ALPHABETIC: the pecking order of local free-range symbols

In numerous cultures, an arbitrary sequence of linguistic symbols is instilled into the subconscious awareness of every individual so that, without needing to ever state it explicitly, each letter symbol is always allocated its specific pecking order. There is thus perpetuated a comfortable and natural order of things. Symbol 'A' can peck symbol 'B', 'B' can peck 'C' and so on, but rarely the other way around without an inevitable aggressive display of squawking and flying feathers. Even though 'Z' might have important social observations to contribute about egg production or the tensile strength of chickenwire, it is always socially on the receiving end of whatever points are being made. Generally speaking, the imposition of this phenomenon is suffered with a minimum of complaint and, whilst the expectations of the alphabetic pecking order are undisturbed, peace and calm and standard egg production is normally attainable and breakout attempts are usually unsuccessful.

One of the undesirable consequences is that certain publications such as dictionaries distort our view of reality. An entirely unmerited interest and awareness is promoted of an Aard-vark and such a vital concept as Zymolysis is unfairly consigned to the very final page. The realities of pragmatic behavioural normality, is that a knowledge of the habits and classifications of a remote termite eating nocturnal mammal is of minimal import, compared to the everyday social significance of fermentation and its influence on social life. Similarly, such references as phonebooks, staff-lists and the notices for births and deaths, almost without exception, relegate the terminal members to social oblivion.

An elementary modification to an alphabetic system... which is socially long overdue and which would restore some much needed equity... would be to cycle the sequence every month or so. Just as it is now acceptable to dedicate individual days of the year to various worthy worldly causes, so we could assign each month thruout the year to one of the alphabetic characters. The letter for the previous month would be consigned to the bottom of the pecking order and each of the others would be promoted one level up the order. Pecking order supremacy would thus be periodic rather than eternal. Such an arrangement might not suit some languages of course but then, in this chaotic existence, nothing is ever convenient.

In order to understand the likely consequences of such social engineering, preliminary modelling experiments with alphabetically named virtual poultry hens have already been conducted. Standard psychological profiles and anatomical parameters were incorporated in the model with incremental network element analysis being iterated over intervals that approximated quantum dimensions. Initial indications suggested that most flock members did not appear take too readily to the scheme. Pecking vector profiles were disrupted and displaced in both time and space. Egg-laying production became sporadic and randomized. As perhaps might have been expected, the upper layers were associated with high resentment indicators... presumably for not having their status reinforced... and the lower layers were were associated with raised levels of apprehension indicators... again presuming that they would be wondering what the hell was going on. When the model was allowed to run its course, it was found that the level of resentment of the upper layers actually continued to increase, whereas the lower layers began to register increased levels of the indicators associated with confidence and revenge. The crucial difficulty that the model indicated would evolve, was with respect to the roosters. They would invariably develop severe psychotic disorders, and be unable to discriminate between 'up' and 'down'.

Leaving all this to one side however... at least until the scientific method has confirmed or denied the model... the availability of administrative computers to human populations should be able to easily facilitate such a beneficial social revolution. In particular, any society that considers itself to be democratic should give careful consideration to eliminating this insidious source of inequality and disadvantage.