A

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A

The letter A is the first letter in the Latin alphabet. Its name in English is a, plural ās or aes.

History

The letter A probably started as a pictogram of an ox head in Egyptian hieroglyphs or the Proto-semitic alphabet.

Egyptian hieroglyphic ox head
Egyptian hieroglyph
ox head
Proto-semitic ox head
Proto-semitic
ox head
Phoenician aleph
Phoenician aleph
Greek alpha
Greek alpha
Etruscan A
Etruscan A
Roman A
Roman A

By 1600 BC, the Phoenician alphabet's letter had a linear form that served as the basis for all later forms. Its name must have corresponded closely to the Hebrew aleph.

When the Ancient Greeks adopted the alphabet, they had no use for the glottal stop that the letter had denoted in Phoenician and other Semitic languages, so they used the sign for the vowel Template:IPA, and changed its name to alpha. In the earliest Greek inscriptions, dating to the 8th century BC, the letter rests upon its side, but in the Greek alphabet of later times it generally resembles the modern capital letter, although many local varieties can be distinguished by the shortening of one leg, or by the angle at which the cross line is set.

The Etruscans brought the Greek alphabet to what was Italy and left the letter unchanged. The Romans later adopted the Etruscan alphabet to write Latin, and the resulting letter was preserved in the modern Latin alphabet used to write many languages, including English.

The letter has two minuscule (lower-case) forms. The form used in most current handwriting consists of a circle and vertical stroke. Most printed material uses a form consisting of a small loop with an arc over it. Both derive from the majuscule (capital) form. In Greek handwriting, it was common to join the left leg and horizontal stroke into a single loop, as demonstrated by the Uncial version below. Many fonts then made the right leg vertical. In some of these, the serif that began the right leg stroke developed into an arc, resulting in the printed form, while in others it was dropped, resulting in the modern handwritten form.

Blackletter A
Blackletter A
Uncial A
Uncial A
Another Capital A
Modern Roman A
Modern Roman A
Modern Italic A
Modern Italic A
Modern Script A
Modern Script A

Usage

In English, the letter A by itself usually denotes the lax open front unrounded vowel (IPA /æ/) as in pad, the open back unrounded vowel (IPA Template:IPA) as in father, or, in concert with a later e, the diphthong Template:IPA (though the actual pronunciation depends on the dialect) as in ace, due to effects of the Great vowel shift.

In most other languages that use the Latin alphabet, the letter A denotes either an open back unrounded vowel (IPA Template:IPA), or an open central unrounded vowel (IPA /a/).

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, variants of the letter A denote various vowels. In X-SAMPA, capital A denotes the open back unrounded vowel and lowercase a denotes the open front unrounded vowel.

A also is the English indefinite article, extended to an before a vowel.

Alternative representations

In the NATO phonetic alphabet the letter A is Alfa (which may also be spelled Alpha in English-only environments).

In international Morse code the letter A is DitDah: · -

In Braille the letter A is represented as (in Unicode), the dot pattern:

Computing

In Unicode the capital A is codepoint U+0041 and the lowercase a is U+0061.

In Hex, A is the character used to represent decimal 10, or in binary, 01010

The ASCII code for capital A is 65 and for lowercase a is 97; or in binary 01000001 and 01100001, correspondingly.

The EBCDIC code for capital A is 193 and for lowercase a is 129.

The numeric character references in HTML and XML are "A" and "a" for upper and lower case respectively.

Meanings for A

See also

Template:Wikisource1911Enc Template:Wiktionary

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Alpha, Cyrillic A, ª, À, Á, Â, Ã, Ä (Ae), Å (Aa), Æ, Ă Ą

Template:AZsubnavals:A ar:A bs:A ca:A cs:A da:A de:A et:A el:A es:A eo:A fr:A gl:A ko:A hr:A io:A id:A it:A he:A kw:A la:A hu:A nl:A ja:A no:A nn:A pl:A pt:A ro:A ru:А (буква) sq:A scn:A simple:A sl:A sr:A (латиничко) fi:A sv:A tl:A vi:A uk:А yo:A zh:A

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