Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge

Recite Your ZYXs

As readers of this blog may have noted, I have a thing for patterns and sequences. Maybe it’s my musical training (e.g., inversion, retrograde, and retrograde inversion of a motif) or my love of palindromes, but I have a habit of reading signs and whatnot backwards (right to left). Sometimes funny things pop up. The other day I was riding my bike (on the mag trainer, not in the snow) and sometimes I will count revolutions to pass the time. That gets boring so I might count “alphabets” (hey, it’s easier than counting to 26 over and over). I thought about reciting the alphabet backwards. This proved to be not so easy. I found myself reciting small bits forward, and then spitting them back out in reverse. Not very efficient. Then I hit on something. I discovered that if I created a mental picture of the alphabet, as if I was looking at it on a blackboard, reciting it backwards became much easier. I could “see” the letters in my head, so reciting them became much easier. Then, I started to link the letters to the familiar cadence of “The ABCs” that is taught in grade school (groups of 7, 9, 3, 3, 2 and 2):
ABCDEFG
HIJKLMNOP
QRS
TUV
WX
Y and Z
Now I’ve said my ABCs,
tell me what you think of me.

Given the way this is usually recited, I’d wager that half of all children think “LMNO” is a single letter. For my own part, I like to envision it as the name of a Mexican superhero from the 1800′s: “Why look! It’s El Emeno! We’re saved!”

OK, so apply the same cadence to the backward alphabet and you get:

ZYXWVUT
SRQPONMLK (roll that onmlk together)
JIH
GFE
DC
B and A
Now I’ve said my ZYXs,
tell me what you think of Texas.

Try it. It’s fun once you get the hang of it and people will think you have some kind of talent if you do it at parties because most people never ever try to do familiar things in alternate ways.

It also gives you a chance to make snide remarks about the Lone Star State if you so choose.

Comments

  1. #1 Nelson Muntz
    December 27, 2007

    As a little kid I learned the alphabet included ‘alimento pee’, but I was afraid to ask Teacher anything about any kind of pee.

    I also learned the Pledge a Legions and the Lord Sprayer.

  2. #2 Alan Kellogg
    December 27, 2007

    [soto voce]Bora, you get the Thorazine, I’ll call the hospital. Make sure you mix it with the orange juice. He likes it with orange juice.[/soto voce]

  3. #3 Anne-Marie
    December 29, 2007

    You hit the nail on the head with your prediction, when my younger brother was learning his alphabet song it took forever to convince him that LMNO was not a single letter.