In last week’s entry, we looked at handwriting recognition software. If you read the text in the scanned picture, you might have seen I used the ‘&’ symbol instead of ‘and’.

When writing by hand, I do this regularly, barely thinking about it, whereas I would always type out ‘and’ in full. The only time it’s come to my attention is when I’ve been transcribing my notebooks.

Last week, I spotted a video from one of my favourite content producers on YouTube: Tom Scott. He makes short educational films about a range of subjects, from elevators to nuclear waste to computer programming.

This one was about the letters in the English alphabet that have been either merged or separated over the last thousand years. The ‘&’ symbol once came straight after Z in the alphabet, and he explains more below:

Video by Tom Scott about the evolution of the English alphabet.

Oddly enough, I always spell out ‘the’ in full, even although its frequency could justify shortening to ‘th’ or even ‘t’. In 2013, an Australian restaurant owner tried to invent a new symbol for ‘the’, but eight years on, it’s safe to say it hasn’t caught on.

2 thoughts on “&

  1. HelloGa Hello Gavin,

    Hope you get this, I couldn’t find the line above with my screen reader.

    Just loved the info in this post as am fascinated by language. Thanks for the newsletters. Something uplifting in this crazy world.

    Gladys

    Like

    1. Gladys,

      How great to hear from you again. This post makes use of special characters, so that’s no doubt what’s causing problems.

      To be clear, which line did your screen reader have difficulty with? If I can possibly fix it, I’ll do it.

      Like

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