It's time to pull the reins of language a bit so that we might more closely analyze the letters we wrap our lips around daily. Take this cursive letters identification quiz and spend a moment or two appreciating just how far language has evolved. It's a must that we look back to the days of the Phoenicians, Etruscans, Greeks and Romans with this feat. These ancient civilizations set the stage for the jibber jabber we speak and write to this day.
And speaking of time travel, our test considers intricate derivations of the 26 characters in the English alphabet. Analyzing letters that comprise the words we use to analyze things is thrillingly bewildering; it's like the "chicken-or-the-egg" scenario, but of the cerebral sort and similar to answering a question with the same question. But bear with us on this! We promise pleasant payoffs, such as peculiar words that just about any "Scrabble" pro would scramble over and "magical" letters whose sounds repeatedly diminish when in the presence of certain character combinations. You'll learn rules of English language mechanics that aren't always intuitive.
Why are the letters "x" and "z" so darn interchangeable? What the heck were our letter pioneers thinking? Gain morsels of language wisdom with one hefty scroll!
A "logjam" is a large gathering of logs that congest a river. These structures are good for sustaining spawning salmon populations, providing shelter and serving as protective barriers where fish can rest.
"E" is the fifth letter and the second vowel in the modern English alphabet. The letter "e" is also the most commonly used letter in many languages, including English, French, German, Dutch and Spanish.
The letter "n" from the determiner, "an," has been removed in the phrasal case, "an ekename," to become "a nickname." "Ekename" is an archaic term that means "added name" or "additional name." The word was first recorded in 1563 and implied the "additional" meaning.
Silent "d" occurs in "Wednesday" and "handsome." Producer Andrew Lippa features a grown-up Wednesday Addams in a stage adaptation of the TV show and film, "The Addams Family." In the musical, which began in 2009, Wednesday, the princess of gloom, falls in love with clean-cut Lucas Beineke.
Act 2, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's "King Lear" is a quintessential derisive verse and makes good use of the silent "k" in the word, "knave." Oswald asks, "What dost thou know me for?" and Kent replies, "A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats ... worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave ..."
A "fjord" is a narrow waterway locked between high slopes or cliffs. Glaciers are freshwater sources for and transport large amounts of sediments to continental margins and fjords. Glacier fjords are usually positioned at high latitudes and are sensitive to slight changes in climate.
"Y" is derived from the Phoenician "waw" from which the Greeks derived "upsilon" that's formed from "Y" paired with lowercase "u." The Romans then used the "y" form to transliterate "upsilon."
Letter "j" is pronounced like the letter "y" in the word "hallelujah," which is "a word of praise or worship." The Hebrew form of the word, first used in the 1530s, is "hallalu-yah" and is spelled as it is spoken.
"Iota" is the Greek name of the transliterated ninth letter "i" of the English language. In English, the word "iota" means "minuscule portion," and in astronomy, the "Iota" is designated as the ninth star within a star cluster.
"Beta" is the Greek form of "b," the second letter and first consonant of the English alphabet. "Beta testing," or "beta" for short, describes the pilot phase of new software or machine products.
"Celebrate" generates the soft "c" sound, a phenomenon that often occurs when the letter is in close proximity to vowels, especially "e" and "i." In light of vowel influences and letter accents, the letter "c" in Romance languages, like Italian, Spanish and French, has a wide range of sounds.
"Inukshuk" is a structure of a human form built from stones. "Inuksuit" is the plural form of the word. The Inuit people of northern Canada used "inuksuit" primarily as navigational structures and signs that warned of dangers.
"Mu" is the Greek name for "M," which the Phoenicians symbolized as "mem." A "meme" is behavior of a culture that's passed on through generations. Internet "memes" are shared jokes, or they are iterated ideas that serve to mock.
"Pirojki," or "piroshki," is Russian and Ukranian round, puffed, thin pastry. The dish can include fillings, such as potatoes, ground beef or chicken, that are rolled up like egg rolls then baked to a golden flaky texture.
"Sapajou" is a spider monkey that dangles by its tail in the forests of South America. "Sapajou" was also the nickname of "Sapozhnikov" who was a famous political cartoonist in Asia from 1923 to 1941.
"Cachexy" is a medical phenomenon that entails erosion of human body tissue due to chronic illness. It was a common form of death hundreds of years ago, and symptoms include diarrhea, brain inflammation, fever and strep throat, among others.
The Greek "alpha" is transliterated to the letter "a," the first letter and vowel of the English alphabet. The letter also corresponds to the Hebrew "aleph." The English language grade letter "a" means first-rate, and the common determiner "a" specifies a particular person or thing.
"Catacomb" is a word with an example of the silent letter "b." The Catacomb of Anubis is an underground tomb located in Egypt's North Saqqara region. This catacomb is a symbol of the animal cults that gained prominence during Egypt's Late Period.
The eighth letter of the English alphabet leads the word "hazzan," a synonym for "cantor," which means religious cleric who sings or chants prayer or liturgies in lyric form, usually in an official setting. "Hazzan," or "Hazan," is also a title used in Judaism for one who is charged with the task.
"Muzjiks" is a treasured term among "Scrabble" fans who know the word, since it can score many points and few players are familiar with the expression. "Muzjiks" means "a person of low social status who lives in Russia."
"Delta" is the Greek equivalent to "d," the fourth letter of the English alphabet. "Delta" is code for the letter "d" in radio communication, and in science, it represents a change between two states.
Romans devised the seventh letter of the English alphabet by partially crossing the capital letter "C." "G" in "gym" creates the soft "g" sound, while "g" in "gobble" generates a typical hard "g" sound. Similar soft/hard sound values occur with the letter "c."
The ancient Greeks used "epsilon" when referencing the letter "e" and it is the fifth letter form of that system. "Epsilon" also describes a substance's capacity to store electrical energy in a field, and it is the symbol for this phenomenon in the physical sciences.
"Jay" is the name of the tenth letter of the alphabet. The letter "j" evolved from the letter "i" and is often pronounced with a fricative consonant sound, as with the word "jump." "J" is voiceless in Spanish words.
"F" produces a hard fricative sound linked to "phi," the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet that is transliterated as "ph" in English. Letters "f" and "v" are interchanged frequently in the English language; the plural of "knife" is "knives," for example.
The name of the English letter "h" is represented as "aitch" or "haitch," which is taken from Old French "ache." Linguists have suggested that the symbol for the letter was intended to resemble a gate or a type of barrier.
"Gazanias" are decorative flowers of the daisy family. The flower's assorted colors are reddish-brown, pale magenta, orange, yellow and white. Leaves of the plant are either gray or green.
"Apteryx" is another name for kiwi, which is a flightless bird. The "Apteryx owenii" is the little spotted kiwi which is the smallest kiwi bird whose numbers have been greatly reduced in New Zealand.
"Obelize" is an English verb that means to label with an obelus to indicate that a word or phrase is questionable and probably false. An obelus is a symbol used as a reference marker, and it also specifies that someone is deceased.
"R" and "P" are similar letters in English. The symbol of the Greek equivalent for English "R" is "rho," whose symbol is "P." "R" and "rho" are the 18th and 17th letters of the English and Greek alphabets, respectively. "Rho" is also the name of the seventeenth star in a star cluster.
In ancient languages, the symbols "v" or "uu" (double u's) were used to represent the letter "w." In modern English, "u" and "w" sometimes function in the same way phonetically, as is the case with the homonyms "flower" and "flour."
"Z" is the seventh letter of the Hebrew and Greek alphabets. Greek "zeta" is the transliterated form of the English letter, although the Romans, who relegated the letter to the end of the alphabet, rarely used the "z" form to represent "zeta."
"Sigma," the 18th Greek letter, is the equivalent to "s," the 19th letter of the English alphabet. "Sigma" is also a math symbol that represents a deviation or sum. "Sigma" is a term regularly used to describe scientific phenomenon, as with "sigma orbital" in chemistry or "sigma-t" in physics.
"Tau," the 19th Greek letter, is equivalent to "t," the 20th letter of the English alphabet. In physics, "tau" is a basic subatomic particle of the lepton class that is negatively charged (-1) and has a mass that is approximately 3,480 times heavier than an electron's mass.
"Niqaabs," or "niqabs," are head garments typically worn by Muslim women that cover the face with the eyes exposed. The burka is a one-piece veil garment that covers the face and the entire body. A mesh screen is used to see through the burka.
In aeronautics, vertical takeoff aircraft use a technique called "viffing" to alter direction by changing jet engine thrust. The term specifically means "vectoring in forward flight."
"X" is the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet, the 24th letter of the English alphabet and the plural ending for English nouns that end in the letter "u." "Chi," or "khi," is the name of the Greek letter form. "Chi" or "qi" is the term for circulating energy in Eastern medical philosophy.
"Lambda" is the 11th Greek letter and name for "l," the 12th letter of the English alphabet. The English "l" produces the hard sound, as with "lake" or the silent "l" sound as with "psalm." In Spanish, double "l's" produce English "y" or soft "j" vibrations.
The Greeks derived the "k" form "kappa" from the Phoenician "kap." The 11th letter of the English alphabet manifests the hard "k" sound, as letter "c" often takes on a faint vibration when paired with vowels, especially a combination of "e" and "i" in words like "conceit."
"Netizen" is derived from "citizen" and loosely refers to anyone who uses the internet, especially a frequent user. More specifically, "netizen" is used often to identify users of English-language internet content that is produced by media companies based in China.