The idea didn't really catch on because no one actually knew that Franklin was proposing it. "Seems our dear friend Benjamin Franklin is having a stroke," was I believe the most common interpretation.
We Still Have the Forgotten 27th Letter On Our Keyboards
Thanks to the brave efforts we made to fight off the evil Benjamin Franklin, our alphabet still only has 26 letters (in English, at least). But he wasn't the only one to propose new additions to the alphabet, and over the years, there have been a few contenders that have gotten pretty close to the prize. One of them is on your keyboard right now, in fact.
Not the seven. That's normal.
That's right, the ampersand. When Romans were writing out notes to each other about orgies and vomiting and such, they sometimes blurred their E's and T's together into one symbol ("et" meaning "and" in Latin). Over the years, this blurred together "and" kept getting blurrier and blurrier until it became the bizarre, rear-heavy monster we know today.
Alatius via Wikimedia Commons
It was a crazy journey, with many literal twists and turns.
These kind of merged letters are called ligatures, and there are still a few loitering in the shadows of the English alphabet. But none are as old or as popular as the ampersand, which, because it was widely used in actual Latin texts, got copied down into Latin alphabets by various scholars in the Middle Ages. And as our alphabet derives from their work, the ampersand loitered on the edge of the English alphabet well into the 1800's. It's mentioned specifically in a well-known predecessor of the Alphabet song.
"Oh my god, Becky. Look at its butt."
The crazy name comes to us in a similar way. Because the ampersand was found at the end of the alphabet, people saying their ABC's would end their recitation with "and, per se and." Which, when sort of translated, means "&, itself meaning 'and.'" Which is clever, although kind of hard to remember. There are easier mnemonic devices for remembering the ampersand.
For example: if you see anything other than a dog dragging its ass on the ground, well, now you never will again.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and your best friend. His first novel, Severance, is incredible and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.
For more from Bucholz, check out 4 Reasons People Hate It When You Compliment Them and The 5 Weirdest Ways Words Have Changed Meanings.
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