Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The English Language's 26 Most Important Letters

The English alphabet has ever been the center of the American literary universe — the letters of Whitman, of Edith Wharton, of every poorly-spelled happy hour chalkboard in Greenwich Village — and though the legendary set of graphemes has lost a little edge and a lot of grime what with all the crazy texting the kids do today, it is still creative fodder for countless contemporary writers, even the ones who have figured out that if you do graphic novels you have to write like 75% less.

As you may have heard, one of the alphabet's most legendary letters, Q, recently announced that since he was only appreciated in Scrabble and when the New York Times wanted to seem authentic in converting a word from Arabic, he was retiring, which has left us thinking about the state of the symbols — and where they might go from here. To that end, we’ve taken a look at some of the alphabet's most important letters. In making our list, we've chosen symbols with serious orthographic merit, taking into consideration their legacy, their publishing history, and their cultural relevance across the board to compile a definitive ranking of their value. Find our ranked list after the jump, and get to quibbling (as we know you will) in the comments.

21 Comments / Post A Comment

hershmire (#233,671)

And the advertising dollars roll in.

Odm (#11,228)

I'm confused by the ranking. Is Z the most important letter, or is A? Either way, since B is for Bourbon (and Booze in general), shouldn't it be the most important?

(Also B comes before C.)

Matt (#26)

You know, I once pitched Choire a Listicle Without Commentary: Luis Bunuel, In Order and he replied, "A;LKSDFJOPW9FJWLEKFSAL;KDFJASL;KFJK THE MILKY WAY ABOVE SIMON OF THE DESERT YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME!" or something and I mansplained, "No, they're in order. Chronological. Get it?" and he told me no and stopped talking to me.

hman (#53)

@Matt #666 (GET A HINT) (Luv u Matt)

NinetyNine (#98)

They think Amy Sohn is 66, generally.

Murgatroid (#2,904)

Not having "E" in the top three, it's like you created the troll equivalent of a Matryoshka doll (a very cheap one).

deepomega (#1,720)

Now do punctuation.

derwood (#3,482)

I was really looking forward to blurbs on each page that briefly described the unique importance of each letter. Or a hidden message.

Oh, well.

@derwood S is for "sucker."

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I clicked through the whole thing expecting various letters to have e-mailed Balk their recommendations on the hottest emerging letters.

There is no "U" in "appreciated."

Ah, who am I kidding? Sure there is! You guys!

I before E? No weigh!

jolie (#16)

I know I was warned in the alt text, but the B and C out of order has me running to my bureau in a panic looking for a restorative organization project. (Is futile, there's nothing left in this home to organize.)

where the fuck is the printer-friendly version?

ytorf (#1,684)

Where are the photos of kittens?

RB (#239,733)

I have no problem with the order of letters, but I would like to say that "Q" is DEFINITELY not a man. Look how elegant she is! Queenly, even. And Ramona Quimby turned her into an adorable cat.

Also…for other letter-lovers, I recommend the book "Ella Minnow Pea."

theheckle (#621)

The thorn would rule all these hack letters. Short-sighted academics!

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Æ, Ø, Å, FTW!

Bee For Brian (#234,245)

This was a good idea. Too bad Alex Balk was too lazy to actually make it happen.

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