I work in the puzzle biz, so I probably end up running through the alphabet in its entirety a couple of times a week – usually because I’m checking to make sure that all letters are used in one type of puzzle or another. I was just doing that exact thing, and flashed on myself singing the alphabet song into a tape-recorder when I was but a wee twickster. (I’m a boomer, so this was early, exciting technology back in the late '50s – we’re talking before transistor radios here.) This got me thinking – it turns out there’s a good reason that learning the alphabet at a young age is like learning your times tables – endlessly useful. Or is it? Occasionally when I’m filing I’ll have to sing a snippet of “the song” to myself – but I suspect it’s not that common to actually use the alphabet. How often do you use it?
I don’t know if this is what you’re asking, but whenever I have to look for a specific letter for filing, let’s say “M”, I have to sing the entire alphabet to myself in order to find it. I just can’t go straight to “M.”
I usually find that a simple “ellemmenopee” will help in those instances.
If I’m ever confronted with putting anything in alphabetical order the stretch between G and L gets me, and I have to sing it. I’d say it’s at least a few times a month.
What is this ‘alphabet’ of which you speak?
RandMcnally – yeah, I’m guessing for most people it’s when they’re filing – I’m just curious to know if it comes up otherwise.
For instance, if you’re looking something up in an alphabetical list (in printed form) – phone book, dictionary, hard copy of Maltin – do you need to recite the alphabet to get to where you’re going?
On a somewhat related tangent, do people need to count off months, or can you just look at an 07/05 date and know that’s July? I think I was in my 30s before I didn’t have to count of “januaryfebruarymarchaprilmay” on my fingers.
I have to do that. The only month I know for sure is 8/ August because that’s the month I was born in.
Also, I’ve been in the military for nearly a year now, I still have to do the whole, “subtract 12” thing for military time.
I still have to count off for months.
Occasionally I do the ABC thing to verify what my Mark 1 optic scanners are telling me – that I’m in B and Samuel Delany, say, is two over.
A long time ago, to help in some personal cataloguing endeavors, I memorized the numerical placement of the letters (F=6, O=15, W=23, etc.). Since then, I never have to perform the ABC song or perform any type of recitation.
Once in a while, someone will come up with a Can-you-do-the-ABCs-backwards challenge, which is always pretty easy–so the only time I do actually recite the alphabet is in reverse order.
Mainly I say it when I’m having a really bad day at work and am looking for books in the uncatalogued part of the library stacks, where everything’s in alphabetical order. Most days I can jump right to where I need to be, but occasionally I blank.
This is me. I don’t do the whole alphabet, just little snippets. As for converting the months into numbers, I use what I call “landmarks in time.” Mostly birthdays, like RandMcnally.