Monday, April 24, 2006

Add a Letter

Word in the world has it that the Swedish Academy (which counts giving out the Nobel Prize for literature among its duties) has decided that "W" is a bona-fide letter, and should be officially recognized, embraced, utilized, and allowed into both the alphabet and the dictionary.

Wordsmiths and writers will whole-heartedly welcome the news with wanton whistles and wild whirling, while worriers, whiners, and windbags will woefully, wrathfully -- wretchedly -- weep watching their wishes for a W-free world waft away.

I find it fascinating that much of the world cannot even spell Sweden without a "W."

The addition brings the total number of letters in the Swedish alphabet to 29. Imagine the havoc that adding a letter to the language wreaks. For one thing, someone has to come up with a new Alphabet Song. One with a catchy tune. That little children can sing. The English Alphabet Song uses the same tune as "Baa Baa Black Sheep," and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." There's no room in the melody, however, to add a three-syllable whopper like "W" to it. The world will watch with wide-eyed well-wishers to see how the Swedish Academy handles the Song issue.

A new letter will necessitate the standardization of using it when spelling words. One wonders if the Academy will be so open-minded with the new addition as to include it as the second letter in the official name for the country. Or will "W" become the ugly, red-haired step-child of the alphabet, used only in imports and cheap knock-off words ("world wide web," "Wednesday," ""watermelon," "Gone With the Wind," "WMD's," "War of the Worlds...")?

Lobbyists for the dictionary industry -- an economic indicator, if ever there was one -- must be thrilled. Imagine the party atmosphere that must currently permeate the publishing houses. Entire new volumes to be compiled! Whole new words to be included! They hold, within their grasp, the opportunity to tell people what to say!

You can bet the Powers That Be are revelling in their new-found power, and are already plotting What Letter To Add Next...