Letter (alphabet)

Ancient Greek letters on a vase

A letter is a segmental symbol of a phonemic writing system. The inventory of all letters forms an alphabet. Letters broadly correspond to phonemes in the spoken form of the language, although there is rarely a consistent and exact correspondence between letters and phonemes.[1]

The word letter, borrowed from Old French letre, entered Middle English around 1200 AD, eventually displacing the Old English term bōcstæf (bookstaff). Letter is descended from the Latin littera, which may have descended from the Greek "διφθέρα" (diphthera, writing tablet), via Etruscan.[2]

  1. ^ Rogers 2005, p. 13-14.
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Origin and meaning of letter". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2017-11-03.

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