Regular Spelling
Thoughts on language and more


One of the things specific to LDS culture, and one of the things I forgot about by the time I started doing linguistic studies, was an attempt during the 1800's at creating an English script specifically designed for helping immigrants learn how to speak English. English is a horrible language, in and of itself. Because of all the different pools it has, every rule has some other counter-rule, it's just a mishmask of written and spoken chaos. "Deseret", as it was simply called, was an attempt to try and improve that.

The written language is a phonetic language, much like Russian or Japanese. It was made by a committee comprised mostly of early Mormon church leaders, based on shorthand systems. Because the early church was getting people coming to it from all around the world, they wanted a script system they could teach to explicitly show how a word was pronounced, instead of how it was written. There's a total of 40 unique sounds expressed in Deseret (80 characters total, since there's both an uppercase and a lowercase), which, although probably not enough to express all the normal sounds in English speech, it is a lot closer to being able to portray the pronounced language we speak.

Ultimately, primarily because of costs of printing in the separate script, it was not adopted and fell to the wayside. It is occasionally used nowadays among small circles, but the only place I've ever seen myself it are at actual LDS historical sites. And I had forgotten about it completely, until I stumbled upon the fact that it's included in Unicode while I was researching characters from another language.

Date posted: 17 July, 2009
Tags: english linguistic pronunciation typography
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