Let me start with an anecdote, one which my fellow blogger Preeks happened to link to in one of her comments recently. So long ago, like really long ago, 12 whole years ago, the letter x on the rickety keyboard of my desktop, stopped working. And then, it started working. Ok, I understand that is not even close to what you would call an interesting story, but, I have a point, I swear I do.
So if you were kind enough to click on that link, you would notice just how angsty I had gotten, because one damn alphabet stopped working. When the truth is that when I had to think of words with X for this post, I could not come up with any! I mean, I could do Xylophone and write about Zo’s ‘performances’ that go ting ting ting, or I could do X-mas, and link you back to my Christmas post which I should have saved for today, but beyond that I could think of nothing. So I wonder why it was that I was so hassled about this key not working back then?
The answer I think is that, we followed the usual theory of ‘rare is valuable’ with this letter.It also helped that the letter looks kinda cute. I mean think of it, it’s the only letter which looks the same from all 4 directions other than O; which is as cute, but one needs to be able to hold their pens a tad more seriously to make it look good. I can say this because you will see multiple versions of O when Zo writes, some favoring one direction and some another. But X, she never gets it wrong. Yeah, so we develop this little letter, that looks nice, is easy to write, and suddenly we realize, what was the point? And then begin the force-fits.
Think of it, can you think of one word which starts with x, or has it, that really needs it? Xylophone is pronounced zylophone and X-ray could have well been eksray, and it wouldn’t make one bit of a difference. All the words – box, ox, toxic, exam – all of them could easily be boks, oks, toksic and egzam. So with a judicious use of ‘ks’ and z, we could have easily written off a whole alphabet.
But we didn’t, we kept it on board. And like a consolation to it, assuming that X knows that we know that it really doesn’t serve any purpose, we gave it 8 points in Scrabble. Yes, that would be similar to Q, but unlike Q, X doesn’t have any baggage it needs to carry around. In fact, all you need is an O or an E and you have words. Which makes us all love it more. So despite it’s uselessness, X has carved its own niche.
Which is reason enough for the letter to deserve a post of its own, without any letters behind it to steal attention.