I’ve been working in elementary schools for a little over four years now. During those years, I’ve spent a lot of my time in kindergarten. This has allowed me to reflect on our alphabet. Not that I haven’t spent time thinking about my ABC’s from time to time. After all, I do enjoy to write and sentences are made up of mostly letters found in the alphabet.
Each week, the kindergarten classes I observe focus on one particular letter. This week, they’ve reached the final letter. If you don’t know what that is, you should probably head back to kindergarten yourself. I’ll give you a hint: in Canada, they call it Zed. I’m not sure what they’ll do next week. Maybe they’ll start making up letters. That’s an activity I might be tempted to endorse, if I weren’t about to launch into my argument for the elimination of one of our most cherished letters.
But is the letter X really cherished? I would argue that it is not. How often is it really used? You can only find it once in a bag of Scrabble tiles. And it isn’t even the letter assigned the highest point value. Thinking about the point values in Scrabble, I suppose the fact that X receives fewer points than Z should tell us that it’s used more often, and is therefore easier to use if you have it. So why should we get rid of X as opposed to Z?
The reason is that Z has its own significant sound. X does not. Find a word with the letter X in it that can’t be spelled a different way phonetically. I really don’t think you can. In the new world that I have just ushered us into, box would equal boks. Fox would become foks.
And what if a word begins with X? Doesn’t it make the same sound as the Z? Wouldn’t be just as easy to call it a zylophone? You’d get two extra points in Scrabble. Of course, we’d have to change the name of the ancient Persian emperor, Xerxes. What’s wrong with Zerkses? I think it looks much more interesting.
So, really, what purpose does the X have anymore? There used to be an X rating in films, but they replaced that with the NC-17 years ago. If you ask me, it was just the first step in phasing out the letter altogether.
I know, we could try to make the argument against the letter C. More often than not, its sound can be replicated with a K or an S. But throw an H right next to it and it makes a pretty unique sound. Q could probably be eliminated at some point. Quick is already spelled Kwik on many convenience store signs.
But I think we should take things slowly. It will take some time for people to adjust to only 25 letters in their alphabet. In fact, we’ll probably have to come up with a whole new song.