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Older discussion[edit]

We need to add the use in Latin, as in "Encyclopædia Britannica". But I have to run off now. -- Toby 03:52 Mar 11, 2003 (UTC)

In case anybody reads my edit summaries: Sorry, "Æ" didn't indicate an umlaut in Old English; "E" was an umlaut of "A" (example: "man" -> "men" in forming the plural), and I ran these together in my mind ^_^. -- Toby 07:38 Mar 11, 2003 (UTC)

Was "æ" pronounced /ae/ or /ai/ in classical Latin? (Feel free to answer more precisely than the question. ^_^) -- Toby 03:11 Mar 18, 2003 (UTC)

I used to attend Latin recitation competitions while at school. We were taught to pronounce it like the English word "eye" for those. I would also note that the Romans always wrote it as "AE" not as "Æ". -- Derek Ross

I'm suspicious of English approximations (such as the one in the article too), since English has only /ai/ and not /ae/. But the spelling "ae" suggests /ae/ over /ai/. My friend, whose father is a classicist, thinks that it's /ae/, but we're checking on it. -- Toby 23:01 Mar 19, 2003 (UTC)

Estonian has both ae and ai as diphthongs; however to American ears they sound almost identical except that ae is a little softer. The Romans themselves by the 1st century BC did not view much of a distinction between ae and ai because they regularly transcribed Greek ai as ae. SCCarlson 20:05 Mar 22, 2003 (UTC)

This article says Ä is a German letter, but that page says it is not a letter but only an A with diaeresis. I don't know enough about this whole subject to decide which is correct (or maybe both are?), I'm just pointing out the contradiction. -- Kimiko 21:20 Apr 15, 2003 (UTC)

The Ä is definitely considered a letter in the Swedish alphabet (it really is the same thing as Æ), but in German it may not be. -- Egil 21:33 Apr 15, 2003 (UTC)

It's a letter in German, but it's not a separate letter from "A". This is a fine point that we probably don't need to make here -- it should be made on German alphabet (which doesn't exist yet). -- Toby 09:49 May 13, 2003 (UTC)

No, Ä is not a letter in German: it is the letter A with umlaut. Anárion 17:14, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)

"The same function is served in Swedish by the letter "Ä", and in German by the letter A with Umlaut." - Isn't "Ä" the same thing as "A with Umlaut"? --Spug 12:38, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)

No. Ä in Swedish is a single base letter, whereas in German Ä is base letter a with an umlaut. They look the same but are not identical. Anárion 17:13, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)
As a German I must proetest! Umlaut is a phonetic category but not a typographic one. Swedish Ä, Dänish Æ have exactly the same phonetic and phonemic function as in German. And ofcourse a ligature is a typographic sign, a grapheme, which is "our Æ" (this article) as well as the German Ä. Arne List 18:03, 22 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The German (Umlauted) Ä derives from an a with an e written above: the "e" developed into two stroeks (see also Sütterlin), and thus Ae became written an A with two bars above. This "e", while almost disappeared now and usually written as just two dots, remains a separate character, therefore transcribing Bär as Baer is perfectly acceptable.
On the other hand the Swedish Ä, while also deriving from an Ae ligature, is an A with two dots above. These are not seen as diacritics on an A, but as part of the base character, as much as the horizontal bar is a part of the uppercase T. It is also not acceptable to write ae for an ä when transcribing Swedish (of course, in ASCIIstan, one often must: but one never should when not needed).
German and Swedish Ä are therefore not the same character. Anárion 03:19, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)
That's an interesting historical note, but I think that in current German, ä is treated every bit as much as a letter as Sweden. ae for ä is considered a technical limitation not a matter of choice. There's no typographic distinction, and ä does occur in words that are not (or no longer) used in a non-umlauted variant. The whole thing seems to me to be just another case of prescription and description (there is currently no prescriptive authority for the German language, though there is talk of creating what would in effect be one).
I see no reason for the article to refer to "A-Umlaut", though. Unicode Ä definitely is used for German Ä, and we can tell people all about the history of the different Äs and any weird theories as to why German Ä should be treated differently there. Prumpf 05:38, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)

If it's a separate letter in German, where is it alphabetized?[edit]

In Swedish, "ä" comes after "z" in the alphabet. Where does it come in German? Is it with "a"? Before it? After it? Is it part of the alphabet?

Directly after a, that is "Bar" (bare/naked or drinking place) comes directly before "Bär"(bear(animal) ), but Bär comes before Bart(beard).
Normally, it's collated as 'ae', thus following 'ad' and before 'af'. Words with 'ae' are intermixed with words with 'ä'. Not all dictionaries follow this rule however: while rare, sometimes 'ä' is collated as its own entry after 'a' (thus 'ay' 'az' 'ä' — real 'ae' words are left after 'ad'). Jordi· 03:32, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I don't think that is true, I believe my last explanation before you is correct...
OK, I'm sorry, according to, my explanation seems to be valid for words in dictionaries, while your explanation seems to be valid for names in phone books, and the likes. I believe that could be for practical reasons. In dictionaries, the first collation is useful for finding related umlautized words, and in phone books, the second collation is useful for finding similar names. Swedish phone books also often have particular collations for common surnames pronounced the same, but written differently, such as Carlsson/Karlsson etc...

German pronounciation[edit]

I heard germans say that the Danish letter, æ, is pronounced differently than the german letter ,ä. On the other hand others claimed that the danish letter, æ, corresponds fairly well to the letter, ä, in the southern german dialects. Can somebody confirm (or reject) this?

Keep at Æ?[edit]

Since some encodings don't have Æ or æ, I think we should leave it here for now, but if someone says we should move to AE ligature, then we'll move it there. --KelisFan2K5 23:03, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

What commonly encodings (other than plain ASCII) don't support Æ? It's in ISO 8859-1, Mac OS Roman, and UTF-8, as well as many of the less common encodings.
OK, we'll keep it at Æ. --KelisFan2K5
It's not in MS-DOS CP 437, and some people are browsing with CP437... --KelisFan2K5 13:56, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The policy is to use any ISO-8859-1 characters in titles. When the English-language Wikipedia goes to UTF-8, then that will define the limits.

Out of curiosity, what browser or operating system is limiting users to CP437? Michael Z. 2005-03-19 15:21 Z
The MS-DOS operating system is the only one that still uses CP 437. And there may be some people that still use DOS. I know that Lynx exists for DOS, maybe people are browsing Wikipedia with Lynx on MS-DOS (Æ will probably appear as a blank in Lynx for DOS.) --KelisFan2K5 15:28, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Lynx is pretty good at replacing characters that it can't render, so I would expect it to show AE if Æ isn't available. --Zundark 12:41, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)
This may be true, but that number will be vanishingly small. To remove Æ for such a minor population seems to have a diminishing return. – ClockworkSoul 15:32, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
So when you wrote and some people are browsing with CP437, did you actually mean I guess that some people might be browsing with CP437? Michael Z. 2005-03-20 16:31 Z

Note also the discussion on talk:þ. —Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 16:14, 2005 Mar 19 (UTC)

The relevant policy is Wikipedia:Naming conventions and particularly Wikipedia:Naming conventions (use English). Unlike Ð and Þ, Æ is occasionally used in English, so there is some excuse for leaving Ash (letter) where it is; however, modern use is generally obscurantist and/or precious, so the policy to use the most common name for a thing would strongly suggest that we use something else. Robert A West 20:22, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

Actually, MS-DOS code page 437 has both æ and Æ, as do other MS-DOS Latin code pages, apart from 852, 853, and 857. ;) - OBrasilo (talk) 17:59, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Articles with AE in their name[edit]

Should Wikipedians make redirects for virtually every article where the letter sequence AE occurs in the name by making a redirect with an alternate spelling for those words by putting the æ symbol in? people might errorenously put an æ in when the article name technically has a sequence of the letter a and e by themselves. --SuperDude 04:58, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

The ideal WP would have such redirects; although in order for the problem to arise, someone would have to type æ by accident, which is pretty hard. If you want to make it a priority, you will be doing something for WP that no-one else is likely to. But I would only put them in, myself, to repair a redlink or a mistyping when the redirect does not exist.
For a test, I observe hemoglobin haemoglobin and hæmoglobin; the two that can be typed on a standard keyboard exist, and one redirects to the other. But all three are in OED. Septentrionalis 19:43, 12 August 2005 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

Okay, it appears there are conflicting opinions. I'm happy with moving this article to any title that's a title, so I'll split this request into two. Michael Z. 2005-09-26 23:45 Z

Move to to Ash (letter)[edit]

Titles are the names of things, not the things. Aesc is the historic English name of this letter, and is still used by typographers today. My Oxford Canadian Dictionary dictionary calls it ash. The twenty-six letters of the modern English-language Latin alphabet do also spell own names, but this is not one of them. Michael Z. 2005-09-26 17:48 Z

Add *Support or *Oppose followed by an optional one sentence explanation, then sign your vote with ~~~~


  1. Support This is my request. Michael Z. 2005-09-26 17:48 Z
  2. Support This is the standard spelling of the name of this non-English letter, as it appears in dictionaries. [1] [2] [3] [4], as well as in the Oxford English Dictionary and Handbook of the International Phonetic Association. Nohat 05:07, 27 September 2005 (UTC)


  1. Oppose. I've never even heard of the name "Ash" used to describe this letter, so this fails the "use common names" test. simply calls it "Latin letter AE" [5]. This is one of the original Latin-1 letters, it's supported and displayable on every platform and every font. Might as well leave it as it is. -- Curps 18:03, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
  2. Oppose - "ash" is only for one particular form of this letter. I agree with Curps, might as well leave it here. Adam Bishop 19:48, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
  3. Oppose - Mzajac, you are simply wrong about the spelling of letters. The name of the letter "H", for example, is "aitch", according to most dictionaries. Don't believe me? I quote from the Oxford English Dictionary: "aitch. Name of the letter H". Likewise, every other letter has its own name (ess is S, zed is Z, etc.) But I don't see you requesting moves for the other 26 letters. —Psychonaut 00:16, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
  4. Oppose. Less concerned about this, but I think it's a good idea for letternames (particularly those used/recognised in English), which vary (two of those Mzajac mentions have other names, being haitch (which I use, and ’aitch sounds ’orrible) and zee (which I don't)), to have just the letter as their name. That way if you call æ aesc or ash or ae-ligature or /æː/ or whatever, you're not put out. —Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 01:26, 27 September 2005 (UTC)Neutral. æ is still an English letter, but it's rarity does make it perhaps ill-advised. —Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 14:53, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
  5. Oppose. Fails "use common names" and the principle of least surprise to users. Plus, is 'Ash' or 'Aesc' the correct word to use for this letter when used to write languages other than English? —Morven 17:35, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
  6. Oppose. My native language has 'æ' and I've had several occasions to refer to it in English in my life. I'm familiar with the name 'ash' and I've seen the Old English ancestor of that, 'æsc', several times but I find 'aesc' somewhat jarring. I think it's probably most neutral and least weird to keep the page under its current title. I would prefer both 'ash' and 'æsc' to 'aesc', though, if it came to that. - Haukur Þorgeirsson 16:10, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
  7. Oppose: The article is not about the English letter "ash", but about a symbol used in many languages. One may make up a new article, which will be just about the English letter... --Slavik IVANOV 01:55, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
  8. Oppose: As per Ivanov, the grapheme Æ/æ has other names than the Old & Middle English "Ash". //Big Adamsky 12:24, 25 February 2006 (UTC)


Add any additional comments

I'm willing to trust Bringhurst that aesc is still in use, but my Oxford Canadian Dictionary only lists ash for "an Old English runic letter ... [Old English æsc from Germanic]". The dictionary has no entry for aesc or ae, except as a Latin suffix for plurals, -ae. Michael Z. 2005-09-26 23:58 Z

Hm. Psychonaut, I did not write that the English letter names can only be spelt with one letter. I was heading off the argument that always surfaces in these discussions that if A is spelt a, then every letter or typographic symbol in the world is its own name. But cooler heads have sometimes prevailed, and we now have articles entitled D with stroke, Eth, Thorn (letter), and at sign, instead of Đ, Ð, Þ, and @. This article no more belongs at Æ, than Zhe (Cyrillic) belongs at Ж, Yus at Ѧ, Apostrophe (mark) at , Infinity at , Integral at , and someone would be debating whether Hong Kong should be at 中華人民共和國香港特別行政區.

An English reader can read the title of the eighth letter's article, whether it is spelt H, Aitch, or Haitch. But Æ does not spell a word readable to most readers of English (nor in fact a word that's in any dictionary), whereas Ash and Aesc do.

And if anyone wants to move Z to Zed, be my guest. Michael Z. 2005-09-27 04:06 Z

Morven, I interpret that convention to mean "use the most common names", and when they're both uncommon, pick the best one. When was the last time someone said to you "do you spell that with an æ?. From the history, it seems that the ash in Latin and all the Northern European languages is the same letter, with the letter-form originating in Latin, and its English name coming from the equivalent Rune's name. The Ossetic Cyrillic А-Е ligature appears to be unrelated (although Greek alpha and epsilon are the ancestors of the Latin and Cyrillic a and e). Does anyone know how it's pronounced? Michael Z. 2005-09-27 17:56 Z

The script is phonematic, and the vocals don't have any names (the pronounciation of letter being its name). So they call it just «æ». :) In Russian, when speaking about the Ossetic spelling, we usually say «ае» [aje] (or at least I do so). As for the name “ash”, I learnt it from this article of the English wikipedia. -- Slavik IVANOV 01:18, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

Move to to Aesc[edit]

Titles are the names of things, not the things. Aesc is the historic English name of this letter, and is still used by typographers today. The twenty-six letters of the modern English-language Latin alphabet do also spell own names, but this is not one of them. Michael Z. 2005-09-26 17:48 Z

Add *Support or *Oppose followed by an optional one sentence explanation, then sign your vote with ~~~~


  1. Support Strongly This is my request. Michael Z. 2005-09-26 17:48 Z


  1. Oppose. "Aesc" is the Old English name for the letter. The Modern English name is "Ash". Nohat 23:16, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
  2. Strongly oppose as per Nohat. —Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 00:07, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
  3. Oppose - Mzajac, you are simply wrong about the spelling of letters. The name of the letter "H", for example, is "aitch", according to most dictionaries. Don't believe me? I quote from the Oxford English Dictionary: "aitch. Name of the letter H". Likewise, every other letter has its own name (ess is S, zed is Z, etc.) But I don't see you requesting moves for the other 26 letters. —Psychonaut 00:16, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
  4. Oppose - aesc would be even worse than ash. Adam Bishop 00:27, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
  5. Oppose . Fails "use common names", see above opposition. —Morven 17:36, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
  6. Oppose. My native language has 'æ' and I've had several occasions to refer to it in English in my life. I'm familiar with the name 'ash' and I've seen the Old English ancestor of that, 'æsc', several times but I find 'aesc' somewhat jarring. I think it's probably most neutral and least weird to keep the page under its current title. I would prefer both 'ash' and 'æsc' to 'aesc', though, if it came to that. - Haukur Þorgeirsson 16:10, 12 October 2005 (UTC)


Add any additional comments

I just checked Bringhurst's Elements of Typographic Style (version 3.0) page 301, and he writes "Aesc (æsc in the older spelling) is pronounced ash". This is about as authoritative on typography as you will get. This is the historic English name for the letter, and the name typographers still use. I wouldn't give the Unicode standard too much weight; a lot of their character names are incorrect. This name also has the advantage of being a unique, un-disambiguated name. Michael Z. 2005-09-26 21:46 Z

Psychonaut, see my note above, but to put it another way: you're quite right, the Oxford dictionary has entries for H and aitch; they are both valid names for the letter and valid titles for the article. I'm sure it has ash, and I suppose the Concise edition may even have aesc or æsc. But does it have an entry for the word Æ? Michael Z. 2005-09-27 04:14 Z

I don't know about the Oxford English Dictionary, but the Random House Dictionary of the English Language does have an entry for "æ". -- Curps 04:51, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
What does it say? Michael Z. 2005-09-27 07:21 Z
æ, the ash, an early English ligature representing a vowel sound like that of a in modern bad. The long ǣ continued in use until about 1250, but was finally replaced by e. The short æ was given up by 1150, being replaced usually by a but sometimes by e. -- Curps 07:52, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
Cool. Anyone know how the long and short ash were pronounced? Was it written with the macron, or is that a modern transcription? Michael Z. 2005-09-27 08:11 Z
Macrons in Old English are modern transcriptions, not used at the time. They were probably pronounced as [æ ~ a] and [æː ~ a:] (i.e. like the vowels of Australian ‘lad’ and ‘bad’ or Finnish ä and ää respectively) though in the Middle English period the long vowel had almost certainly raised to [ɛː] (a lengthened form of American English ‘bet’). Note that tho Middle English sound was mostly spelt ea (or e in open syllables) and also the descendent of Old English ēa /æɔ/ unless I’m very much mistaken. —Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 14:50, 27 September 2005 (UTC)


It was requested that this article be renamed but there was no consensus for it to be moved. Ryan Norton T | @ | C 05:34, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

Æ in the OED[edit]

In the United Kingdom, such spellings are more common, leading the Oxford English Dictionary to use the ligature in the main entries, with other spellings listed only as alternatives.

Does the current OED still present æ spellings as the primary entry? Michael Z. 2005-10-12 14:57 Z

It depends on the word in question. For example, æsthetic and encyclopædia are presented as primary, while æstuary and ænigma are presented as obsoleted by estuary and enigma, respectively. In general, it appears that there is a consistent æ to e shift in both UK and US English, but the shift is occurring faster in US English. --Delirium 04:57, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
Except that it is often the case that the æ becomes ae, however, it appears that US English does not make this differentiation to mark etymological differences. Leading to the US English 'pediatrician' not being related to feet (ie. 'ped~' but to children 'paed~'). This is not the case in English.

Æ in art[edit]

I'm pretty sure I could come up with more examples akin to the "heavy metal umlaut", but then again, artists I listen to have a penchant for using Latin. However; would the seminal Danish Industrial band Leæther Strip count here? I believe Claus Larsen was creating a stylistic English/Danish amalgam; and that the Danish for 'leather' is 'læder'. Khiradtalk 11:53, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Æ in Pop Culture[edit]

The cartoon series Æon Flux. [6]

Australo-American bias?[edit]

It is formed as a ligature of the letters a and e, representing the vowel sound [æ] as in cat (the near-open front unrounded vowel).

I'm rather puzzled by the above sentence (I'm a novice at linguistics) - is it only referring to American and Australian English? The link for near-open front unrounded vowel says "(RP, GA and AuE) fat", and as received pronunciation is only spoken by 3% of the British population (the RP article's estimate), should it be noted on this article that the sound is not universal to all English speakers? Please could somebody clarify whether the same sound is made in "neutral" British English (presuming for simplicity's sake that such an accent exists). – Ham 18:26, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

To the extent one can assume for simplicity's sake that a "'neutral' British English" accent exists, it would as often be RP as anything else. For conciseness, WP article usually refer to what may be called the standard dialects of countries: RP for England, GA for America, AusE for Australia, NZE for New Zealand etc. and the fact that it doesn't mention another dialect doesn't mean no other dialects use that sound.
As to the pronunciation in other British accents, the vowel in "cat" often tends more towards [a] and [ä] (the latter being a centralised [a], the sound of Italian or Spanish a and not a German or Finnish ä). Even in traditionally [æ]-using dialects in the SE of England and RP, [a]- and [ä]-like realisations are, I understand, becoming more common. I think it's reasonable to say it's unclear/an example of systematic bias.
Felix the Cassowary 10:49, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
If you can listen to the sound file linked from near-open front unrounded vowel, then you can judge for yourself. My own judgement is that that recording sounds more like the vowel of air (or even a noise made by a sheep) than any vowel that might be used in cat in a "neutral British English" accent in 2006. (It's not just that recording - I have the same reaction to other recordings of [æ].) Regardless of that, I think the bit in question is wrong anyway. It could easily be taken as implying that the vowel represented by æ in words like encyclopædia is the same as that in cat.--JHJ 11:59, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

english alphabet[edit]

mmmh, is it really a letter of the english alphabet? Which one must be deleted to keep it at 26 letters? (article says ampersand was regarded the 27th) Tobias Conradi (Talk) 00:25, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

In modern English—at least, especially in American English—it's just a typographical nicety. One might as well say that dotless i is an English "letter" because typography sometimes undots an i (as in the fi-ligature ). Most articles and titles don't bother to use æ except where invoking a brand name's characteristic typography such as Æon Flux or Encyclopædia Britannica; cf. Aeacus, Aeaea, Aebutius, etc. It is a letter in some language's abecedaries, but Modern English is not one of them. (It may be the case that it remains a letter in words borrowed from a languages where it is a letter, e.g. Danish Æbelø or Old English æsc, but in most cases æ in English reflects Latin or Latinized Greek, where it is only a ligature of a and e.) —Muke Tever talk (la.wiktionary) 21:09, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
It seems to me that this article conflates the Old English letter aesc (a.k.a. ash) with the Modern English practice of sometimes typographically combining an adjacent a and e. I'm baffled by the article's apparent claims (combination of first, third, and fourth sentences) that (a) ash is a letter in English (which implies Modern English), and (b) the letter ash is currently used (in English) in words derived from Latin and Greek. Subsequent sentences are similarly weird; they can be summarized as: (1) In the US, these spellings are archaic [to which I would reply it's not just the use of the ligature that's archaic in most such words, it's the "ae" spelling]; (2) In the UK, these spellings are more common [discussion elsewhere on this page suggests that that's technically true, but that they're not very much more common]; (3) In the UK, "ae" is correct instead of the ligature; (4) some people who don't know any better use "ae" instead of the ligature, but they're wrong [which seems to directly contradict (3)]. [continued next paragraph]
Here's my proposal for what I'd like to do to this article: (1) Separate discussion of the Old English letter ash from the Modern English æ ligature (which is not a letter but a typographical joining of two letters). (2) Indicate that in the US, some words that were once spelled with "ae" (whether with or without the ligature) are now spelled simply with "e". (3) Indicate that in the UK, some "ae" words are still commonly represented with the ligature, but that that use is falling out of fashion. (4) Point out that in some particular cases, such as the titles of Britannica and Æon Flux, the ligature is part of an official name, but even in those cases the ligature is sometimes not used. [continued]
The only reason I'm holding off on implementing these changes is that it's possible I'm wrong about some of my facts. So please let me know if any of the above isn't true. Elysdir 06:32, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
In the US, most spellings with ae are foreign, with the chief exception of some Latin loanwords (in plural or genitive singular). Aeon is probably merely obsolete. Independently of that, Æ is archaic. Septentrionalis 06:52, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Elysdir: Your proposed changes appear to be accurate, though I would agree with Pmanderson/Septentrionalis that in US it is most, not just some, spellings that have simplified ae/æ to e (archaeology being probably the most common exception, alongside the Latin inflectional endings such as in 'nebulae', and the non-naturalized foreign words like Æbelø that don't really count as English). The 'ae' spelling is sometimes reintroduced for stylistic reasons; Æon for Eon is probably an example of this. Incidentally, I wonder whether it might be prudent to split this article into Æ (letter) and Æ (ligature) to help separate the disparate uses of this glyph. —Muke Tever talk (la.wiktionary) 00:05, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

I agree this should be cleaned up. Since we're delving into the finer technical points about this letter, we should make sure we have at least one verifiable source supporting each of the points. Are you sure that there is any technical or conceptual difference between the Old English letter ash and the modern ligature of a and e? Michael Z. 2006-02-27 23:43 Z

Technical? no. They're represented by the same glyph (though Unicode would probably recommend the a-e ligature be spelled as a+e and the ligation done by text processing). Conceptual? Yes. Although I'm having trouble verbalizing that concept at the moment. —Muke Tever talk (la.wiktionary) 00:05, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Can you find Unicode's recommendation? Remember that Unicode is a standard for computer representation, and not an authority on orthography or alphabets. I'm still skeptical of any real difference between Anglo-Saxon æ, foreign Latin æ, and modern English usage of æ.
"aesc This ligature is a letter of the alphabet in Danish, Norwegian and Anglo-Saxon, corresponding to the Swedish ä. In English, words of Greek origin were formerly spelled with æ corresponding to Greek αι (alpha iota). Thus aesthetics in older text is æsthetics. Deliberate archaism and pedantically correct quotation still, therefore, require the ligature even in English. Aesc (æsc in the older spelling) is pronounced ash." —Robert Bringhurst (2002). The Elements of Typographic Style, p. 271.
The ash is obsolete in modern English. Although Bringhurst spells it aesc, most sources call that spelling archaic, and spell the name ash. US and UK spellings are academic; this letter is no longer a part of modern orthography. However, I don't see any evidence that the modern usage of an a–e ligature, whether as an anachronism, a quote, or for stylistic purposes, is something different from the old usage of the letter ash, a ligature of a and e. What evidence is there that the ash is still commonly used in the UK? (note that the Encyclopædia Britannica uses the spelling encyclopedia in all cases other than its trademarked title) Michael Z. 2006-02-28 00:09 Z
It's incorrect to refer to æ as "ash" (or indeed "aesc"/"æsc") except in the context of Old English (and possibly the scandinavian languages, in which it still represents a single letter). I think that that is one of the flaws in this article as currently written.
The typographic representation is the same, yes. But what they represent is different. Matthew Brown (Morven) (T:C) 00:32, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Do you have some sources better than Bringhurst which agree with that opinion? Michael Z. 2006-02-28 02:26 Z
This is not entirely true, either. The Handbook of the International Phonetic Association calls the symbol as used in the International Phonetic Alphabet "ash", on page 180. Nohat 02:44, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Morven, it's not one of the 26 letters of the standard alphabet, but it's still a letter, just as yogh and wynn are letters that we don't normally use. Michael Z. 2006-02-28 17:10 Z

The modern æ is not a ligature, but merely a preservation of the original letter ash (which is why it is incorrect for æ to be used instead of ae in some places, such as "aerate"). In modern English the æ has seperated to ae, or in many cases to simply 'e'. The 'a' is most often preserved at the start of a word, presumably due to people not wanting to change the initial letter of a word - thus we get "aesthetics" more commonly than "esthetics." porges 07:48, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

"The modern æ is not a ligature, but merely a preservation of the original letter ash" — That would be true if English spelling were a continuous tradition, but there appears to be a rift between Old and Middle English which indicates this is not the case. The modern use of 'æ' is more likely a preservation of the original Latin ligature, inherited through [Old/Middle] French just like much of the rest of our spelling. Cf. Ligature (typography)#Ligature or independent letter? (You're right about 'aerate' being an exception though. By older rules we should write 'aërate', 'aëroplane', etc. even though the vowels are no longer pronounced separate.) —Muke Tever talk (la.wiktionary) 01:26, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree, I just wanted to point out that "æ" is more than "just" a ligature, otherwise it would be ok to ligate all instances of "ae" as we do with "fi". porges 05:22, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Many ligatures have contextual rules as to when ligation is to be done. æ would not be expected to be an exception. —Muke Tever talk 11:48, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
The modern use of æ is not inherited through Old or Middle French. By the middle ages, the æ ligature had already been replaced with e. Compare modern French encyclopédie, modern Italian enciclopedia, and modern Spanish enciclopedia. This shift occurred in Latin as well as in the vernacular languages; see (talk) 14:36, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

Æ on Tombstones[edit]

I have seen many examples of this ligature on tombstones, especially before 1900. It indicates the age of a person when they died. Normal usage would be,"Died Dec. 25, 1850 Æ 78." One could deduce from this that the person was born in 1772. What is the meaning of Æ when used in this manner? Where does it come from? I have seen people guess that it means "age when expired", but that hardly seems scientific. I can't find any reference to this usage in genealogical materials, dictionaries or encyclopedias. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

it is an abbreviation for Latin aetate, "at the age of". I will add this to the article. Septentrionalis 23:15, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Ligature vs. letter.[edit]

This article seems too confused. I think it needs to be split — either sectionally or into different articles — between the letter Æ and the a-e ligature Æ for thematic clarity and consistency in the facts. —Muke Tever talk 22:22, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Seems that the article length is short enough to keep it together; and if it were split, there would probably have to be a lot of references to the other article. Separate sections would be a nice edit. MeekMark 23:33, 7 June 2006 (UTC)
I really don't think it's a significant difference really. Kind of like adjectives and adverbs, they're basically the same thing.Cameron Nedland 22:18, 8 June 2006 (UTC)
LOL. —Muke Tever talk 22:31, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

Hm. The letter æ is a ligature of a and e. These aren't two different things—the only thing changed is its official status as a letter of the alphabet for English. Furthermore, it's the same letter in all the European languages (although pronounced differently). Perhaps the article's organization could be improved a bit, though. Michael Z. 2006-06-08 23:06 Z

Yes, the letter æ is a ligature of a and e. But that's like saying the letter G is a letter C with a stroke, or that the letter J is a swash variant of I. They are these things, both by nature and by origin, but they're not just these things, or even chiefly these things. The "ligature æ" is used in the typography of some languages out of those that don't have a "letter æ". And, vice versa, in those languages which do have a "letter æ" it is not, I expect, treated like a ligature. There needs to be a clear differentiation—at least within the article, if not by separating the page—between the "ligature æ" (such as it is used in English or Latin words, representing an etymological or pronounced diphthong) and the "letter æ" (such as used in Old English or Danish, where the ligature has been taken whole as a letter to represent a unitary sound). Otherwise we end up with sentences like "Ash (pronounced [æʃ]) is the letter "Æ", "æ", of the Latin alphabet for English." —Muke Tever talk 10:03, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm not convinced that there's a hard line between the two. Calling a letter a ligature is describing its form, or describing its origin, but it does not define it as not a letter (nor as a letter). There is a grey area—for example, there is no firm date in history when æ in English switched identity from a letter to a ligature, and saying that it was "promoted" in several languages seems to naively making the situation appear to cut-and-dried: in English the letter just gradually stopped being considered part of the scholarly alphabet. Referring to G as a modified C doesn't revoke its identity as a separate letter. The F-I ligature (fi) is strictly a presentational form, clearly two letters, but the letter æ, formed as an A-E ligature can still have a single sound, and was etymologically a single letter.
The latest edit of the lead paragraph was a bit careless, changing the Greek origin of this diphthong to Latin. Michael Z. 2006-06-09 16:43 Z
Huh? Its origin is Latin; its use to represent αι is secondary. The unicode for Aesc, however, does not display on my computer (IE), and should probably not be in the intro. Septentrionalis 21:47, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
Æ in English switched identity from a letter to a ligature when the native English orthographic tradition (æ, cw, etc...) was replaced by the Norman one (a, qu, etc...). You wouldn't expect to find a "firm date" for this because it didn't happen everywhere at once.
As well, the entire point of the proposed edit is that in some languages (English, Latin) æ is strictly a presentational form and clearly two letters, and in some languages (Old English, Danish) it isn't: referring to æ as a modified a+e doesn't revoke its identity as a separate letter in those languages where it is reckoned as one, but conversely, referring to æ as a separate letter doesn't create that identity in languages where it isn't one.
I am trying to respond to your statement "the letter æ, formed as an A-E ligature can still have a single sound, and was etymologically a single letter" but I am having trouble parsing what you mean. —Muke Tever talk 03:47, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

This dichotomy can be rectified simply be creating different sections (if necessary) in one article, not splitting hairs and articles and making it much more difficult for users to find information ... which splitting it into two would promote. Dictionaries and other reputable compendiums deal with Æ/æ in single entries, why shouldn't we? 15:41, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

not a good idea. First organize this article so that it becomes clearly visible what should be split where. Do only split if the respective "letter" and "ligature" sections become long enough to warrant {{main}} sub-articles. You can help clean up this article without splitting it first. dab () 13:43, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Folks, why did scribes start to make the ligature of "a" with "e" (æ)? Because they had started to pronounce the sequence "ae" as a unique sound. (See Vulgar Latin.) It's completely artificial to separate æ-the-letter from æ-the-ligature, IMHO. This is not the same thing as the f-i ligature, or the f-f ligature, which are purely matters of typographical style, with no reflection on pronunciation. FilipeS 16:05, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Mediæval not British[edit]

There was a discussion of this issue at Wikipedia:WikiProject Middle Ages/British spelling of Medieval that makes it clear that the British don't favor the spelling mediæval in either dictionaries or modern usage as reflected in Google. Mediæval is more archaic than British and I'm editing to reflect this. --SteveMcCluskey 21:47, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Latinisation of the Greek digraph αι[edit]

In Classical Latin, the combination AE denotes a diphthong (IPA [ai̯]) that had a value similar to the long i in most dialects of modern English. It was used both in native words (spelled with ai before the 2nd century BC) and in borrowings from Greek words having the diphthong αι (alpha iota).

In Greek, αι is a digraph since its pronounced like an open e, in contrary to what's written in the article.

Some of the words given are of Greek origin and thats how they ended up keeping the æ formulation. The case seems to be that up until sometime in the end of the nineteenth century, formal English was more rigorous with etymology, transcribing nearly everything from the original Greek spelling . Compare Egypt with Ægypt (Αίγυπτος), demon with dæmon (δαίμον) and eon with æon (αιών).

Encyclopædia Britannica, ostensibly had no reason to rebrand themselves ,and Æon Flux would probably be an artistic embellishement over Eon Flux in its usage. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 15:08, 15 January 2007 (UTC).


It's funny that no where on this page does it directly say how to pronounce the letter. H2P (Yell at me for what I've done) 07:48, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

In what language? Danish and Norwegian alphabet contains a recording of the Dane reciting the Danish alphabet, and that pronounciation roughly corresponds to the pronounciation in Norway and the pronounciation of the "Ä" used in Sweden, Germany etc. It is the third-to-last sound in the recording. Valentinian T / C 10:01, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Let's see. This is the English Wikipedia. I wonder what language HTP is referring to... Anyways, it is pronounced the same as ae (since it functions as a ligature of those letters), which, of course, differs depending on the word. /i/ (as in machine) is the most common, followed by /e/ (as in they). /aɪ/ as in aisle is common for recent loan words. -- trlkly 03:15, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
ae (whether written as a ligature or not) is pronounced /i/ in words of Latin and Greek origin in English. Occasionally it is shortened to /ɛ/ when followed by a complex consonant cluster, as in aesthetics. The pronunciation /e/, though common, is always wrong; it is a confusion with words of Gaelic (and Dutch) origin, in which /e/ is correct. Notice how much more commonly you hear the /e/ pronunciation in vertebrae than in formulae; this is obviously due to confusion with the Gaelic word brae. (talk) 02:21, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

Words that contain "æ"[edit]

Would it be a useful addition to this article to have examples of words that correctly contain "æ"? After reading this I'm not sure which ones should have the "a" and "e" separate or as "æ". (talk) 12:28, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

I think it would be useful.
Furthermore, I believe there was such a list. Presumably it got deleted for being 'un-Wikipædic' :-p
List of words with "ae" in alternate spellings now redirects to Typographic ligature.
—DIV ( (talk) 07:15, 23 June 2011 (UTC))

Æ as abbreviation[edit]

I removed the following, as it was uncited and reads as a list of trivia. -TinGrin 07:38, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Æ as abbreviation[edit]

Æ and æ were quite commonly used as abbreviations for american eagle, and latin phrases such as aetate or aetate sua meaning, roughly, "at the age of" N years (the implied construction being an ablative absolute); also the genitive aetatis suae, Nth year "of his/her age". In inscriptions and records, the most common use is for the age at death. In the automotive world "æ" is the logo for "AE Performance", a company which specializes in parts for high-end sports cars.

George William Russell, the fin de siècle Irish poet, signed himself Æ meaning "Æon".

Most Autechre recordings bear the abbreviated logo, Ae.

The website Encyclopedia Dramatica uses æ as its logo.

Aylmer Express uses æ as its logo

Æ for gender neutrality in Spanish[edit]

I am an Argentinian and I have never seen the use of this letter to show gender neutrality in Spanish. I have seen the use of @ for that purpose, in cases where the masculine form has an O and the feminine form has an A, as in "niñ@s" (children, because "niño" is a male child, and "niña" is a female child). But where there is an E in masculine words, the only solution I have seen is to use both words: "profesores y profesoras" (male and female teachers), or "profesoras y profesores", if an inclusive masculine plural is felt to be sexist. --Eduarodi (talk) 05:58, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

I have changed this sentence: These languages do not possess a neuter gender and the masculine forms are also used traditionally when referring to groups of mixed or unknown sex, because the existence (or not) of the neuter gender is irrelevant to the question: the masculine gender is used to denote "mixed or unknown" groups even in languages which do possess the neuter gender. It is common feature of indoeuropean languages to use the masculine gender as the common gender (for one of them MUST be common to denote mixed groups, a less economic alternative would be to create a completely separate gender for that), and neuter gender is hardly used to denote human beings. (talk) 22:18, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

Yes, it's true. Please, somebody edit this part of the article: I'm Spanish and I assure you that this letter or symbol is not used AT ALL in our language. Neither in Spain nor in any other Spanish-speaking country that I know. It is just nonsense. As the previous user said, we might use "niñ@s", although that is a very informal way of expressing gender neutrality, and it is not used in academic or literary texts. The only grammatically correct usage is "niños/as". The symbol "@" might be established as a possible way in some years, but it still needs much time.

Please change that, it is preposterous. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:57, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Related to version changed in "05:17, 11 May 2010": Me as spanish speaker have never seen this as short for male/female. I've seen parenthesis () surrounding space for names: Señor(a)(ita) meaning Señor, Señora or Señorita. In notes or letters: Compañeros(as). The most common use of this shortcut is using @ sign, meaning an O or an A, as this sign seems to contains this two letters. However, in Spanish words have gender, but sometimes it is not related with the sex of the person (or group) is intended. In some places male and female ways of a word means something very different and also some are insults. Sometimes the masculine use of the word is intended for mixed groups, for male only groups and for animal groups no matter sex in this case. The female way is intended for only female groups and not often for only well know female animal group. Some have qualified the Spanis as sexist and it might be that way but is the way that it is. The "Real Academia de la Lengua Española" have issued the "Nueva gramática de la lengua española" (This is a short release dedicated to the gender of the words and it says that even some words have translation when is a mixed group, must be used only the masculine way, not both nor any shortcut.

--Cancuen (talk) 05:18, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Æ as the definite article in Danish dialects[edit]

Although danish in general doesn't use definite articles but rather different endings on the word (Huset (The house)), it is true that in some Southern-Jutish dialects "Æ" is used instead of adding an ending to the word ("Æ hus" instead of "huset"). I live in Souther-Jutland and although it is never written, I know it is spoken especially by older people it is far from uncommon. Madseckert (talk) 10:42, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Relationship between Old English usage and modern usage[edit]

At English alphabet it says that "Latin borrowings reintroduced homographs of ash and ethel into Middle and Early Modern English, though they are not considered to be the same letters". As I understand it, this is saying that the æ in, say, Encyclopædia, is fundamentally not the same letter as the Old English "ash", but just happens to be written the same way. Although this article does note a runic origin for "ash", it generally gives the impression that the two characters are one and the same. I'm not sure which approach is correct (talk) 01:20, 26 November 2009 (UTC).

Æ in Portuguese (and Spanish)[edit]

I am a native speaker of Portuguese and Spanish, as well as a teacher of both languages, and I have never heard about such "proposal" of using Æ with neutral names, nor was I able to find anyone who knows about it. I really consider it totally original research and the only reference a non-reliable source. It must show more references. Tonyjeff (talk) 12:46, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

I completely agree and have removed the section entirely.--Jersey Devil (talk) 21:53, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, Jersey. I have read above that other native Spanish speakers also got surprised with that information. Anyway, let's wait for any other reference. Best regards! --Tonyjeff (talk) 17:07, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

Using Æ in English words.[edit]

So by reading the article I know that I can use Æ/æ in words of Greek origin, like archæology, but can I use it in any English word where there is an A and an E next to each other? I can't specifically think of one, but if I were to come across one, could I? (and the same question relating to the Œ/œ character) Dakatsu1993 (talk) 18:36, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

I think it depends the phonology of the language. Based on the etymological origin, does the letter represent one vowel sound (a monophthong) or two (a diphthong)? If it's one sound, use one letter (the ligatures æ/œ); if it's two sounds, use two letters (the sequences ae/oe).

In Germanic words (Old English and Old Norse), æ and œ are monophthongs (with long versions spelled ǽ and ø in Old Norse). Thus they can only be spelled with the ligatures, except if you're feeling lazy.

In Latin words (and Greek words that follow Latin spelling rules), ae and oe are diphthongs that became monophthongs (in Vulgar Latin, [ɛ] and [e]). Thus they can be spelled both ways: ae/æ, oe/œ.

In Welsh, ae and oe are diphthongs, so they cannot be spelled with the ligatures.

So basically, there's a spectrum, from only-ligature to only-two-letters. But probably you'll only encounter words that can use either ligature or two letters in everyday writing — Old Norse and Welsh words are pretty rare. — Eru·tuon 03:46, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

I got one! Sundæ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:50, January 28, 2011

el: Æ

Norwegian Pronunciations[edit]

The examples listed for Norwegian pronunciation of æ as /eː/ or /e/ are not exactly wrong, since there's no official standard for Norwegian pronunciation and dialects display a great deal of variation. However, many of them do seem to be based on an extremely conservative (to the point of being archaic) Oslo dialect. Furthermore, all the capitalized words listed for the "e" pronunciations (with the exception of Cæsar) are family names (derived from place names) that had their spellings formalized while Danish was the administrative language of Norway and have maintained the Danish spellings even after Norwegian replaced Danish as the written language of Norway. As such, (in my opinion, anyway) these are not really examples of æ being pronounced /e/ in Norwegian, since the topographic features reflected in the names would in fact be spelled with an e in Norwegian (Sæther=seter, Næss=nes, bækk/bæk=bekk, etc.). Maitreya (talk) 14:02, 15 October 2012 (UTC)