Tuesday, October 11, 2022

following orders

 so in this occasional series of articles on important topics, here's another question -

why do we teach the alphabet in alphabetic order?

I already outlined the fascinating history of why the alphabet (roman, greek, cyrillic, arabic etc) is in alpha order, which is actually quite interesting - but given we don't carve our letters in stone, wood or whatever anymore, couldn't we teach the letters in, say, the most useful order - which would be what I would call Holmes (though some people might say Huffman, or Linotype or Scrabble) -  etaoishrdlucmfwypvbgkjqxz 

this is just the same as how we teach music - learn your do re me first, and you have major (and sort of relative minor) scales ready to go, long bere worying about Mixolydian modes or accidentals, or quarter tones etc etc

the other thing about this i was thinking was about the joke about someone in a data center dropping a box of someone's punch cards and asking "does it matter what order they are in?". This is also illustrated in music, witness, the infamous victor borge sight rading pieces from sheet music upside down, and pdq bach, of course, not to mention sviataslav shrdlu, who's compositions were rarely performance once in the same order.

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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home