Dictionary.com

Why are some letters tied together?

It is hard to remember that fonts originated in handwriting, but occasionally reminders, like ligatures, pop up. “Ligature” literally means to bind or tie up, so when two letters are tied together in script, it is called a ligature. Medieval scribes combined letters that shared some part, so they could write faster and conserve space on the page. For example, rather than write fi, they combined the tittle in the i with the end in the f to make the symbol at left. Other common ligatures combine vowels that make one sound like æ. When printing began in the mid 1400s, typesetters continued to use joined letter forms to mimic the look of manuscripts. (Heard of the thorn? Learn more about other glyphs that fell out of use with moveable type here.)

In the early 1900s, when typewriters became fixtures in the modern office, common ligatures were not included on the keyboards. To save space, typewriters included the alphabet, numbers, basic punctuation, and few additional keys. When san-serifed fonts (like Helvetica and Arial) became common in the mid-1900s, ligatures fell even further out of fashion.

Some fonts continue to include ligatures. which can be found in the Special Characters section of programs like Microsoft Word. Today, ligatures are sometimes encountered in books because desktop publishing software, like Adobe InDesign, include ligatures as an automatic option in typesetting. More often, ligatures are used in brand names. For example, when a brand name like Encyclopædia Brittanica includes a ligature, it is technically misspelled if one does not include the special letter form. Want to learn about other symbols that have fallen out of use? Read about the ampersand here.

How often do you see ligatures? Do you think we should use them today?

Ford Focus RS driver Matthew Wilson of Britain and co driver…

Getty Images May 6, 2010 | BRENDON O’HAGAN

Getty Images 05-06-2010 Ford Focus RS driver Matthew Wilson of Britain and co driver… in our site ford focus rs

Full Size JPG (1555 KB) Ford Focus RS driver Matthew Wilson of Britain and co driver Scott Martin drive during day 1 of the rally of New Zealand in Auckland on May 7, 2010. Rally of New Zealand gets underway with Finnish driver Mikko Hirvonen hoping to close the gap on defending world champion Sebastien Loeb, who has won the last three lega of the championship. AFP PHOTO/Brendon O’HAGAN (Photo credit should read BRENDON O’HAGAN/AFP/Getty Images) here ford focus rs

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163 Comments

  1. Ironic Twist -  March 6, 2012 - 8:03 pm

    To me, it seems like cursive. Think about it. All the letters are connected in the word. Only a style of writing.

    Reply
  2. Adam -  October 17, 2011 - 7:52 pm

    I try to employ ligatures in my writing whenever possible. I also use long s’s!

    Reply
  3. Liyana -  October 11, 2011 - 8:15 am

    Wow. ligatures are just coooolllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  4. tomsboat -  October 9, 2011 - 8:04 pm

    I like ligatures as they look beautiful

    Reply
  5. sherryyu -  October 4, 2011 - 12:59 pm

    that just so cool :)

    Reply
  6. my new name is Adam -  October 4, 2011 - 5:45 am

    I use a ligature to hold the reed against the mouthpiece of my saxophone (google it and you’ll see a picture). Had no idea it had any other meaning.

    Reply
  7. coldbear -  October 3, 2011 - 10:49 am

    Glad to know where they came from, why they were used and why we don’t used them anymore.

    But moreso, I’m glad they’re gone!

    Reply
  8. TETO -  October 3, 2011 - 10:27 am

    As time passes there is more and more we are REQUIRED to know. Although it may be fun to add a little something else to add spice. I opt out when it comes to more clutter in my cranium.

    Reply
  9. ONICA -  October 3, 2011 - 9:57 am

    ITS GOOD TO KNOW LIGATURE IS STILL USED WISH THT WUD BE THOUGHT IN SCHOOLS IN SOUTH-AFRICA . . .

    Reply
  10. Hunts -  October 3, 2011 - 7:35 am

    Me gustan ligatures. Me gusta mucho.

    Reply
  11. mistydwaters -  October 3, 2011 - 7:33 am

    I watched a movie once that had a building that had Health on the side with the a and e like that. It wall called “supersize me!”

    Reply
  12. ryan -  October 3, 2011 - 7:08 am

    Aldous Huxley used to use ligatures in alot of his books i had no idea about what they were or why they were even used at all. is it really just to save space or does it change the sound of the pernunsiation.

    Reply
  13. Bee -  October 3, 2011 - 7:00 am

    Ligatures were used by James Pitman (inventor of the shorthand alphabet) when he created the Initial Teaching Alphabet. I.T.A.
    Th,sh,ee,oo,ae,ie,ue,oe,wh,ch were all joined and provided children with a fail safe consistent sound. Children learned to read quickly and with confidence and made the transition to ‘to’- Traditional Orthodox, without problems . Achieving almost immediately a reading age of 7+. not only were they confident readers but confident in writing as well – not being afraid of ‘being wrong’ .
    Spelling became fun once they needed to write in T O, because the children had an interest in print.
    It stopped being in use because of lack of funding , ie not enough books being printed for schools, poor information being given to parents and new teachers etc.
    Cover the bottom half of a line of unfamiliar print and you will still be able to read it. We skim print once we have learned to read – using phonics to decode. Bring back ligatures to help children learn to read more quickly !

    Reply
  14. TheMadHatter -  October 3, 2011 - 4:41 am

    Sorry – but I disagree with the some of the explanation. Standard ligatures (fi ff fl ffl ffi) were NOT used by early printers to mimic handwriting at all.

    Each letter (character) was cast on its own piece of metal. The top loop of the f overhung its metal base (the overhang is called a “kern”) so that it could slightly overlap characters without ascending strokes. However, since these letters couldn’t smoothly but up against letters that did have ascending strokes, ligatures were cast to allow two or three affected letters to occupy one piece of metal.

    Also, a ligature that combines two vowels isn’t called a ligature at all – its called a dipthong.

    Information courtesy of my City and Guilds 518 Craft Certificate in Printing (Origination) the course work for which included hot metal composition.

    I might not know much – but I DO know my trade

    Reply
  15. Andrew -  October 3, 2011 - 4:26 am

    I agree with Rustgold. Thanks, Rustgold! :) Oh, yes, I made a mistake. I meant 143 comments in 3 days.

    Reply
  16. Andrew -  October 3, 2011 - 4:23 am

    Woah! 103 comments (probably more now) in just 3 days? I have never seen an article with so many comments before! In my opinion, we should not get rid of these because they tell a history and are not useless at all, especially in other languages.

    Reply
  17. ockraz -  October 3, 2011 - 12:49 am

    I’d argue that it’s like using roman numerals. It would be stupid to use them for your postal code, but it’s fine for something like the title of a movie sequel. For those of you who object to the notion that ‘Encyclopædia Brittanica’ needs a ligature to be technically correct, I’d point out that the technically accurate names for some well known movies are…

    -Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
    -Saw II
    -Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
    -Friday the 13th Part III
    -Rambo: First Blood Part II
    -Rocky II
    -Alien³

    If being accurate means using “II” instead of “2″ or “III” & “³” instead of “3″, then what’s the big deal about using “æ” instead of “ae”?

    Reply
  18. Jacqueline -  October 2, 2011 - 10:16 pm

    Ligatures are neat, I have often wonder what was going on when I saw the letters tied like that. I thought maybe it was a typo lol.
    The ampersand is a favorite of mine & I used it often. I may not be using it the correct way, but it saves space.

    Reply
  19. awsome dude -  October 2, 2011 - 9:40 pm

    the ligature is awsome but its a stupid idea to do it and how do you do ligature on your key board

    Reply
  20. Daniel -  October 2, 2011 - 5:30 pm

    Æ/æ (capital and non-capital) is mostly used in Norway as one of 9 vocals. (A, E, I, O, U, Y, Æ, Ø, Å)
    Here in Norway, we have a dialect called “Trøndersk”, and they usually have an exaggerated use of the letter Æ/æ.
    Not only in regular words, but they also use æ as “I”.
    I, can gladly mention I am a “Trønder”, so this is a certain source of information.

    Example:
    Trøndersk: Æ e itj.
    Riksmål/Common Norwegian: Jeg er ikke.
    English: I am not.

    All three sentences having the exact same meaning, the two Norwegian ones look quite different. These are obviously unfinished sentences, but good to use as an example.

    Æ = Jeg = I

    This is just a “trivial” fact, so not of great importance, as you probably won’t be learning or distinguishing dialects right away if you are learning Norwegian.

    Reply
  21. Rustgold -  October 2, 2011 - 4:40 pm

    Comments seem to vary depending on what language you were brought up on. Before marking something as stupid, people should remember that not all languages are the same.

    Reply
  22. Danny Hulliung -  October 2, 2011 - 4:11 pm

    One thing popped into my mind, which was the use of æ in The Golden Compass, particularly the word dæmon.

    Reply
  23. J Tellez -  October 2, 2011 - 3:16 pm

    i think this type of writing is cool! it has its own feel, great style of writing. i write like this in notes, but i didn’t know this was an actual thing! i’m gonna star writing like this more often!

    Reply
  24. Chris -  October 2, 2011 - 3:09 pm

    I think that ligatures are great for showing that two letters are in fact one sound, phonemically. That being said I also believe that it would be overly cumbersome to start using them again just to preserve letters/writing styles that have fallen by the wayside on account of their lack of utility in modern society.

    Showing that two letters are one phoneme is hardly a substantive reason. I would like to see ‘ash’/æ being used for it’s original purpose, to distinguish one phoneme from another. It was a letter fashioned by Christian Irish monks who acted as scribes for the English. This aided them in spreading Christianity, around the 6th or 7th century A.D.

    It represented the vowel like the one in words like ‘that’ or ‘shack’. We should save ‘a’ for ‘ah’ like in ‘father’ and change ‘that’ > ‘that’ and ‘shack’ to ‘shæck’. That would be far more useful in making English an even more dominant language in the world by working toward a regularization and standardization of spelling.

    Reply
  25. yayRayShell -  October 2, 2011 - 2:40 pm

    Ligature is legit man!

    Reply
  26. Anonymous -  October 2, 2011 - 2:30 pm

    i think their kind of cool n i use them alot when writing nn i neva even new!

    Reply
  27. Leah -  October 2, 2011 - 2:28 pm

    In norway, we use Æ. (And øå)

    Like: Hva slags væske er det?
    :D

    Reply
  28. hOWDY -  October 2, 2011 - 1:48 pm

    I LOvE LIgurATUReS!!!!

    Reply
  29. Jim -  October 2, 2011 - 1:44 pm

    Like George Michael’s logo for Aegean.

    Reply
  30. åßç∂∑ƒ…¥Ω -  October 2, 2011 - 1:40 pm

    Every symbol was made for a reason. I say keep them. Why make them in the first place if you’re going to get rid of them?

    Reply
  31. funnybunny -  October 2, 2011 - 12:45 pm

    I always wodered what the heck those things were! Now i know they have a name and everything. Thats so AWESOME! We should totally keep them around for the generations to come! Thanks Dictionary.com!

    Reply
  32. WamKu -  October 2, 2011 - 12:40 pm

    I think that this is another explanation of saying how technology and advancement in the years is ruining the culture and our past.

    Reply
  33. Marie -  October 2, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    I feel that ligature adds a sense of ‘character,’ {forgive the pun}, and enhances flavour to one’s writings. Something unexpected peaques the reader’s interest. There’s a sense of ‘newness’ to older writing styles,
    since they are not as mainstream.

    Reply
  34. rock -  October 2, 2011 - 12:18 pm

    I think that this is very weird. I actually do that sometimes when I am writing. I believe people still do that.

    Reply
  35. Thbeni -  October 2, 2011 - 12:13 pm

    They are really cool and appropriate for certain situations, however in everyday text using standard type they are outdated and not well known enough. It is good to know that they exist though, as it clears up a lot of confusion. :)

    Reply
  36. Jessica -  October 2, 2011 - 11:22 am

    I think ligatures, in circumstance, are important to the many different languages that use them. Also, they are a cool and rare find in daily use : )

    Reply
  37. T.V. -  October 2, 2011 - 11:02 am

    I know when I write and I’m not paying attention, I’ll do something almost like a ligature but not quite right: I’ll write “with the” as “withe” just because. Anyways, that’s out of the blue. Continue.

    Reply
  38. Andy -  October 2, 2011 - 10:40 am

    hmm….i’ve seen the “a” tied with the “e” in a book called “I am Number Four”

    Reply
  39. Little Tim-tim -  October 2, 2011 - 10:38 am

    I use Ash (Æ) in my phonetic alphabet for the Near-open front unrounded vowel you find in the word “cat”. So I see it and use it a lot.

    Reply
  40. Anita -  October 2, 2011 - 10:37 am

    Ligatures are prettyful :)

    Reply
  41. eri zhang -  October 2, 2011 - 9:55 am

    Pretty cool
    Wish we still used them

    Reply
  42. Tony -  October 2, 2011 - 9:24 am

    Yep

    Reply
  43. Christine O -  October 2, 2011 - 9:20 am

    I’ve seen them in French and Icelandic. Ligatures are pretty neat, they are just a pain to type.

    Reply
  44. anonymous -  October 2, 2011 - 8:36 am

    I think ligatures are quite useful… they add flow into the text. However, I don’t think they are entirely necessary for proper spelling. We should have the choice to use them or not.

    Reply
  45. Zinnabelle Ash -  October 2, 2011 - 7:57 am

    I think that the ligatures are cool. they add flavor and flow to a script/text and make it seem original or old fashioned. I like it. I think that they should be kept around. some people have to write A LOT useing these symbols can help (even if its just a little) and if your a writer (like me) than when you write fantasy stuff it fits with the story.

    Reply
  46. trackstar037 -  October 2, 2011 - 6:23 am

    Wow. I never knew that. We are reading The Great Gatsby in my english class and I’ve stumbled across a hand few of these. I always thought it was a typing/printing error. I guess I was wrong. Ya learn something new everyday!

    Reply
  47. AckeeEater -  October 2, 2011 - 5:04 am

    OMG! I can’t believe that I read through the article and all the blogs without seeing the word ‘diphthong’ (which I would think is the major subset of ligature and almost totally equivalent).

    –Æ.

    Reply
  48. Donna Marie -  October 2, 2011 - 4:44 am

    I love this! I intend to learn these and make good use of them.

    Reply
  49. Alex -  October 2, 2011 - 12:26 am

    Not that hard…

    Reply
  50. ShamanKing -  October 1, 2011 - 7:05 pm

    Cool. Time to annoy my english teacher :)

    Reply
  51. Shurjendu -  October 1, 2011 - 7:02 pm

    Nice article. But you ought to have mentioned that ligatures were often used to represent diphthongs (like the ‘ae’ in “aesthete”), another aspect of language which is fast being forgotten about.

    Reply
  52. Sophie -  October 1, 2011 - 6:39 pm

    They just seem a bit redundant to me and tend to throw me off a little. I think I’d prefer them not to be used, although I don’t mind too much if they are, it’s just that being born in this post-post modern era, I’m not used to them I suppose.

    Reply
  53. Joshua -  October 1, 2011 - 6:37 pm

    Ligatures aren’t used in English because the sounds they make have been translated into other spellings. The reason they continue to be used in other languages is because they do make a different sound than the individualized spelling, at least in some or most cases. Furthermore, to those who are saying “I can’t see the (ligature) key on my keyboard!” you simply have to learn what an Alt code is! I have a basic English keyboard with a calculator keypad on the side. Watch what I can write: ß, é, §, Þ, æ. I can go on if you prefer, but I think I’ve proven my point sufficiently.

    Reply
  54. Ryan -  October 1, 2011 - 6:30 pm

    Ligatures were actually used in Old English (not Shakespeare’s English, which is actually Early Modern English). They stood for distinct sounds. “Æ” was called “ash” and if I’m not mistaken stood for the “a” sound at the beginning of that same word. Old English actually had other letters that we have since gotten rid of, such as “Þ” (“thorn”) standing for the “th” that English uses a lot, and “ƿ”, which was a runic letter for “w”. I can see why this last letter died out since it looks too much like a P, but I personally think that the Æ ligature and Þ could definitely be used in today’s English to make pronunciation more obvious, as well as to render English more reflective of its unique past.

    I think it is sad that we have lost things like this, especially since the vast majority of other European languages still use their own letters like this.

    Reply
  55. me -  October 1, 2011 - 5:43 pm

    I think i remember those being in The Golden Compass books, when they said dæmon

    Reply
  56. Anonymous -  October 1, 2011 - 4:28 pm

    I think they’re AWESOME!!!

    Reply
  57. Neel -  October 1, 2011 - 4:12 pm

    Lingatures are an important part of the English language. Being a universal language derived from other pre-roman languages such as greek, and latin- Lingatures play a key role in its development. They should not be forgotten instead be preserved like an artifact.

    Reply
  58. Hemlock -  October 1, 2011 - 4:12 pm

    I would be fine with ligatures being used in normal english if they were on keyboards and if they were used for anything! i can’t think of any word that uses ligatures. it’s fine if a bunch of brainiacs come together and proclaim “from this day forth, we shall use ligatures in normal english!” but unless they start randomly changing the spelling of a bunch of words in the dictionary, there’d still never be a situation when we’d use it!

    Reply
  59. Hi -  October 1, 2011 - 3:17 pm

    do not forget about o + e

    Reply
  60. rai -  October 1, 2011 - 2:54 pm

    ae=German ä
    oe=German ö
    ue=German ü

    these are dipthongs!

    Reply
  61. Sigríður J. Valdimarsdóttir -  October 1, 2011 - 2:52 pm

    I see “æ” every day; I’m Icelandic.

    Reply
  62. Tim -  October 1, 2011 - 2:04 pm

    The article reminded me that the SmithCorona portable I purchased in the early 70s had a key for the AE combination which I took to be the determining feature for making my decision to part with what I think was $119.00 (or alot of money for me at the time). Oh, and the $30.00 mail-in rebate that made the price a little easier to accept, and the nifty hard cover that made the unit into a comfortably carried creative companion, and the fact that Remington’s reputation was suffering at the time and …

    Reply
  63. Charlotte -  October 1, 2011 - 1:58 pm

    Ligatures are part of everyday languague in Scandinavia, also – although not so frequently, in English too, as in the word Pædiatrition to use but one proffesion in the medical range.

    Reply
  64. Vikhaari -  October 1, 2011 - 1:51 pm

    Yes.
    (4 the very up top/heading) Either in very old dictionary. Or looking for old words. Or the root of certain old words or such.

    Next the how often the ligatures are seen is difficult to answer. Seldom, as for me, perhaps, less than half-a-dozen times in lifetime. If these are likened and enjoyed, why not have them and use! I, like many, have my own such fonts for quick and easy writing.

    Finally, as I just mentioned above to ease the time, process and practice in writing especially of today’s fast pacing reality.

    By the way I think that Sanskrit is nothing but those–those joining letters/words etc that is. Or possibly it’s something totally different ie what is seen or encountered in Sanskrit, the multiple alphabets, word joining–sandhi– are totally differnt matter/issues.
    As usual yet again a very knowledgeable and useful article.

    Reply
  65. Aurora Tyner -  October 1, 2011 - 11:50 am

    Hmm.. I see it in some books, for example the Golden Compass. They have “daemons” for companions. A and e combined. I think it’d be cool if we used them often.

    Reply
  66. UnseelieRose -  October 1, 2011 - 10:50 am

    Not only do ligatures add elegance and flavor to English writing, but they also have the power to perform an important function, if only we would let them.

    I don’t think it is any secret that non-native English speakers find the language to be difficult and confusing. One of the largest reasons for this is the complicated phonic rules. Due to the combination of Germanic and Romantic lingual rules existing in English, there are so many rules, and so many exceptions to those rules, that it is enough to make anyone’s head spin. Even people born in America and Britain have a tendency to mispronounce unfamiliar English words because of this.

    Although it is not their original purpose, Ligatures have become pronunciation symbols, helping those who know how to use them to sort through the unruly tangle of phonics encompassed by English. If they were commonly used for that purpose, it would be a boon to all English speakers, but especially to those speaking it as a second Language. It wouldn’t completely eradicate the problem, of course– to do that we would have to also adopt glyphs, diacritics, and the like into common English, which would create a whole new issue– but it would help. Nonetheless, creating something akin to the international version of English writing, using Ligatures as letters in order to clarify pronunciations, would make common English and Standard English far more comprehensible.

    Reply
  67. Bowels -  October 1, 2011 - 10:08 am

    Bowels

    Reply
  68. chocolate -  October 1, 2011 - 8:55 am

    Siiigh any errors in the above post were not intended or ironic… simply typo’s that escaped my proof reading in my over eager posting to avoid being eaten again!

    Reply
  69. chocolate -  October 1, 2011 - 8:52 am

    Grrrr! Poota ate my post so I will sumarize and say that my primary school taught the Initial Teaching Alphabet with a total of 45 charactersincluding joined letter symbols for common sounds.

    It was devised by Pitman, yes, that one or rather his grandson, as a means to making the learning of reading and writng English more efficient. The reasoning was that quickly acquired skills could be put into use at an earlier stage.

    There are symbols for affricates and dipthongs etc so for example, there are different symbols for soft th as in t’hree’ and the harder th as in ‘the’ for which the joined t was reversed.

    It has been out of favour for many years but I believe the problem was the lack of teaching at age seven when we switched to traditional orthography. I was simply presented with a page of regular text and asked if I coud read it. By deducing that my ie sound had been split in words such as like, yes, I could read it. This meant that I was never taught basic spelling patterns with which to override my ITA versions.

    To this day, words I have first encountered in print are not difficult for me to spell correctly whilst with basic words I have to doulble-check that I have not added a gratuitous e to the end : )

    Reply
  70. Annie -  October 1, 2011 - 8:15 am

    Wow, you have no idea how much easier it would be to teach children English, if we used ligatures. I’m a fan.

    Reply
  71. Adam -  October 1, 2011 - 7:49 am

    That’s cool. Now I know what they’re called. But I guess they don’t have too much purpose in common typing now. It’s easier to put ae than to search for the custom symbol for it.

    But yes, an album by a band I listen to uses a ligature in their album AEther Shanties. The band is Abney Park.

    Reply
  72. Builder -  October 1, 2011 - 7:15 am

    Some perceive spoken languages as beautiful-sounding, romantic-sounding, sexy-sounding or harsh-sounding. Others perceive spoken languages as no more than a method of communication. Likewise, (to me, anyway), the printed languages can be beautiful, smooth, romantic, rough, and flowing. Use of ligatures add dimension to the printed word, as do capitals/minuscules, the variety of fonts and their diverse styles (italics, bold, sans serif, etc). These tools can add subtlety and nuance to printed text, much like accents and inflection do the same for spoken language. Without ligatures, fonts, and such, the printed word would be flat and rather boring.

    Reply
  73. James D -  October 1, 2011 - 6:33 am

    I wonder whether anyone still uses the st ligature. :-)

    Reply
  74. glitch -  October 1, 2011 - 6:27 am

    LIGATURES can make your tongue tied…

    Reply
  75. Laeth -  October 1, 2011 - 6:03 am

    Its called old English/Anglo-Saxon. Scottish. Search it up on wiki

    I know that becaues I’m Anglo Saxon

    Reply
  76. K -  October 1, 2011 - 4:40 am

    :P

    Reply
  77. Hayley -  October 1, 2011 - 4:35 am

    ;P I mean that’s silly! I still don’t really get the idea of joined letters. Only if I was more interested…

    Thanks! (For some kind of reason)
    o>.< – Can't bear the noise any more!!

    Reply
  78. Hayley -  October 1, 2011 - 4:25 am

    I leafed out something; Thanks guys!

    And Thanks again! o>.<-can't bear the noise any more!!

    Reply
  79. Hayley -  October 1, 2011 - 4:22 am

    When I do running writing some of my words end up like that… But, let’s just talk about the point. Those type of handwriting can help people pronounce words. Like what you see on Dictionary.com.

    Reply
  80. Anonymous -  October 1, 2011 - 3:11 am

    In some languages, for example Norwegian, these are all real letters, along with ø and å

    Reply
  81. Anthony -  October 1, 2011 - 2:56 am

    The “ad” for the article mentions “learning” how they sound – but the article makes no mention of how to pronounce them – especially the “AE” joined – which is the main reason I clicked on the article – to learn HOW they’re pronounced – AND WHAT THEY MEAN. Pretty half-assed article if you ask me. Looks like a terrible job of a plagiarized summary to me.

    Reply
  82. Emshemie -  October 1, 2011 - 1:54 am

    I agree 100% with Hannah.

    Reply
  83. irene -  October 1, 2011 - 1:06 am

    “For example, when a brand name like Encyclopædia Brittanica includes a ligature, it is technically misspelled if one does not include the special letter form.” What if you write in cursive? (Also, for the record, Firefox doesn’t recognize either words in Encyclopædia Brittanica as correct spellings apparently! Haha)

    Reply
  84. Pedro -  October 1, 2011 - 12:25 am

    So is a double-crossed ‘t’ a ligature? I use them all the time on the board at work and every year I have to explain to students that I’m writing ‘fatter’ not ‘faHer’. Oh, I’m so mediæval!

    Reply
  85. jo -  September 30, 2011 - 11:54 pm

    oooh special

    Reply
  86. Truth -  September 30, 2011 - 10:35 pm

    “When san-serifed fonts (like Helvetica and Arial) became common in the mid-1900s…”

    This sentence is incorrect. While Helvetica was created in the 1950′s, Arial was a clone created in the 1980s meant to bypass licensing fees.

    Reply
  87. A O -  September 30, 2011 - 10:32 pm

    Æ/æ is a letter of its own in Danish and Norwegian. Thought it’d be worth mentioning this.

    Reply
  88. Sonya -  September 30, 2011 - 10:09 pm

    These are common in languages outside english, for instance the esset in German was originally started like that way back when.

    Reply
  89. BarryG. -  September 30, 2011 - 9:05 pm

    would’twere that ligature were faer the lay than learn’d

    Reply
  90. Friend -  September 30, 2011 - 7:20 pm

    The letter thing is kinda cool. I like it in words like Eärendil … I just got up here. Its a lot windier up here but the friends are fewer… I must find the white circle and grab him this time. I can’t go to to next plane without him. bye friends, I will see you soon!

    10 points to the person who gets this quote:

    AGATHOS. And while I thus spoke, did there not cross your mind some thought of the physical power of words? Is not every word an impulse on the air?
    OINOS. But why, Agathos, do you weep—and why, oh why do your wings droop as we hover above this fair star—which is the greenest and yet most terrible of all we have encountered in our flight? Its brilliant flowers look like a fairy dream—but its fierce volcanoes like the passions of a turbulent heart.
    AGATHOS. They are!—they are! This wild star—it is now three centuries since, with clasped hands, and with streaming eyes, at the feet of my beloved—I spoke it—with a few passionate sentences—into birth. Its brilliant flowers are the dearest of all unfulfilled dreams, and its raging volcanoes are the passions of the most turbulent and unhallowed of hearts.

    Reply
  91. JRm -  September 30, 2011 - 6:50 pm

    I dont see why not it seems okay, but again, if someone were to dislike it, i dont see why they would have to use it.
    -An 11 yr olds opinion

    Reply
  92. me -  September 30, 2011 - 5:41 pm

    I sometimes use ligatures , but only when i’m writing very fast.

    Reply
  93. Mark -  September 30, 2011 - 5:30 pm

    FRENCH: La sœur.
    ENGLISH:The sister.

    Reply
  94. Colin -  September 30, 2011 - 4:41 pm

    Why, of course they’re treasures of history.

    Let’s save them all!

    Unearth what we can and polish those jewels for generations upon generations. The English language is perhaps one of the most inclusive there is of modern languages.

    Clues to our past.

    Reply
  95. Raxin -  September 30, 2011 - 3:45 pm

    Ligatures are annoying and inneficient. Perhaps they were efficient when scribes were saving ink, time, and goat skin, but now they’re just a waste of time because you have to look them up with the character finder to use them and they’re not needed since ae means the same thing as the related ligature, etc.

    Reply
  96. Wynn -  September 30, 2011 - 3:12 pm

    I see stuff like this all the time with hand-written stuff. My mom combines her Ts and Hs, my best friend does that f-i thing and I use one line when crossing two consecutive Ts. It saves time and makes everything look cooler.

    Reply
  97. Earnest Bunbury -  September 30, 2011 - 3:11 pm

    To quote Frankenstein: “Ligature BAAADDD!”

    Reply
  98. James -  September 30, 2011 - 2:53 pm

    The letters are interesting.i do try sometimes to include them in my write up but could not

    Reply
  99. Alex -  September 30, 2011 - 2:51 pm

    One of my favorite bands is actually called Æon Spoke :)

    Reply
  100. Patrick -  September 30, 2011 - 2:41 pm

    Although they serve no real purpose I think they are important in a sense that it preserves historical writing and just makes it look better. It also gives an idea of the language barrier between now and then. A perfect example is the word *Daemon*. The word is not spelled write unless you use the ligature for it, the combination of a and e.

    Reply
  101. Alistair -  September 30, 2011 - 1:51 pm

    I think it’s a shame ligatures have largely disappeared from writing. I don’t think they’re useless at all, actually. They properly dictate how to pronounce vowel sounds, and I think the way most of us speak has slackened since the decline of ligatures. Like some others have said here, they really do add colour to a text. I think the use of ligatures helps to stay true to language as it was intended to be.

    Reply
  102. Sadie -  September 30, 2011 - 12:55 pm

    I think we should keep them, as a reminder of past culture. It would be terrible if everything from medieval times was obsolete, and when we needed them, we wouldn’t have them.

    Reply
  103. Papou -  September 30, 2011 - 12:42 pm

    Despite its origin, Æ is presently not two tied characters but a single characters, same for Œ.
    It is not exactly “sometimes” written like that, but, at least in French, it must or it must not.
    For example, œuf and œdème must be “tied” but coefficient and moelle must not.

    Reply
  104. andrew -  September 30, 2011 - 12:31 pm

    whether or not they are relevant in modern print, where everything is type, they are an interesting part of the history of the language.

    also i find ligatures are still pretty useful when taking notes in longhand and trying to save space/ time.

    Reply
  105. Irene -  September 30, 2011 - 11:28 am

    Æ is an actual letter in the Norwegian alphabet.

    Reply
  106. Guapo -  September 30, 2011 - 10:43 am

    You guys think, it’s old? It’s not! Everyone that is a hipster now days, spells with these letters! Example: “Word, dude. I’m so emo today. I fael like I want to kael over.” This way, they seem smarter than are, which is not al all, since they’re slaves to conformity, while thinking the opposite. At least here in the corporate world, we have our souls stolen for pennies on the dollar! Then it’s conformity central station, brah!

    Reply
  107. LIGATURES | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  September 30, 2011 - 9:35 am

    [...] ‘Ligature’ is for English Majors — Give us a MAD Magazine — We watch LawnOrder — So Garrotte some other scene. — We’re ready for Social Security and though we know it’s a Fontzy Scheme — BamaLama Ding Dong don’t let them Mark “Ligatures” all over the Health Care Dream. — Some Single Payer Public Option with letters separate but equal while the Congress is on Vacation more words don’t make no sense. — We still need ‘Ligatures’ for the sequel — to tie it all together and regulate false pretense. — How we ever got here with the promise of Some prize. — Don’t make no difference anyways when ‘Ligatures’ cross eyes. –>>L.T.Rhyme This entry was posted in DEMOCRAZY, DICTCOMHOTWORD, L.T.Rhyme and tagged LT, LTRhyme, the HOT WORD by admin. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

    Reply
  108. dixiesuzan -  September 30, 2011 - 9:14 am

    Lindsey – A and E ligatured in English appears in “Æsops Fables” as a title even today in the printed book.

    Reply
  109. jam out -  September 30, 2011 - 9:10 am

    i love these letters they add personality to your work who someone elses work !!:):):)

    Reply
  110. bholland -  September 30, 2011 - 8:52 am

    Ligatures always catch my eye and cause me to pause briefly to consider the correct pronunciation. I think they’re a good thing – they add a bit of variety to reading.

    Reply
  111. minimonk -  September 30, 2011 - 8:10 am

    Printers also use ligatures to improve the appearance of hand-set type because standard spacing sometimes looks clumsy.

    Reply
  112. Agustín -  September 30, 2011 - 8:01 am

    Very interesting, I’d heard of this before but I wasn’t sure how exactly it was used. I think we could use this nowadays.

    Reply
  113. dixiesuzan -  September 30, 2011 - 7:52 am

    Ligatures are delightful little fellows. Because they were derived for handwritten text and reading of handwritten text you will find them always incuded on old hornbooks which were the first tools used to teach reading. Show a old hornbook or a picture of one to someone today and no one seems to know what they are or why you needed them to learn reading. Often parents might write out a single page with the alphabet, capitols and miniscules, the vowels (and sometimes including “Y”) along with the ligatures. This would be framed and hung close to the childs bed easily seen and constant seeing aiding in learning to read and write.

    Reply
  114. Anonymous -  September 30, 2011 - 7:40 am

    funny… this always confusd me but now i know what these are… but im not gonna use these anytime soon

    Reply
  115. HB -  September 30, 2011 - 6:51 am

    these ligatures might be obsolete in English, but are still used in some other languages, like some Scandinavian ones (æ,Æ) and German (ß)

    Reply
  116. Ingvar -  September 30, 2011 - 6:40 am

    Here in Scandinavia we use them all the time. Æ (æ), Ø (ø) and Å (å) are the three last letters of our alphabet, and we would be quite helpless without them :)

    Reply
  117. Ruth -  September 30, 2011 - 6:32 am

    I use them in handwriting without thinking! I expect this is true for many who still write with a pen or pencil.

    Reply
  118. Sir Mike Tallon, PhD -  September 30, 2011 - 6:25 am

    I’ve always thought it was a relic from romance languages, as French uses ligatures in such words as “hors d’œuvre” and “sœur”.

    Reply
  119. Beez -  September 30, 2011 - 6:02 am

    Well I’m learning german right now, and it has one of my favorite ligatures – Eszett or scharfes S – ß, which is like having double s or sz.
    Some people (especially biology TAs) mistake it for the greek letter β which is funny and interesting, you can clearly see it’s not the same letter…
    I like because though it may look like a B and sound like an S which makes no sense and very funny when people who don’t know it try to read a word that contains it…
    Basically it’s having a large S like the integral symbol and an s or z connect too it, and create this B looking letter…

    Reply
  120. Tia -  September 30, 2011 - 5:48 am

    I enjoy seeing ligatures, and see them in French language nowadays. Also, when I write in print, I seem to connect letters together. It’s not cursive, but not “proper” print either, so I call it “connective print.” Is this classified as writing ligatures?

    Reply
  121. Nateify -  September 30, 2011 - 5:23 am

    I feel like ligatures are old and useless. If someone wants me to spell Encyclopaedia “correctly”, they’re out of luck as I don’t see that key anywhere on my keyboard. Or are ligatures more common in other countries?

    Reply
  122. Paige -  September 30, 2011 - 5:20 am

    looks like the american eagle emblem

    Reply
  123. Birgit -  September 30, 2011 - 4:57 am

    As I Dane, I use ligatures all the time. The letters æ, ø and å are so much more convenient and space-saving than having to write and read than the corresponding artificial forms ae, oe and aa. They also have their own sound, so in Danish we have 9 written vowels, not to mention the 20 something phonetic signs for vowels. Actually the letter å is the newest letter in the Danish alphabet, as it was introduced as an official letter in 1948. It is originally a Swedish ligature of a and o which can be traced back to the 12th century. Ligatures may not be so important in English but in Danish I could not do without them.

    Reply
  124. Atli -  September 30, 2011 - 4:35 am

    Æ is on my keyboard
    Æ has a different sound from ae in my language and i think that is the case in other scandinavian languages as well.

    I dont get this article.

    Reply
  125. Daniel -  September 30, 2011 - 3:50 am

    Yeah, Æ will definately not vanish as it is a distinct letter of its own in both Danish and Norwegian. These btw also have a separate letter (Ø, ø) serving the same function as the ligature of “oe”.

    I was a little surprised at the teaser to this article. “OMG, they killed Danish? You bastards!”

    Reply
  126. Nishant -  September 30, 2011 - 3:18 am

    Ligatures may be the future course for effective written communication .

    Reply
  127. hewhosaysfish -  September 30, 2011 - 2:33 am

    I’ve always had a problem with ligatures (the vowel based ones at least) because I wasn’t sure how they should be pronounced. But from this article, I guess they’re no more specific than using the two letters separately?

    Reply
  128. Edward -  September 30, 2011 - 2:28 am

    I still don’t understand what they are or what they’re used for. I feel a bit dumb. Are they just two letters combined to save space, or is it a unique letter on it own and interchangeable? I don’t get it!

    Reply
  129. frockney -  September 30, 2011 - 1:59 am

    I started an Icelandic course last February. They still use Æ and have their share of odd characters. What this shows is that the Latin alphabeth is only well adapted to Latin and English should have its own alphabeth.

    Reply
  130. Dean -  September 30, 2011 - 1:18 am

    All I can say is pretty interesting.

    Reply
  131. pretty naive -  September 30, 2011 - 12:18 am

    i see… ligatures are also useful though i’m not using it when i’m writing but it seems so interesting to use this :))

    Reply
  132. Hannah -  September 29, 2011 - 11:37 pm

    There interestıng but I don’t use them and wıth typing there is no reason for them. I do like to double cross double Ts though such as ın little. :)

    Paper and ınk are both cheap now so why bother though?

    Reply
  133. Thanks -  September 29, 2011 - 9:31 pm

    Ligature!

    Ligature!

    LIg

    a

    ture!

    Reply
  134. bianca -  September 29, 2011 - 9:27 pm

    i think they r cool, and time savers, like, wen im on a time crunch, it saves me alot of time, writing notes and all, and thn i can runrunnrun! (:

    Reply
  135. David -  September 29, 2011 - 8:20 pm

    That explains why they make the Bugatti logo like that

    Reply
  136. Ed Grimly -  September 29, 2011 - 8:13 pm

    They aren’t used because they aren’t needed. End of story.

    Reply
  137. Kathleen -  September 29, 2011 - 8:10 pm

    Oh I thought they were tryin’ to make it look fancy. I guess not…

    Reply
  138. Bjarne -  September 29, 2011 - 8:09 pm

    Come to Scandinavia — we love our Æs Øs and Ås!

    Reply
  139. Logan L. Masterson -  September 29, 2011 - 8:01 pm

    Norse runes known as the Elder Futhark use a similar type of combined letter, called bindrunes.

    Reply
  140. haha -  September 29, 2011 - 7:55 pm

    cool

    Reply
  141. Thanks -  September 29, 2011 - 7:41 pm

    I like just sayng the word ” ligature” ligature!
    I don’t even care what it means… although now I know.

    Reply
  142. Thanks -  September 29, 2011 - 7:31 pm

    St. Nick – I admire your contrariness.

    Reply
  143. Anonymous -  September 29, 2011 - 7:30 pm

    I find these letters to be very important. My friend’s middle name is spelled Vadskjær. I always find that writing [in languages that frequently use ligatures] is bothersome when I don’t use them!

    Reply
  144. Lindsey -  September 29, 2011 - 7:15 pm

    I love ligatures cos I just seem so foreign (to me anyway) writing them! I write Danish words sometimes so I’m not too unfamiliar with Æ

    Reply
  145. Hippy -  September 29, 2011 - 6:06 pm

    ^ that’s what i think.

    Reply
  146. Hippy -  September 29, 2011 - 6:06 pm

    It adds a zestful splash to writings. js.

    Reply
  147. rin -  September 29, 2011 - 6:03 pm

    I always see this in files on my laptop that were originally spelt with kanji

    Reply
  148. Bill Davis -  September 29, 2011 - 5:47 pm

    Another great post. The serifs and ligatures also made reading easier, pulling the eye along.

    It gets confusing, though, when “vowel” can refer to either the sound or the letter. For example English has “five vowels” (i.e. 5 letters: a, e, i, o & u), but linguists argue that English has in the range of ELEVEN distinct vowel sounds! (And you wondered why spelling in 3rd grade was so hard)

    People often simply nod when I say that Palawano only has four vowels, and they say, “Yeah. English has five.” But they are surprised when I explain about English’ eleven vowels. You can hear most of them by using the frame b_t, as in: beet, bit, bait, bite, bat, baht (and distinct in some dialects, bought), but, boot, boat, bout and beaut.

    Reply
  149. .om -  September 29, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    mediaeval is cool too

    Reply
  150. saint Nicholas the third -  September 29, 2011 - 5:41 pm

    no they are not

    Reply
  151. .om -  September 29, 2011 - 5:40 pm

    ligatures are awesome!!! so is mediaeval

    Reply
  152. saint Nicholas the third -  September 29, 2011 - 5:38 pm

    hello people from the dead

    Reply
  153. .om -  September 29, 2011 - 5:36 pm

    old fasioned is cool.

    Reply
  154. Band Geek -  September 29, 2011 - 4:49 pm

    Haha, a ligature is also used with instruments.

    I thought this article was really interesting. :)

    Reply
  155. The Nerd -  September 29, 2011 - 4:12 pm

    So it’s NOT just medieval writers being lazy? I’ve always wondered what the little binding of letters meant. . . .

    Reply
  156. Random dude -  September 29, 2011 - 3:35 pm

    I have never used them in any writing I have done. Now I know what they are used for! Seems like they should be used more so that others know what they are used for too. I rarely see ligatures though.

    Reply
  157. Barry Mooney -  September 29, 2011 - 2:01 pm

    Yes! It adds flavour to the script.

    Reply
  158. Anonymous -  September 29, 2011 - 1:53 pm

    I rarrely see these and think they are useless, stupid symbols

    Reply
  159. lezza -  September 29, 2011 - 1:28 pm

    I feel like ligatures can help the flow of text; I don’t see anything wrong with them. I think it’s ridiculous to require that you use them to spell something correctly like Encyclopaeda Brittanica. That’s almost like saying that you aren’t spelling Google right if you use a san serif font.

    Reply
  160. ivan -  September 29, 2011 - 1:09 pm

    i do that when i write somtimes

    Reply

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