Æ (minuscule: æ) is a grapheme named æsc or ash, formed from the letters a and e, originally a ligature representing the Latin diphthong ae. It has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of some languages, including Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese. As a letter of the Old English Latin alphabet, it was called æsc ("ash tree") after the Anglo-Saxon futhorc rune ᚫ ( ) which it transliterated; its traditional name in English is still ash //. It was also used in Old Swedish before being changed to ä. In recent times, it is also used to represent a short "a" sound (as in "cat"). Variants include Ǣ ǣ Ǽ ǽ æ̀.
In Classical Latin, the combination AE denotes the diphthong [ai̯], which had a value similar to the long i in fine as pronounced in most dialects of Modern English. Both classical and present practice is to write the letters separately, but the ligature was used in medieval and early modern writings, in part because æ was reduced to the simple vowel [ɛ] during the Roman Empire. In some medieval scripts, the ligature was simplified to ę, an e with ogonek, the e caudata. That was further simplified into a plain e, which may have influenced or been influenced by the pronunciation change. However, the ligature is still relatively common in liturgical books and musical scores.
In the modern French alphabet, æ is used to spell Latin and Greek borrowings like tænia and ex æquo. It was mentioned in Serge Gainsbourg's song Elaeudanla Téïtéïa (e.g. "L, A, E dans l'A, T, I, T, I, A"), which is the spelling in French of the name Lætitia.
In English, usage of the ligature varies between different places and contexts, but it is fairly rare. In modern typography, if technological limitations make the use of æ difficult (such as in use of typewriters, telegraphs, or ASCII), the digraph ae is often used instead.
In the United States, the issue of the ligature is sidestepped in many cases by use of a simplified spelling with "e", as happened with œ as well. Usage, however, may vary; for example, medieval is now more common than mediaeval (and the now old-fashioned mediæval) even in the United Kingdom, but archaeology is preferred over archeology, even in the US.
Given their long history, ligatures are sometimes used to show archaism or in literal quotations of historic sources; for instance, in those contexts, words such as dæmon and æther are often so spelled.
The ligature is seen on gravestones of the 19th century, short for ætate ("at the age (of)"): "Æ xxYs, yyMs, zzDs." It is also common in formal typography (invitations, resolutions, announcements and some government documents).
In Old English, æ represented a sound between a and e (/æ/), very much like the short a of cat in many dialects of Modern English. If long vowels are distinguished from short vowels, the long version /æː/ is marked with a macron (ǣ) or, less commonly, an acute (ǽ).
Other Germanic languages
In most varieties of Faroese, æ is pronounced as follows:
- [ɛa] when simultaneously stressed and occurring either word-finally, before a vowel letter, before a single consonant letter, or before the consonant-letter groups kl, kr, pl, pr, tr, kj, tj, sj and those consisting of ð and one other consonant letter except for ðr when pronounced like gr (except as below)
- a rather open [eː] when directly followed by the sound [a], as in ræðast (silent ð) and frægari (silent g)
- [a] in all other cases
- æða (eider): Southern [eːa], Northern Faroese [ɛaːva]
- ætt (family, direction): Southern [ɛtː], Northern Faroese [atː]
It follows "Z" in the Dano-Norwegian alphabet and is followed by "Ø" and finally "Å". All three are vowels.
- /æː/ as in æ (the name of the letter), bær, læring, æra, Ænes, ærlig, tærne, Kværner, Dæhlie, særs, ærfugl, lært, trær ("trees")
- /æ/ as in færre, æsj, nærmere, Færder, Skjærvø, Solskjær, ærverdig, vært, lærd, Bræin (where æi is pronounced as a diphthong /æi/)
- /eː/ as in Sæther, Næser, Sæbø, gælisk, spælsau, bevæpne, sæd, æser, Cæsar, væte, trær ("thread(s)" (verb))
- /e/ as in Sæth, Næss, Brænne, Bækkelund, Vollebæk, væske, trædd
In many western, northern and southwestern Norwegian dialects and in the western Danish dialects of Thy and Southern Jutland, æ has a significant meaning: the first person singular pronoun I. It is thus a normal spoken word and is usually written æ when such dialects are rendered in writing.
In western and southern Jutish dialects of Danish, æ is also the proclitic definite article: æ hus (the house), as opposed to Standard Danish and all other Nordic varieties which have enclitic definite articles (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian: huset, Icelandic, Faroese: húsið (the house)). The dialects are rarely committed to writing, except for some dialect literature.
The equivalent letter in German and Swedish is ä, but it is not located at the same place within the alphabet. In German, it is not a separate letter from "A" but in Swedish, it is the second-last letter (between å and ö).
In the normalised spelling of Middle High German, æ represents a long vowel [ɛː]. The actual spelling in the manuscripts varies, however.
Ossetic used the letter æ when it was written using the Latin script from 1923 to 1938. Since then, Ossetian has used a Cyrillic alphabet with an identical-looking letter (Ӕ and ӕ). It is pronounced as a mid-central vowel (schwa).
South American languages
International Phonetic Alphabet
The symbol [æ] is also used in the International Phonetic Alphabet to denote a near-open front unrounded vowel like in the word cat in many dialects of Modern English, which is the sound that was most likely represented by the Old English letter. In the IPA, it is always in lowercase.
Uralic Phonetic Alphabet
- U+1D01 ᴁ LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL AE
- U+1D02 ᴂ LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED AE
- U+1D2D ᴭ MODIFIER LETTER CAPITAL AE
- U+1D46 ᵆ MODIFIER LETTER SMALL TURNED AE
Computer encodings and entering
- When using the Latin-1 or Unicode/HTML character sets, the code points for Æ and æ are U+00C6 Æ LATIN CAPITAL LETTER AE (HTML
Æ) and U+00E6 æ LATIN SMALL LETTER AE (HTML
- The characters can be entered by holding the Alt key while typing in 0198 (upper case) or 0230 (lower case) on the number pad on Windows systems (the Alt key and 145 for æ or 146 for Æ may also work from the legacy IBM437 codepage).
- In the TeX typesetting system, ӕ is produced by \ae.
- In Microsoft Word, Æ and æ can be written using the key combination CTRL + ⇧ Shift + & + A or a.
- On US-International keyboards, Æ is accessible with the combination of AltGr+z.
- In X, AltGr+A is often mapped to æ/Æ, or a Compose key sequence Compose + a + e can be used. For more information, see Unicode input.
- In all versions of the Mac OS (Systems 1 through 7, Mac OS 8 and 9, and the current OS X), the following key combinations are used: æ: Option + ' (apostrophe key), Æ: Option + Shift + '.
- On the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, as well as phones running Google's Android OS or Windows Mobile OS and on the Kindle Touch and Paperwhite, æ and Æ are accessed by holding down "A" until a small menu is displayed.
- The Icelandic keyboard layout has a separate key for Æ (and Ð, Þ and Ö).
- The Norwegian keyboard layout also has a separate key for Æ, rightmost of the letters, to the right of Ø and below Å.
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER AE||LATIN SMALL LETTER AE||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER AE WITH MACRON||LATIN SMALL LETTER AE WITH MACRON||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER AE WITH ACUTE||LATIN SMALL LETTER AE WITH ACUTE|
|UTF-8||195 134||C3 86||195 166||C3 A6||199 162||C7 A2||199 163||C7 A3||199 188||C7 BC||199 189||C7 BD|
|Numeric character reference||Æ||Æ||æ||æ||Ǣ||Ǣ||ǣ||ǣ||Ǽ||Ǽ||ǽ||ǽ|
|Named character reference||Æ||æ|
- Æ (Cyrillic)
- ae (digraph)
- E caudata
- Near-open front unrounded vowel (represented by æ in the IPA)
- Ansuz rune
- List of words that may be spelled with a ligature
- Harrison, James A.; Baskervill, W. M., eds. (1885). "æsc". A Handy Anglo-Saxon Dictionary: Based on Groschopp's Grein. A. S. Barnes. p. 11.
- James Morwood (1999). Latin Grammar, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-860199-9, p. 3
- The spelling medieval is given priority in both Oxford and Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Accessed September 22, 2014.
- Merriam-Webster Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Accessed September 22, 2014.
- Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF).
- Robert Bringhurst (2002). The Elements of Typographic Style, page 271. Vancouver, Hartley & Marks. ISBN 0-88179-205-5
|Look up Category:English terms spelled with Æ in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|