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Old English Letters

Queen Elizabeth Ist

"Queen Elizabeth Ist"

Elizabethan Alphabet - Old English Letters


The Elizabethan alphabet contained just 24 old English letters as opposed to the 26 letters used in the modern English alphabet. The following table contains pictures of the 26 letters of the modern English alphabet depicted in an ornate style typical of those used with old English letters.

Interesting Facts and Information about Elizabethan Life and Old English Letters
Ever wondered why the old English letters in Elizabethan manuscripts look different to the way they are written in modern English? Ever wondered why English words were spelt differently in the Elizabethan language? Ever wondered why old English letters were written differently in the Elizabethan era? The following interesting facts and information provides answers to these perplexing questions.

  • The old Elizabethan alphabet contained only 24 letters, as opposed to the modern English alphabet which contains 26 letters
  • Having only 24 Old English Letters in the Elizabethan alphabet makes the translation of old documents  quite difficult.
  • The old English letters in the Elizabethan alphabet were also used in a different way.
  • The old English letters "u" and "v"
    • In the Elizabethan alphabet the old English letters "u" and "v" were used as the same letter (interchangeable)
  • The old English letters "i" and "j"
    • In the Elizabethan alphabet the old English letters "i" and "j" were used as the same letter (interchangeable)
  • The old English letters "j" and "i"
    • The "j" was usually used as the capital form of the letter "i" in the Elizabethan alphabet
  • The old English letters "u" and "v"
  • The letter "u" was used only in the middle of a word, and the "v" was used at the beginning.
  • Another letter which resembled a "y" was used to represent the "th" sound
    • The word "the" was therefore written in a similar way as "ye" would in the modern day
  • The written form of Elizabethan Numbers also cause confusion in translation.
  • Numbers were frequently written in lower case Roman numerals, with the last "i" in a number written as a "j". For example - viij March

Elizabethan Old English Letters
The above facts and information about the Old English Letters used during Elizabethan times help to clarify the confusion surrounding the translation of old English documents. The facts explain why the old English letters in Elizabethan manuscripts look different to the way they are written in modern English. They also explain why English words were spelt differently in the Elizabethan language and why old English letters were written differently in the Elizabethan era. The above explanations about old English letters provide valuable information for those wishing to try the translation of an Elizabethan document.

Picture of the Letter APicture of the Letter BPicture of the Letter CPicture of the Letter DPicture of the Letter E
Picture of the Letter FPicture of the Letter GPicture of the Letter HPicture of the Letter IPicture of the Letter J
Picture of the Letter KPicture of the Letter LPicture of the Letter MPicture of the Letter NPicture of the Letter O
Picture of the Letter PPicture of the Letter QPicture of the Letter RPicture of the Letter SPicture of the Letter T
Picture of the Letter UPicture of the Letter VPicture of the Letter WPicture of the Letter XPicture of the Letter Y
  Picture of the Letter Z  

Elizabethan Language Guide - An Elizabethan Online Dictionary
Click the following links to access more information about the old English Elizabethan Language and the Elizabethan Online Dictionary for an easy to follow Elizabethan language guide. The translation and definition of the Elizabethan words and meanings used in the Elizabethan language make the literature of the era, including the works of William Shakespeare much easier to understand.

Elizabethan Language
Elizabethan Insults
Elizabethan Education - Schools and Universities
Elizabethan Dictionary
Elizabethan Era Index

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