X is one of the most useless letters in the alphabet. Along with C and Q, and possibly Z, it could
quite easily be eliminated without being terribly missed. While C would be missed in words like “achoo”,
why not just use K? Akhoo! (Your left brain is rejecting this!)

X is a decorative letter, making for interesting looking
written words. But as far as pronunciation… well, there are alternatives.

Looking for a topic for this Challenge post, I did come
across some X words. Mostly
scientific in nature and, on this sunny Saturday morning, not really all that
appealing. So X, itself, is the topic.

X is much better suited to being a symbol than a letter. It’s decisive and succinct; easily
identifiable. It can indicate – quite clearly
– that something is wrong. It represents
the number 10 in Roman numerals. It also
represents the unknown – as in algebra.
Alternately, it can, as is my favourite use for it, “mark the spot.” So
it does have its uses. And it sounds
cool to say: eks.

The multiplication sign (or times sign) is not called an X,
though it does resemble one – exactly. It’s
called a multiplication sign or times sign.
Which I found rather disappointing as I was hoping that there was some
cool name for it that I had been unaware of.
But no.

I did discover that it
was introduced in 1631 as the multiplication sign by William Oughtred and was
chosen for this purpose for religious reasons to represent the cross. I could find nothing to explain the rationale
for this choice. What does the cross
have to do with multiplying?

According to Wikipedia: “The letter “x” is sometimes used in
place of the multiplication sign. This
is considered incorrect in mathematical writing.” I’ll be mulling this one over all day, I
think. How on Earth would anyone know
the difference? Can you imagine:

“You failed your math test because you used the letter eks instead
of multiplication signs.”

“No, I used multiplication signs!”

“They are clearly letter ekses. You fail.”

God, I’d love to be a math teacher and use that on a student
as a joke sometime!

Anyway, if you will X-cuse me, I’m not going to X-tract some
brunch from the kitchen and think about the difference between x and x. (As soon as I figure out which one is the multiplication sign.)

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