Friday, August 18, 2006

The ABC's of Life

Have you ever wondered (and not a lot of people have) who was the genius who first decided the order of the letters in the alphabet?

Imagine the effects if he hadn’t bothered. Searching for an Indian Take-Out restaurant in Yellow Pages would be a marathon task. The Oxford English dictionary would be a shambles. And your personal E-Book addresses in Microsoft Outlook would be – Oh, sorry, it already is, due to it’s default setting of listing everyone under their first name, making you scroll through dozens of Bills, Charlies and the like to find the one you want.

Personally, I believe the alphabet was set up by a committee chaired by an Aaron – hence the first letter was voted in. Zed (or Zee if you’re reading this in the US of A) was probably placed due to old Zachariah being the most cantankerous of the group. But how did they get all those fellows in between to fall in line? It must have made an EU summit conference look like a kindergarten party.

“I before E,” shouted Ichabod down the table. “But only after C,” said Clymenstera. “No, no, no,” cried Diadne, “That’s only when it’s in the same word.”

“Make a note of that,” said the chairman – and so it must have gone on. Days of wrangling just to make your life so much easier in these days when alphabet soup is the modern jargon.

In Russia, of course, they saw it a little differently.

“Comrades,” spoke the commissar, “ The A-Pluski results are getting to easy. Let us throw a wrenchski in their miserable lives. We add a few extra letters. That will surely put them in the bortsch and prove our superiority to the decadent twenty-six letter brigade.”

And so it came to pass.

So as you thumb though your address book looking for William Donaldson’s address under the letter D, give a thought to that unsung genius who has made it so much easier for you.

Except that your wife will undoubtedly have filed him under B for Bill!


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