never made it to Grakeland
(originally posted 5/23/2019)
And so it came to pass that the President of these here United States of America decided that enough was enough and either the C or the K had to go. For too long had the English language endured two letters having the same sound. “Unnecessary baggage” he would be known to say. 26 letters were simply too many and it was time to make a difficult decision. Spelling reform was in the air.
Linguistics not being his strong suit he decided to form a panel and let them make the decision. Seven men and women, an odd number so that there would be no chance of a tie. POTUS even made sure none of those on the committee had names that included C or K so as not to risk any whiff of bias.
Eventually the decision, the fate of letters C and K, came down to one man; Elvis Roberts. Elvis was a brilliant lexicographer, his knowledge of phonology, morphology, historical linguistics, dialectology, and sociolinguistics was unrivaled in his field. He had an unblemished professional reputation, the respect of his colleagues and was completely and utterly torn by his devotion to both C and K.
You see, three members of the group felt strongly that the letter C, pronounced as it was, was a latecomer to the party, pointing out that the Phoenician alphabet started with the letters aleph, beth, gimel, daleth and the Hebrew alphabet starts the same way. In Greek it was alpha, beta, gamma, delta, i.e. the third letter is used for the G sound. Long story short, the Greeks said A, B, G, D but wrote their G like a C.
Meanwhile the Etruscan language was apparently unrelated to Greek, but their alphabet was a slightly modified form of the Greek letters and the Romans got their writing system from the Etruscans and included both a K and G sound. However the K sound could be also represented by the C shape. That left them with no symbol for their G sound, so a new letter had to be invented. That’s why the letter G looks like a C with a bit of ornamentation on it.
Then, many centuries later, English scholars revived the study of Roman and Greek culture. As a side-effect, many words of Latin and Greek origin were imported into English. In the words that came from Latin, the K sound was represented by the letter C. In the words that came from Greek, the K sound was represented by the letter K.
Simply put, these three members believed that K was there first and C was just a by-product of English intellectuals not having the balls to decide between Roman and Greek alphabets.
The other three members felt the letter C was much nicer to look at and that K would ruin words such as kharm, koncern and kulture. “Who would want to open a Kristmas gift?” they thundered.
The six of them all looked at Elvis for the deciding vote. Elvis looked at the door and told them he needed the weekend to think about it and he’d have his decision when he returned on Monday.
With that he left.
And decided that a road trip was in order.
“Where to?” he asked himself, then answered. “My name is Elvis for heaven’s sake, it’s time to visit Graceland.”
His mother had been a big fan of The King but Elvis had never taken the drive down to Memphis before. Now, in his hour of need, he would make the pilgrimage his mother had always wanted him to take. So he loaded up his car and set off.
An hour outside of Memphis he pulled into a service station to get some gas. While there he engaged the slightly-chubby girl in the Elvis t-shirt behind the counter in some light conversation and minutes later the decision was made.
As he was beginning to walk away with his soda and chips he suddenly blurted out “Which letter do you like better? C or K?” He would never be able to articulate exactly what led him to this outburst but he decided then and there that she would be the one to decide the fate of those two letters.
She put a not-especially chubby finger to her definitely-chubby lips and looked off into the distance. She did this for a length of time that convinced Elvis that she’d had an aneurysm and he would have to call for help. Just as he reached for his phone she spoke.
“If you spell the letter B its b e e. If you spell the letter G its g e e. J is j a y and O is o h. R is a r e and Y is w h y. Do you see my point?” she asked.
Elvis did not. “No.”
She continued. “I’m going with K. If you spell C it’s either s e e or s e a.”
“So?” Elvis inquired.
“Why would I pick a letter that didn’t even bother to show up in its own spelling?”
“Hmmmmm” was all Elvis could say.
A few minutes later Elvis called the President of the United States with the decision.
He never made it Grakeland.