Not too long ago I read Joscelyn Godwin's The Mystery of the Seven Vowels. A fascinating book, highly recommended for anyone interested in language and/or music. The theme harks back to the seven sacred vowels in the ancient Greek language, these vowels corresponded to the seven planets/gods of their ancient cosmo-theology.
Anyway, at the time I was thinking a lot about the relationship between the numbers seven and twelve in all things ancient. Seven days of the week, twelve months of the year. Seven travelling planets in the sky, twelve constellations. Of course, these correlate - the days of the week named for their respective gods, the months in loose correlation with the signs of the zodiac.
There's also seven notes in a musical key, and these in turn are plucked from the twelve notes of the western musical scale. Again this correlates with the Music of the Spheres and the planetary movements.
[As a side note, I also wondered if maybe the birth chart in astrology was essentially the location of the seven planets in relation to the twelve constellations; i.e. that the twelve constellations were the twelve notes and that the planets' positions would essentially pick seven notes by their location. If Mars was in Libra at your birth and Libra represented, say an 'A', then an 'A' would be one of your notes. If you have seven notes that fit harmoniously in a key then that bodes well. If your seven notes are discordant and all over the place then bad luck.]
Anyway, on reading about the seven sacred vowels I started wondering if there were twelve corresponding sacred consonants. I looked and couldn't find anything on-line suggesting this, but I thought I'd try it out. In English we have twenty-one consonants. Can they be stripped back to an essential twelve? How many consonants are needed for a functioning English language?
I've been wondering about this. So for an experiment I'm going to try removing some to see what happens. Maybe I'll remove one a post? Let's see how many posts I can get through.
I'll start with an easy one: Z
I think we can get by without Z - it's just a fancy S really, Fizz can become Fiss. Zebra can be Sebra.
I should point out at this point that it helps to actually mouth the words out as well. Zebra and Sebra might not look the same on paper, but they certainly sound more or less the same, and that's what counts :) We won't miss Z once we get used to not having it.
..so go out, cross the sebra crossing, and buy a fissy drink ...but wrap up warm 'cos it's freesing out there.
Constellation Consonants Part 2 - X