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My Problem With the Letter X

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By Braeden Pelton

English is so complicated and confusing, there are so many rules and contradictions to abide by when speaking, reading, or writing the language. So tell me, why do we as English speakers choose to make it harder on ourselves? Our alphabet contains 26 letters, each with its own assigned purpose, with one outlier.

I hate x. I know that hate is a strong word, but I need a strong word in order to communicate this feeling, complete and utter disdain. The letter x is pointless, tedious, and is merely an obstacle in learning and using modern day English.

X is completely replaceable. The primary sounds of x can be replaced by other letters or groups of letters. In xylophone it steals the sound of z. In words like excitement you can simply replace x with eks, same with any other word like it. When a word uses x silently like faux, just take the x off, luxury can easily be made lukshury. 

With certain words using x as a value placement like X-rays you run into a bit of a problem. X is there because it represents a unit of measurement. But having taken multiple algebra courses, I know you can apply any arbitrary symbol and let it be the unit. In other math cases like multiplication you can use an asterisk instead, they mean the same thing.

Some modern day systems utilize x as a unit of measurement outside of regular math. Take for instance our clothing sizes. X, XL, XXL all use X to represent extra. As stated before you could use any symbol you wanted, but in this case I feel as if E is the best. 

But what about Roman numerals? Those are ROMAN numerals, not English. We can acknowledge other languages and numeric systems with different symbols. Russian has several different letters, and languages like Arabic are completely different. Just like the Romans, Egyptians also had their own numeral system at one point too. We can still write those symbols when referring to them.

Now you may be thinking that you can’t just get rid of a letter from the alphabet. Even if it has no real purpose, x has been established in our alphabet for ages. Here’s the thing, we’ve removed letters before, many times. X would be no more significant than any other letter from a bygone era like þ (thorn) which used to represent our th sound. There are a whole slew of letters that have been abandoned as we’ve lost use of them. Many videos online have covered this very thing.

Some may not like this due to having to implement multiple letters where we had one letter before. The eks and uks substitutes are longer, but pointing back to thorn, we have chosen 2 symbols for 1 in the past. It isn’t that much harder adding in 1 additional letter. In fact we did this with thorn, ð (eth) which had multiple roles, or 7 the tironian et.

People who advocate to keep this letter baffle me. It has no purpose, is entirely replaceable, and isn’t even used frequently! I know some people just want it because it’s there, but that just isn’t a good enough reason for me. I don’t know who one would have to go to in order to remove a letter from use, but I hope they read this, and throw away the useless letter x.

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