Sunday, November 10, 2013

For Ug0-Hay

Dear Hugo,

This is an answer to your question at last! I am sorry my spying has taken so long...

You asked - why is the alphabet in the order it is? Hmm, well the answer seems to be:


Actually this is surprisingly often the answer to many things! especially very ancient things. The order of the alphabet is VERY ancient. Have a look at this clever clip from the University of Maryland:

It shows you how starting with the Phoenician alphabet from around 1000 BC -  (yes, that's right, a LONG time ago - the Phoenicans lived in the area we now call Lebanon) - sorry -  it shows how that alphabet gradually through time turned into the alphabet we use today. You can read about this also, as you know, in the first few chapters of "The Word Spy".

People think the order is most likely to do with the way people found it easiest to remember, so that was probably something connected with the sounds the letters made. Or it could be to do with numbers - the number value that each letter represented. Or it could be to do with the stars - perhaps each letter stood for an astrological sign of some kind. Or it could be do with the "things" each letter was in the shape of, and how important it was. So if the first letter, aleph, (our letter A), was in the shape of a big cow, perhaps because people thought cows were very important it should go first. (Moooo!)

Well, I think that's given us all enough to think about for a while.

And I'll get back to you on that lipogram on Y - I haven't forgotten!

yours, alphabetically,

Spy The Word

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