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CapriUni Origins: ABC's: when the 'Twinkle Twinkle' link? (11) RE: Origins: ABC's: when the 'Twinkle Twinkle' link? 10 Mar 12


Okay, yes. So we know that alphabetic order had some sort of meaning to early peoples (and it was presumably important some time before Psalm 119 got into writing, or else, the scribe writing it down wouldn't have been so careful in picking the words).

But -- that still doesn't answer the question I've been wondering for most of my adult life: why is alphabetic order in the order that it's in?

According to Wikipedia (take the spoonfuls of knowledge with caution),
Alf is Phoenician for ox. Bet is Phoenician for house. Gimel is Phoenician for camel, Det is Phoenician for door....

I've now got an image camel standing across the threshold of someone's house... and that just seems wrong, somehow.

But, be that as it may, that's not actually the question I'm asking in this particular thread:

When did the tune "Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman" become the melody for what we know as "The ABC's?".

It wasn't composed until the mid-late 1700s, if my memory serves, and didn't get attached to nursery rhymes until the 1800s.

What melody (if any) did children sing before then, to help them learn this quaint and abstract bundle of knowledge?

BTW, in terms of scansion and economy, I have found, personally, that the 26 letters of our alphabet fit much better inside the melodies to "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat" and "Frere Jasques."

With the former, you have to slide in one extra quarter note to get around the three-syllable W, and with the latter, you have three notes left over, after Z, which can be comfortably filled with: "That's the end!" or "Now we're done!"


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