Why Is the Best Bet the Alphabet?
by Owen Fourie
There is the element of risk when you make a bet. If your prediction of an outcome is incorrect, you’ll have to forfeit whatever was agreed as the amount of the bet.
Are there any safe bets? Those who have “inside information” might think so.
The alphabet of any language is a safe bet. Actually, it isn’t a bet. It simply contains the word bet, but has nothing to do with gambling. It is the safest and best starting point for learning a language. To learn English, know the English alphabet.
This article, which is in two parts, will provide some information about the alphabet and its uses.
The meaning of the word alphabet
The word alphabet comes from the names of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet: ALPHA, BETA. These letters came from the Phoenician alphabet.
Knowing the names, sounds, and order of the letters in a language’s alphabet and memorizing them are the preliminary steps in the formal learning of a language.
The English alphabet
There are 26 letters in the English alphabet. ESL and EFL learners are urged to memorize them, their order, and their sounds thoroughly to make progress in speaking and writing English.
At the end of the second part of this article, there are some links to videos that will help alphabetarians—people who are learning the alphabet and its sounds.
For convenience, here is a tabulation of the alphabet. This is a basic introduction.
|The English Alphabet|
|Order||Letters||Words to identify sounds
|Consonant (C) Vowel (V)|
|Capitals (Upper Case)||Small (Lower Case)|
1 A quokka is a small Australian short-tailed wallaby.
2 A vug is a small cavity in a rock. It is sometimes lined with crystals.
Vowels and Consonants
The tabulation above distinguishes between vowels and consonants.
Amongst the 26 letters, there are five vowels a, e, i, o, u, and, sometimes, y can serve as a vowel too.
Notice that there are the basic vowel sounds—short and long. An old rule states that the e following the consonant after a vowel makes the vowel say its name. In cage, the e following the g makes the a say, “I am an A”. By saying its name, the vowel is making the long-vowel sound.
Vowels have a vitally important function. Without them, it would be impossible to pronounce English words. This sentence will be repeated below without its vowels. Try to read it:
Ths sntnc wll b rptd blw wtht ts vwls.
A vowel sound is made by the breath being allowed to have free passage through your larynx and your mouth without your tongue or teeth or lips getting in the way.
The basis for using all reference works
Knowing the alphabet, especially its order, is vitally important if you are to advance in your studies. If you wish to teach yourself, it is an invaluable tool. It is basic to the proper and speedy use of dictionaries, encyclopedias, catalogs, and indexes, and it is essential in research.
Observe in dictionaries that the order of words depends on each letter in a word, not only the first letter. For example, southerly will appear before southern because the eighth letter in the first word, l, comes before the eighth letter in the second word, n.
The second part of this article will discuss consonant and vowel digraphs and their pronunciation. As already mentioned, you will find links to some helpful videos there.
Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome. What difficulties are you experiencing as you learn the English language? What solutions have you found for problems that you have had as you have been learning this language?
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