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A-umlaut.svg

"Ä" and "ä" are both characters which represent either a letter from several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter A with an umlaut mark or diaeresis.

Contents

Usage

Independent letter

The sign at the bus station of the Finnish town Mynämäki, illustrating a variation of the letter Ä.

The letter Ä occurs in the Swedish, Finnish, Estonian, Luxembourgish, Slovak, Turkmen, North Frisian and Saterlandic 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 letter's position in a word, allows for either [æ] and [ɛ]. In Slovak Ä stands for [ɛ] (or a bit archaic but still correct [æ]).

In the Nordic countries, the vowel sound [æ] was originally written as "Æ" when Christianisation caused the former Vikings to replace the Runic alphabet with the Latin alphabet around 1100 AD. The letter Ä arose in Swedish from originally writing the e in ae on top of a, which with time became simplified as two dots. In the Icelandic, Faroese, Danish and Norwegian alphabets, "Æ" is still used instead of Ä.

Finnish later adopted the Swedish alphabet during the 500 years that Finland was part of Sweden. Although the phenomenon of Germanic umlaut does not exist in Finnish, the phoneme [æ] does. Estonian similarly gained the letter via Germanic influence.

Cyrillic

Ä is used in some alphabets invented in the 19th century which are based on the Cyrillic alphabet. These include Mari, Altay and the Keräşen Tatar alphabet.

A-umlaut

A similar glyph, A with umlaut, appears in the German alphabet, although it is not regarded as a separate letter. It represents the umlauted form of a, resulting in [æ] or [ɛ]. However, it is called "Ä", not "A Umlaut". With respect to diphthongs, Ä behaves as an E, e.g. Bäume /boimə/ (Engl.: trees). In German dictionaries, the letter is collated together with A, while in German phonebooks the letter is collated as AE. The letter also occurs in some languages which have adopted German names or spellings, but is not a part of these languages' alphabets.

In other languages that do not have the letter as part of the regular alphabet or in limited character sets such as US-ASCII, A-umlaut is frequently replaced with the two-letter combination "ae".

Phonetic alphabets

Typography

Johann Martin Schleyer proposed an alternate form for Ä in Volapük but it was rarely used. Its uppercase form resembled a Cyrillic ya.

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 handwritings. In most later handwritings these bars in turn nearly became dots.

Æ, a highly similar ligature evolving from the same origin as Ä, 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 Ä) 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. While Unicode theoretically provides a solution, this is almost never used.

Ä 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 Ä officially instead of schwa.

The HTML entity for Ä is Ä or Ä. For ä, it is ä or ä (mnemonic for "A umlaut").

The Unicode code point for ä is U+00E4. Ä is U+00C4. The Windows-1252 code for ä is 228, for Ä 196.

External links

The Basic modern Latin alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz
Letter A with diacritics
Letters using umlaut or diaeresis sign

history palaeography derivations diacritics punctuation numerals Unicode list of letters ISO/IEC 646


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Translingual

The Latin script
Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz
Variations of letter A
Letters using umlaut or diaresis sign

Ää Ǟǟ Ëë Ḧḧ Ïï N̈n̈ Öö T̈ẗ Üü Ẅẅ Ẍẍ Ÿÿ

Letter

Ä upper case (lower case ä)

  1. The letter A with a diaresis.

Simple English

This page is about the first letter in the alphabet.
For the indefinite article, see Article (grammar).
For other uses of A, see A (disambiguation)
The Latin alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd
Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj
Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp
Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv
Ww Xx Yy Zz

A is the first letter of the English alphabet. a is a usual symbol for a low central vowel, as in "father"; the English long a (ā) is pronounced as a diphthong of ĕ and y. The corresponding letter of the Greek alphabet is named alpha. Alpha and omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, symbolize the beginning and the end. In musical notation the letter A is the symbol of a note in the scale, below B and above G.

  • A is the letter that was formerly used to represent a team in an old TV show, The A Team.
Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:








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