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")[1] after the Anglo-Saxon futhorc rune ( Runic letter ansuz.svg ) which it transliterated; its traditional name in English is still ash /æʃ/. 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.

Æ alone and in context
Air Melanesiae De Havilland Australia DHA-3 Drover Mk3 BWU Wheatley-2
Vanuatu's domestic airline operated under the name Air Melanesiæ in the 1970s.
Latin alphabet Ææ
Æ in Helvetica and Bodoni
Glyphs Æ and æ in Doulos SIL


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.[2] 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 greatly popularized in Serge Gainsbourg's song Elaeudanla Téïtéïa (i.e. "L, A, E dans l'A, T, I, T, I, A"), which is the spelling in French of the name Lætitia.


Aelggyva Edwige
The name Ælfgyva, on the Bayeux Tapestry.

In English, usage of the ligature varies in different places. In modern typography, if technological limitations make the use of æ difficult (such as in use of typewriters, first telegraphs, or ASCII), the digraph ae is often used instead.

In the United States, the problem 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,[3] but archaeology is preferred over archeology, even in the US.[4]

Given their long history, ligatures are sometimes used to invoke archaism or in literal quotations of historic sources; for instance, words such as dæmon or æther are often treated so.

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 Old Norse, æ represents the long vowel /ɛː/. The short version of the same vowel, /ɛ/, if it is distinguished from /e/, is written as ę.

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

One of its etymological origins is Old Norse é (the other is Old Norse æ), which is particularly evident in the dialects of Suðuroy, where Æ is [eː] or [ɛ]:

  • æða (eider): Southern [eːa], Northern Faroese [ɛaːva]
  • ætt (family, direction): Southern [ɛtː], Northern Faroese [atː]

In Icelandic, æ represents the diphthong [ai].

It follows "Z" in the Dano-Norwegian alphabet and is followed by "Ø" and finally "Å". All three are vowels.

In Danish and Norwegian, æ is a separate letter of the alphabet that represents a monophthong. In Norwegian, there are four ways of pronouncing the letter:

  • /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
West of the red line, classic Danish dialects use æ as the definite article.

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.


Oseta latina skribo
Ossetic Latin script; part of a page from a book published in 1935

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

The letter æ is used in the official orthography of Kawésqar spoken in Chile and also in that of the Fuegian language Yaghan.

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

The Uralic Phonetic Alphabet (UPA) uses several additional æ-related symbols:[5]


Computer encodings and entering

Illuminated keyboard 2
Danish keyboard with keys for Æ, Ø and Å.
On Norwegian keyboards the Æ and Ø trade places.
Left side of modern US-International keyboard
The Æ character (among others, including Å and ø) is accessible using AltGr+z on a US-International keyboard
  • 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 · Æ) and U+00E6 æ LATIN SMALL LETTER AE (HTML æ · æ), respectively.
  • 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.
Character Æ æ Ǣ ǣ Ǽ ǽ
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 198 U+00C6 230 U+00E6 482 U+01E2 483 U+01E3 508 U+01FC 509 U+01FD
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


The Latin letters are frequently used in place of the Cyrillic Ӕ and ӕ in Cyrillic texts (such as on Ossetian sites on the Internet).

See also


  1. ^ Harrison, James A.; Baskervill, W. M., eds. (1885). "æsc". A Handy Anglo-Saxon Dictionary: Based on Groschopp's Grein. A. S. Barnes. p. 11.
  2. ^ James Morwood (1999). Latin Grammar, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-860199-9, p. 3
  3. ^ The spelling medieval is given priority in both Oxford and Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Accessed September 22, 2014.
  4. ^ Merriam-Webster Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Accessed September 22, 2014.
  5. ^ Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF).
/æ/ raising

In the sociolinguistics of the English language, /æ/ raising or short-a raising is a phenomenon in most American and many Canadian English accents, by which the "short a" vowel (listen), the North American TRAP/BATH vowel (found in such words as ash, bath, man, lamp, pal, rag, sack, trap, etc.), is pronounced with a raising of the tongue. Many forms of /æ/ raising are specifically /æ/ tensing: occurring only in certain words or environments, with a combination of greater raising, lengthening, and gliding than in other environments. The realization of this "tense" (as opposed to "lax") /æ/ varies from [æ̝ˑ] to [ɛə] to [eə] to [ɪə], and is greatly dependent on the speaker's particular dialect. A common realization is [eə] (listen), a transcription that will be used throughout this article to represent the tensed vowel. The most common context for tensing /æ/ throughout North American English, regardless of dialect, is when this vowel appears before a nasal consonant (thus, for example, commonly in fan, but rarely in fat).Variable raising of /æ/ and /æɔ/ (the MOUTH vowel transcribed with ⟨aʊ⟩ in General American) before nasal consonants occurs in Australian English.For the purposes of the chart below, [eə] represents a very tense vowel, [ɛə] a somewhat tense (or intermediate) vowel, and [æ] a non-tense (or lax) vowel, and the symbol "~" represents a continuous system in which the vowel may variably waver between two pronunciations.

Ae (Cyrillic)

Ae (Ӕ ӕ; italics: Ӕ ӕ) is a letter of the Cyrillic script, used exclusively in the Ossetian language to represent the mid central vowel /ə/. Its ISO 9 transliteration is ⟨æ⟩ but some transliteration schemes may render it as ⟨ä⟩.

American English

American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States.English is the most widely spoken language in the United States and is the common language used by the federal government, to the extent that all laws and compulsory education are practiced in English. Although not an officially established language of the whole country, English is considered the de facto language and is given official status by 32 of the 50 state governments. As an example, while both Spanish and English have equivalent status in the local courts of Puerto Rico, under federal law, English is the official language for any matters being referred to the United States district court for the territory.The use of English in the United States is a result of English and British colonization of the Americas. The first wave of English-speaking settlers arrived in North America during the 17th century, followed by further migrations in the 18th and 19th centuries. Since then, American English has developed into new dialects, in some cases under the influence of West African and Native American languages, German, Dutch, Irish, Spanish, and other languages of successive waves of immigrants to the United States.

American English varieties form a linguistic continuum of dialects more similar to each other than to English dialects of other countries, including some common pronunciations and other features found nationwide. Any North American English accent perceived as free of noticeably local, ethnic, or cultural markers is popularly called "General" or "Standard" American, a fairly uniform standard of broadcast mass media and the highly educated. Otherwise, according to Labov, with the major exception of Southern American English, regional accents throughout the country are not yielding to this standard, and historical and present linguistic evidence does not support the notion of there being one single "mainstream" American accent. On the contrary, the sound of American English continues to evolve, with some local accents disappearing, but several larger regional accents emerging.

Baltimore accent

The Baltimore accent, also known as Baltimorese (sometimes pseudo-phonetically written Bawlmerese, Ballimorese, etc.), commonly refers to the accent and dialect that originated among blue-collar residents of South and Southeast Baltimore, Maryland: a sub-variety of Mid-Atlantic American English, as is nearby Philadelphia English.At the same time, there is considerable linguistic diversity within Baltimore, which complicates the notion of a singular "Baltimore accent". According to linguists, the accent and dialect of African American Baltimoreans are different from the "hon" variety that is popularized in the media as being spoken by white blue-collar Baltimoreans. White working-class families who migrated out of Baltimore city along the Maryland Route 140 and Maryland Route 26 corridors brought local pronunciations with them, creating colloquialisms that make up the Baltimore accent.

Boston accent

A Boston accent is a local accent of Eastern New England English native specifically to the city of Boston and its suburbs. Eastern New England English also traditionally includes New Hampshire, Maine, all of eastern Massachusetts, and arguably Rhode Island, though some uniquely local vocabulary appears only around Boston. Some of the characteristics of traditional Boston accents may be retreating, particularly among younger residents. However, linguist William Labov claims that, in the twenty-first century, there remains a relatively stable Boston accent.

Code page 863

Code page 863 (also known as CP 863, IBM 00863, OEM 863, MS-DOS French Canada) is a code page used under DOS to write French language (mainly in Quebec) although it lacks the letters Æ, æ, Œ, œ, Ÿ and ÿ.

Encyclopedia Dramatica

Encyclopedia Dramatica (often abbreviated ED and æ) is a wiki website launched on December 10, 2004, that uses MediaWiki software to lampoon encyclopedia topics and current events, especially those related or relevant to contemporary Internet culture. It often serves as a repository of information and a means of discussion for the internet subculture known as Anonymous. This NSFW Internet site celebrates a subversive "trolling culture", and documents Internet memes, culture, and events, such as mass organized pranks, trolling events, "raids", large-scale failures of Internet security, and criticism of Internet communities which are accused of self-censorship in order to garner prestige or positive coverage from traditional and established media outlets.

Journalist Julian Dibbell described Encyclopædia Dramatica as the site "where the vast parallel universe of Anonymous in-jokes, catchphrases, and obsessions is lovingly annotated, and you will discover an elaborate trolling culture: Flamingly racist, homophobic and misogynist content lurks throughout, all of it calculated to offend." The site is known for its clickbait advertisements all around it, in addition to having no rules. Ninemsn described Encyclopædia Dramatica as:

Wikipedia's evil twin. It's a site where almost every article is biased, offensive, unsourced, and without the faintest trace of political correctness. A search through its archives will reveal animated images of people committing suicide, articles glorifying extreme racism and sexism, and a seemingly endless supply of twisted, shocking views on just about every major human tragedy in history.

On April 14, 2011, the original URL of the site was redirected to a new website named "Oh Internet" that bore little resemblance to Encyclopedia Dramatica. Parts of the ED community harshly criticized the changes. On the night of the Encyclopedia Dramatica shutdown, regular ED visitors bombarded the 'Oh Internet' Facebook wall with hate messages. The Web Ecology Project made a downloadable archive of former Encyclopedia Dramatica content. Fan-made torrents and several mirrors of the original site were subsequently generated, before the wiki located at encyclopediadramatica.rs (formerly encyclopediadramatica.ch, encyclopediadramatica.es, and encyclopediadramatica.se) emerged as the only one still active.

General American

General American (abbreviated as GA or GenAm) is the umbrella variety of American English—the continuum of accents—spoken by a majority of Americans and popularly perceived, among Americans, as lacking any distinctly regional, ethnic, or socioeconomic characteristics. Americans with high education, or from the North Midland, Western New England, and Western regions of the country, are the most likely to be perceived as having "General American" accents. The precise definition and usefulness of the term continues to be debated, and the scholars who use it today admittedly do so as a convenient basis for comparison rather than for exactness. Some scholars, despite controversy, prefer the term Standard American English.Standard Canadian English is sometimes considered to fall under the phonological spectrum of General American, especially rather than the United Kingdom's Received Pronunciation; in fact, spoken Canadian English aligns with General American in nearly every situation where British and American English differ.

International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects

This chart shows the most common applications of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to represent English language pronunciations.

See Pronunciation respelling for English for phonetic transcriptions used in different dictionaries.

AuE, Australian English

CaE, Canadian English

GA, General American

InE, Indian English

IrE, Irish English

NZE, New Zealand English

RP, Received Pronunciation (Standard in the United Kingdom)

ScE, Scottish English

SAE, South African English

SSE, Standard Singapore English

WaE, Welsh English

Mid-Atlantic American English

Mid-Atlantic American English, Middle Atlantic American English, or Delaware Valley English is a class of American English, considered by The Atlas of North American English to be a single dialect, spoken in the southern Mid-Atlantic states of the United States (i.e. the Delaware Valley, southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland).

The dialect consists mainly of the widely studied subsets known as Philadelphia English and Baltimore English.

This dialect of English centers most strongly around Philadelphia and Reading, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; Baltimore, Maryland; and Atlantic City and Trenton, New Jersey.


Mojibake (文字化け; IPA: [mod͡ʑibake]) is the garbled text that is the result of text being decoded using an unintended character encoding. The result is a systematic replacement of symbols with completely unrelated ones, often from a different writing system.

This display may include the generic replacement character ("�") in places where the binary representation is considered invalid. A replacement can also involve multiple consecutive symbols, as viewed in one encoding, when the same binary code constitutes one symbol in the other encoding. This is either because of differing constant length encoding (as in Asian 16-bit encodings vs European 8-bit encodings), or the use of variable length encodings (notably UTF-8 and UTF-16).

Failed rendering of glyphs due to either missing fonts or missing glyphs in a font is a different issue that is not to be confused with mojibake. Symptoms of this failed rendering include blocks with the code point displayed in hexadecimal or using the generic replacement character ("�"). Importantly, these replacements are valid and are the result of correct error handling by the software.

Near-open front unrounded vowel

The near-open front unrounded vowel, or near-low front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically it is simply an open or low front unrounded vowel. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨æ⟩, a lowercase of the ⟨Æ⟩ ligature. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as "ash".

The rounded counterpart of [æ], the near-open front rounded vowel (for which the IPA provides no separate symbol) has been reported to occur allophonically in Danish; see open front rounded vowel for more information.

In practice, ⟨æ⟩ is sometimes used to represent the open front unrounded vowel; see the introduction to that page for more information.

Norwegian orthography

Norwegian orthography is the method of writing the Norwegian language, of which there are two written standards: Bokmål and Nynorsk. While Bokmål has for the most part derived its forms from the written Danish language or the common Danish-Norwegian speech, Nynorsk gets its orthographical standards from Aasen's reconstructed "base dialect", which are intended to represent the distinctive dialectical forms. Both standards use a 29-letter variant of the Latin alphabet.

Old Norse orthography

The orthography of the Old Norse language was diverse, being written in both Runic and Latin alphabets, with many spelling conventions, variant letterforms, and unique letters and signs. In modern times, scholars established a standardized spelling for the language. When Old Norse names are used in texts in other languages, modifications to this spelling are often made. In particular, the names of Old Norse mythological figures often have several different spellings.

The appearance of Old Norse in a written runic form first dates back to approximately AD 200–300. While there are remains of Viking runestones from the Viking Age today they are rare, and vary in use of orthography depending on when they were created. Rune stones created near the end of the Viking Age tend to have a greater influence from Old English runes.

An understanding of the writing system of Old Norse is crucial for fully understanding the Old Norse language. Studies of remaining rune stones from the Viking Age reveal many nuances about the spoken language, such as the constant use of alliteration. A comparison of various whetstones from this time period with the works of Snorri Sturluson reveal that alliteration was common in many Old Norse writings, and were not only present in skaldic works. This would then suggest that the Vikings closely tied their language to their auditory sense, which in turn would have helped with the continual transfer of their cultural memory, which was also closely tied to their language.

Pronunciation of English ⟨a⟩

There are a variety of pronunciations in modern English and in historical forms of the language for words spelt with the letter ⟨a⟩. Most of these go back to the low vowel (the "short A") of earlier Middle English, which later developed both long and short forms. The sound of the long vowel was altered in the Great Vowel Shift, but later a new long A (or "broad A") developed which was not subject to the shift. These processes have produced the three main pronunciations of ⟨a⟩ in present-day English: those found in the words trap, face and father. Separate developments have produced additional pronunciations in words like square, wash, talk and comma.

Standard Canadian English

Standard Canadian English is the greatly homogeneous variety of Canadian English spoken particularly all across central and western Canada, as well as throughout Canada among urban middle-class speakers from English-speaking families, excluding the regional dialects of Atlantic Canadian English. English mostly has a uniform phonology and very little diversity of dialects in Canada compared with the neighbouring English of the United States. The Standard Canadian English dialect region is defined by the cot–caught merger to [ɑ] (listen)~[ɒ] (listen) and an accompanying chain shift of vowel sounds, called the Canadian Shift. A subset of this dialect geographically at its central core, excluding British Columbia to the west and everything east of Montreal, has been called Inland Canadian English, and is further defined by both of the phenomena known as "Canadian raising", the production of /oʊ/ and /aʊ/ with back starting points in the mouth, and the production of /eɪ/ with a front starting point and very little glide (almost [e]).

Unicode subscripts and superscripts

Unicode has subscripted and superscripted versions of a number of characters including a full set of Arabic numerals. These characters allow any polynomial, chemical and certain other equations to be represented in plain text without using any form of markup like HTML or TeX.

The World Wide Web Consortium and the Unicode Consortium have made recommendations on the choice between using markup and using superscript and subscript characters: "When used in mathematical context (MathML) it is recommended to consistently use style markup for superscripts and subscripts.... However, when super and sub-scripts are to reflect semantic distinctions, it is easier to work with these meanings encoded in text rather than markup, for example, in phonetic or phonemic transcription."


Ä (lower case ä) is a character that represents either a letter from several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter A with an umlaut mark or diaeresis.

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