Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Splitting the alphabet

Looking at TV for young children where they list the alphabet I've noticed they struggle with how to split up the lines of letters when there isn't room all on one or two. Given that 26 is not divisible by three or four or any whole number until one gets to 13 the lines end up unbalanced.

But it occurred to me that five lines would be closer to equal (with one leftover) than other possible splits. Then I had the thought that the five vowels could make for another way of separating the lines, putting each vowel at the start of one of the five lines; those letters hold a distinction so having the notice from being at the front of the lines made a certain sense.

And while working out each remaining line (with the set of consonants after each vowel) I realized that gave an unexpected sort of quasi-symmetry:


After the initial vowels you first get three consonants, then another three consonants, then five, then five, and five. So in a way, 26 is best split up 4-4-6-6-6.

But what I found most interesting is there was a pattern of sorts to be found in how vowels are spread through the alphabet that I'd never noticed in all my years. It might be sheer coincidence, but nonetheless it worked out surprisingly well.

This is what happens when your toddler keeps kind of falling asleep, then poking his head up and after being nudged back to sleep, then poking his head in the minute you ran to the bathroom and getting upset and needing to be nudged back to (finally) a lasting sleep: you have some mental time to fill in those periods his eyes were closed.

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So, what do you think?