Monday, April 28, 2014

A to Z: X rant

X is an odd letter. I've thought about this quite a bit, mostly at staff meetings.  The letter X seems to be a random letter, thrown into the alphabet at the last minute because they wanted an even number of letters.  We could easily have used another letter in the place of X, but we didn't.  It bothers me, this illogical use of a weird letter.  If not for the fact that the English language is one of the most illogical languages ever created, X would not fit. 

But perhaps it is just misunderstood.

The letter X is almost always read as "ex", for instance, and that just brings up all sorts of negative connotations, even for words like "excitement".  All of us have an "ex".  Some of us have more than one "ex"; and when we hear the first part of a word with the letter X in it, at least some of us automatically think of that evil person who broke our heart into a million pieces and stomped on it.  We can't help it, and that makes the letter X a bit irritating.  Maybe we could just stop writing "ex" and just leave it at X? That might be a more positive association, right?
Xcept when you use the letter X in the word 'Xylophone', and then it is a Z sound. How did that happen?  Was someone drunk while writing the dictionary? Were they smoking that book binding glue that causes hallucinations?  Why would you have an X make a Z sound?  Such a pronunciation puts the earth off kilter, but again we have an Xample of the English language on a mission to drive people completely insane. 

The X is also a rune that represents "gift", which is pretty cool.  At least, it's cool until you find out that the transliteration of that rune is...g.  How did the manly letter X come to stand for g? What was going on that day in the Ancient Languages department at Oxford?  Seems like an algebra problem gone horribly wrong, doesn't it? 

X is also supposed to mark a spot, a destination, and sometimes that spot can contain treasure.  That's pretty awesome, right?  Way to go, Letter X!  Your presence can not only indicate the end of a journey, but also that fabulous cash and prizes may await.  Not many letters have that claim to fame.

I guess we should keep X around, after all.

1 comment:

I welcome comments, but reserve the right to correct your spelling because I am OCD about it!