Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Politics of ABC.

You know, really, if you think about it, there's no real reason that the alphabet is the way it is.

Oh, of course, you need to have some way to organize things, in order to file and be able to more efficiently look items up. Other than that, though, it's not like the number system, where 1 has to go before 2, which has to go before 3. From a logical standpoint, there's no real reason that A HAS to go before B, which HAS to go before C. C could just as easily go before A, quite frankly, and it really wouldn't matter, because that's not the way that we use the alphabet. It's simply what we've gotten used to. Had we gotten used to a different order, a world where B did go before A, we would have just accepted it, and it would have been just as functional for us as our present system is.

The way we phrase things verbally, the way we write, has nothing to do with the order we assign to our letters. The rules of grammar and sentence structure play a far more important role. In so many cases, even that doesn't particularly matter, frankly. 

When Ashes was going to kindergarten, she had the worst time with her alphabet. I remember getting so worried because she'd have such a difficult time sounding everything out and putting all the building blocks together. We would spend hours in her room, sounding everything out, writing everything down. And I would get so frustrated. Even then, we'd have those Greek temper arguments that we're so famous for within our family, where we'd argue and storm and rage and then fifteen minutes later, we'd be fine and moving forward.

Maybe it wasn't such a big deal. Maybe If I had just viewed the alphabet as a completely artificial construct without any sense of real logic behind it I wouldn't have gotten all so passionate and it would have made everything a lot easier.

Still, I suppose it is OUR artificial construct, and one of the cornerstones upon which our civilization is based. No one's demanding, after all,  that we rethink our alphabet, and place B before A, after all. We have way bigger fish to fry.

But who decided it? Was it a totally arbitrary thing? Was there a Holy See where folks came together and argued about the positioning? Someone came to the meeting bucking for the letter A to be the first letter? "Well, I was really hoping for the letter M to go first, but harumph, okay, what the hell, let's give A a chance to prove itself." 

Hmm. Like the Holy See, are there letters that were determined to be heretical? Maybe Q was a letter that was on the borderline. I know that W was an iffy letter, for a while. People seemed to like UU, years ago. Hell, for all intents and purposes, W is still UU. But were there any letters that were also-rans? What does it feel like to be a rejected letter, I wonder?

Sigh. Maybe I just needed a bit more coffee, this morning.

Just asked Ashes. She thinks that people who had no lives are the ones who determined the order of Things such as the alphabet. You know what? She may have a point there...

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