My instant thought is of Hairy Hat Man. When I was little, we were taught to think of the letters as people, so we could see how they interacted. The Hatman was allergic to the Cat, so when you had ‘c’ and ‘h’ together, he sneezed, making a ‘ch’ sound.
But personifying our devices is a slightly weird habit. Letters aren’t particularly personable. You could actually only really judge them on appearances (or maybe sounds) which is pretty shallow.
I guess you could make a few assumptions. E is a bit easy, running all over the shop. Z, Q, J and X are all a little bit stuck up, maybe? Or possibly lonely? I’m guessing the former, on account of they don’t show much solidarity, as they’re barely ever seen together. Trust me, I’ve had some terrible games of scrabble, and nobody ever believes the word ‘Joquaxiz’ exists, even if you can get it on a triple word.
Vowels could all be proud but grumbly hard workers, always needed, perhaps slightly sniffy about Y’s tendency to get up in their business, but more interested in teamwork than anything else. They get the job back.
H does do weird things to other words. Softening T and vibrating C and S in different ways. I like that in a letter, the ability make other things different. It’s good to see different perspectives. A friend who helps you see things differently is a good friend to have around, so maybe we’d get on.
Except that they’re letters. Two dimensional abstract representations of noises. Or rather, abstract representations of a system of noises. Letters are actually meaningless, which is why I always get pissed of in scrabble when people put down things like ‘aitch’ or ‘ell’ in scrabble. It may be in the dictionary, but it isn’t entirely a word, it’s a representation of a representation of a sound that is only a little piece of a system that can be used to produced meaning.
It’s crazy isn’t it. These little shapes, dancing along my screen. They sing loudly in my ears, turning the thought processes I’ve engineered in myself into something that can be picked up by anyone else who has been taught the same system. And we’re all taught it, or some variant of it. So we get to fill our lives, walls, screens and everything else, with sequences of shapes that hold a wealth of something else inside them.
These symbols make our brains fill up with other peoples noises, and you want them to have personalities too? It’s not enough that they shout and clamour for you at every turn, you also want them to feel hurt if you ignore them, or proud if they’re spelt correctly?
I’m scaring myself a little, wrapping my brain around the extra layer of other people that is inserting itself into me from every direction.
Words are scary enough as it is.
I’ll be hiding behind the one with the hat.
Illustration by Jaime