is used instead of 'v'. For example, "seuen" means "seven". To know this reason, I visited many websites, but what I've got is only the fact that Before the use of the letter U, the shape V stood for both the vowel U and the consonant V. If you follow this rule, I think "seven" remains "seven" but "you" becomes "yov". Why in the folio is 'u' used as a substitution for 'v'?


I don't either know the reason why 'c' in "Acts" looks like an ampersand '&'.

(It is also strange that 's' in "stage" looks like 'f', but I know it is so-called a long s.)

![enter image description here

(picture from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_world%27s_a_stage)

  • 7
    The squiggle over the "c" in "acts" is just a fancy way of representing the top of the following "t". It is a ct ligature. See here: typography.guru/journal/whats-a-ligature Apr 7, 2018 at 18:12
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    The st ligature has a similar explanation. In early typography, ligatures were used extensively; to the modern day, only really & (which was originally a ligature) and the fi / ffi / fl / ffl are used in English at all.
    – tripleee
    Apr 9, 2018 at 6:54

1 Answer 1


It is best to consider first the origins of the English orthography. If we consider the alphabet of Golden Age Latin, it comprises 23 letters: A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X Y Z. Because U and V share the same etymological link to the Phoenecian letter 'waw', «v» could represent either the phonemes /v/ or /u/.
By the Middle Ages should this grapheme occur at the beginning of a word, it was resolved that «v» would be used to depict the phoneme, and if in the intermediate or end position of the word, «u» used. This is the reason 'you' would never be realised as 'yov', appearing rather slavic! Haue an vplifting day

  • I couldn't very much understand your explanation before the edit is done by J-mster, but now my question has completely melted away. I really appreciate the good answer and the good edit.
    – ynn
    Apr 9, 2018 at 11:01

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