The  European  Commission  have  just  announced  an agreement  whereby
English will be the official language  of the EU, rather  than German, which
was  the  other  possibility. As part of  the  negotiations,  Her  Majesty's
government  conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and
has accepted a five year phase in plan that would be known as "EuroEnglish".

     In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this  will
make the sivil servants jump for joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour
of  the "k". This should  klear up  konfusion and keyboards kan have  1 less

     There will be growing publik  enthusiasm  in the sekond year, when  the
troublesome  "ph" will  be replaced with the "f". This will make  words like
"fotograf" 20% shorter.

     In  the  third  year, publik  akseptanse  of  the new spelling  kan  be
expekted to  reach the stage  where more  komplikated changes  are possible.
Governments will enkorage  the  removal of double letters, which have always
ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of
the silent "e"s in the language is disgraseful, and they should go away.

     By the 4th year, peopl wil be reseptiv  to steps such as replasing "th"
with "z" and "w" with "v".

     During  ze  fifz  year,  ze  unesesary  "o"  kan be  dropd  from  vords
kontaining  "ou"   and  similar  changes  vud  of  kors  be  aplid  to  ozer
kombinations of leters.  After  zis fifz year,  ve  vil hav a  realy sensibl
riten styl. Zer vil be  no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil  find it
ezi to understand each ozer


     Это не Марк Твен. Статью Твена "A simplified alphabet" см. ниже.


     (This  article, written during the autumn of 1899, was about  the  last
writing done by Mark Twain on any impersonal subject.)

     I have  had a  kindly  feeling, a friendly  feeling, a cousinly feeling
toward Simplified Spelling, from  the beginning of the movement  three years
ago, but nothing more inflamed than  that. It seemed to me to merely propose
to substitute one inadequacy for  another; a sort  of patching and  plugging
poor old dental  relics with cement  and gold and porcelain  paste; what was
really needed was a new set of teeth. That is to say, a new ALPHABET.

     The heart of our trouble is with our foolish alphabet. It doesn't  know
how to spell, and  can't be taught.  In this it is like all other  alphabets
except  one--the  phonographic. This is  the only competent alphabet  in the
world. It can spell and correctly pronounce any word in our language.

     That  admirable  alphabet,   that  brilliant  alphabet,  that  inspired
alphabet, can be learned in an hour or two. In a  week the student can learn
to write  it  with some  little facility, and  to read it with  considerable
ease. I know, for  I saw it  tried in  a  public school in Nevada forty-five
years  ago, and was so impressed by the incident that it has remained in  my
memory ever since.

     I wish we could adopt it in place  of our present written (and printed)
character.  I  mean  SIMPLY the  alphabet;  simply  the  consonants and  the
vowels--I don't mean  any REDUCTIONS or  abbreviations of them, such  as the
shorthand  writer uses in  order to get  compression and speed. No, I  would

     I  will  insert  the  alphabet here  as  I find  it  in Burnz's  PHONIC
SHORTHAND.  [Figure 1]  It  is  arranged  on  the  basis  of  Isaac Pitman's
PHONOGRAPHY. Isaac Pitman  was  the  originator  and  father  of  scientific
phonography. It is used throughout  the globe. It was a memorable invention.
He made it public seventy- three years ago. The firm of Isaac Pitman & Sons,
New York, still exists, and they continue the master's work.

     What should we gain?

     First  of all, we could spell DEFINITELY--and  correctly--any  word you
please, just by the SOUND of it. We can't do that with our present alphabet.
For instance, take a simple, every-day  word PHTHISIS. If we tried to  spell
it by the sound of it,  we should make it TYSIS, and be laughed at  by every
educated person.

     Secondly, we should gain in REDUCTION OF LABOR in writing.

     Simplified Spelling  makes valuable reductions  in the case  of several
hundred words, but the new spelling must be LEARNED. You can't spell them by
the sound; you must get them out of the book.

     But even if we knew the simplified form for every word in the language,
the  phonographic alphabet  would still beat  the  Simplified Speller "hands
down" in the important matter of economy of labor. I will illustrate:

     PRESENT FORM: through, laugh, highland.

     SIMPLIFIED FORM: thru, laff, hyland.

     PHONOGRAPHIC FORM: [Figure 2]

     To write the word "through," the pen has to make twenty-one strokes.

     To write the word "thru,"  then pen has to make twelve strokes-- a good

     To write  that same word with the phonographic alphabet, the pen has to
make only THREE strokes.

     To write the word "laugh," the pen has to make FOURTEEN strokes.

     To write "laff," the  pen has  to  make  the SAME NUMBER of strokes--no
labor is saved to the penman.

     To  write  the same word with the phonographic alphabet, the pen has to
make only THREE strokes.

     To write the word "highland," the pen has to make twenty-two strokes.

     To write "hyland," the pen has to make eighteen strokes.

     To  write that word with the phonographic alphabet, the pen has to make
only FIVE strokes. [Figure 3]

     To  write  the  words  "phonographic  alphabet,"  the  pen  has to make
fifty-three strokes.

     To  write "fonografic alfabet," the  pen  has to make fifty strokes. To
the penman, the saving in labor is insignificant.

     To  write that word (with vowels) with the  phonographic  alphabet, the
pen has to make only SEVENTEEN strokes.

     Without the vowels,  only  THIRTEEN strokes. [Figure 4] The  vowels are
hardly necessary, this time.

     We make five  pen-strokes in writing an  m. Thus:  [Figure 5] a  stroke
down; a stroke up; a second  stroke down; a second stroke up; a final stroke
down.  Total, five.  The  phonographic alphabet  accomplishes the  m  with a
single stroke--a curve, like a parenthesis that has come  home drunk and has
fallen  face down right at the  front door where  everybody that goes  along
will see him and say, Alas!

     When our written m  is not the end of a word, but is otherwise located,
it  has  to be  connected with the next  letter, and  that requires  another
pen-stroke, making six in all, before you get rid of that  m. But never mind
about the  connecting  strokes--let  them  go.  Without counting  them,  the
twenty-six letters  of  our alphabet consumed  about  eighty pen-strokes for
their construction--about three pen-strokes per letter.

     It is THREE TIMES THE NUMBER required by the phonographic alphabet.  It
requires but ONE stroke for each letter.

     My writing-gait  is--well,  I don't know what it  is,  but I  will time
myself and  see.  Result: it is twenty-four  words per  minute. I don't mean
composing; I mean COPYING. There isn't any definite composing-gait.

     Very  well, my  copying-gait  is 1,440 words  per hour--say 1,500. If I
could use the phonographic  character  with facility I could do the 1,500 in
twenty minutes. I could do nine hours' copying in  three  hours; I  could do
three years' copying in one year. Also, if I  had a typewriting machine with
the phonographic alphabet on it--oh, the miracles I could do!

     I am  not pretending to write that  character well. I have never  had a
lesson, and  I am copying the letters from the book. But I can accomplish my
desire, at any  rate, which is, to make the reader get a good and clear idea
of  the advantage it would be to us if we could discard our present alphabet
and  put  this better one in its  place--using it in books, newspapers, with
the typewriter, and with the pen.

     [Figure  6]  --MAN  DOG HORSE.  I think it  is graceful and  would look
comely in print.  And consider--once more, I beg--what a labor-saver  it is!
Ten pen-strokes  with the one  system to convey those three words above, and
thirty-three by  the  other! [Figure 6] I mean, in SOME  ways, not in all. I
suppose I  might go so far as to  say in most ways, and be within the facts,
but  never mind; let it go  at SOME.  One of the ways in which it  exercises
this birthright  is--as  I think--continuing to use our  laughable  alphabet
these seventy-three years while there was a rational one at  hand, to be had
for the taking.

     It  has taken five hundred years to  simplify  some of Chaucer's rotten
spelling--if I may be allowed to  use to frank a term as  that--and it  will
take  five  hundred  years  more  to  get  our exasperating  new  Simplified
Corruptions  accepted and running smoothly. And we sha'n't be any better off
then than we are now; for in that day we  shall still have the privilege the
Simplifiers are exercising now: ANYBODY can  change the spelling that  wants

will always follow the SOUND.  If you  want to change the spelling, you have
to change the sound first.

     Mind, I myself am a Simplified  Speller; I belong to that unhappy guild
that is patiently and hopefully trying to reform our drunken old alphabet by
reducing his whiskey. Well, it will improve him. When they  get  through and
have  reformed him all they can by their system he will be only HALF  drunk.
Above that condition their system can never lift him. There is no competent,
and lasting, and real reform for him but  to take away his whiskey entirely,
and fill up his jug with Pitman's wholesome and undiseased alphabet.

     One  great  drawback  to  Simplified  Spelling  is,  that  in  print  a
simplified word  looks so  like the very nation! and when you bunch a  whole
squadron   of  the  Simplified  together  the   spectacle  is  very   nearly

     The da ma ov koars kum when the publik  ma be expektd to get rekonsyled
to the  bezair asspekt of the  Simplified  Kombynashuns, but--if  I  may  be
allowed the expression--is it worth the wasted time? [Figure 7]

     To see our letters  put together in ways to which we are not accustomed
offends the eye, and also takes the EXPRESSION out of the words.

     La on, Makduf, and damd be he hoo furst krys hold, enuf!

     It doesn't thrill you as it used to do. The simplifications have sucked
the thrill all out of it.

     But  a written  character with which  we are  NOT ACQUAINTED  does  not
offend  us--Greek, Hebrew,  Russian,  Arabic, and the  others--they  have an
interesting look,  and  we see beauty in  them,  too.  And  this is true  of
hieroglyphics, as  well. There  is something pleasant and engaging about the
mathematical signs when we  do  not  understand them. The  mystery hidden in
these  things has a fascination for us: we  can't come across a printed page
of shorthand without being impressed by it and wishing we could read it.

     Very  well, what  I  am  offering for  acceptance  and adopting is  not
shorthand, but longhand, written with the SHORTHAND  ALPHABET UNREACHED. You
can  write three times as many words  in  a minute with it as  you can write
with our alphabet. And so,  in a way, it IS properly  a shorthand. It has  a
pleasant  look,  too;  a  beguiling  look, an  inviting look.  I will  write
something in it, in my rude and untaught way: [Figure 8]

     Even when _I_ do  it it comes  out prettier  than it does in Simplified
Spelling.  Yes, and in the Simplified  it costs one hundred and twenty-three
pen-strokes  to  write  it,  whereas  in  the  phonographic  it  costs  only

     [Figure 9] is probably [Figure 10].

     Let us hope so, anyway.

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