Where have all the letters gone?

We Used To Have 6 More Letters In Our Alphabet

Along quaint New England streets, you’ll probably spot a sign or two declaring itself “Ye Olde Tavern” or “Ye Old Soda Shoppe.” But before you adopt a British accent and order a pint of ale inside, there’s a bit of history you should know.

Phrases like ye olde are actually just some of the late 19th century’s first marketing ploys, meant to evoke a sentimental connection to older times. And ye has its own complicated story—based in the history of the alphabet.

English has always been a living language, changing and evolving with use. But before our modern alphabet was established, the language used many more characters we’ve since removed from our 26-letter lineup. The six that most recently got axed are:

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