The New Alphabet

The Board of Regents, in company with the Governor and heads of departments, have adopted a new Alphabet, consisting of 38 characters.  The Board have held frequent sittings this winter, with the sanguine hope of simplifying the English language, and especially its orthography.  After many fruitless attempts to render the common alphabet of the day subservient to their purpose, they found it expedient to invent an entirely new and original set of characters.

These characters are much more simple in their structure than the usual alphabetical characters; every superfluous mark supposable, is wholly excluded from them.  The written and printed hand are substantially merged in one.

We may derive a hint of the advantage to orthography, from spelling the word eight, which in the new alphabet only requires two letters instead of five to spell it, viz: AT.  There will be a great saving of time and paper by the use of the new characters; and but a very small part of the time and expense will be requisite in obtaining a knowledge of the language.

The orthography will be so abridged that an ordinary writer can probably write one hundred words a minute with ease, and consequently report the speech of a common speaker without much difficulty.

As soon as the alphabet can be set in type, it will probably be furnished to the schools of the Territory for their use and benefit; not however with a view to immediately supercede the use of the common alphabet—which though it does not make the comers thereunto perfect, still it is a vehicle that has become venerable for age and much hard service.

In the new alphabet every letter has a fixed and unalterable sound; and every word is spelt with reference to given sounds.  By this means, strangers can not only acquire a knowledge of our language much more readily, but a practiced reporter can also report a strange tongue so that the strange language when spoken can be legible by one conversant with the tongue.

A richly instructive discourse was delivered, Sabbath evening in the school house of the 13th Ward by Elder P.P. Pratt, one of the Board of Regents, in which the advantages fo the recently adopted alphabet of the Board, were briefly exhibited.  The speaker commanded the profound attention of a crowded auditory throughout the highly entertaining lecture: tracing the influence of education from early infancy to riper years.  In glowing and electrifying terms he set forth as radical to all hopeful education, the necessity of the Spirit of god, to predominate in families, even over the mind of the new infant, before it could speak.

In the absence of that Holy Spirit, an opposing spirit would be likely to exert an unhallowed impression.  A perverse, hateful, jealous, envious, and contentious spirit would produce an impression upon the mind of the infant decidedly pernicious; but after the child could talk and understand language, this baneful impression would be increased by the force and meaning of words that it could understand; and whichever spirit predominated in the family, by that same spirit would the family be educated.

And after adducing many thrilling topics of a similar bearing, he showed the wonderful transition and progress which the church had undergone within a few years, and the things that a few years since were prophetical, and almost too marvelous to be believed, by reason of the obstacles to be surmounted, had been realized abundantly, and now this people had been taken from the midst of the Gentiles and set down among the Remnants of Israel, the richest people, according to their numbers, now known; and a single county would now in magnitude look into inferiority the whole New England States; and as to elements, soil, vegetable and mineral wealth the Territory of the remnants was not surpassed by the vast Empire of China.

For such a people education must be provided; and no young man or young lady had right to waste their time and talents.

[Deseret News, Jan. 19, 1854]
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jan. 19, 1854, 1]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, July 2006]

Return to Summaries of Discourses by Parley P. Pratt