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Entrance door of the Berlin City Library , decorated with different shapes of the letter A.

A as well as a (spoken: [ ʔaː ]) is the first letter of the classical and modern Latin alphabet . It stands for differently pronounced vowel sounds . It corresponds to the alpha in the Greek and the letter А in the Cyrillic alphabet . The letter A has in German texts an average incidence of 6.51%, making it the sixth most common letter in German texts behind the R and before T . In Morse code , A and a are represented with • -.

Apart from foreign words and names, the A is the only letter in the German language that can appear twice at the beginning of a word, for example in the word Aal .


Egyptian ox head
Egyptian ox head
Ox head (protosinaitic)
Ox head (protosinaitic)
Phoenician Aleph
Phoenician Aleph
Greek alpha
Etruscan A
Etruscan A
Latin A
Latin A
Early Cyrillic A
Early Cyrillic A
Cyrillic A
Cyrillic A

The original form of the letter, which comes from the Protosinaitic script , is probably the head of an ox. The Phoenicians gave this letter the name Aleph (ox). In the Phoenician alphabet in the 9th century BC The character was already strongly stylized, the horns of the ox were indicated by two lines to the right. The volume value of the Aleph among the Phoenicians was the glottal stop [⁠ ʔ ⁠] . Already with the Phoenicians, Aleph had the first position in the alphabet, which was adopted in the Hebrew alphabet as Aleph ( א) and is related to the first letter of the Arabic alphabet , the Alif ().

When the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet, they turned the sign 90 degrees and made it the alpha . They had no need for the voiceless glottal plosive pronunciation, was present among the Phoenicians, and since the Greek rich in vowels was, she used the characters for the phonetic value [⁠ a ⁠] . In the oldest Greek documents from the 8th century BC The letter was used lying down, the 90 ° rotated version that appeared in later documents prevailed.

The Etruscans took over the early Greek alpha and left it largely unchanged. Just for better writing (from right to left) they provided the sign with a left-wise downturn. When the Romans created the Latin alphabet , they used the A from the Etruscan alphabet, and the sound value has also been retained since the Greeks. This alphabet is used to this day for a variety of written languages, including most of the European languages, of which it found its way into the Cyrillic alphabet .


The letter A in different fonts

The basic appearance of the capital letters is that of two (symmetrical) diagonally converging lines at the top and a horizontal line in the middle, but not all fonts and families follow this concept. The outer lines can be asymmetrical in direction and line width or run parallel at the bottom and merge into an arc (e.g. Bauhaus ) or a fourth, horizontal line (e.g. seven-segment display ) at the top. The center line is partly omitted, which means that the appearance approximates a Greek lambda (Λ) or an enlarged small n . In some broken fonts (e.g. Fraktur ) the center line sinks to the baseline and the left outer line becomes an inwardly curved arc, making the letter open at the top instead of the bottom. In cursive writing , the center line and sometimes the top of the line are often looped; In some spellings, the capital letter looks very similar to the round lower case letter (e.g. Sütterlin ).

Blackletter A
Initial -A
Sütterlin -A
Fracture -A

There are two basic forms of lowercase letters : open and closed / round. Both developed from the capital letter via cursive writing (with a pen). The open shape resembles a small e rotated 180 ° with a bottom right end. The closed shape, in which the center line is completely absent, resembles a small o , to which a vertical tangent has been added on the right side , or the Latin alpha (ɑ). Otherwise, depending on the font, the usual loops and serifs can be found for all letters . The open minuscule is usually used in standard printing, while the closed minuscule is used in italic and cursive fonts.

In Unicode , the capital "A" is represented by U + 0041 and the small "a" by U + 0061. In ASCII , the capital "A" is Code 65, the small "a" is Code 97, from which follows in the binary dual system the character sequence 01000001 for the capital "A" and 01100001 for the small "a". In EBCDIC the code for the capital "A" is 193 and for the small "a" is 129. The numerical representations in HTML and XML are " & # 65; "And" & # 97; “For the uppercase and lowercase letters.

In addition to these direct representations, there are also various pictorial or other representations of the letter "A". This includes, for example, the Morse code : · - . In Braille , the "A" is represented by an elevation. There are other forms of representation in sign language in the form of a closed fist in finger alphabet , in optical telegraphy and in the internationally valid flag alphabet :

A in braille
A in braille
A in the flag alphabet
A in the flag alphabet
A in finger alphabet
A in finger alphabet
A in optical telegraphy
A in optical telegraphy


The letter A stands for different vowel sounds in different languages.

In German and many other languages he represents the open unrounded Central [⁠ a ⁠] or front vowel [⁠ like ⁠] : A is the sound most of the vowels , emerges freely from the wide-open lips at the spawning of Stimmton while the tongue is depressed into a flat position. In northern Germany there are two different phonemes of the vowel: the short vowel [a], such as B. in satt , and the long vowel [ɑː] formed further back in the pharynx ( unrounded open vowel of the back tongue ), such as B. in advice , which can even be rounded. More common in German-speaking countries, however, is a more central pronunciation for both.

The length of the vowel is marked differently.

Long vowel:

  • Following single consonant: advice, day
  • Doubling of the vowel: Aar, Haar, Aachen
  • the following h: stretcher
  • at the end of the syllable: yes, Na (-) me, Ta (-) ler

Short vowel:

  • Several consonants follow: Amt, Matsch
  • Doubling of the following consonant: Matte
  • before -ch, -sch, -st, -tz: bald head

An umlaut " ä " can be formed from an A under certain conditions .

  • has: would have
  • House: houses

Diphthongs formed with A are:

  • au (skin)
  • ai (grove)


  • I am Alpha and Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. ( Rev 1,8  LUT ).
  • A, the noblest, most original of all sounds, resounding from the chest and throat, which the child learns to bring out first and most easily, which rightly place the alphabets of most languages ​​at the top (from Grimm's dictionary )
  • Who says A, and B have to say . (Saying)
  • Who says A, does not need to say B. He can also realise that A was wrong. ( Bertolt Brecht )

See also

Kana A
  • Α , α , the first letter of the Greek alphabet, see alpha
  • А , а , the first letter of the Cyrillic alphabet, see А
  • , , alpʰa , the first letter of the Coptic alphabet
  • א , the Hebrew letter Aleph
  • the Japanese kana A, see A (kana)
  • UNICODE characters derived from the Latin A , a :
    • At sign @
    • Ångström symbol Å (unit symbol, usually the same glyph as "A with a ring" )
    • "For everyone": (logic, mathematics)
    • feminine ordinal sign ª
    • Austral symbol: (currency symbol)
    • A with… Gravis:  Àà -… Acute:  Áá -… Circumflex:  Ââ -… Tilde:  Ãã -… Trema:  Ää -… Ring:  Åå -… Macron:  Āā -… Breve:  Ăă -… Ogonek: Ą , ą -… Hatschek: Ǎ , ǎ -… double engraving: Ȁ , ȁ -… rotated breve: Ȃ , ȃ -… period: Ȧ , ȧ -… ring below: , -… point below: , -… hook above: , - small a with half ring: 
    • A with… -… Trema and macron: Ǟ , ǟ -… Dot and macron: Ǡ , ǡ -… Ring and acute: Ǻ , ǻ -… Circumflex and acute: , -… Circumflex and grave accent : , - ... Circumflex and hook: , -… Circumflex and tilde: , -… Breve and acute: , -… Breve and grave accent : , -… Breve and hook: , -… Breve and tilde: , -… circumflex and period below: , -… breve and period below: ,
    • A crossed out: Ⱥ ,
    • circled A: , (capital letter similar to the anarchy symbol)
    • parenthesized small a:
    • AE ligature: Æ , æ (lower case letters also IPA characters) -… with macron: Ǣ , ǣ -… with acute: Ǽ , ǽ
    • Small caps A: -… AE ligature:
    • Latin alpha , ɑ (lowercase letters also IPA characters)
    • Rotated characters: a: ɐ (capital letter similar to the "for all" symbol, see above ; lower case letter also IPA symbol) -… ae ligature: -… Latin alpha: , ɒ (lower case letter also IPA symbol)
    • rotated v: ʌ , (as IPA character for a sound similar to [a] )

Web links

Wiktionary: a  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: A  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : A  - album of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikiquote: A  - Quotes
Wikisource Wikisource: A  - Article of the 4th edition of Meyers Konversations-Lexikon