The letter “N” intrigues me. Though not as complete as “M,” it manages to be quite functional. As a political commentator, I enjoy foraging through polling and statistical data….numbers….starts with “n.” As a little child, I often rebelled against an “n” word….No! So, my relationship with “n” has been an up and down one over the six-plus decades of my life. “N” is used rather often when I describe politicians as in “numbskull,” no ethics, ninny or Nanny State. We often overlook “n” because it sits in the middle of the English alphabet….hidden from view and avoiding scrutiny. “A” and “z” are more popular, and the vowel aspect provides “a” with a more functional linguistic utility. Nevertheless, “n” slides through our discourse unnoticed but notably necessary.
No one knows the number of “n’s” that are needed for necessary communication clarification. Can you imagine a sentence or a paragraph that didn’t include an “n?” To reiterate: Ca you imagie a setece or a paragraph that did’t iclude a “ ?” Nearly impossible, isn’t it?
“N’s” are the worker bees of the language. They receive no notice and get no glory, but each and every day they silently go about their assigned tasks. “N’s” are the Tea Party. The Liberty group members are “n’s.” Anyone who labors in the vineyards of freedom without being recognized and glorified is an “n.” Just do the job and do it well. Slug forward for each inch of the battle ground, hold it, regroup and advance. That is what true “n’s” do….silently and effectively.
Vowels are the glamorous members of the alphabet family. They are singled out for special recognition on “Wheel of Fortune.” The unforgettable and highly lauded “a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y” are indeed necessary for effective communication. The new age of texting has given them an amazing capacity for standing alone…without other letters complementing them. “U R a prince 4 doing it.” “Y not?” “N” on the other hand is generally relegated to a supportive but critical role. The most questionable use of “n” is the taunting sound that uses “N’s” quite liberally: na, na, na, na, na……, ……na. This practice undermines the value of “n” and gives our quiet little buddy a bad reputation.
You may wonder why I would write such a frivolous column in these times of economic and political turmoil, or why I might write it during this season of Hope, Peace and Joy. Well, this is the time of year when many of us are more concerned about the unfortunate ones in our midst, and, in some respect, that could include the letter “n.” Also, during times of stress and chaos, we often fail to return to basic principles for answers to our difficulties. “N” is similar to a basic principle of economics and politics. Solid, unassuming, ever faithful, and sensible are qualities that are shared by “n” and many first principles. Selfishly I have always longed to be considered a man of letters, and this week could provide my big shot at philosophical and academic stardom.
Please never forget that little seen and never-praised “n” is a vital component in our efforts to communicate to others and for understanding one another. Never forget “n” and its contribution to human interaction in the English-speaking world. Never forget “n.” Never forget.
On Wednesday we’ll examine the sordid and exciting life of “O.”
Wednesday, 6-7:00pm, 1370 WSPD, Toledo www.wspd.com
We’ll be interviewing Santa Claus on Wednesday’s show.