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Why is Q Followed by U?

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Quinn from Excelsior, Minnesota, is five years old — well, five and three-quarters, as she points out. She wonders why the letter Q is so often followed by U. In Old English, the alphabet didn’t include the letter Q. The word quick, for example, was spelled cwic. The QU combination was introduced as a result of the Norman invasion, when many French words and language custom reflected the influence of Latin and helped create modern English. Latin, in turn, had been influenced by the Etruscans, whose alphabet included the letter qoppa. Two wonderful books about the evolution of the letters we use today are Letter Perfect by David Sacks (Bookshop|Amazon) and Michael Rosen’s Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story (Bookshop|Amazon). This is part of a complete episode.

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