LOGOLOG
a weblog of wordplay by Eric Harshbarger

## A=1, B=2, C=3

A very common, very simple trick that is often used in ciphers is what I call a basic "alphabet-index cipher" whereby one should think of a letter of the alphabet in terms of its position within the alphabet (i.e. A=1, B=2, C=3, and so on).

When using such a technique, it is, of course, helpful if one can associate a letter with its numeric index quickly. While I don't really have all of the letters and their indices memorized, per se... I can make the associations in a matter of seconds (without having to count off on my fingers, "A, B, C...").

My method relies on knowing indices of many of the letters and then using those touchstones to count off to any unknown letters. Recently, while employng this method, I thought I should make a list of such aides. Here they are:

• The first five letters I just have memorized: A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, E=5... so F and G can be counted off quickly from those.
• "H" I always remember as letter "8" because "aitch" and "eight" are pronounced similarly.
• For whatever reason I have always been able to remember that "J" is the 10th letter of the alphabet.
• Likewise, I also remember that "M" is the 13th letter... the last of the first half of the alphabet.
• I remember "N" (and "R") for the oddest reason. Years ago, singer Janet Jackson had an album (which I never owned) entitled "Rhythym Nation 1814" and it was trvially pointed out that the initials "R.N." correspond to the numbers "18,14". I have never forgotten this.
• I remember "T" is the twentieth letter because "twenty" starts with a "T".
• Things get a bit shaky after that, but fortunately I'm nearly at the end of the alphabet, so counting backward (with "Z" obviously being "26") works pretty efficiently.
So, those are the typical mental acrobatics I employ whenever this comes up (what position is "S"? well, it's one position before "T" which is "20", so "S" must be "19"...)

-- Eric

[28 August 2007]

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This type of cipher, though fairly simple, has become confusing to me since my immersion in web design. HTML uses hexadecimal for web-safe colors, and so in my head A=10, B=11, etc

These reminders seem helpful, if you use this cipher often enough.

Posted by: Aaron Sneary

wow i am not stupid after all so that mean h=10 yah sweet yahhhhhhhhhhh

Posted by: bob

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