Alpha, beta

Anyone know why the alphabet is ordered like it is?

It has no natural order like the integers, but everyone who uses the alphabet seems to broadly agree on an order, with slight variations (the Greeks with their G’s before their D’s, for example, or the Welsh… well, let’s ignore the Welllllsh).

Welshy, Juliet and me were talking about it yesterday, and we agreed it was decided a long time ago, but we didn’t get much further.

Any clever people in today?

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12 thoughts on “Alpha, beta

  1. Well, the various languages that basically use ‘our’ alphabet use the same order because the alphabets are taken from the Latin alphabet as used in ancient Rome. I have no idea why they chose to order their alphabet like that – my best guess would be that they derived it from some earlier alphabet.

    Somewhere along the line, we get back to the original primordial alphabet from which all Latin-esque alphabets are descended. Here, again, my best guess is that the latters were ordered in the order in which they were first written down. Or something.

  2. How funny, I was discussing the same thing with someone at camp, and we weren’t sure about it. Just wanted to share my mutual ignorance with y’all.

  3. It’s actually all based on a well known song. All together now …

    a, b, c, d, e, f, g …

  4. I’ve got a feeling there’s some Hebrew myth about how aleph and bet became the first two letters of the alphabet. Buggered if I can remember the details though.

    I’m sure it’ll excite you to hear that the Russian alphabet starts A,B, V,G,D.

  5. Yes, I vaguely recall something similar, although I struggle to see how an aleph transmuted into the A shape we all know and love.

    It is strange, Mr Bib, but I was wondering if you would know when I wrote this.

    Anyone else? Or are you all still talking about Star Wars?

  6. I can see when your comments are timed/dated, but, when I visit your blog itself, I have no way of knowing when you’ve written your post. It’s all very confusing. (Has your lady-friend given up the ghost blogging-wise, then?)

    Oh god, that’s not what you meant. You meant you were wondering if I knew. Sorry. I have Alzheimer’s. I don’t know anything at all. Except that I don’t know when you’ve written your posts.

  7. Entirely my fault, it was a dreadfully constructed sentence.

    I abase myself.

    I do admire you for not deleting your comment when you worked it out though, very James-Joyce-stream-of consciousness.

    Juliet? (I like to make it sound like I have more than one lady friend.) I believe she has moved elsewhere in the face of perceived indifference.

    I could pass on a message if you like? (Not now though, I’m at work.)

    Her cousin has a blog if you are interested; it is very good. (Except for the Trigonometry joke – he should be stoned to death for that one.)

  8. Hey! That joke had zombies in it. Everything is made awesome by zombies.

    Anyway, it opens the ultimate question: is it better or worse than the ‘squirrel ballet’ joke?

  9. Bah! A true artist is never appreciated in his lifetime. You’ll all be laughing when I die.

  10. How can I have missed this stream of comments?! You should all be dipped in something preservy and preserved for ever and ever: Bib, Chris and Stephen all being funny at the same time! This makes me very happy and I for one want to hear the squirrel joke…

  11. Right, the Squirrel Ballet joke…

    Actually, I posted it on my blog on March 10th this year. If you really want to know, it’s to be found between my post about buying a saucepan and my post about making cheese sandwiches. Truly, I was living the rock’n’roll lifestyle in those days.

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