What is the Deseret Alphabet? 𐐈𐑌𐐼 𐐿𐐭𐐼𐐬𐑆 𐑁𐐫𐑉 𐐻𐑉𐐰𐑌𐑅𐑊𐐩𐐻𐐮𐑍 𐑄𐐮𐑅! – powered by Happy Scribe
Hey, guys, we talk about a lot of controversial and heavy stuff in this segment of the show, but I wanted to lighten the mood a bit today and just talk about a piece of Latter day Saint history that I find downright fascinating. We’re going to talk about something called the Desiree alphabet. Roll the intro. Hang on, hang on. Stop. Go back a little bit. That’s it, right there. This is an example of the Desireet alphabet. We’ve got even more a few frames back. Keep going. This was really a thing for a while, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Keep rolling. All right. So if you haven’t noticed, english spelling isn’t always the most consistent. For example, tear and tear have the same exact spelling but different pronunciations. The word debt has a silent B in it. The S in debris is silent, but the S in Harris is not. And don’t even get me started on the I before E except after C rule I before E except after C.
And was sounding like A as a neighbor and a and on weekends and holidays and all throughout May you always be wrong and on what you say.
Well, as the Saints were settling in Utah in the early 1850s, brigham Young took notice of some of the oddities of written English and had an idea. As the pioneers set out to rebuild their civilization, what if they also reformed and simplified the English alphabet? On April 1852, Brigham announced a general conference. I have asked the Board of Regents of the University of Desireet to cast out from their system of education the present orthography and written form of our language, that when my children are taught the graphic sign for A, it may always represent that individual sound only. And when P is introduced into a word, let it not be silent as in physic, or sound like F in physics. And let two not be placed instead of one in apple. The result of this effort was an entirely new alphabet which the Desireet News reported had been completed by January 1 854. The idea was that this new alphabet would make it easier for children and foreign immigrants to learn English. Were you a piss psychologist? That would be psychologist. The P at the start is silent. Okay, can we take a brief brief?
Young later said, brethren who come here knowing nothing of the English language will find its acquisition greatly facilitated by means of this alphabet by which all the sounds of the language can be represented and expressed with the greatest ease. It will also be very advantageous to our children. It will be the means of introducing uniformity in our orthography. And the years that are now required to learn to read and spell can be devoted to other studies. The simplified alphabet would also make it easier to transcribe speeches in real time because you could write what was being said using fewer letters than our traditional alphabet. The alphabet, formed by a committee of educators and churchmen, is believed to have been largely the work of George D. Watts. George was the first latterday st convert in Great Britain. He helped out a lot with the creation of the Journal of Discourses. He knew how to write in pitman’s shorthand, which very few people have the ability to translate today. Long story short, he was a good choice for this project. The creation of this new alphabet was not commanded by God. This was just a practical idea people thought would be helpful.
But for better or worse, it completely flopped. There were a few pushes to use the new alphabet, but it never really caught on. It was difficult and expensive to acquire materials to teach it in schools. The people who were already literate in English didn’t see the need to learn a new alphabet. And there were simply other things going on in pioneer Utah that were just bigger priorities.
Like Bill Stein.
Scaly? Big answers you don’t know those don’t think so.
The Desert Alphabet pretty much died with Brigham Young in 1877. But before it went the way of all the earth, it did leave behind some artifacts for us to enjoy. Two elementary readers were published to help people learn the new alphabet. They published both. A portion of the Book of Mormon intended to be a third reader, as well as the Book of Mormon as a whole. People wrote letters using the Desire at alphabet. This guy’s tombstone and Cedar City had some on it. It showed up in issues of the Desiree News. Some coins had it. If you happen to stumble across any of this stuff, hang on to it, because items featuring the original Desiree Alphabet are worth a lot of money nowadays.
Give you $50. I could get more than that on ebay.
Now, to be clear, the Desert Alphabet did not change the way English was spoken. This was just a new way of writing in English. And because each symbol represents one single sound, it’s really not very difficult to pick up. For example, let’s translate a few words together. All we have to do is match up the characters with the sounds they make in the key and we’re on our way. Here’s the first word. This symbol makes the same sound as a regular B. This symbol makes an E sound, as in eat. Thus the first word is B. Here are the characters for the next two words. When we match them up with their sounds, we get something like sure to be sure to be sure to what? Next two words during you be sure to drink your last word. Ovaltine a funny commercial, and now you’ve done it. It takes some practice, but it’s really quite doable. If you’re not afraid to sound like an idiot, sounding it out loud like I just did sure too during year. Wow, I wish I could speak whale. If you want to practice some more, I’ll leave you some links in the YouTube description that will take you to the original Deseret Alphabet readers that the saints used.
I’ll also leave you some messages of my own there if you want to make things easier for yourself. I also found a Desireet Alphabet translator online that has been useful for me. I hope you find this as interesting as I do. It’s something fun and unique you can bring up next time there’s a lullinthedinner party conversation.
So, do you like cheese?
Watch some of our other videos while you’re here and have a great day.