Sunday, September 2, 2007

x, rated

Except for indicating wrong answers, playing tic-tac-toe, and telling pirates where to dig for buried treasure, X seems to lack any convincing reason for its existence. I came to this conclusion after reading through the poems people produced in response to the challenge described in the previous post. (be sure to check out the complete list at Slouching Mom's place). While the end results were all fiendishly clever, I'm sure that everyone struggled to find a word beginning with X. There's a reason that children's ABC books inevitably have illustrations of xylophones or x-rays.

Fortunately, X is completely expendable. It would be easy enough to substitute Z in words like xenophobe and xanthous and CK everywhere else. In fact, now that I think about it, I don't really see why the alphabet needs both C and K, since the two letters make essentially the same sound.* Most Germanic languages get by just fine with K for the vast majority of words, while the Romance languages seem to manage by overwhelmingly using C. And I'm sure there are many other candidates for excision from the alphabet. Any suggestions for letters the world (or at least the English language) would be better off without?



*In words like "nice," where C sounds like S, it could be replaced by, well, S.

17 comments:

Emily said...

haha. I was thinking that we probably crashed the "words beginning with x" websites as we tried to complete the alphabet challenge.

One could probably argue that Q is unnecessary, as the sound could be recreated with Kw. But I rather like Q. It adds a certain respectability to words like Quick. (Kwik could never refer to anything more sophisticated than convenience stores or powdered cocoa.)

Lori said...

Well, the absence of "x" would have certainly made the writing of my ABC poem easier!! Although, even though I cheated, I rather like the word I chose in its place.

I don't know if I can stand to do away with any of the letters. I am too sentimental, I suppose.

Caro said...

In Danish X is rare and W and Z are recent imports used nearly exclusively in words "borrowed" from English. One of the reasons the V and W sounds are so often confused by Danes when speaking English. But then they do have å, æ and ø instead.

blooming desertpea said...

You've got a point here - spelling becomes a lot more easier if we ditch some letters.

I agree with C & K and S & Z but the X is just a sexy letter and oh, how would spell sexy without X? lol

Katie W said...

What about if you pronounce nice like the french city Nice, or the biscuits?
It sounds like Niece, getting rid of the c would require changing the i to an e, and how do you deal with niece?
Ahhhhh too confusing, I like our way of spelling things though, it provides so many ways of writing what is essentially the same word.

slouching mom said...

i'm with katie w and blooming desertpea -- i'm rather attached to x.

LeRoy Dissing said...

I like the letter x too but I do think many words could be shortened. For example cough (cof) or night (nite)...and thousands more words that we add letters to that are silent. If we cleaned them out, we could really shorten things up a bit.

The Oneliner (Christina) said...

good grief, i'm away for a day and you start trying to dump letters of the alphabet!

you simply cannot get rid of x.
one, it has a cool shape...x. not to mention...without 'x'charles manson would not have been able to 'x' himself out of society during his trial. (the x he carved with a razor between his eyes)Which his supporters then copied.
And what would happen to tic-tac-toe?
How would we know when cartoons charcters had died?

As counsel for 'x,' i say not without a fight!

Beruriah said...

Well I knew what x would be in my silly poem before I started. I'd just seen the word in an article about new "New World" species of plants.

In any case, I'm much too much of a snob to want to simply English spelling. So very Ben Franklin and Noah Webster for you all - although the latter added 6 new phonetic sounds to the alphabet. He would have spelled phonetic as fonetic. Yuck.

Beruriah said...

The former, I mean. Franklin added the 6 letters.

My Reality said...

Without x, there wouldn't be sex. And I just cannot fathom having a lifetime of intercourse. It just sounds boring and proper.

DD said...

Sorry, but we have to keep the x.

My son's name just wouldn't be the same if it ended in "cks" to make up for that one letter.

Y, however, could hit the road. So what if Yellow now sounds lispy as Wellow.

niobe said...

My Reality: But there would be "secks." Which has a certain, uh, ring to it, don't you think?

Sanne said...

Secksy? Secks? Eckstra? Hmm, makes the words look more Germanic. But one of the things we did in Dutch (also a Germanic language) is to adopt the Anglophone spelling of some words... like sexy, sex and extra. And you know why? Because it's easier!

Magpie said...

I did have to resort to the Scrabble dictionary to find a good X word.

But I like X. X-ray, shorthand for kisses, xylem.

I'm for keeping all 26.

Elizabeth said...

X has its uses in Spanish, for sure - one of the loveliest Mexican names I've seen is Xochithl. Without x, Texas would be Tejas, Mexico Mejico, and Xavier Javier. There's just something about that x.

Furrow said...

It seems that the "x" is very American. So quick and efficient. Good for business. Good for branding. X-treme.