Prepare to find out that your most basic concept of reading is a lie! Well, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but the video below details the ten letters that have been dropped from the English alphabet. Do you know when to use a long s rather than a regular s? How about whether to use thorn or eth? You’ll find out these rules, along with how to use ash, ethel, wynn, yogh, and a few others.

Knowing this is seriously going to mess up being able to sing the alphabet song to the same tune as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He serves on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


2 Thoughts on "The 36 Letters of the English Alphabet"

I am surprised we have 26 letters, after all we only have ten fingers and ten toes!

You can see evidence of thorn (“ye” = “the”) and yogh (in Scottish names like Menzies, “correctly” pronounced Mingis, and Dalziel, pronounced “Dee-yell” – both originally spelled with yogh, replaced with “z” with the arrival of printing). David Crystal has some interesting discussion of these lost letters in Spell It Out

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