>> Tuesday, December 13, 2011
the ampersand has to be my favorite symbol in the typographical realm. being a little bit obsessed with typography and fonts, it appeals to me on many levels. it's dreamy curves are formed from the latin word "et" (meaning 'and', of course) - the "e" and the "t" are blended together to make the symbol. apparently, it has been used since the 1st century AD, & is also referred to as a "ligature". (hmmm. kind of kinky.)
wikipedia states - "Traditionally, in English-speaking schools when reciting the alphabet, any letter that could also be used as a word in itself ("A", "I", and, at one point, "O") was preceded by the Latin expression per se (Latin for "by itself"). Also, it was common practice to add at the end of the alphabet the "&" sign as the 27th letter, pronounced and. Thus, the recitation of the alphabet would end in: "X, Y, Z and per se and". This last phrase was routinely slurred to "ampersand" and the term crept into common English usage by around 1837. Through popular etymology, it has been claimed that André-Marie Ampère used the symbol in his widely read publications, and that people began calling the new shape "Ampère's and".
so that would make the 'ampersand' the only letter of the alphabet that is still used widely today. mhm. how's THAT for your trivia question of the day?
nowadays, it is used widely in formal names of companies, as well as when referring to proper names, like on wedding invitations. it is also incorporated in computing formal logic, C++, Perl, Fortran, HTML, XML, SGML and BASIC. geeky and romantic. i have to admit that when i was rethinking my etsy shop name, i was tempted to use a phrase that would require the inclusion of the ampersand. because it is THAT cool.
it's funny because in most handwritten communications, i use the 'ampersand' quite often because it is cool to write and looks fabulous in ink on paper. i wonder if i could make one out of wire...
(this blog post brought to you by wikipedia, these lovely etsy picks, and the letter "&".)