I read Kenneth Turan's little blurb about a new book called "Twenty-Six Friends" by Robert F. Blankholm (Dec. 2) with much interest because he claims to have learned that U is "our newest letter" of the alphabet, "not coming into general use until the 1660s."
Now, I have not yet read "Twenty-Six Friends," but I have taken a class in Old English (428-1100), where we learned how to translate the Anglo-Saxon language, a language which is incorporated into our present-day English and a language which, by the way, does include the letter U.
After all, what is Beowulf without a U? Beowlf ? And how could Chaucer have written "The Book of the Duchess" in 1370 or "Troilus and Criseyde" without the aforementioned vowel?
Also, wasn't Shakespeare using the letter U before 1600? Or is his usage not considered to be "general"?
MILLICENT C. BORGES