Contrary to popular belief, Wingdings is not a buffalo wing delivery service by way of bicycle, nor is it what happened to Clarence at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. Wingdings is actually a symbol-based font that was co-created in 1957 by Howard Wing and Joseph A. Ding, and has found its way into most standard word processing programs. Wingdings has perplexed the most scholarly academics and the most astute fourth-graders since time immemorial. In an attempt to remedy this, I present to you now a comprehensive analysis of the Wingdings font.
(Disclaimer: This is an analysis of Wingdings 1, the primary Wingding font, rather than Wingdings 2 or 3, which are merely bastardizations of a beautiful linguistic creation.)
Wingdings: Lowercase Letters “a-z”
As it is with skiing down a mountain or most sexual encounters, let’s start at the top. For those of you schooled in the astrological arts, you may notice that the lowercase “a” is the zodiac sign for Cancer. This may seem surprising, as there are multiple other zodiac signs (Aries, Aquarius, and Amphibious) that begin with the letter “a.” This is, in fact, a reference to one of the first reviewers of the font, Admiral Arthur Applebaum, who described Wingdings in a New York Times review as “a cancer on the English language.”
The following eight letters, from “b” to “i,” encompass the rest of Zodiac symbols because Joseph A. Ding was being a real Leo about the whole thing. Following that is a cursive “ET” for the letter “j” because Joseph A. Ding wanted to memorialize his favorite movie that hadn’t been created yet in his new font (Joseph was heavy-handedly taking over the font creation at this point – once again, a real Leo). Neither Howard Wing nor Joseph A. Ding knew how to spell the word “ampersand,” but regardless they came to the conclusion that there must be a “k” in there somewhere, leading to the next letter’s design. The rest of the lowercase letters became simple shapes – circles, squares, shaded squares – merely because of the fact that Wing and Ding had spent the majority of their budget on a professional calligrapher for the first eleven letters.
Wingdings: Uppercase Letters “A-Z”
For the uppercase font, Howard and Joseph decided that they wanted to encapsulate the most impactful methods of communication throughout human history, in order from most important at “A” to least important at “Z.” The hierarchy of methods of communication, according to Wing and Ding, proceed as follows – hand gestures, facial expressions, weaponry, flags, a single airplane, common weather, and finally, major world religions.
Wingdings: Numbers “0-9”
This is no documentation as to why Howard Wing and Joseph A. Ding chose the specific iconography for numbers that they did. However, it is the expert opinion of this linguistic scholar that it is meant to represent the progression of information as it accumulates. It begins with a single folder, then opening as if to say, “Get up all in my bid-nis.” We then see a single dog-eared sheet of paper, assumedly procured from the folder – it has words, but we are not privy to what those words might be, be they government secrets or the lyrics to Sting’s “Desert Rose.” The paper is unfolded, opening itself up (metaphorically this time) to become several pieces of paper, which then become so expansive as to require an entire filing cabinet. A filing cabinet with only two shelves, granted, but how many shelves do you have, huh? None? That’s what I thought. You have no place to judge. Time passes, as signified by a hour glass, until all that information becomes digitized, requiring the mouse and keyboard to surf the online seas of binary, HTML, and pictures of Enrique Iglesias. Then, and only then, does Big Brother begin monitoring you with an old-fashioned camcorder. This is, of course, only conjecture as to what Howard and Joseph might have meant.
Unfortunately, we will never know the full and complete truth as to the secrets within Wingdings, as Howard Wing and Joseph A. Ding were taken from their homes in the middle of the night by black vans – vans that were emblazoned with the words “We Are Not The Government.” It is impossible to say who might have taken them, but they cannot stop us from trying to understand the secrets behind this fantastical font. Now, if you will excuse me, someone is knocking at my door. They seem to be yelling, “We Are Still Not The Government!” How strange.