The Imperious A

Adam was but human--this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.

Pudd'nhead Wilson Mark Twain

As the first letter of both the Hebrew and Roman alphabets, the letter A, as pronounced in father, is the only sound common to every language on earth. This letter is the alpha male of the alphabet, and its aristocratic tendencies are apparent in the words Adam, autocratic, ascendant, arrogant, and absolute, and with the exception of Europe, the A is the first and last letter of all the continents: America, Asia, Australia, Africa and Antarctica. It is also the initial letter of Ankh, the looped cross that symbolizes life, and Aries, the Greek god of war and the first sign of the Zodiac.

The letter A’s power to affect public attitudes is illustrated by the different way it is pronounced between England and the United States. During the industrial revolution that swept England in the 19th Century, the British aristocracy, sensing an erosion of their social status by the emerging middle class, gradually assumed a mode of speech to emphasize their superior status. Instead of saying, I can't plant the grass, they affected an accent which even today distinguishes the English upper classes from all other English speakers; I cahn't plahnt the grahss.

Additionally, schoolchildren whose names begin with an A are familiar with the special feeling that comes from being the first in alphabetical roll calls. Although being singled out in this way can have a positive effect on the child's self-image, it can also breed resentment in their peers. The superior attitude of A people is aptly expressed in the traditional meaning of the names Andrew (manly), Alison (of noble birth), Audrey (noble strength), and Abraham (father of a multitude).

The authoritarian elements of the letter A might explain why fully 10% of U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents had an A-name -- twice the frequency found in the general population. A people are also consistently found on top of the lists of medicine, arts, sports and making money.