Dear Letter K:

Of course K, you are my favorite letter, not just because you begin my name, but because you have played a significant part in my earliest days of becoming acquainted with the English language.

You have an old history, derived from Egyptian hieroglyphics which represented the hand, which began with the sound of K.

Later of course, other languages picked you up in different forms. Some were sort of abstract drawings of a hand. In the Hebrew alphabet they called you Kaph with a symbol for hand which begins with the sound “K.” The Greeks picked you up and called you Kappa, a name that we often see in fraternities and sororities today.

The Romans copied all the good stuff that the Greeks had started. But they did not pick up the Kappa from the Greeks; instead, they chose to use the letter C for that sound, so that the name Caesar should be pronounced as though it were Kaiser.

When the Romans began to pester the Celts, this use of C to make the K sound continued into the Celtic world of Ireland. And I can tell you from first-hand experience that the Irish don’t use K much, but the English, who later invaded Ireland, did use you, K, and therefore my old Irish name “Cernan” became Kernan.

There is much more to you, my dear letter K. You are silent when we try to speak of knots or knowledge, but you are quite loud when we talk about knoodling. I also learned that the hard way.

In the world of science, you represent 1,000, such as in kilometer and kilogram, and to measure some extremely low temperatures on the Kelvin scale. K is our chemical symbol for the element potassium which is a funny thing because the Romans used to call it kalium, but then those old Romans grew to abhor the letter K, I guess.

When reading in the German language I used to see you lots and lots.

I like to see you flipped on one side (to the left) where I see a pair of horns sticking up from a flat line. Turned the other way, I see a pair of legs underneath a beast with long horns. Yep, a Texas Longhorn it must be.

By the way, I suppose you know that the old Celtic term, “Cern an” means “horned one.” Yes, at my age, you surely could call me an Old Goat.

I still keep you near at hand, in the form of a sealing wax stamp, a stained glass window decoration, and, of course, on all the checks I write, the letters I sign, so on & so forth!

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