Musings and Rants:
A Musing
Second in a series

The tyranny of alphabetical order

To standardize, disseminate, and diffuse an ordering of letters in an alphabet eases communication. In English, it is universal to order the alphabet to start with A, B, C, and to end with X, Y, Z.

Having a standard order for the letters, however, inherently favors certain organizations or individuals. Those whose names begin with letters at the beginning of the alphabet often are given greater priority than those whose names begin with letters at the end. This advantage is innately known; witness the phenomenon in any phone book of the number of companies who begin their name with the letter 'A.'

Yet today, with computer-aided tools, inverting alphabetical order is quite simple. Many lists are stored in spreadsheets or databases, and names can be sorted in reverse alphabetical order with just one click of a button.

Join with me in redressing this tacit tyranny. Deliberately invert the alphabetical ordering of lists at every opportunity. I know at least half of you out there would find this idea appealing. So, how about it, Robinson and Rodriguez; Smith and Scott; Taylor and Thomas; Underwood and Ulrich; Vasquez and Vargas; William and Wilson, Xiong and Xu, Young and Yates; Zimmerman and Zamora?

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Page last updated: 08 July 2003
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