As long as I can remember, certainly one of my favorite pastimes has been manipulating those tricky permutations of 26 letters to fill in that signature, bright green gridded board of Wheel of Fortune.
Each night at precisely 6:30 p.m., my children and I unfailingly gather inside our family area in anticipation of Pat Sajak’s cheerful announcement: “It’s time for you to spin the wheel!” Additionally the game is afoot, our banter punctuated by the potential of either big rewards or even bigger bankruptcies: “She has to know that word—my goodness, how come she buying a vowel?!”
While a game title like Wheel of Fortune is filled with financial pitfalls, I wasn’t ever much interested in the money or new cars to be won. I came across myself interested in the letters and playful application of this English alphabet, the intricate units of language.
As an example, phrases like “I love you,” whose incredible emotion is quantized to a mere set of eight letters, never cease to amaze me. Whether it’s the definitive pang of a simple “I am” or an existential crisis posed by “Am I”, I recognized at a young age how letters and their order impact language.
Spelling bees were always my forte. I’ve for ages been able to visualize words and then verbally string consonants that are individual vowels together. I may not need known this is of any word I spelled, I knew that soliloquy always pushed my buttons: that ending that is-quy so bizarre yet memorable! And intaglio with its“g that is silent rolled off the tongue like cultured butter.
Eventually, letters assembled into greater and much more complex words.