Ask the pupils to imagine a world with no ‘O’

James Thurber wrote some wonderful books including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. One book in particular unwittingly predicted predictive texting. The Wonderful O introduces the reader to a man named Black who disliked the letter ‘O’. He refused to use the letter, or rather, he refused t use the letter r rather… 

Imagine a world with no ‘O’. You could ask children to discuss this idea and to see what words of value could be lost forever and with them the emotions and feelings associated with the lost words. The discussion could go a step further by discussing which of the missing vowels would be most significant if they had to be removed from our language, ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, ‘o’, and of course ‘u’ with its delicious partnership with ‘q’? Are we already losing letters and words? Whch wld w mss mst?

For a real challenge, could a new vowel be created that would enhance and enrich English?

Thurber, J (1992) The Wonderful O, Yearling Books
Thurber, J (1999) 13 Clocks, Amereon Limited

Thanks to John Senior for this brainteaser.

First published in Primary G&T Update, July 2006