Monday, September 26, 2005

cApItAl IdEa

I wonder when (and how) capital letters and lowercase letters came
about. Isn't it somewhat odd to have two symbols for the exact same
sound? R and r are (heh) both the same phonetically, and yet we have two
different symbolic representations of the same letter. Looking at the
keyboard, there is only the capital letters, which one could assume
means that those are the more important representations. However, when
you strike a key from the keyboard, unless you have either the caps lock
button pushed, or you push the shift key, the symbol you type is NOT
equivalent to the symbol represented on the keyboard.

I'm not making any sense, and I don't really have a point. Just random
musings about letters.
Speaking of random musings about letters... I wonder how (and why) the
order of the alphabet is the way that it is. Humans being the way that
they are, it makes sense that when putting the alphabet together, that
they would try to put the letters most commonly used in the beginning,
and the least commonly used near the end. And that idea plays out, more
or less, with q and x and z being at the conclusion. But "s" is pretty
common too. So is "r" and "n". And why are the vowels not clumped
together? Who decided that "a" was more important than "e" or "i"? Hell,
shouldn't "i" be the first letter? (Or is that my self-absorption
shining through again?)
So many things I don't know, and probably never will. Oh well.


Simon said...

I've had similar thoughts in the past about how the letters of the alphabet are supposed to relate to the sounds we make when we speak them. 's weird.

Amy said...

Dude. This is the not the first time today that someone has asked (such that I could, see) why the alphabet is in the order it is.


The capital A is a glyph derived from an ox head!

J.R.R. Tolkien designed his Elvish Tengwar to relate directly how the characters appear to how the sounds they represent are produced. Because he was just freaking awesome like that.

However, language, and for the most part its physical presentation, is arbitrary. It's its defining characteristic. I could say that I am typing on my chair and sitting on my keyboard. Words are not the same as what the represent.

Also, the alphabet does not have an order. Letters exist, and they are used and rearranged to form words, and this is what we recognize. However, the alphabet is an orderly system that everyone can recognize. Everyone can understand that B follows A and be secure in the knowledge that there is order. Few people ever question this.


Anonymous said...

Boy, that's way better than what I was going to come up with...