Backwards Alphabet

As I was laying in bed last night, looking up at the ceiling and trying to fall asleep, a revelation came to me: I don’t know the alphabet backwards.

Now, this is a real problem. I mean, what would I do if a cop pulled me over for an impromptu alcohol test? I can imagine it now, “Mr. Chapin, please stand on one leg, touch your nose with your index finger, and recite the alphabet backwards for me”. To which I would reply, “err… uh… but I can’t!”, and would end up in jail even though I was sober as could be.

These are the kind of thoughts that go through my head whenever my body is inactive and my mind refuses to shut off (usually when I’m either attempting to go to sleep, or when I’m taking a shower). Yup. Some of my best insights take place while I am washing my hair.

So anyways, I immediately set about to teach myself the alphabet backwards. To make it interesting, I resolved to do it all entirely in my head without using a piece of paper or writing device even once. This may be ridiculously easy for some of you, but I’m one of those people who can only recite the alphabet in sing-song. Take away the song, and I’m lost even when I’m going forward! Whenever I’m indexing things in alphabetical order (like a file cabinet, for instance), I end up singing the alphabet song in my head every time I need to figure out whether “e” comes before “f”. This usually means that the alphabet song gets sung in my head a couple hundred times before I’m finished.

Ah. The dangers of learning things in sing-song…

Here’s the method that I contrived and used to re-teach myself the alphabet both forwards and backwards while I was laying in bed:

1. Sing the alphabet in my head to find the first three letters, “abc”.
2. State the three letters in my head to myself again, but this time in normal tone, “abc”.
3. Reverse the three letters and state them to myself again, “cba”.
4. Mentally draw the shapes of the letters in forwards order.
5. Mentally draw the shapes of the letters again, but this time in reverse order.
6. Repeat until it feels “natural”.
7. Repeat steps 1 through 6, over and over, making three letter sequences for all the letters in the alphabet: abc, def, ghi, jkl, mno, pqr, stu, vwx, yz
8. Practice chaining together the first couple of sequences in my head, “abc, def”.
9. Practice chaining together the same sequence, but this time in backwards mode, “fed, cba”.
10. Repeat until it feels “natural”.
11. Repeat steps 8 through 10 to chain together the remaining sequences.
12. Haltingly practice saying the alphabet backwards, one sequence at a time, “zy, xwv, uts, rqp, onm, lkj, ihg, fed, cba”.
13. Repeat over and over until it feels “natural”.
14. Speed up recitation and attempt to find the sing-song rythm, “zyxwvut srqponmlk jih gfe dc b and a”.
15. Go to sleep and let my subconscious mind ponder the changes to my brain.
16. Wake up in the morning and recite the alphabet forwards and backwards while taking a shower.
17. Recite forwards and backwards both before sleeping and after waking up, for an entire week.


  • I do this with numbers but it’s so painstaking. I always have to come up with a really high number and then count backwards. Oh man, I’m so tired.

  • nine thousand five hundred and seventy six, nine thousand five hundred and seventy five, nine thousand five hundred and seventy four, nine thousand five hundred and seventy three, nine thousand five hundred and seventy two, nine thousand five hundred and seventy one, nine thousand five hundred and sixty nine…

  • “Mr. Chapin, please stand on one leg, touch your nose with your index finger, and recite the alphabet backwards for me”

    Any off duty cop will tell you that the correct answer to this questions is. “You have got to be kidding me! I couldn’t do that sobber!”

    Now there are several things to point out about the “correct answer.” First off is that the question is a trick one to begin with. On a logical point every answer points to you being drunk. This includes the “correct answer.” Claming that you are drunk by implaying that you are not sobber. The answer is not importent the reaction to the question is. For example. If you can actualy say the alphabet backwords. A cop will mostlikly assume that you have thought about the question and trained yourself to answer it in you sleep, or drunk. This is not so good for you.

    This looks like a fun project and it will help your mind develop.

    My point is simply that you are not sopposed to know the answer, and if you do you should be very carful how you use it. Becouse you may be telling the cop more then you think.

  • ah, yeah. I forgot to sign my post.

  • Being the high energy individual that I am by the time I was in second grade I would visualize numbers of dots and various shapes in my mind. I eventually seperated areas of visualization and set up corridors to infer between them. Mental origami is how some refer to it.

    I continue to develop new areas of my mind to this day. One of the first techniques I used was to study the doubling sequence by “clicks” starting with one (the very notion of singularity) followed by it’s duplicate and proceding to duplicate each set as a beginning for the next. This helped me to understand plurality.

    Lately, I have been exploring many other sequences. Perhaps you have some suggestions that deal with certain natural orders.

    What really gets fun is when one develops a grasp extending beyond plane and solid geometry.

  • I taught myself the alphabet backwards one night when I had trouble sleeping. I was still a child or maybe a young teen, but I’ve never forgotten it. It’s interesting to find someone else who’s done the same thing. 🙂


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