Written by Catchthisdrift
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Tags: Language

Friday, 11 April 2014

image for ABC: What If We'd Used A Different Song? These could have been Rs or Zs or ???

It is usually the first thing we learn as infants about written communications: the letters A, B and C. In fact we refer to the entire alphabet as "the ABCs." And all because of that song. A must-learn for every toddler. I of course can't write the melody here, but we all know how it goes: "A B C D E F G.... H I J K LMNOP... Q R S... T U V... W.. X... Y and Z. Now I know my ABCs, next time won't you sing with me?" We take the ordering for granted - it has become so engrained into our intellectual culture that we see it in book titles: "The ABCs of {fill in the blank}." To cover a topic completely we say "From A to Z." And we've had to explain to children that LMNOP is not a single letter. But what if...

What if we'd used a different song? What if, instead of "The ABCs", we'd used "The QKYs", or "The HPFs"? Our world would be much different than it is today. One could argue that it indeed would not be any different, because we wouldn't have the frame of reference we have: life with the ABCs. But still, it is interesting to think about. What if a different song containing all the letters had been more popular? One need only perform a cursory search on the internet to find at least 20 songs that were popular that sang of the letters - but each using a different order.

Why THAT song?

A little more digging gave me the answer. No one knows. People at the time preferred it over other songs, just as some songs today become huge hits and others are almost instantly lost in time. However the popularity began, it was fed by minstrels, traveling gypsy circuses and carnival story-tellers. The songs with the letters in a different order fell into obscurity.

And that is the ABCs of our ABCs.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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