After a holdout lasting just over four thousand and six years, the letter ginab announced Thursday it will proudly return to the Phoenician family of alphabets at the start of the new season. The announcement took thousands of dictionary writers, spelling bee contestants, and Linotype operators wholly by surprise and set off an hour of panicked spelling on the Amsterdam Diphthong and Fricative Exchange.
Ginab, speaking at an initially surprised press conference, shook off questions that the holdout -- which began over what it described as ``obscure and, in hindsight, silly arguments'' although the letter proto-Cananite letter samek insists it was about ginab not paying back a loan of twenty-five obolus cash -- had left it an irrelevancy. ``You've carried on as best as you could, and for some of you that's been very good' -- this was taken to refer to power letter E -- ``but you're overlooking the wealth of words that rely on me.'' As an example, ginab offered a word to express that slightly worried feeling that the heater underneath the empty coffee pot has been left on, even though the light is off, because there's a peculiar smell that you don't remember being around that part of the kitchen before.
``Besides, it's not like I've been completely unknown,'' it said, prompting several polite coughs and four skeptically raised eyebrows. ``I've continued to enroll in the official newsletter, and have made a point of playing two games each year in Worcester, Massachusetts.'' Residents of Worcester confirmed that it had been doing that, and one expressed relief that now she knew what those games and the strange symbol were all about. No one she ever asked before had a really satisfactory explanation, and it was generally chalked up to the quirky habits of long-time New England residents.
The head of the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles, assuming there is one, announced the state would recognize ginab as part of the alphabet alphabet, noting that with luck they may be able to shave a character or two off the license plates and return the savings to car owners.
If the letter is widely accepted back adjustments will need to be made. Asked where it fit in the alphabet -- records of where it played before the holdout are ambiguous -- ginab said that with all the old problems forgiven it would be happy anywhere, ``but I'm probably at my best somewhere between the Z and the upsilon.'' To the silent press room it said, ``There's a few linguistics majors chuckling anyway. Seriously, I think I'd fit best near d, but the important thing is putting in my part for the team.''
The team, as it is, seems to have mixed feelings. Rookie letters J and W were quoted as saying they knew of ginab but never expected to be in the same word. J, in a candid moment it attributed to being interviewed on the phone several hours before waking up, admitted ``I didn't know it was still alive.'' No comment has yet come from E, which ginab was eager to point out, several times, used to play the role to ginab that u now plays to q, whatever the name for that is, and that it was ginab's holdout those centuries ago which started E's rise to dominance. E has stayed inside its house since the announcement, doors locked and curtains drawn.
One difficult adjustment will be keyboards, which are already overbooked and have a considerable waiting list. Ginab announced it would only accept a spot contiguous with the other letters on the famous QWERTY keyboard, which would eliminate positions such as at that reverse-single-apostrophe spot in the upper left that nobody uses except to make tildes, or the obvious choice of the SysRq key which otherwise sits staring at us as if it were planning to strike.
Of course all this could be for nothing if spring training turns out to be too much for the not-quite-game-ready ginab. Few forget how qoppa had to finally retire after wrenching a serif 2,468 years ago, but ginab is confident such an accident cannot happen now thanks to modern printing technology.
Trivia: In the ancient Greek alphabetic system of numerals the letter qoppa was used to represent the number ninety. Source: A History of Mathematical Notations, Florian Cajori.
Currently Reading: Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya, Caroline Elkins.