How the Ampersand Got its Name

Is it true that there used to be 27 letters in the alphabet?


Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • ampersand: a symbol for “et” meaning “and”
  • cursive: handwriting
  • recite: to say
  • per se: by of or in itself; as such
  • slur: to say words quickly so that they run together

How the Ampersand Got its Name

Once a time, in the 19th century, the ampersand was included in the alphabet. The ampersand originated as a cursive e beside a cursive t, which meant “and” in Latin. When reciting the alphabet in English, it became for students to include single letters that were also words. At the end of the alphabet, students would say “X,Y,Z and, per se, & (and)”. , students slurred that last bit together to create the word “ampersand”. While this custom eventually fell out of use, the ampersand is still used today for stylistic reasons or to write “and” in .

Comprehension Questions

  1. What does & mean in English?
  2. Why was & sometimes considered the 27th letter of the alphabet?
  3. How did the word “ampersand” come to be?

Discussion Questions: Do you think the alphabet will continue to evolve? Why, or why not?

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