You thought American spelling was different!

October 18, 2009 § 2 Comments


an elegant text and illustration from Mormon scripture

While Noah Webster fiddled with the spelling of English, re-ordering, re as re for example, other Americans have also been inspired to tinker with writing systems. The most celebrated of these of course is Sequoyah, the designer of the Cherokee syllabary, but perhaps less known and equally intriguing is the Mormon contribution, the deseret alphabet.

The Mormon territory, most of which became Utah, was once called Deseret. And in the times of Brigham Young, the famous second present of the Later Day Saints, it seems new converts to the religions were not English speakers. The deseret alphabet was designed to assist the acqusition of English literacy so that they could read the scripture of their new church.

For a period in the mid 19th century, the deseret alaphabet was used  but after the death of Brigham Young it fell into disuse. It is quite an attractive alphabet though, correcting the digraph issues that plague the traditional English alphabet.  A single symbol corresponds to a single sound, making it a far more phonemic alphabet than the one it attempted to replace.




§ 2 Responses to You thought American spelling was different!

  • masseylinguists says:

    The first correct transcription of the text back into standard English Orthography wins a year long subscription to *b-ling*!

  • masseylinguists says:

    It looks also as if the letter names are also used to represent syllables. The first grapheme in a number of the sentences stands alone and appears to represent the voiced interdental fricative.The letter name given underneath the graphemes in the representation ‘thee’ suggests that the definite article can be represented by this letter alone.

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