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Friday, January 31, 2014

Academic industry

Your article is indeed revealing and highlighting a very pathetic and parochial obsession and fixation that goes on in the name of academic business bazaar [I would not like to call that either as even knowledge business or education]. It is a chronic disease worse than a malign cancer because I don’t see any permanent cure.

But then I decided being a 50 plus chap that I should not jump to conclusions and find out why something is so? However good or bad it is? Or however much it is against your liking?

In everyone’s life if we observe we end up doing what we want to do? What we are capable of doing? And, of course, a particular situation or quirk of fate forces us to, called what we are destined to do? While we cannot have much say or control over the last one , at least we must deal with the  first two, in our terms.

Predominantly it is this triad and our actions and reactions to this triad that leads us to do many things.

Our psychology works on not only based on what we define or how we define a particular thing/s or entity/entities as, here for example academic steam, happiness, aptitude, interest etc but also how the societal pressure prejudices our fallibility of being not so fully well informed, possessing, because of the age factor less experience based knowledge and this army of external forces may end up pushing us, the innocent and /or ignorant victims into wells of socially accepted streams of success or failure.
This is not confined to either the field of academics alone or parental pressure alone, but it is a sort of vicious circle wherein the parents want to bring their children in procrustean beds and they do so, sometimes, with good intentions because they themselves are under societal pressures to do so.

Everything must be viewed in context and Indian context the academics are many things none which have anything to do with the academics itself? It is about being a passport to get a well paid or socially respected job followed by being an acceptable commodity in the matrimonial market followed by being viewed as having a decent image in society it goes even to when you go to seek admission for your child where starting from the school principal to the L.K.G teacher will smile and take care of your child if they know that you have a professional degree suffixed or affixed to your name.    
I have written lots of things many interconnected topics with this one I think I would provide the links in my blog which you may read when you find time.
For this New Year I wrote this essay

reaction to the article

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

indifference,identity cages

Please define common man is he an IRS officer who does not attend his official work and works for an NGO and gets heavily paid and also gets dubious funding from various organizations with ulterior motives and hidden agendas through multiple NGOs? How many common men are with IRS, with these facilities? do not get trapped into media projected labels on secularism, communal-ism, common man etc then you would end up forgetting the real meaning of the words , forget the language and also allow someone else to think for you . AAP got to prominence on a single agenda anti- corruption hoping that the media will never expose the inherent corruptions of AAP itself and to top it all he has joined hands with Congress I don't think I need to explain any further. Our country's greatest ills are indifference of the academically qualified and materially well placed
[I will never call them educated] and ignorance of the masses and now added to these misleading paid media propaganda. Sane people must not fall a prey to any of these. Another senior journalist today wrote an article please give them, AAP, time they are not just another political party but a social movement and I wrote to her "what you mean by social movement against corruption? Even if it were so, How about revealing all the details of all the NGO funds that is running this party? Biggest joke is a social movement against corruption joins hands with Congress to form a government."
you may also update with this
Truth About Kejriwal – a view | Satya's Blog

Arvind kejeriwal is just an academically qualified highly corrupt NGO activist facade of Indian brand of, sorry breed of Leftist Marxist Naxal mafia who are used by many forces some of which even Arvind may not be aware and the crowd with him may also be not aware .“There's a difference between playing and playing games. The former is an act of joy, the latter — an act.” ― Vera Nazarian , "A leader will find it difficult to articulate a coherent vision unless it expresses his core values, his basic must first embark on the formidable journey of self-discovery in order to create a vision with authentic soul."
~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Quotes from Good Business

And I would not blame Arvind or the bunch of youth getting carried away by his brand of sloganeering because a huge chunk of educated youth without proper clarity about any identity or role model and all these coupled with the most corrupt popular media houses will succumb to any cage of identity, as all of us are, it could be as stupid as Bollyhood movies or meaningless religious rituals or socially appealing ideology etc. More the brain washing slogans, populist measures and promises promoted avidly by the mass opinion molders in the form of media the easier it is to catch the prey of youth.

But the problem is once we are in the identity cage we refuse to come out , we fail to realize and value our various types of relationships with myriads of things, ideas, people, events etc or their relation to us . It is a dilemma wherein we unconsciously subject ourselves to limited options or reduce our choices. I felt the pathetic situation of the present day's talented, educated, intelligent , toiling youth but rudderless and not getting spotted by any sane radars as well and thought philosophically about it and wrote this essay for this New Year [this contains many references, links etc highlighting the importance of many institutions, individuals of real worth etc

“Whatever is a reality today, whatever you touch and believe in and that seems real for you today, is going to be, like the reality of yesterday, an illusion tomorrow.” 
― Luigi Pirandello

problem gets compounded by a herd of ill informed but tall advise giving breed of very active youth who report and also sit on judgment on any personality and on any subject without either polishing their language or updating their knowledge on the subject at least through googling before unleashing their diatribe on paper and on channels. All of these reporters have one thing in common they have no national pride, they know nothing about anything regarding the nation and all their knowledge if at all they have managed to get time to acquire that by 23 or 25 years has been through their history, social, geography text books and leftists propaganda pamphlets. which I too read from 4th std till my SSLC every year I read about the likes of mogul emperors’ wives and love affairs of mogul emperors followed by colonial oppression and Gandhis experiments with two new nude girls everyday[lucky chap] and his doing surya namaskarams dialy and reading the bhagawath geetha etc [ great virtues for a leader why bother about governance , economic development, welfare of people, preservation of native culture, protection of nation's heritage , culture etc] this was coupled with Nehru's biographical account explaining about his greatness in all details and glory [sans[ except] his house of birth because that was a brothel otherwise that would have been a monument by now] so I always felt what a wonderful country it is we can have unlimited romance and unlimited wives à la mogul style or uncensored experiments à la gandhi style or unquestioned promotion of an English speaking, good looking hypocrite who can then be trust upon the nation as a great personality à la Nehru style; Never did I learn any of these things that there is something called administration, governance, welfare of the people, India's economy, its immense varieties of cultures, its great heritage, its unique agricultural strength as probably the only country with maximum geographical zones soil wise [ excuse me for being too academical here] and the only country where you can cultivate and harvest 365 days in year [ these two luxuries no other place on earth has and what more you need?] India's vast cultures, India's contribution to humanity in many spheres of life [ fortunately some Britishers who came to colonize India took interest and documented some good things for posterity][ incidentally I am reading a wonderful research work on 'physics in the Vedas'. Here I would like to quote something which I send to TMK, another upstart à la kejeriwal, [1] Page 141of ‘Becoming Indian’ by Pavan K. Varma
“When people are the subjects of their own culture, their creative expression has self –assuredness and spontaneity, so they create a unique and effective language of communication even when the grammar is imperfect. This is because the idiom is authentic. But when people become objects of a foreign culture, a huge transformation takes place. Suddenly, a creative work is judged not for its intrinsic value, or for the heritage it is sourced from or is a part of, but for the degree to which it is comprehensible and conforms to the outsider’s culture. The process is all the more mutilating if the outsider belongs to the dominant political or military power of the time [or a putrefied political ideology-italics mine], and there is necessary prejudice, condescension and prurience in his gaze. When this happens, spontaneity reduces itself to self –conscious mediocrity; creativity seeks to qualify itself [to some irrelevant yard stick]; authenticity gives way to imitation; self –assurance is replaced by denial. An entire culture attempts to reinterpret itself in terms that will somehow win the dominant outsider’s approval. The ‘objectified’ people then thrive only as exotica; their historic role becomes that of the observed; everything external about them –and nothing of intrinsic value-is collated, classified and investigated. They finally end up as caricatures, divorced from their own cultural milieu and perpetually alien-in spite of their best efforts at emulation-to that of the outsider.” [What is more pathetic is the hitherto insiders getting converted into outsiders causing chaos]
Please note: All things written in this quote in brackets and in italics are mine.

Common man

I always say serendipity is an invisible angel around us and balaji ramamoorthy here is an article that seems precisely meant for what I asked you for defining a common man? And who is this common man?

Common man is found in paradoxes
Sunday, 19 January 2014 | Pramod Pathak | in Spirituality

The common man is found in paradoxes, and empathizing with him will answer futuristic queries

The most talked about person today is the common man, aam aadmi. But who is this “common man”? Given the wide array of colours, shapes and sizes he comes in typifying, this common man cannot be contained within a single definition. He is both the autorickshaw-puller who is forced to bribe the police, as well as the policeman who takes the bribe. He is the buyer who tries to outsmart the seller and also the seller who always wants to outwit the buyer. He wants action but chooses inaction; wants change but is not willing to change. He can be located in a bundle of paradoxes, he himself being an oxymoron. We witness that his current trait is that he votes neither for the Congress nor for the BJP. And if we believe the ideodynamic view of psychologist Saul Rosezweig, there can be over one billion types of the common man in India. Where do you find the typical common man then? He could once be found in the cartoons of RK Laxman. But many think that he is now available on Facebook or similar social media sites where he expresses his views in bipolar terms — likes and dislikes.

All these apart, there is a million dollar question — What does he want? And the answer lies in empathizing with him as that may provide clues to many futuristic queries. The famous scientific management theory suggests that the common man is an economic rational. The well-known human relations approach suggests that he is emotional and, thus, irrational. Also, Theory X says that he is basically unreasonable, lazy and does not want to work. Its corollary, Theory Y, says that he is essentially good and loves work. They could be apt as well as erroneous. Because the common man may desire without deserving, dream without thinking, aspire without acting and fantasize without possessing. He normally would like to choose the path of least resistance or in terms of Game Theory, prefer the maximax strategy.

Can you fulfill his wishes? Certainly not in the long run. And what about the cost at which this fulfillment will come? More than awareness about rights it is the commitment towards duties that needs to be told. A Sanskrit shloka sums up our ancient wisdom: “Udyamen hi sidhyanti, karyaani na manorathaih/ Nahi suptasya singhasya, pravishanti mukhe mrigah (Action, and not the will alone, makes the wishes come true. The deer would not walk into the mouth of a lion asleep.)”

The writer is professor, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad

(Jharkhand). He can be reached at


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My sincere lifelong lovers, the 26 gems who influence the world

My sincere lifelong lovers, the 26 gems who influence the world

Wouldn’t we like to know every detail about someone or something we love very much?

More so wouldn’t we like to understand, interpret and infer or inject greatness to justify why we love that person or thing?

More so, when that thing has not only been attracting us but also silently ruling the world.

The thing is this love is made of 26 gems who have been used extensively to describe everything in the universes all our gods, sciences, philosophies, technologies, diseases, historical events, imaginary stories etc.

They have been used for everything from transferring wisdom to triggering wars.

You guessed it right, it is my love affair with the 26 letters of the English Alphabet and the obvious childlike inquisitiveness threw up a lot of questions in me.

What is unique about this love affair is that when some of these 26 characters make love among themselves they are so lovely that our loyalty in love can never be assured as we jump from word to word and enjoy their company.

Very often they get together in love and impact and influence our thoughts, lives and sometimes they motivate, instigate and awaken a whole humanity towards some action or idea. They are the unquestioned triggers for many events in history.

What makes them so potent and irresistible?

Do they have any inherent mysterious potential?

Or have they acquired special powers due to many historical events and activities that have enhanced their status?

Probably if we take a journey or make a pilgrimage or have a love affair with them we may end up sailing in a vast universe of multiple stars and many planets studded with many beautiful natural sceneries each beholding our attention with total intensity or sometimes intense totality. One thing is certain that they manifest immense influence on human race.

After all the jumping, juggling and jaunts with lesser numbers than 26 to more numbers than 26 [A] ultimately the English alphabet has for some good reason settled at 26 [probably destined to be in the company of most vital number like the atoms of oxygen that sustain life to be a eight (8) knowing well the greatness and numerological superiority of the number 8] [1]

 "Writers spend three years rearranging 26 letters of the alphabet. It's enough to make you lose your mind day by day."(attributed to Richard Price)

These 26 gems are collectively called Alphabet but what is the etymology [origin] of this word ‘alphabet’ itself. It is from Latin, from the names of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta. These Greek words were in turn derived from the original Semitic names for the symbols: aleph ("ox") and beth ("house"). So thus if we go on investigating the ancestry of letters, like the etymology of many words, it throws up lot of interesting tales and history.

Without getting clear and convincing answers for the why, what, and how etc our lives would be unimaginative, dull and passive like inanimate objects.

It is not only in questioning but exploring to seek the answers for these whys, what and how, whatever source they emanate from and in all possible ways, is what educates and emancipates mankind.

In this process of enquiry, we must steer clear of impenetrable jargons, lukewarm sea of half-baked theories, the illusion that life and its meanings and problems can be reduced to some specific straitjacket dogma, and delusions of fettering axiomatic certitudes like something is said to be so and therefore, it exists so, a sort of quoddamodotative [things existing in a certain manner] justification, and a whole lot of other such aspects of the culture of escapism, social or religious restrictions, indifference, lies etc.

Out of this ubiquitous trinity of why, what and how, let me take up only why here.

The word why is a magical word. Small children use it to keep their parents talking on and on without end. Unfortunately, it is not only to keep their parents talking but also out of inquisitiveness. Inquisitiveness is what produces a wide range of characters starting from an eavesdropper, a scandal monger or a clandestine voyeur or a gossip giant or a spiritual mediator or a social inventor, an unrelenting scientific brain etc. So the type of reply a parent gives to a child’s enquiry of a why? (out of inquisitiveness) will produce such a “deep” impression that, the child’s mind would start using the question why to get a particular expected answer and also produce any of the above referred characters depending upon the parent’s reply.

Very often parents tend to give clever replies like a tourist guide who, when once, a lady asked him “How a row of fine rock formation were piled up”, said “they have been piled up here by the glaciers”. When she anxiously asked him “Where are the glaciers?” he replied “Madam, they have gone back to get some more rocks”. Such replies are often the result of ignorance, half-knowledge or impatience or all of these.

I, for one, would rather like to go to the maximum extent possible to find the answer for all the whys that arise in me, for, I am also susceptible to grammatolatry [worship of letters and words]. Thus, I cannot just blindly worship letters and words in a passive acceptance and leave unanswered the whys which haunt me. [I did a similar study for why the words of the week are named after planets in all the languages and why they follow the same order and it threw up very interesting astrological truths, a science or pseudo science the world has decided to put it in the back burner {2}]

Now let me get to face the questions first.

Why they are only 26 alphabets?

Why are they in that specific/particular order?

Why are they in that shape?

What is their origin or their origins?

Why they have such specific sounds?

Whether all these are interrelated or influence one another especially their shape, sound, orders of the letters etc?

What is the mystery behind this intertesselation [complex interrelationship]?

One thing is certain their combination [of the letters] drives all professionals into verbomaniacs [crazy of words].

Once the questions have emerged, then, the doubts arose, because of the very nature of the questions, as to what subject/subjects will get us the answers to these questions?

And to get answers to all these whys, do we need to study acoustics?

Do we need to study some of its hidden esoteric geometrical powers?

Do we need to study logography in which a written sign represents a single word?

Do we need to study phonology?

Do we need to study orthography?

Do we need to study ideography, in which ideas or concepts are represented directly in the form of glyphs or characters?

Do we need to study Euphonics [ incidentally there are some very interesting books on this subject]? [2a]

Or is it due to The Bouba-Kiki Effect [3] or Bouma shape?

Or do we need to study the science of sequence?

Or do we need to study history of linguistics?

Or is there a subject called alphabetology?

Or do we need to cull out evidences from archaeological surveys?

Or can we trace their origins by some quirky logic to semiotics [study of signs and symbols] or sphragistics [study of seals and signets]?

Let me confine myself here to the origin of the western oriented languages from which English has emerged, and this English language remains as the unquestioned and unvanquished ruler.

All these many languages which existed before English was born and grew into the most beautiful, intelligent and powerful personality and also all these languages have contributed to the shape, sound, order etc of the English alphabet.

Even here there is lot of controversies, as is obvious when we trace the antiquity or origin of anything that has become great, powerful and successful for almost a few centuries and luckily unlikely to be dislodged from its position of prominence for many more centuries.

Whatever be the controversies can we ever imagine a world without the English alphabets or the English language?

"The alphabet has generally been considered as the revolutionary breakthrough in the development of writing and literacy and thus as the writing system that is superior to any other. The advantages of the alphabet seem obvious, indeed. It is easy to learn, because it has fewer units than any other writing system; and it is applicable to any language, thanks to its phonemic character. Yet the story of the alphabet is not as simple as that, as careful investigations clearly show. . . . [A]lphabetic writing is subject to historical changes, and it is at least questionable whether or not the structural advantages of the alphabet are preserved throughout these changes and in the course of the historical development of the phonological and the orthographic systems of a language."
(Florian Coulmas and Konrad Ehlich, Introduction. Writing in Focus. Walter de Gruyter, 1983

The Origin

“We use the letters of our alphabet every day with the utmost ease and unconcern, taking them almost as much for granted as the air we breathe. We do not realize that each of these letters is at our service today as the result of a
long and laboriously slow process of evolution in the age-old art of writing.”-
Douglas C. McMurtrie

The most important, vital and lovely relationships are always taken for granted as they form an intrinsic part of our life, we do not stand apart or stay away from them or isolate them  and notice or label their presence or significance. It is so with alphabets, air and parental love and affection. In case, if we don’t have them or they are misplaced, displaced or short on supply then we realize their significance, sometimes too late 

A single alphabet wrongly placed can trigger danger and disaster, there are like the blood passing through the nerves in brain you do not notice their importance until it clots or causes a hemorrhage. This is very well said by Vera Nazarian in The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration’, “Each letter of the alphabet is a steadfast loyal soldier in a great army of words, sentences, paragraphs, and stories. One letter falls, and the entire language falters”.

“In about 1500 B.C., the world's [Western world or perhaps what is known to the author] first alphabet appeared among the Semites in Canaan. It featured a limited number of abstract symbols (at one point thirty-two, later reduced to twenty-two) out of which most of the sounds of speech could be represented. All the world's alphabets descend from it. After the Phoenicians (or early Canaanites) brought the Semitic alphabet to Greece, an addition was made that allowed the sounds of speech to be represented less ambiguously: vowels. The oldest surviving example of the Greek alphabet dates from about 750 B.C. This is, via Latin and gives or takes a few letters or accents, the alphabet in which this book is written. It has never been improved upon."(Mitchell StephensThe Rise of the Image, the Fall of the Word. Oxford University Press, 1998) [what is in brackets and in italics mine]

The Greek Alphabet

"The Greek alphabet was the first whose letters recorded every significant sound element in a spoken language in a one-to-one correspondence, give or take a few diphthongs. In ancient Greece, if you knew how to pronounce a word, you knew how to spell it, and you could sound out almost any word you saw, even if you'd never heard it before. Children learned to read and write Greek in about three years, somewhat faster than modern children learn English, whose alphabet is more ambiguous."
(Caleb Crain, "Twilight of the Books." The New Yorker, Dec. 24 & 31, 2007)

"The Greek alphabet . . . is a piece of explosive technology, revolutionary in its effects on human culture, in a way not precisely shared by any other invention."
(Eric Havelock, The Literate Revolution in Greece and Its Cultural Consequences. Princeton University Press, 1981)

"While the alphabet is phonetic in nature, this is not true of all other written languages. Writing systems . . . may also be logographic, in which case the written sign represents a single word, or ideographic, in which ideas or concepts are represented directly in the form of glyphs or characters."
(Johanna Drucker, The Alphabetic Labyrinth. Thames, 1995)

Two Alphabets

"English has had two different alphabets. Prior to the Christianization of England, the little writing that was done in English was in an alphabet called the futhore or runic alphabet. The futhorc was originally developed by Germanic tribes on the Continent and probably was based on Etruscan or early Italic versions of the Greek alphabet. Its association with magic is suggested by its name, the runic alphabet, and the term used to designate a character or letter, rune. In Old English, the word run meant not only 'runic character,' but also 'mystery, secret.'

"As a by-product of the Christianization of England in the sixth and seventh centuries, the English received the Latin alphabet."
(C.M. Millward, A Biography of the English Language, 2nd ed. Harcourt Brace, 1996)

The Dual Alphabet

"The dual alphabet--the combination of capital letters and small letters in a single system--is first found in a form of writing named after Emperor Charlemagne (742-814), Carolingian minuscule. It was widely acclaimed for its clarity and attractiveness, and exercised great influence on subsequent handwriting styles throughout Europe."

(David Crystal, How Language Works. Overlook, 2005)

The Alphabet in an Early English Dictionary

"If thou be desirous (gentle Reader) rightly and readily to understand, and to profit by this Table, and such like, then thou must learne the Alphabet, to wit, the order of the Letters as they stand, perfectly without book, and where every Letter standeth: as b near the beginning, n about the middest, and t toward the end."(Robert Cawdrey, A Table Alphabetical, 1604)

"According to one view, the alphabet was not invented, it was discovered. If language did not include discrete individual sounds, no one could have invented alphabetic letters to represent them. When humans started to use one symbol for one phoneme, they were making more salient their intuitive knowledge of the phonological system of the language."-(Victoria Fromkin, Robert Rodman, and Nina Hyams, An Introduction to Language, 9th ed. Wadsworth, 2011)
The Lighter Side of the Alphabet
"Educational television . . . can only lead to unreasonable disappointment when your child discovers that the letters of the alphabet do not leap up out of books and dance around with royal-blue chickens."-(Fran Lebowitz)

Mellisa wrote the following in the article in September 2013 ‘On the Origin of the English Alphabet’ which eased a great part of my search and study.
“This Origins of Alphabetic Writing dates back nearly four thousand years, early alphabetic writing, as opposed to other early forms of writing like cuneiform (which employed the use of different wedge shapes) or hieroglyphics (which primarily used pictographic symbols), relied on simple lines to represent spoken sounds. Scholars attribute its origin to a little known Proto-Sinatic, Semitic form of writing developed in Egypt between 1800 and 1900 BC.

Building on this ancient foundation, the first widely used alphabet was developed by the Phoenicians about seven hundred years later. Consisting of 22 letters, all consonants, this Semitic language became used throughout the Mediterranean, including in the Levant, the Iberian peninsula, North Africa and southern Europe.
The Greeks built on the Phoenician alphabet by adding vowels sometime around 750 BC. Considered the first true alphabet, it was later appropriated by the Latins (later to become the Romans) who combined it with notable Etruscan characters including the letters “F” and “S”. Although ancient Latin omitted G, J, V (or U)*, W, Y and Z, by about the third century, the Roman alphabet looked very similar to our modern English, containing every letter except J, U (or V)* and W.[*V and U have a complicated shared history. Both were used throughout the Middle Ages, although they were considered a single letter until quite recently.]”
 [Don’t miss to read the full article in the link provided for many interesting information] [4]  

The Evolution
Any evolution goes through lot of metamorphic twists, turns, tribulations before triumphantly growing into something great.

The English alphabets are, therefore no exception to this natural process.
Here Athena, ACORN MEDIA U.S. had this interesting contribution
The Evolution of the English Alphabet
Not only has the English language evolved greatly over the last 1500 years, but so has the alphabet itself. Although the modern English alphabet contains 26 familiar letters, it took some fascinating twists, turns, and dead-ends to arrive there.
After the 6th century, when Christian monks began transliterating Anglo- Saxon into Latin characters, they hit a snag. Anglo-Saxon contained a few sounds that Roman letters could not accommodate. So the monks borrowed three old runes: ð (eth, usually for the voiced1 "th" in the middle of a word, as in "breathe"), þ (thorn, usually for the unvoiced "th," as in "thumb"), and Ƿ (wynn, for our w). The presence of those runes is just one reason why Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon manuscripts look so strange now. Another, less obvious reason is the absence of jand u. In this case, though, the monks didn't know what they were missing, since those letters did not exist in the classic Latin alphabet.
We generally have the Normans to thank (or to blame, depending on your viewpoint) for the disappearance of ð, þ, and Ƿ. Through their influence, the runic holdovers gradually faded away, although ð still survives today in Ireland. In a way, þ survives, too–albeit in a corrupt form in the names of faux-quaint establishments such as "Ye Olde Ale House." Anglo-Saxons spelled the definite article "þ e," and copyists and early typesetters eventually resorted to y as a close approximation of þ. As late as the 1600s–well into the era that linguists consider Modern English–yt often appeared in printed texts as an abbreviation for "þ at" ("that"). As for Ƿ, copyists had already begun phasing it out even before 1066, substituting vv instead; the French-speaking invaders finished it off during the 12th century.
How did u and j come to join the exclusive club of 26? The distinction between i and v began in the Middle Ages, when scribes used the roundbottomed letter within words and the pointy version for the first letter of a word–"vpon," for example. Differentiating between v as a consonant and u as a vowel, each with distinct sounds, didn't begin until the 18th century. The letter j grew out of a flourish, when medieval monks took to adding a tail to i at the end of Roman numerals. As the representation of a distinct sound, it invaded England along with the Normans.
With characteristic ingenuity, Benjamin Franklin tried to improve this hodgepodge of symbols by proposing a revised alphabet in 1768. He deleted c, j, q, w, x, and y because other letters represent those sounds. And he added six letters of his own invention–including a stylized scripth for the voiced "th" once represented by ð. Although Franklin's alphabet never caught on and the inventor himself eventually lost enthusiasm for it, his friend Noah Webster incorporated some of Franklin's ideas in the famous Blue-Backed Speller, taught to elementary students for more than a century.[he called it the “Franklin Fonetic”]
In phonetic terminology, "voiced" indicates that the sound is produced via vibration of the vocal cords, while a voiceless (or unvoiced) sound is not.” [5]

Like all beauties and power centers these 26 gems were also subject to multiple  tampering, testing , criticism etc but yet they overcame all that and survived to be present and permeate into our lives . Not only Benjamin Franklin there were many others who wanted them to change for some reason but they[ the alphabets] decided to stop at a particular point of evolution and then let the individuals and the world to relate, rejoice and revel in their relationship with them.  Here are some others who also wanted vehemently these gems to change.

Ben Franklin's Warning

"[Benjamin] Franklin felt that the ever-widening gap between spelling and pronunciation was leading the language down a denigrating path toward a logographic orthography, in which symbols represent whole words, not a system for producing sound units, as in c-a-t. He considered languages like Mandarin ghastly for their memorization requirements, an 'old manner of Writing' that was less sophisticated than a phonological alphabet. 'If we go on as we have done a few Centuries longer,' Franklin warned, 'our words will gradually cease to express sounds, they will only stand for things.'"
(David Wolman, Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling. Harper, 2010)

Spelling Reform

"Like such ideological forefathers as George Bernard Shaw, Theodore Roosevelt and Andrew Carnegie, [Edward Rondthaler] wants to clear up the whims of spelling by adopting a more phonetic version of English, one where words are written as they sound and pronounced as they are written. . . .

"'The kee to ending English iliterasy is to adopt a speling that's riten as it sounds,' he writes in his fashion."
(Joseph Berger, "Struggling to Put the 'Ortho' Back in Orthography." The New York Times, Apr. 23, 1994)

According to Henry Rogers, "Writing is systematic in two ways: it has a systematic relationship to language, and it has a systematic internal organization of its own" (Writing Systems, 2005).Examples and Observations:
"In our study of writing systems, we might assume that there is a simple, one-to-one relationship between written symbols and language: for example, that a writing system has a distinct symbol for each phoneme, and that these symbols are used to write utterances . In such a situation, an automatic conversation would, in principle, be possible between writing and language. Anyone who has learned to write English, however, is more than aware that this situation does not hold for English. We need only consider such pairs as one and won with exactly the same pronunciation and very different spellings to confirm this. There are, to be sure, some writing systems which are fairly regular, but none is perfect. Varying degrees of complexity are the norm."
(Henry Rogers, Writing Systems: A Linguistic Approach. Blackwell, 2005)

Transparent and Opaque Writing Systems

"In contrast to transparent systems, in which the letter corresponds one-to-one to the sounds of the language, in opaque writing systems the correspondence between the sounds and letters is not one-to-one. Two writing systems that tend toward opacity are Russian and French. However, English is usually considered the opaque writing system par excellence."
(Barbara M. Birch, English L2 Reading: Getting to the Bottom, 2nd ed. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007)

The First Writing System

"So far as we know, the first true writing system was invented by the Sumerians, in what is now Iraq, about 5200 years ago. The use of writing spread out from there, and writing was much later independently invented in a few other places, including at least China and Mexico. . . .

"In a true writing system, any utterance of the language can be adequately written down, from On this day the King crushed his enemies to I love you, snugglebunny. If you can't write down anything you can say, then you don't have a true writing system."-(Robert Lawrence Trask, Language: The Basics, 2nd ed. Routledge, 1999)

While the users and lovers were busy suggesting and wanting these 26 gems to change in several ways they [alphabets] have on the contrary effected great changes as usual influencing and impacting many domains of our lives as is explained in this link. [6]


The story of English alphabet itself and especially its entire process of evolution into what it is today have been studied by no one in greater depth than David Sacks.


So no article by any lover of these 26 gems can afford to omit some observations from David Sacks and to get the ultimate history and story of English alphabets everyone must read the three extraordinarily researched books by him a]Language Visible, b] Letter Perfect and c] The Alphabet.

So, I too would like to quote from him the observation on some aspects of evolution of the alphabet made by him,

What I found was that alphabets have routinely jumped from language to language, across all sorts of language barriers, down through history. Our Roman alphabet in English is the product of four such leaps: After being copied from Phoenician letters, the letters of the Greek letters were copied, in turn, by a different people, the Etruscans of Italy (around 700 B.C.). Etruscan was a tongue as different from Greek as Greek was from Phoenician, yet the letters adapted easily: They now became Etruscan letters, for showing Etruscan speech. Then the Etruscan letters were copied by other Italian peoples, including the Romans, whose language, Latin, was totally unlike Etruscan. Again, the letters had made the jump. As Rome conquered Italy and lands beyond, the Roman alphabet became the writing of Roman Europe. Surviving the empire’s collapse (around A.D. 500), Roman letters were fitted to newer tongues, including primitive English (around A.D. 600). Today those letters have grown up to become our own.

English is by no means the only example. Roman letters today convey the sounds of languages that Cicero never heard of: Polish, Zulu, Azerbaijani, Indonesian, Navajo—and about 100 other major tongues. The Cyrillic alphabet works equally well for Serbian and Bulgarian as for Russian. Arabic letters, devised originally to show the Arabic language, provide writing in Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, and other places where people don’t speak Arabic. Behind such facts lies the letters’ ability to leap across languages.

The more I dug into this, the more important it seemed. I was finally getting the idea that the letters have a kind of genius—a genius for showing the sounds of speech. Because they denote the smallest particles of sound (“t,” “p,” “m,” “u”), letters in quantity are beautifully flexible and precise. They can be arranged in endless combinations as necessary, to capture sounds of words. This allows the letters to be fitted from one language to another: You could easily write English phonetically, in the letters of Hebrew or Cyrillic. (Bored office workers at computers do it idly.)

“People don’t understand this concept,” I recall thinking. “This isn’t being taught at school.”

I had learned a new respect for the alphabet, and from this point—for it was just a beginning—I proceeded to dip into other aspects of the story: typography, phonetics, the individual letters’ use in brand names and design, the whole psychological message of letters in certain presentations. What I uncovered was a trove of wisdom and lore worth celebrating. And worth sharing.”

I would like to share some more glimpse into his other gems in those books to give you an idea of the depth of his studies

“A has about a dozen possible sounds in English. Here are six: “ Was  Allan’s pa all pale?” (or you may find only five A sounds  there ,depending on your regional accent.)

If asked at a dinner party to define the word “consonant”, someone might venture, ”well, I know it’s not a vowel…..”…vowels are pronounced from the vocal cords with minimal shaping of expelled breath, consonants are created through obstruction or channeling of the breath by the lips, teeth, tongue, throat, or nasal passage, variously combined. Some consonants like B, involve the vocal cords; others don’t. Some, like R or W, flow the breath in a way that steers them relatively close to being vowels.

We get the term “consonant” via medieval French from as ancient Latin ,consonans, “sounding along with” the idea is  that while vowel sounds can be pronounced on their own ( “Eee! I owe!”), a consonant normally can be pronounced only with a vowel before or after. Try saying the “b” sound alone and you‘ll probably wind up cheating, tacking on a vowel sound: “bih”.

This rule isn’t bulletproof. A few consonants can more or less be pronounced alone, particularly those with a continuous sound, like F or Z. Still you’ll need effort not to relax into “fih” or “zuh” at the end.”- David Sacks

Why is the alphabet in alphabetical order? [7]

The beauty is that these 26 gems have helped to support, sustain and make supreme the English language though:-
1.    It may not be as sweet sounding as French [a language in which I can read, write, understand and speak] or Telugu [8] [ in which language I sing and listen to thousands of excellent Carnatic classical songs];

2.    Or it may not have the multiple and multi layered  meanings and marvelous merging of words to form new words as well as entertain us with the enjoyment of dissecting long words to decipher the several meanings within a single long word like Sanskrit or German [both these languages I enjoy reading and writing]; [9]

3.    Or it may not help you recognize the meaning of a work simply by looking at the orthography because of its symbolic logograms like the Chinese Hanzi or the Japanese Kanji involving more logical pictograms which are mere pictorial representations of the objects they denote which are standardized and simplified and made easy to write and recognize as Ezra Pound used to say if you mark a danger symbol everyone in the world understands irrespective of whatever  language he speaks;

4.    Or it may not have a highly resourceful etymology which manifests the esoteric meanings and multiple connotations and many possible interpretations like Sanskrit or Tamil;

5.    Or it may not include the words to express the many unique socio cultural aspects of even European cultures; or it may not have independent verb to denote the act of ‘birth’ and may need the crutches of an auxiliary; or it may not have an exact opposite for the word Sin referred to as Punya in Sanskrit, Hindi and many Indian languages.

6.    It has not a single word expression to counter many social and psychological aspects of life, which many other languages, even very insignificant ones have, as has been wonderfully brought out be Howard Rheingold in the book titled “They have a word for it”. Here are a few of them; Tjotjog (Japanese) – harmonious congruence in human affairs; Mokita (Kirinina-New Guinea) –Truth everybody knows but nobody speaks; Yufen (Japanese)- an awareness of the universe that triggers feelings too deep and mysterious for words; Fucha (Polish)-using company time and money and other resources for your own ends;

7.    It does not have the grammatical subtleties of such insignificant languages as Chichewa, a language spoken by the unlettered tribes of East Africa which as per the studies of Benjamin Lee Whorf, has an extraordinary perspective on time through its two past tenses, one for the real or objective past and another for the subjective or mental past. The primitive tongues of Algonquin languages have four persons in their pronouns;

8.    The metaphysically marvelous language of Hopi Indians of Arizona which reflects their excellent view of creation; instead of a noun for ‘wave’ they have only the participle ‘walalata(Waving).

9.    English language does not have a one word for what I have done in most part of the beginning of this write as the Russians would say it Pochemuchka [Someone who asks a lot of questions, probably too many questions] or a single word to describe the many answers that the  journey of this write up has thrown up as in  Tibetan language Gadrii Nombor Shulen Jongu - meaning Giving an answer that is unrelated to the question.

But despite all the above aspects why we all love them [the 26 gems of English alphabet]? How is it that it they have remained powerful?

It was because as a global language it has bothered to nurture the pride of ancestry, has been in popular use at present, and possess worthy credentials to survive in the future and through these it has become qualified to become a global language. But mere number of users cannot be a sufficient or justifiable parameter to classify a language as significant , because if that were the case we may have in that list such unheard of languages as Wu in China , Xhosa in South Africa , Pashto in Afghanistan , Quencha in Peru .

These 26 gems have given the English language certain very unique qualities more visible among them are their ability to make the language adjust, accept, allow, assimilate without acting as a linguistic luddites and  besides and because of its uncontrollably vast geographical spread it has also very often accepted transliteration phonetically from many languages and gradually made them her own. These gems are so open minded and so large hearted and therefore have managed to penetrate even in territories of high linguistic chauvinism and gradually got accepted as welcome guests or worthy friends.

On a more justifiable classification in addition to the number of users of a language, it has its tentacles geographically spread far and wide with a wide range of and variegated vocabulary that are plundered, borrowed and pleasantly assimilated logically through etymological derivations from various language roots and accommodated and also retained various foreign words which were imbued with different cultural flavors as it is in their original form and made them as if her own in a very loving association like guru, renaissance, connoisseur etc to communicate and express as many ideas or events as possible in as many fields of human activity. It has the syntactic plasticity, flamboyant flexibility suited to both simple and complex modes of expression, and an enormously evolved derivational morphology. 

You may wonder why have I wandered  from the discussion on 26 gems [alphabets] into language because they are so interrelated, inter connected and complimentary like some divine couples that no one can avoid discussing the greatness of one without praising the position or contribution or power of the other.


It is no wonder that Robert K. Logan begins with  “The alphabet was the most significant boons conferred upon mankind by Phoenicia. It is generaly considered the greatest invention ever made by man” (Hitti 1961,p.102)

“Letters—these seemingly commonplace little signs, taken for granted by so many, belong to the most momentous products of creative power. These forms, which we take in with our eyes a million times each day, embody the highest skill within their small compass. They are abstract refinements of the creative imagination, full of clarity, movement and subtlety”- Gustav Barthel
“The making of letters in every form is for me the purest and the greatest pleasure, and at many stages of my life it was to me what a song is to the singer, a picture to the painter, a shout to the elated, ore a sign to the oppressed. It was and is for me the most happy and perfect expression of my life”-Rudolf Koch
“When one considers the immense power of man’s spirit, it is amazing to think that it could not have developed without the alphabet. How clearly we are heirs to this process . . . the links in a chain”.-Friedrich Neugebauer
“More powerful than all poetry, more pervasive than all science, more profound than all philosophy are the letters of the alphabet, twenty-six pillars of strength upon which our culture rests”.-Anonymous
“From his beach bag the man took an old penknife with a red handle and began to etch the signs of the letters onto nice flat pebbles. At the same time, he spoke to Mondo about everything there was in the letters, about everything you could see in them when you looked and when you listened. He spoke about A, which is like a big fly with its wings pulled back; about B, which is funny, with its two tummies; or C and D, which are like the moon, a crescent moon or a half-full moon; and then there was O, which was the full moon in the black sky. H is high, a ladder to climb up trees or to reach the roofs of houses; E and F look like a rake and a shovel; and G is like a fat man sitting in an armchair. I dances on tiptoes, with a little head popping up each time it bounces, whereas J likes to swing. K is broken like an old man, R takes big strides like a soldier, and Y stands tall, its arms up in the air, and it shouts: help! L is a tree on the river's edge, M is a mountain, N is for names, and people waving their hands,P is asleep on one paw, and Q is sitting on its tail; S is always a snake, Z is always a bolt of lightning, T is beautiful, like the mast on a ship, U is like a vase, V and Ware birds, birds in flight; and X is a cross to help you remember.  J.M.G. Le Clézio, Mondo et autres histoires 

What the Alphabet stands for:

ABC = Always Be Careful.
DEF = Don't Ever Forget me.
JKLM = Just Keep Loving Me.
NOPQRSTUVWXYZ = No Other Person Quite Reasonable Shall Treat U Very Well Xcept me, You'll Zee !

- Unknown

All love is reciprocal and that’s why real love is eternally enjoyable. As much as I have loved them [ The English alphabets] they [The English alphabets] too  have always inspired me and improved my thought process and that is one of the reason why I am in love with them and I have written many alphabetical chain link verses , even arranged some of my longer essays on alphabetical order, written a Calendar of Attitude made of acronyms and also written a REVERSE DICTIONARY OF ADJECTIVES. Besides I use them as mnemonics to recollect the things I tend to forget. Here are links to some such verses and essays [10]

2a] Euphonics: a Poet's Dictionary of Sounds (Paperback)By (author) John Michell


 I am giving below samples for two letters ‘B’ and ‘M’ in Euphonic from this book
Alphabet ‘B’
‘B’ the shape of B can be described as double or binary. It is an oval squashed into two bulges, like the bi-focal spectacles and the ‘b’’ sound is predominant in the names both proper and vulgar, given to the bipartite bulges of the body: bust, bosom, breasts, boobs, bubs, bums, buttocks, butt, base, beam, bottom backside.
A bull has balls or bollocks, and beer-bobber grows big belly like a tub, barrel or bloated bladder.
An image evoked by the B sound is of balloons blown up near to bursting. They are broad, bluff, burly, obese, bulging, bulbous, burgeoning, billowing, blooming, blubbery blimps. These bouncing orbs attract adjectives bounty: blessed, benevolent, benign, abundant, bland, buttery.

But bulbous bubbles also have the sound of bumptious bullies, who are :bold, brash, brazen, bothersome, beefy, brawny, bellicose, brutal bigots or bossy blunders, given to brawling, blustering blundering, squabbling, slobbering, blubbering, biffing, bashing, brow-beating, butting, bumping and boring. Bucolic and flabby, they boom, bawl, bray, bleat and belly-act and are bombastic, boastful, braggarts, babbling bullshit blah-blah and balderdash.
The brutal bluster of a blundering buffoon is the type of energy expressed by B big bill was a broad as a barrel of beer. At bruising and boozing he hadn’t a peer. A burly club bouncer he drubbed one and all until clobbered and bashed in a brutal pub brawl
Alphabet ‘M’
‘M’ the double-arched shape of the letter ‘m’ in the its mother’s eye brows and breasts is the first pattern to be experienced by an infant, and its first sound is likely to be murmured, muttered M, which seems a natural symbol of mammals and maternity. Mother is mild, merciful, mollifying and mollycoddling. Her home is humble but warm and comfortable as the womb. Sometimes it is moderately merry and mirthful, yet home can become monotonous, hum-drum and gloomy. Making one morose, miserable mean, melancholy, mournful, moody, mosey, dim, grim and glum,
The association between the cycles of women and the moon that measures the month has caused these words in many languages to be dominated by the ‘M’ sound. Under the moon occur mysteries, romances, marvels, miracles, magic and the mantic arts, stimulating imagination or madness and monomania.
The ‘M’ sound evokes images of the dark, mysterious aspect of the female spirit, such as the mystic moon-maiden, the Madonna and the gloomy chasm

[9] "I would like to quote a wonderful and worthy observation from a wonderful blog maintained by my friend Mike Magee [don’t miss to see his page] about some aspect of Sanskrit language “One of the unique but mysterious features of the Sanskrit language is how many words can be used at three separate and distinct levels of thought. Even whole verses have this remarkable feature. It is one of the factors which have made translation into other languages so difficult. The difference presupposes three groups of people. First there is the literal meaning intended for the householder or worldly man, and a guide to better thought and action. The second is the meaning on a higher level intended for the mumukshi or hungry seeker for God. Here the same words take the reader from the mundane level to the higher level, and the implications. The third is the meaning intended for the soul who has attained or is nearly ready to attain liberation”. You will find this in my blog post link given below which incidentally has also been trending excellently in speaking tree.

10] Free verses in alphabetical chain link form or just alphabetical form

ATTITUDE CALENDAR made of acronyms

Essays inspired by alphabetical thinking mode