A - a - ɑ
The first letter in the Latin alphabet in which English is written takes various forms.
- a is the form usually found in print, on computer screens and on typewriters. This is what printers call a 'lower-case a', adding if further specification is needed that it is 'double storey'.
- ɑ is the commonest from in handwriting, being easier to produce clearly. The symbol is named 'script ɑ' in the IPA; printers may refer to it as 'lower-case double storey ɑ'. Others call it 'Latin alpha'.
- Both lower case forms are derived from the upper case Greek alpha, Α. The script form consists of a circle and vertical stroke ("ɑ"), called Latin alpha or "script a". Most printed material uses a form consisting of a small loop with an arc over it ("a"). Classical Greek written cursively joined the left leg and horizontal stroke in a single loop. Printers then made the right leg vertical. Some scribes developed the serif that began the right leg stroke into a flourish, This slowly developed in the work of scribes in the celebrities before the first millennium, and may be seen in such manuscripts as the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels. It has resulted in the form commonest (by far) in print. (The attenuated 'stump' of this serif survives in the right-hand ascender of the letter-form ɑ.