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Why is the alphabet in alphabetical order?

-- A2Z, the net

Hey, Matt:

Something that has troubled me since childhood: Why is the letter w called "double U" when it is clearly a "double V"?

-- Victor in OB

Our alphabet's been orderly for more than 3000 years. Shorter back then, but just as predictable. The Phoenicians started it when they organized their 22 letters in a lineup that probably had symbolic or mystical meaning. The letters also represented numbers, so it's clear to language historians that the letters had a fixed order. The Greeks, then the Romans borrowed the idea, added vowels, fiddled with letter forms and sounds, and spread it around Europe. The "w" sound was given its own letter in the English alphabet around the 1400s. It's stuck in next to the u because historically it's related. The "w" sound was first written with two connected us, thus, double-U. Even when w became two connected vs, it kept its old name.

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