Ordinal linguistic personification

Letters with personalities, genders, and social relationships


For me, most graphemes (symbols) have gender, personality, and social relationships (in addition to their colors). This, like all other synesthetic experience, is automatic and uncontrollable.

I have no idea where these extremely detailed personalities came from; Graphemes have been this way as long as I can remember. Their genders and personalities are as much a part of them as oranges are round. In other words, completely inseparable from the rest of idea.

Seriously? That’s so weird

Yes, seriously. Maybe it’s weird, but it is how I experience reading and thinking about symbols. There is absolutely nothing strange for me to know that the letter w is mostly female; No stranger than knowing a lemon tastes sour.

For a long time I thought I was just being creative with letters, assigning them random personalities. After reading one of Richard Cytowic’s books on synesthesia, I realized this was yet another symptom of my synesthesia.


It’s difficult to adequately describe what a drum set looks like, or the exact texture of white noise, but it’s very easy to talk about my graphemes.

They feel like people I know: people with backstories, social relationships, genders, likes and dislikes. In some ways I know more about them than I know about actual people. They are always with me, and reading them is like watching them all have a party together, different cliques of letters socializing with others.

As I write the description of each one of my grapheme friends, it occurs to me that while they all have a gender, and most of them are somewhere between male and female. That is, very few letters are 100% male or 100% female. This is interesting to me because it seems the idea of a gender spectrum (as opposed to a binary of male and female) is innately a part of the way I think. I certainly had never heard the word “transgender” or the phrase “gender fluid” before I learned the alphabet; this spectrum of gender identify seems to have been in my brain from the start.

I find it very easy to accept people who don’t adhere to traditional ideas of the gender binary because most of my letters and numbers don’t either.

It should be noted that although my graphemes have genders, they do not have sexual preferences; I don’t think that p , because she is female, is naturally attracted to n because he’s male. In fact, if the letters were to date each other I don’t think their genders would have any bearing on who paired up (or grouped up) with who.

The alphabet

Every one of the 26 letters in the English alphabet has a very specific color, gender, and social relationships with the other letters. Same goes for numbers, and to a lesser extent, symbols.

Cliques and social relationships

There are few distinct social groups in the alphabet:

  • ABC – the trio of first letters. They are great buddies.
  • ABCDEF – the first couple letters- they operate as a team as well
  • HIJKL – another clique, this one is predominantly feminine
  • MN – the MN team, best buddies forever, M is smarter but N is more arrogant
  • OPQ – another female clique, these letters often keep to themselves
  • RST – R and S are best buddies, and T is often the third wheel
  • TU – T and U are good friends: they seem to understand eachother. Nobody really gets U except T and W
  • VWXY – a group of very similar female letters. Not especially friendly, sort of like the group from the movie Mean Girls

There are also cliques in numbers:

  • 123 – similar to the alphabet trio, these guys are buddies
  • 34 – a team, just like MN (almost the same colors too)
  • 56 – not unlike a husband-wife team. 5 leans male and 6 leans female
  • 789 – the higher numbers; 9 is definitely the leader
  • 0 has a special relationship with 1, but otherwise does their own thing

Specific social characteristics of graphemes


gender: male, with some feminine qualities
He is the leader of the alphabet, although not as outgoing as you’d expect for the first letter. He is ok being the first, but doesn’t go around rubbing it in people’s faces. A quiet type, not the strongest but fairly confident. Works well with others; friends with the first few letters like B, C, and D, but not the type to hang out with them all the time. A also has interaction with Z; they have a lot in common because they are both at the edge of the alphabet. Can be overshadowed by E or C, both of whom are much more “alpha male”, strangely enough. A is more of a homebody; he likes to hang out at the far left-hand-side of the alphabet, and doesn’t mind there aren’t any letters to the left.


gender: male, more than a or c, I’d say about 95% male
B is the second-in-command, good buddy to A. Generally well-liked, B gets along with everybody (even letters at the other end of the alphabet). He’s more outgoing than a but not as much as C. For some reason he gets along better with letters like D, M and T than P, O, or W- maybe because he’s male and they are female. That said, they get along just fine. b might be slightly sexist


gender: slightly more male than female
The last in the trio of “beginning of the alphabet buddies,” C is a well-liked and easy-going letter. Does a lot of hanging out with A and B, mostly because they are put together so often- especially on stuff for little kids learning the alphabet. Together with A and B, the colors of those three letters actually influence the color of the word “alphabet”, as well as the overall personality of the word itself. C is a go-getter, open to anything, and very friendly. Has some issues interacting with I and E, mostly because when those letters get together in English nobody remembers in which order they should go. C and K are partners, as sometimes they are interchangeable, but they might feel a little jealous when one is used in place of the other (like “Chris” vs “Kris”).


gender: both male and female
D is fairly quiet and doesn’t socialize a lot. Sometimes D feels left out from the “beginning of the alphabet buddies” but more often than not couldn’t care less. D is strong, independent, and a little dark. They can be very serious, especially used as a musical key.


gender: about 50/50 male/female
E is a fun letter. Very easy-going, sometimes the life of the party. they have a bit of an ego because they are used so often (at least in English). Gets along with most everybody, although E is like one of the “cool kids.” they don’t always associate with some of the “fringe” letters like X or Q. If they do, they aren’t always sure how to interact with them socially. That said, E does play well with others, because they have to! So many words use E, they would be a social outcast if they didn’t.


gender: male, slightly feminine. Sort of like Bert from Sesame Street
F is like the older, more serious brother to E. Although he has a silly side, it doesn’t come out all the time. Sometimes F wishes he was part of the “A B C” team, but is generally happy at his lot in life.


gender: female
G is friendly but somewhat introverted. She doesn’t go out of her way to be social, but she is very warm and friendly. Also very smart, G knows what’s up. Sort of a mother-figure the way W is, but much less overbearing.


gender: male, but very friendly to female letters
G and H are friends. H gets along with many letters, although his head is often in the clouds. H can be easily confused, but he never lets it get to him. Very transparent (not literally); H doesn’t hide anything, what you see is what you get.


gender: more female than male, but it’s hard to tell
I is a sly letter, fairly opinionated without being mean. Gets along very well with H, not quite as well with J and K. HIJKL have their own clique where I is the most aloof.


gender: female
Part of the HIJKL clique, sometimes the leader. Fun and moderately outgoing.


gender: female
Confident and intelligent, k often steals c’s spotlight (ie Kris instead of Chris).


gender: sort of like H, but more female. About halfway in between
A lovely letter, calm and zen-like, persona ke and friendly.


gender: male, with a few feminine tendencies that he tries to pretend don’t exist
Warm and friendly but not entirely forthcoming. Good friends with n but there is an unspoken rivalry between them.


gender: male, weighs less and is more male than M, but isn’t as concerned with his gender identity
more confident than m but he probably shouldn’t be. Brazen, can be sort of a jerk, but usually isn’t.


gender: 50/50 male female
O keeps to themself, although they appear in many words. A bit aloof. Very closely related to the number 0; maybe even secret twins, but 0 generally more friendly than O


gender: female
Outspoken, gregarious, might talk too much.


gender: female
Reserved, a bit strange, quiet. Thinks p is too loud, likes r better.


gender: male
A friendly go-getter, buddies with everybody, especially s


gender: probably about 75% male
A team player if a bit self-absorbed. Best buds with r and t.


gender: male, with a tiny bit of female thrown in (although T doesn’t seem to acknowledge that very often)
A cool dude that prefers to be with other letters; he doesn’t like to be alone.


gender: halfway between male and female
A bit unusual, unique (get it!?). Maybe even alien, doesn’t seem to belong (such a strange green color)


gender: female
Confident and sociable, sexy (not sure how a letter can be sexy, but…). Doesn’t mind partnering with male letters.


gender: female
Reserved, caring, and warm. Although w is friendly, she is not very outgoing and prefers to take care of letters.


gender: mostly female
Wild and mysterious.


gender: female, like a partner to Z
Friendly, loves to help out, especially with vowels


gender: mostly male
Doesn’t care what anybody thinks, does his own thing.



gender: male
Quiet, reserved; a reluctant leader. Likes it when he is not the first (as in programming where counting begins at 0)


gender: male, with a tiny bit of female thrown in
Confident and social. Wishes 1 would get out more.


gender: male
A lot like N (similar color too), but warmer. A social number, eager to please.


gender: male
A heroic leader, ready for anything. Confident.


gender: male
A bit arrogant but very friendly so others don’t really hold it against him. Denies that he looks like 2- they have very different personalities


gender: female
Loving, caring, and sensitive; a wonderful number. Very pretty shade of pink/red too.


gender: about 75% male
Unique (not just because the color of 7 is a lot like the color of the word unique). Strong and brave but gentle.


gender: female
A go-getter who is always happy to be part of a team.


gender: female
Not always sure what is going on; not particularly self-aware and often confused.


gender: about halway between male and female
Mysterious (see the letter O). Does not socialize well with others; a lone wolf. Has a special relationship with 1- the other numbers don’t get 0

Various symbols and punctuation


gender: female
Friendly and eager to please


gender: male
Stoic, quiet


gender: about 60% male, 40% female
Loves to be a part of the conversation, a team-player

gender: slightly more female than a comma
A bit more self-absorbed than , perhaps because ” is usually placed higher on the line

gender: 51% male (almost halfway in between)
Like ” cut in half. Not all there, literally. Aloof.


gender: female
A very friendly symbol. Started off alone, but when I learned to type she developed a special relationship with the number 8 because they usually share a key. (In fact there is a little purple halo around * due to her proximity to 8)


gender: male
Extremely outgoing and overjoyed when he gets used. Slightly self-concious about all his curves.

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