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Evolution Of Letter T
Evolution Of Ampersand (&) - Little Surprise
2643    Dibyendu Banerjee    07/07/2017

A small character “&”

There was a time when the small character “&” was regarded as the 27th part of the alphabet. In the first century, Roman scribes wrote in cursive, so when they wrote the Latin word et, which means “and”, they linked the e and t. Gradually, the combined letters e and t came together to signify the word “and” in English as well.

Evolution of Amppersand
Evolution of Amppersand

 In the early 1800s, school children reciting their ABCs used to conclude the alphabet with the “&”. However, it would have been confusing to say “X, Y, Z, AND.”


Instead, the students used to say, “and per se and.” Here “Per se” means “by itself,” So the students were essentially saying, “X, Y, Z, and by itself and.”

Evolution of Amppersand
The Roman ampersand on the left is stylised, but the italic one on the right is clearly similar to et.

Over time, “and per se and” was slurred together into the word we use today – ampersand. Today, whenever a word comes about from a mistaken pronunciation, it is called a “Mondegreen.”

Evolution Of Letter T
Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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