ⓘ Ä


ⓘ A

A is a character that represents either a letter from several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter A with an umlaut mark or diaeresis.


1.1. Usage Independent letter

The letter A occurs as an independent letter in the Finnish, Swedish, Skolt Sami, Karelian, Estonian, Luxembourgish, North Frisian, Saterlandic, Emiliano-Romagnolo, Rotuman, Slovak, Tatar, Gagauz, and Turkmen alphabets, where it represents a vowel sound. In Finnish and Turkmen this is always /æ/ ; in Swedish and Estonian, regional variation, as well as the letters position in a word, allows for either.


1.2. Usage Typography

Historically A-diaeresis was written as an A with two dots above the letter. A-umlaut was written as an A with a small e written above: this minute e degenerated to two vertical bars in medieval handwriting A̎ a̎. In most later handwritings these bars in turn nearly became dots.

Æ, a highly similar ligature evolving from the same origin as A, evolved in the Icelandic, Danish and Norwegian alphabets. The Æ ligature was also common in Old English, but had largely disappeared in Middle English.

In modern typography there was insufficient space on typewriters and later computer keyboards to allow for both A-diaeresis also representing A and A-umlaut. Since they looked near-identical the two glyphs were combined, which was also done in computer character encodings such as ISO 8859-1. As a result there was no way to differentiate between the different characters. Unicode theoretically provides a solution, but recommends it only for highly specialized applications.

A is also used to represent the ə the schwa sign in situations where the glyph is unavailable, as used in the Tatar and Azeri languages. Turkmen started to use A officially instead of the schwa from 1993 onwards.