I do like the letter O: alberta’s words

o is a versatile letter

The letter O is a wonderfully versatile letter. Apart from the look of it; so clean, so eternal it is from a child’s point of view so easy to pen:) To my mind, the friendliest looking of all the alphabet.

Think of all the sounds that originate with O
Pot and No
Do and Son

Four simple words and four different pronunciations. Short O in the first, a long O in the second.

A double OO in the third and even a short U in the fourth.

We can have the different O sounds in boat, toe, neon, riot and youth depending on which letters surround this neat looking letter.

How about meow and Mao or Noel.

Try doubling it – coot and foot, one becomes longer, the other shorter and more of a u sound, only one letter different in this case. How clever we are to even remember a half of the variations in English.

O stands in for ‘the descendant of’ in names such as O’Driscoll and for ‘of the clock’ in time keeping

That is not the end of O, it stands on it’s own to spell sounds.


With or without the ‘h’ dogged my poetry lessons as a child – modern poets are not keen.

Many O’s as in Ooooo can be excitement or praise of looks,  add a letter or so and it can be ouch or ow both pain of some kind.

And of course do let us forget how satisfying a plain unadorned O can be to a child or a doodler, a face, body part of rabbits, dogs and cats. How satisfying it is to fill it in with pen or pencil when bored. To add ears and tails.

Doodlers love the double O, it can be decorated with lashes, a pupil and voila we have eyes.In ancient Egypt (ancient in like 4,000 years ago!) the O was a hieroglyph for ‘the eye’. Semites took it and then Phoenicians diminished it to a small outline of the eye and hey presto our O was formed still meaning eye. Then it changed and became a letter.  I still make eyes out of mine:)

I do like the letter O:)


with a great deal of help from David Crystal and Michael Rosen

I am not a great fan of the apostrophe !:)


I am not a great fan of the apostrophe,

I know,

I know,

it makes reading prose easier, helps with communication and comprehension. There are many things that make life easier, I do not have to have fondness for them.

I found a couple of friends when reading a book on the alphabet the other day. Michael Rosen  in Alphabetical points out a few anomalies such as the missing letter rule.

One purpose of the  apostrophe is to indicate missing letter such as in haven’t = have not

Ain’t, however, is given one, even though there is no ai not or any other version, the word is aint, plain and simple, so why the apostrophe?

George Bernard Shaw referred to apostrophes as uncouth bacilli and in Candide he steadfastly wrote dont and cant. He didn’t win his augment on missing letter apostrophes but elsewhere,over recent years, the possessive use for street names is vanishing as in St Johns Road. I have heard many a heated argument against this ‘sloppy behaviour’ I think the sloppy will win this one, it has to be easier and cheaper to leave the apostrophe out, and really will the road mind that much?:)

Lewis Carroll of ‘Alice’ fame thought people were wrong to write ‘shan’t’ for ‘shall not’. He tried to persuade that it should correctly be sha’n’t.

David Crystal In The Fight For English argues that people have always and will always make their own choices, the rules are not cement, not million year old rock, they are man made by by printers and academics stating their own preference. Rosen maintains there are no missing letter as such we say ‘shan’t’ because it suits us to say it that way. For those who differ and argue that rules must be followed they ought to be including the ‘ for those extra missing letters!

Along with millions of other children I was confused for a many years with the apostrophe used to mark possession. I got it at the beginning; I could write the dog’s, the cow’s easy peasy, then we come across its.

For goodness sake did they have it in for the children!

Possession, but woe betide small children who with confidence add the apostrophe.

In an instant certainty vanished.

I didn’t know the rules!

Exceptions that are supposed to ‘prove the rule’ just confuse those of us whose brains are wired differently, it is not explained properly obviously judging by how many continue to get it wrong into adult life. Maybe if those printers all those years ago had thought it through properly and worked out that pronouns would make a nonsense of their rule – ours,yours,theirs  . . .

I got the hang of ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ by repeating the missing letter rule to myself, however, my confidence was gone on everything else.

When to use that dratted little sign?

I was this way until way into my adult years and retirement, still, even now, when tired or ill or my brain is particularly Dyspraxic the apostrophes vanish and I have to hope for the best.  As Widdershins commented here last week in praise of editors, Blessed is my friend from forever/editor.

I really dont get on with these rules:( I do like George Bernard Shaw though.