Here’s something I didn’t think I would be writing about on Wordability. The lifeblood of this blog is new words in the English language. Who knew that a proposal would come along for a new letter.
The source is unlikely – Australian restaurateur Paul Mathis. And in his sights is the word ‘The’.
Mr Mathis believes that in this day and age of Twitter and other short form messages, which has led to the shortening of a number of words, the word ‘the’ is so common that it should be replaced a new symbol, which he has designed as “Ћ”.
So determined is he to see this symbol adopted as a new way of typing ‘the’ that he has developed a smartphone keyboard app for it, though with Apple so far unwilling to embrace it, it may prove hard for the idea to get off the ground.
He said: “The Benedictine monks developed the modern version of the ampersand in the Middle Ages, when they were hand-copying religious texts. I’m not putting myself in the same league, but who knows – maybe in 500 years’ time people will be amazed that there was a time when we didn’t use ‘Ћ’.”
I think Mr Mathis is right – ‘the’ will not be replaced any time soon with its own letter. But the ampersand point is well made, and as text speak becomes more prevalent, and shortened forms of words more common, who knows whether we will see an evolution of the alphabet itself and the arrival of new symbols for the most common words in the language.
Don’t rule out the possibility that this is the very beginning of what might prove to be a fundamental change in the English language.