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Websters Unabridged Dictionary - Webster

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<-- begin Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary - 1913 -->
<--                                      p. 1 -->

    A (named ? in the English, and most commonly  in other
languages). The first letter of the English and of many
other alphabets. The capital A of the alphabets of Middle
and Western Europe, as also the small letter (a), besides
the forms in Italic, black letter, etc., are all descended
from the old Latin A, which was borrowed from the Greek
Alpha, of the same form; and this was made from the first
letter (?) of the Phoenician alphabet, the equivalent of the
Hebrew Aleph, and itself from the Egyptian origin. The Aleph
was a consonant letter, with a guttural breath sound that
was not an element of Greek articulation; and the Greeks
took it to represent their vowel Alpha with the  sound, the
Phoenician alphabet having no vowel symbols.
    This letter, in English, is used for several different
vowel sounds. See Guide to pronunciation,  43P74. The
regular long a, as in fate, etc., is a comparatively modern
sound, and has taken the place of what, till about the early
part of the 17th century, was a sound of the quality of 
(as in far).
    2. (Mus.) The name of the sixth tone in the model major
scale (that in C), or the first tone of the minor scale,
which is named after it the scale in A minor. The second
string of the violin is tuned to the A in the treble staff.
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