Friday, November 18, 2011

Why do we do it? Can anybody tell me? /Curious Linguist

"ABC, easy as 123." Well, sure, now that I know it. But I started thinking about this and I have a question: why do we start by teaching out kids CAPITAL letters when most of the text we ever encounter will be written in lower-case letters?

I have no numbers or data to back up my case, but just think about it: how often do you read a story written in capital letters? We see them in road signs, maybe in headlines or as book titles. But otherwise, most of the things we read (which is a lot) must, by far, be written in lower-case letters. Don't you think?

At one point in my life, I tried to learn Greek. For those of you who don't know it, the Greek alphabet is different from the Latin alphabet used in English (and Swedish, your writer's mother tongue). So, in my attempt to learn Greek, my boyfriend at the time started teaching me all the capital letters. When he thought I was ready, he encouraged me to start reading shorter texts -- on the milk carton, the juice box, the shampoo bottle. It was just one small problem -- the lower-case letters are totally different than the capital ones!

Does anybody have a good explanation to why we do this? And don't give me that the capital ones would be easier. They surely would not if we started the other way around. Please let me know if you have a good answer.

Not even road signs come in capital letters only.

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