Thursday, November 12, 2015


V is for victory. Hold your two first fingers as if holding a cigar, with the back of the hand facing forward. Turn your hand the other way and that V is for peace, according to some hippies. V is very much of everything—including less popular, as, indeed, are all the letters we are about to encounter in the lowest tray of the alphabet as I learned it, V, W, X, Y, and Z. Among them, anyway, V rates pretty well—third after W and Y for frequency of use. But let's put that in perspective. W is #15 across the entire alphabet, well out of the top 10. Y is #18. And V is #21, just behind B and ahead of K. Lowly, yes, but such fine company right there. So what if V is infrequently used? It's a fun sound to make—the sound of the kazoo, essentially, with lower lip serving as vibrating surface across which the breath and vocal cords do their jimjams. V was well suited to the motor age, notably in its well known "vroom-vroom" application. It is a thoroughly modern letter somehow. A real V8. It had to be V for Vietnam. One nice thing about these lesser-used letters is the way little complexities can rush in to fill the gaps of a paucity of use. In online chat, lowercase, V has a busy life as "very," where it is prone to the inflationary impulse that follows such compression. I think four now are as many as I've seen in standardized use in front of an N (for "nice"): vvvvn. That's very, very, very, very sincere, ty. At that point the meaning begins to drain away from V, like the meaning from a word that you repeat too many times to yourself. You start to see the resemblance that it has to a checkmark, or mountain peaks side by side. You realize it can equally validly be expressed as a precise angle, say 35 degrees. It is, after all, also the mathematical greater-than and less-than symbols swung to balance impossibly on its tip. That's V all over for you—balancing impossibly on its tip. In the hard sciences, V really has a presence, almost celebrity status, with volumes, velocity, vectors, and such. In Roman numeral cloud cuckoo land, V is the number 5. With its connection to things visual, V is important in today's entertainment industry, as in TV, DVD, VHS, VCR, etc. As we noticed before with M and N, V and W are two letters sitting next to one another in the alphabet with a resemblance, as if they were put together that way purposefully. For that matter, U, which immediately precedes V, also has something of a family resemblance. However, V is the only one balancing impossibly on its tip (singular). If I ever see you online, you will have to admit that's a vvvvg trick.

1 comment:

  1. Better the open hand than the back of the hand, unless perhaps it is your own.