The Paternal and Benign P

"The populace is restless in the provinces; it is not in Paris. These are very pretty men, Sire. There is nothing to be feared on the part of the populace of Paris the capital. It is remarkable that the stature of this population should have diminished in the last fifty years; and the populace of the suburbs is still more puny than at the time of the Revolution."

Les Miserable Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo artfully conveyed the passive qualities of the Parisian populace by salting the above passage with P words and highlighting the P's association with pax, Latin for peace.

The pacific qualities of the P also connect it to all things paternal and its benign and fatherly properties can be seen in the initial letters of Peter, Paul, Pontiff, Pope, pompous, patronizing, powerful, providence, papa, and Psyche -- the Roman goddess of the soul.

Its strong connection with the paternal explains why P words of insult tend to have such a masculine form -- prick, pimp, pedophile, parasite and paparazzi -- but when combined with the languid letter L, words take on a decidedly placid tone… pliant, plaintive, placate, pleasant, and playful. (The word platonic stems from the Greek philosopher Plato who believed that the perfect relationship could only reach its spiritual zenith in the absence of sex.)

Particularly interesting is the way the Pr- phoneme embodies the authority of the paternal figure: prince, priest, president, prefect, professor, prelate, prosecutor, principal, primacy, pride, prostate, and provider. Watched over by Priapus, the god of male inherited power, the Prestons, Prescotts, and Princes of this world probably have no problem with prodigious procreation.

When used to initialize female names, the P tends to reflect its peaceful qualities as in the traditional meaning of Paloma (dove), Philippa (loving), and Pia (pious), while male names tend to embody more dignified qualities as in; Paddy (nobleman), Pedro (a rock), and Prescott (priestly). Bearers of both sexes tend to be proud, presentable and popular, which explains their high rankings in the lists of politicians and entertainers.