How the Alphabet was Made

Notes on the text

These notes draw on those written by Lisa Lewis for the OXFORD WORLD’S CLASSICS edition of Just So Stories (1995) with the kind permission of Oxford University Press, together with material from the Kipling Society’s ORG. The page numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Just So Stories.


[Page 131, line 15] Neolithic The action of this story, like the last, takes place in the late Stone Age (10,000-5,000 B.C.E.)

[Page 145, lines 4-6] Hieroglyphics the picture characters of ancient Egyptian writing.
Demotics A simplified version of hieroglyphics for popular use.
Nilotics Nilotic was a language used by people of the upper Nile valley.
Cryptics Ciphered writings, meant to be illegible without the key.
Cufics Early Arabic script.

Runics For an example (detail right) of the Runic alphabet, see Kipling’s illustration to the previous story on page 125.
Dorics Language used in the north-west part of ancient Greece.
Ionics The Ionian alphabet was officially adopted by Athens in 403 B.C.E., and became universal in ancient Greece.

[Page 145, line 7] Woons Burmese administrative officers.
Neguses Negus was a title of the Emperors of Ethiopia.
Akhoonds Tribal leaders in Afghanistan.

[Page 146, line 4] forever and ever Kipling’s friends Sir Percy and Lady Bates commissioned a copy of the necklace from Spink’s, a well-known London jewellers, and presented it to him in 1932. The necklace is exhibited at Kipling’s home, Bateman’s, now the property of the National Trust.

[Page 147, line 20] mind your P’s and Q’s Be very careful. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Cassell, 1895) suggests that 18th-century French dancing teachers would tell their pupils to mind their “pieds” (feet) and “queues” (wigs). Kipling owned a Brewer.

[Page 151, line 3] Merrow Down Merrow was a village near Guildford in Surrey (now a suburb). Kipling’s friend John St Loe Strachey lived at Merrow Down, where the family visited him.

©Lisa Lewis 2006 All rights reserved