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By David Butler


The Montréal Review, June 2011


Urban Alphabet Q (oil on canvas panel, 7"x5") by Stephen Magsig




The Royal Spanish Academy recently removed two letters from the Spanish alphabet. I applaud this action. Alphabets have far too many letters and the Academy showed great courage in challenging the powerful alphabet preservation lobby. We should follow suit in this country and find ways to make what have been long overdue substantial cutbacks in our letters. We must take this action now. It is wrong for us to leave it to future generations to deal with the burdens of our bloated and wasteful alphabet.

I propose we begin with the lowest hanging fruit: Q. Q can easily be eliminated: it is useless and redundant and can always be replaced by a cu or kw combination? There is an important moral argument as well for this cut. In these tough times why would we continue to support a letter that has never carried its own weight? When has Q ever made a serious effort to be strong and self-reliant, instead of always depending on U as its crutch? Weakness and lack of will power are hallmarks of this Q culture of dependency and the root cause of the persistent obesity of the upper case letter. Moreover, the rampant promiscuity and unnatural sexual practices encouraged by this dependency culture is the likely cause of the lower case q’s unique alphabetical genetic defect; that below the line tail deformity.

I would argue that X is just as expendable. I would defy any X advocate to find me a single example where the letter cannot be replaced easily by some combination of ecks. And, X has exerted a powerful and dangerous moral influence on our society as destructive as Qs. What do our children think of when they hear or see this letter?

Sex! XXX, porno, the female chromosome, kissing. Drugs! Rx, and the increased abuse of prescription medication, ecstasy.

Violence! There is a blurry line between the X to cross out something wrong or unpleasant; the X as a symbol of poison, xxxing out members of a rival middle-school gang, or children poisoning their parents for restricting their Internet use.

Ignorance! X a legal signature, even for voter registration, contributes to our shameful rates of illiteracy; and the ignorance that perpetuates the power of an oppressive and wasteful government.

Some may think we should stop here; that these cuts are becoming too painful. But we have to do more, and we can. Take Y. You (U) try (tri) to name any (enee) word where Y cannot easily (easile) be substituted? Y also raises serious moral concerns: the symbol of male sex chromosome, promoting of homosexuality through the YMCA gay anthem. But, most worrisome of all Y is also the letter that pushes us to challenge our most cherished values and truths. You begin to ask why (Y), and soon you start questioning the existence of God, the fundamental truth of the Bible, the meaning of the Constitution. And what’s left: Anarchy!

This is only the start of our ambitious mission. Without too much effort, we have cut three letters; more than 10 percent of the existing alphabet. But now we come to the heavy lifting: challenging the most popular letters, with the broadest and most powerful constituencies. That’s right, I mean the vowels. Without vowel reduction, we can only make a small dent in this scourge of alphabet waste. The experts tell us that all the vowels are necessary, and that we cannot have a functioning alphabet or a spoken or written language without them. But these are some of the same experts who tried to convince us that socialism works or that we are all descended from monkeys.

Just look at those vowels, so arrogant, smug and superior; convinced they are indispensible. A: the elitist, who thinks he is so important because he comes first. E: certain he can never be challenged, because he is the most popular letter. I: his egotism and sense of entitlement are self-evident.

The battle will be long and hard fought. For now, the vowels remain secure, protected by powerful elites who will stop at nothing to maintain control of our language. But with the help of patriots everywhere, we can cut out all of the cancerous and unnecessary letters and restore the alphabet to the purity the Almighty intended. Don’t we owe it to our children?


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