The Alphabet Song In American Culture

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X-G-A-T-K-E-V… The alphabet song is the most well known song in American culture, so deeply ingrained in the consciousness of everyone from four to ninety-four that if you start singing, the odds are almost certain that someone else will join in. It is memorized by rote at the earliest point possible in the lives of children, and stays with them forever. However, few stop to think about the influence that a mere twenty-six Latin letters have on our lives and how impressive it is that language in its present form can exist at all. Every element of language, from the arrangement of the letters to its goal of communication, arises from disorder and creates a structure that allows incredible creativity and form. Perhaps the most surreal point in a person’s life is the realization that, despite years of reciting the alphabet in ABC form, the letters have no reason to be in that particular order. We believe the truth of our eyes and ears, and if it never occurs to us that alphabetical order is entirely arbitrary, we will remain unaware of the sequence’s insignificance all of our lives. In the same way, the order of letters in…show more content…
The alphabet exists in nearly every English-speaking consciousness as being in that order, memorized to precision from an early age, and without it, many institutions would collapse. Libraries would have difficulty directing readers to the books by Hugo or Rowling, while filing systems that alphabetize customers or employees would be inefficient and inconvenient. The structure the alphabet provides is vital to the structure of nearly every large-scale group, and yet it is built on an order that is, at least in modern times, completely random. The alphabetic sequence, now so inseparable from society itself, is itself disordered, and arises from the chaos of a lack of a language to form the order needed for
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