The letter B


B is the second letter and first consonant of our alphabet. Upper case B consists of two bowls, one on top of the other, adjoining a stem on the left. Lower case b has one bowl. Depending on the style, the bowls can be the same size, or the top bowl can be smaller. Historically it is thought that the capital letter B began as a pictogram of the floorplan of a house. B symbolises the voiced bilabial stop, a sound basic to human speech. But poor old B, always second best: B-rated, B-list, B-movie and Plan B, where B doesn’t stand for anything other than a shortfall of A. In the world of science and technology beta is second place. However B vitamins and the musical note B are certainly not second-rate, and when B is used for the abbreviation of bachelor, it comes before the A (of arts)!