The letter Ø is the current focus of our short series of articles on unusual letters (from the perspective of our alphabet, of course).
The round letter Ø is a vowel known to linguists and is one of the letters in Scandinavian languages such as Faroese (currently spoken in the Faroe Islands and in Denmark), Danish and Norwegian.
Although native speakers of these languages are well aware of how it should be pronounced, experts find it hard to see eye to eye with regard to what “foreign” sound it is similar to. In terms of phonetic similarity, we could say that it sounds like the “u” in hurt or “œu” in the French word cœur.
10 pieces of trivia about the letter Ø:
- Did you know that the letter Ø was also part of the old vocabulary of one of Spain’s official languages, Basque?
- This letter is one of the 8 vowels in Norwegian: a, e, i, o, u, æ, ø, å. It’s a weak vowel and forms part of commonly used words such as dør (door).
- The letter Ø is part of Danish singer Karen Marie Ørsted’s stage name: MØ, a Nordic word that could be translated as “virgin”.
- In Danish, the letter Ø is also a word that means “island”.
- In handwritten Spanish, this letter is often used to differentiate between the letter O and the number 0 (zero).
- 6. In Roman mosaics, this letter was used to symbolize fallen gladiators.
- In mathematics, this letter is used as a symbol for the so-called empty set (can you still remember your math classes?) 😉
- In exploded view drawings of mechanical parts, the letter Ø is used to symbolize the diameter.
- In immunology (the branch of biochemistry that deals with the immune system), it is used as an abbreviation for some cells called macrophages.
- To type capital Ø in your documents, press Alt + 0216, or if you prefer a small letter instead, press Alt + 0248 at the same time.
Do you know any other trivia about the letter Ø? Care to share it with us?