Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Title text: Do I get to remove letters entirely? Or just rearrange them? Because the 'k/c' situation is ridiculous. Look, we can make out whenever. This is *immortality*!
This comic is a joke on the traditional pick-up line that goes something like this: "Baby, if I could rearrange the alphabet, I'd put 'U' and 'I' together." Terrible, I know.
However, in typical xkcd fashion, rather than continue with that tired pickup line, Cueball jumps at his chance to rearrange the alphabet and fix the English orthography. An orthography is a standardized system for using a particular writing system (script) to write a particular language. It includes rules of spelling, and may also concern other elements of the written language such as punctuation and capitalization.
The joke is that hooking up with this girl can wait because rearranging the alphabet and changing the English language is the chance of a lifetime, and would make history.
"The 'k/c' situation" refers to the use of the letter 'C', which doesn't have a unique sound; it sounds either like a 'K' or an 'S'. The only exception is when it is combined with 'H', as in 'chair'. A possible change Cueball might make is to replace 'C' with a letter that exclusively sounds like 'CH'.
- [Cueball walks up to a girl sitting at a bar]
- Cueball: Baby, if I could rearrange the alphabet, I'd forget about you in a *heartbeat*. I'm not gonna waste my one chance to help the mess that is English orthography.
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That would probably work anyways. I hear women love it when you play hard to get like that. Davidy22[talk] 13:38, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Is it not also relevant that the "ea" in heart and beat are pronounced differently, an example of the irregularity of English orthography. 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- In "rearrange" (used in the comic) the letters "ea" comprise two syllables, and the schwa is more stressed than in "realize", which is barely audible when pronounced at all (although it might depend on regional accents).
188.8.131.52 02:26, 2 December 2016 (UTC)
- ...and also in learn, bread, break, beard, bear, create, reality, realize, sergeant. So, 11 different pronunciations. Did I miss any? ––St.nerol (talk) 22:11, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
- In what way are the pairs beat/beard and learn/bread pronounced differently? 184.108.40.206 21:18, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
- Beat/beard seems the same. Mistake. Learn has the same vowel as "surge", and bread is pronounced with the short "e"-sound, as in "best". –St.nerol (talk) 22:15, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
- Those vowels all sound different to me. It all depends on your accent. Tarkov (talk) 09:03, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
I couldn't find realize and sergeant. You can see it isn't just the vowels that are different. Tharkon (talk) 01:34, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
- beat/beard /biːt/ vs /bɪɹd/ or /bɪəd/
- learn/bread /lɜɹn/ vs /bɹɛd/. The difference between learn and bread is similar to the difference between stir /stɜɹ/ and stare /stɛɹ/, which are not homophones.
- realize /ˈɹiːəlaɪz/
- sergeant /ˈsɑːɹdʒənt/
Xhfz (talk) 13:34, 10 August 2015 (UTC)