Just so you all know, this is a ten-minute blog-off competition, and my original opening sentence was "The alphabet is one of the first things we learn as children." This start was sarcastically and cruelly criticized as "exhilarating" and "original." It therefore now starts with "We eat alphabet soup."
We eat alphabet soup. We sing the alphabet song. Little children learn to scrawl the letters out on lined paper in kindergarten class, and go home to their ecstatic parents who tape up the ugly, uneven lines on the refrigerator and coo over the achievement. I personally remember practising my letters at home (somewhere between the ages of 6 and 8 years old), and even recall a serious spelling altercation at age 6, when I vehemently stood by my claim that the word "from" was spelled f-o-r-m.
But when we sit down and think of it, isn't learning to spell an exciting, and even intriguing activity? Even more fascinating is the way people spell in different countries.
Take China, for example.
There's no alphabet in Chinese.
Just characters. Each character is made up of a collection of symbols with recurring themes and meanings. One character is one word. And to those of us who are born and raised in the west, learning to read and write a native language without an alphabet is a seriously intimidating and amazing feat.
So the next time you think about the alphabet, remind yourself of just how powerful the human brain is. To us in the West, it's just the alphabet - prevalent everywhere, even in our soup. But in the grand scheme of things, it's just one part of the world's way of expressing communication in writing and passing it down through generations.
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