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Why is there 2 ways to write lower case "a"?

JR_IsP

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I was wondering this earlier this morning. When I write the "a" is more like the greek alpha, but almost every font has this elegant fancy-looking "a".

Why the difference?

Does this have to do with a previous european alphabet or something?



 

QuickTwist

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I wondered this when I was like in 2nd grade. I never got a satisfying answer, but I was in second grade.
 

Serac

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Well, in the UTF tables the letter 'ɑ' is described as "Latin small letter alpha" whereas 'a' is just "Latin small letter a". That's one explanation although the two you have look like just 'a' in two different fonts

Also, I have no clue what I am talking about
 

JR_IsP

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My theory so far (and based on my own handwriting and almost everyone with a high science degree) is that we tend to write in the easiest and faster way possible.

Having that said, is obviously easier to write the "a" in a more alpha-looking way than with the fancy gliph above.

However, I've also met (my mother, for example) people who write the "a" just like the "a" used here, so :confused:
 

Dr3vv

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Hope this isn't necroposting
I have an hypothesis: lower case "a" is as it is written here, whereas the other "a" (alfa) is cursive. I don't know the origin of cursive, but I suppose it is a way to write faster, as JR_IsP suggested. I remember learning to write "a" in the first way when learning lower case letters at elementary school and then the other way in cursive. I currently write in cursiveish/whatever way I go faster, so I keep the alfa
 

Thurlor

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I believe it is to help distinguish between a and o.
 

TransientMoment

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I hate posting Wikipedia, but: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A
tl;dr - There were several ways of writing A, but in Italy, the two common forms we have today evolved. The circle with a line on the side is the "italic" (used in writing), and the circle with the line over the top is the "Roman" (used in print). The usage situation still seems to be the case. It's easier to read the latter in print but write the former.

Anyone have a better source?
 
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