3

Despite my best efforts, I can not find the answer specifically for "a" online. For the rest of the letters of the Latin alphabet, I can see the connection between the different forms (except for the "long s"), for example it is clear how the middle line is connected to the top line in "e", but "a" seems to make no sense. Even weirder considering how it looks very similar in Cyrillic and Greek.

My best guess is that the "Ʌ" shape was written from left to right, then up and left again to make the middle stroke, which extended into a full circle and the left side of the "Ʌ" retracted a bit to make the hook found in Cyrillic and sometimes Latin, which was lost in Greek.

1 Answer 1

7

Compare the uncial form and it may become clearer:

Uncial form of the letter A

(Image via Britannica.)

In other words, the right leg was written on its own, then the left leg and the middle crossbar were written in a single stroke. This led to the legs not meeting right at the very top, and the crossbar becoming more diagonal. Eventually the point in the bottom left became less pointed and you end up with the modern forms.

5
  • 1
    Does this apply to both forms of "a", just with the two strokes in different orders? I know some people who don't use alphabets are baffled at how different-looking two forms of a lowercase letter we consider "the same" are.
    – LjL
    Dec 23, 2021 at 19:10
  • 1
    @LjL If you are talking about with or without the hook, then I would guess so. The two forms aren't that drastically different. Dec 23, 2021 at 20:10
  • @QuintusCaesius-RM Do you mean with or without the entire part above the bowl, i.e., single-storey ɑ vs double-storey a? Because I think that’s what LjL is asking about, and I believe it is correct that it derives from the same shape, just with the left and right leg both reaching up to the apex so that the bowl goes from top to bottom. (The hook is only the teardrop-shaped end part of the terminal, so for example the <a> in this comment, at least on macOS and iOS, is double-storey but does not have a hook.) Dec 24, 2021 at 0:47
  • Yes, I meant single vs double storey, but didn't remember the terms. I would say they aren't drastically similar!
    – LjL
    Dec 24, 2021 at 0:57
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Oops, mixed up the terms. That is indeed what I meant. Dec 24, 2021 at 5:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.