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Deseret alphabet – Wikipedia

Deseret alphabet – Wikipedia

2023-05-01 11:58:23

Nineteenth-century phonetic writing system devised by the LDS Church

The Deseret alphabet (;[1] Deseret: ???????????????????????????? or ????????????????????????????) is a phonemic English-language spelling reform developed between 1847 and 1854 by the board of regents of the University of Deseret[2] underneath the management of Brigham Young, the second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).[3] George D. Watt is reported to have been probably the most actively concerned within the improvement of the script,[3][4][5]: 159  in addition to being its first severe consumer.[6]: 12 

The Deseret alphabet was an outgrowth of the idealism and utopianism of Younger and the early LDS Church. Younger and the Mormon pioneers believed “all facets of life” have been in want of reform for the approaching millennium[7][8]and the Deseret alphabet was simply certainly one of some ways they sought to deliver a couple of full “transformation in society“,[5]: 142  in anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus.[9] Younger wrote of the reform that “it will signify each sound used within the development of any recognized language; and, in truth, a step and partial return to a pure language which has been promised unto us within the latter days,” the Adamic language[10] spoken earlier than the Tower of Babel.[11][12]

In public statements, Younger claimed the alphabet would change the normal Latin alphabet with another, extra phonetically correct alphabet for the English language. This might provide immigrants a possibility to study to learn and write English, he mentioned, the orthography of which is usually much less phonetically constant than these of many different languages.[3]: 65–66  Related neographies have been tried, probably the most well-known of which for English is the Shavian alphabet.[13]

Younger additionally prescribed the training of Deseret to the varsity system, stating “Will probably be the technique of introducing uniformity in our orthography, and the years that are actually required to study to learn and spell will be dedicated to different research.”[14]

In the course of the alphabet’s heyday between 1854 and 1869, scriptural passages in newspapers, chosen church information, a $5 gold coin, and occasional road indicators and correspondence used the brand new letters. In 1868-9, after a lot issue creating appropriate fonts,[5] 4 books have been printed: two faculty primers, the complete Book of Mormon, and a portion of it titled the E book of Nephi.[15]

Regardless of heavy and expensive promotion by the early LDS Church, the alphabet by no means loved extended widespread use and has been regarded by historians as a failure.[3][6][16][17][18] Nevertheless, in recent times, aided by digital typography, the Deseret Alphabet has been revived as a cultural heirloom.[19][20]

Historical past[edit]

Creation (1847–1854)[edit]

The Deseret alphabet was a undertaking of the Mormon pioneers, a bunch of early followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) which had set about constructing a brand new, distinctive theocracy within the Utah desert,[21] which was then nonetheless a part of Mexico, after the demise of the church’s founder, Joseph Smith. In March of 1859, they declared “a free and unbiased authorities” designated the State of Deseret.[22]

Motivated by Smith’s revelations of a singular premillennial eschatology,[23] they “have been to construct a ‘metropolis of Zion’ to which converts might collect in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.[24] As a part of the Gathering, in 1848, Church leaders urged converts in Europe to “to migrate as speedily as doable” to the Nice Basin.[25][26] There, within the “Kingdom of God,”[21][27] underneath fused theo-democratic management, they’d be protected from the autumn of the apostate world of so-called “Babylon.” The inhabitants grew from 11.000 in 1850 to 40,000 by 1860, and by 1870 of 86,000 residents roughly 10% had been born in non-English talking nations.[28] Language schooling was a rising sensible downside. Language transcription had already been a difficulty. Watt, proficient within the standard Pitman shorthand system, had taught lessons and recorded speeches for Smith and different Church leaders in Nauvoo, in 1842, earlier than the migration to Deseret.

Moreover, the restoration of “pure language,” the biblical first Adamic language, was central to Mormon premillennial eschatology, and an integral element of Younger’s envisioned language reform. The Deseret Typographical Affiliation known as the Alphabet “a forerunner in that sequence of developments which shall put together mankind for the reception of pure language.”[29] The Deseret Information hailed it “an pressing want” to satisfy orthographic necessities earlier than and after the Creation.[30] Brigham Younger, Church President and Prophet, the “driving drive” for the reform longed for a future time “when a person is filled with mild of eternity,” and acknowledged, “I shall but see the time that I can converse with this individuals with out opening my mouth.”[31]

Seen in its full historic context, the Deseret Alphabet has been seen as a “theo-linguistic” fusion of secular with theological motivation and goal.[32][33][34][35]

The Deseret alphabet was developed primarily by a committee made up of the board of regents of the University of Deseret, members of which included church leaders Brigham Younger, Parley P. Pratt and Heber C. Kimball. In response to Brigham Young University professor Richard G. Moore, most students imagine that George D. Watt‘s contribution to the precise type the alphabet took, its distinctive glyphs, was the best;[3] he moreover “plant[ed] the concept of spelling reform in Brigham Younger’s thoughts” via a phonography class he gave after the death of Joseph Smith which Younger attended.[6]: 6 [5]: 143  William W. Phelps helped “work out the letters”[36] together with Pratt.[5]: 147 

Earlier than they selected the Deseret alphabet, the eye of the board of regents was largely centered on Pitman style alphabets, and in April 1847 Brigham Younger almost bought 200 kilos (91 kg) of lead type to print books utilizing Pitman’s orthography.[3][6]: 7  The College of Deseret was integrated on 28 February 1850; lower than three weeks later, on 20 March, the brand new board of regents started to debate spelling reform.[3]

On 29 November 1853, the committee was able to approve a barely modified model of the Pitman orthography, when Apostle Willard Richards, Second Counselor to Younger, who had been deathly in poor health and missed the controversy earlier than the vote, noticed the proposed alphabet, which spelled the phrase “phonetic” as “fɷnetic”.[6]: 10  Richards was fast to sentence it, saying to the committee: “We would like a brand new form of alphabet…these characters…seem to be placing new wine into outdated bottles…I’m inclined to suppose…we will…throw away all characters that bear a lot resemblance to the English characters, and introduce an alphabet that’s unique…an alphabet totally totally different from any alphabet in use.”[6]: 10 

These phrases persuaded Brigham Younger and the remainder of the committee, and Watt then endeavored to create an unique alphabet. Lower than two months later, on 19 January 1854, the board of regents lastly permitted the primary 38-letter Deseret alphabet.[6]: 11  One legacy of Pitman’s orthography survived, although: the concept one letter should equal one sound.[5]: 150–152 

Use by the Mormon pioneers (1854–1869)[edit]

Upon the alphabet’s acceptance, its first consumer was its principal architect, George D. Watt, who started writing the assembly minutes of the early Bishops in a cursive type of it in 1854.[6]: 12  Nearly instantly after its publication, church members started experimenting with it, and by 1855 journey writers Jules Remy and Julius Brenchley revealed a chart of the brand new alphabet which differed closely from the 1854 model. Some early Mormons, equivalent to Thales Hastings Haskell, started writing their private journals within the new alphabet.[6]: 16  Remy additional reported that in his time in Salt Lake City, he noticed indicators on the road and above retailers utilizing the brand new alphabet.[4]

After its approval by the board of regents, Brigham Younger testified earlier than the Utah territorial legislature that the brand new alphabet ought to “be completely and extensively taught in all the faculties.” Some instructing in Utah faculties did happen: John B. Milner taught the alphabet in Provo, Lehi, American Fork, and Pleasant Grove, whereas night lessons have been taught in Salt Lake Metropolis and Farmington.[3][37]

After a number of months’ follow writing with the brand new alphabet, Watt wrote to Brigham Younger that he was sad with it, and proposed a whole overhaul, which was by no means adopted up on.[38]: 22 

Phrase of the brand new alphabet quickly unfold outdoors Utah, and most press stories in non-Mormon papers have been vital.[39][40][41] Different writers, nevertheless, acquainted with different phonotypic and stenographic alphabets, ranged from impartial descriptions of the brand new alphabet[42] to reward.[37]

Till this level, all of the printed materials (largely simply charts of the alphabet and its normal orthography equivalents) had been produced with giant wooden type, which was not appropriate for printing at small sizes. As a result of the alphabet was wholly distinctive, no font existed, so in 1857 the board of regents appointed Erastus Snow to acquire metallic sort from St. Louis-based font foundry Ladew & Peer. Nevertheless, in Might 1857 the Utah War started, and Snow left St. Louis to assist the Mormon pioneers. In the course of the conflict, Ladew & Peer saved engaged on the sort, and the punches and matrices have been delivered within the winter of 1858. The primary use of the brand new sort was to make a enterprise card for George A. Smith, an early Mormon historian.[6]: 15 

In 1859, with the brand new sort in hand, the Deseret Information started printing with it. It could print one piece per subject within the new alphabet, often a citation from The Book of Mormon or the New Testament. Nevertheless, this solely lasted for one yr, after which the follow stopped; it will begin once more in Might 1864 and cease completely on the finish of that yr.[6]: 20 

The covers of two primers revealed within the Deseret alphabet throughout the lifetime of Brigham Younger, the Deseret First E book and the Deseret Second E book.

Their inscriptions learn:

???? ???????????????????????????? ????????????????????/???????????????????????? ???????????? ???????? ???? ???????????????????????????? ???????? ???? ???????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????? 1868.


Benn Pitman, the brother of Isaac Pitman, was additionally concerned about spelling reform, and by 1864 had revealed his personal orthography, which the board of regents thought-about adopting. Nevertheless, they in the end determined to not and used the chance to re-affirm their dedication to the Deseret alphabet.[6]: 20 

Brigham Younger blamed the failure of this primary try at reform on the ugliness of the sort developed by Ladew & Peer, and so he commissioned Russell’s American Steam Printing Home, a New York City primarily based font foundry, to design extra pleasing sort. The consequence was the Bodoni-esque font (beneath) that was used to print all the books on this interval.[6]: 20  In an 1868 article, the Deseret Information wrote that “the characters, to an individual unaccustomed to them, might look unusual, [but] to the attention to which they’re acquainted they’re lovely.”[3]: 69 

A minimum of 4 books have been revealed within the new alphabet, all transcribed by Orson Pratt and all utilizing the Russell’s Home font: The First Deseret Alphabet Reader (1868), The Second Deseret Alphabet Reader (1868), The E book of Mormon (1869), and a E book of Mormon excerpt known as First NephiOmni (1869).[3]: 69–70 

Appreciable non-printed materials within the Deseret alphabet was made, together with a duplicate gravestone in Cedar City, Utah,[43] some coinage, letters, diaries, and assembly minutes. One of many extra curious objects discovered within the Deseret alphabet is an English-Hopi dictionary ready by two Mormon missionaries. The handwritten doc sat within the LDS Church Archives, largely ignored till 2014 when writing system researcher and pc scientist Kenneth R. Beesley re-discovered it and transcribed it into normal written English.[44]

Decline (1869–1877)[edit]

The ultimate guide the Mormon pioneers printed within the Deseret alphabet: a 3 half E book of Mormon. On left, the duvet of quantity one; on proper, the Deseret alphabet chart within the guide.

Regardless of years of heavy promotion, the Deseret alphabet was by no means broadly adopted. This reluctance was partly on account of prohibitive prices; the undertaking had already price the early church $20,000,[3]: 76  with $6,000 going to Pratt as remuneration for his transcription effort[17] and a lot of the relaxation going to slicing metallic sort that includes the brand new alphabet and printing prices.[6]: 6  In 1859, Orson Pratt estimated that the price of supplying all Utah Territory schoolchildren with appropriate textbooks can be over $5,000,000.[3]: 76 

In response to Beesley, many have written that curiosity within the Deseret alphabet died with Brigham Younger. This, nevertheless, shouldn’t be true; the alphabet was already thought to be a failure throughout Younger’s time.[6]: 29  Solely 500 copies of the complete E book of Mormon translated into the Deseret alphabet bought for $2 every, and even Younger realized that the enterprise was too costly and even probably the most religious Mormons couldn’t be satisfied to buy and examine the Deseret version books over the books within the conventional orthography.[4][6]: 27  Within the winter of 1870, only one yr after their publication, ads for the Deseret alphabet books have been quietly faraway from the Deseret Information.[17]

Up to date writers famous that hundreds of copies of the 15¢ and 20¢ Deseret primers went unsold,[6]: 6  and historian Roby Wentz speculated that the LDS Church at the moment had a “cache” of the primers in mint situation, which it was slowly promoting off; based on him, one such primer bought for $250 in 1978.[4]

The Mormons had deliberate to make use of the earnings from sale of the sooner books to fund printing of extra books, and in anticipation Orson Pratt had already transcribed the whole Bible, Doctrine and Covenants, and John Jaques‘s Catechism for Kids.[16] Pratt had additionally ready an obvious sequel to the primers, the Deseret Phonetic Speller. After the gross sales failure, nevertheless, none of those books have been ever revealed and have been thought misplaced till being rediscovered in a storage space of the LDS Church Archives in Salt Lake Metropolis in Might 1967.[17][16]

Ralph Vigoda, a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, has speculated that the completion of the Transcontinental railroad might have contributed to the alphabet’s downfall: non-Mormons, not loyal to Brigham Younger, grew to become a big a part of the town, and with out the spiritual motivation it will be troublesome certainly to get them to study a brand new alphabet.[45] In a retrospective piece, historian A. J. Simmonds claims that the brand new railroad doomed the alphabet. In response to him, quick access to “the entire literature of the English talking world” rendered the alphabet ineffective.[17]

In July 1877, Younger tried yet another time at a spelling reform, ordering lead sort designed for the orthography of Benn Pitman (Isaac’s brother) with the intention of printing an version of the E book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants utilizing it. Many of the sort had arrived by August, however with Younger’s demise, the interpretation was by no means undertaken and the sort by no means used. Younger’s demise thus marked the top of the Mormon experimentation with English spelling reforms.[3][6]: 29 

Rediscovery within the pc period[edit]

A transcription of xkcd #739 within the Deseret alphabet.

Trendy digital typography has diminished the prices of typesetting considerably, particularly for small print runs.[46] So long as a freely licensed Deseret alphabet font and a font of the usual orthography have related inked floor areas, printing a guide within the Deseret alphabet utilizing trendy expertise would have an analogous price as printing a guide in the usual orthography.[47]

Film director Trent Harris used the Deseret alphabet in his 1994 satire of Mormon theology, Plan 10 from Outer Space, the place it options as an alien language used on a mysterious “Plaque of Kolob“.[38]: 37 

In the course of the 1996 Utah Centennial celebration, an activity book for kids was distributed, inside which one of many actions was for a kid to put in writing their very own identify within the alphabet. The guide says {that a} baby who does this will probably be “the primary child in 100 years to put in writing [their] identify within the Deseret alphabet!”[48]

Additionally in 1996, Buffalo River Press revealed a reprint of the Deseret First E book, of which solely 10,000 have been initially printed.[48][49] Your complete E book of Mormon within the Deseret alphabet has been likewise reprinted,[50] as solely 500 copies from the unique print run exist, they usually can promote on eBay for ≈$7,500 (as of 2004).[38]: 47  In 1997, John Jenkins uploaded a free three half PDF of the so-called “triple mixture”, that’s, a mixed E book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.[51]

John Jenkins has gone on to publish many basic items of English literature within the Deseret alphabet, equivalent to Alice in Wonderland,[52] Pride and Prejudice,[53] and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.[54]

Owing to the character set’s inclusion in Unicode, a lot of the unique books and lots of the unique manuscripts have been transcribed into plain text,[38]: 32–34  and, when this isn’t doable on account of discrepancies between the Unicode reference glyphs and the paperwork, LaTeX.[6]: 42 


The phrase “???????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????? ???????? ???? ????????????” (Information wants to be free) in 5 Deseret fonts. From high, Noto Sans Deseret, QueenBee Star, TuBeeRound, Occasions Bee and Analecta.

The primary digital font for the Deseret alphabet, known as “Deseret”, was designed by Greg Kearney as a part of work he was doing for the LDS Church History Department in 1991; the font was utilized in an exhibit that yr.[6]: 32  In August 1995, a cleaned up, digitized model of the font in use within the Deseret Second E book was created by Salt Lake Metropolis graphic designer Edward Bateman, who made the font in Fontographer whereas engaged on Plan 10 from Outer Space.[6]: 32–33 

Kenneth R. Beesley created a Metafont (and thus, LaTeX-compatible) font known as desalph in 2002.[6]: 37–38 [55]

All computer systems operating Microsoft‘s Windows 7 working system or newer can show your entire Deseret alphabet Unicode vary because the glyphs are included within the Segoe UI Symbol font.[56]

Moreover sustaining a Deseret input method for Home windows, Joshua Erickson, a UCLA alumnus, additionally maintains a big assortment of freeware Unicode fonts for the alphabet, which he collectively phrases the “Bee Fonts.”[57]

There additionally exist free software fonts for the Deseret alphabet. Google, via its Noto Sans undertaking, the purpose of which is “to assist all languages with a harmonious feel and look”, has additionally launched a Deseret font underneath the identify “Noto Sans Deseret”.[58] George Douros maintains a public domain font known as “Analecta” as a part of his Unicode Fonts for Ancient Scripts undertaking, which helps the Coptic, Gothic, and Deseret scripts.[59] Deseret glyphs are additionally out there within the standard pan-Unicode fonts Code2001[60] and Everson Mono (as of model 5.1.5).[61]


Though the Deseret alphabet has letter case, often the one distinction between the minuscule and majuscule types is that the majuscule types are bigger.

A level of free spelling is allowed to accommodate dialectal variations in English. For instance, within the Deseret version of The E book of Mormon, the phrase “wherefore” is written as ???????????????????????????? (),[62] which implies that the translator of the guide didn’t exhibit the wine–whine merger. Those that do exhibit the merger would possibly as a substitute choose the spelling ???????????????????????? to match the pronunciation (), or, relying on dialect, maybe ???????????????????????? ().[63]: 38 

The alphabet was designed to have the ability to write all the vowels used within the dialect spoken in Nineteenth century Utah. The vowel stock has additionally been attributed to the truth that, in contrast to different American pioneers, the Mormon pioneers have been from New England versus the American South.[6] As such, lots of the vowels within the Deseret alphabet have since merged within the trendy period: they’re now not distinguished in lots of dialects of English.

Audio system who exhibit the father–bother merger now not distinguish (????) and (????), and so each “father” and “trouble” can be written with ????: as ???????????????????? and ???????????????????? versus ???????????????????? and ????????????????????. For these with the cot–caught merger, (????) and (????) are now not distinguished: each “cot” and “caught” are thus written by them as ???????????? () within the case of North American English, and as ???????????? () within the case of Scottish English. For these exhibiting each mergers, each can be written ???????????? ().[63][self-published source?]: 28 


There have been a number of revealed variations of the alphabet. Most variations (together with the variations utilized in The Deseret First E book, The Deseret Second E book, The Deseret Information and The E book of Mormon) had solely 38 letters, however some variations contained two ligatures, ???? (ew) and ???? (oi).[64] Instead of ????????[65] or ????????,[66] ???? was for use; rather than ????????, ????.[66]

Within the 23 February 1859 version of the Deseret Information, the editors introduced their approval of the 2 new letters and eventual intention to make use of them within the publication. Nevertheless, because of the hot metal typesetting expertise in use on the time, casting the brand new letters to be used would have been a substantial expense, so it was by no means realized.[64]

Illustration of [ə][edit]

The Deseret alphabet doesn’t have a definite image for the mid central vowel ([ə], “schwa”). The dearth of a schwa has been cited as the most important “phonological flaw” within the alphabet.[18][38]: 3 

Shelton utilizing his schwa to handwrite the phrase “damaged” (????????????????ı????) (). The usual approach to render this phrase is ???????????????????? ().

Due to the dearth of a schwa, the writer should write the sound that may be used if the phrase was careworn. For instance, the phrase sufficient is often pronounced , however when it’s careworn (as in a declaration of irritation) it’s pronounced . The Deseret spelling of the phrase, ????????????????, displays that careworn pronunciation. If [ə] doesn’t have an inherent careworn worth in a phrase, as is usually the case earlier than , then it’s written as ????.[63]: 32–33 

Marion J. Shelton, an early Mormon missionary, proposed the addition of a brand new glyph to signify the schwa, a easy vertical line of the identical peak as different Deseret characters with an analogous look to the Turkish dotless i (ı). The addition of this glyph didn’t catch on amongst his contemporaries, nevertheless, and no doc outdoors of ones penned by Shelton makes use of it.[6]: 19–20  Shelton used the brand new glyph in an 1860 letter to Brigham Younger reporting on a just lately accomplished mission to the Paiute people.[67]

Syllabic values[edit]

Every letter within the Deseret alphabet has a reputation, and when a letter is written by itself it has the worth of that identify. This enables some quick phrases to be written with a single letter, and known as a letter’s “syllabic worth”. The commonest phrase in English, the, is written merely ????, because the letter’s identify is and that’s the careworn pronunciation of the phrase. The consonants with syllabic values are ???? (woo), ???? (yee), ???? (ha), ???? (pee), ???? (be/bee), ???? (tee/tea), ???? (qi), ???? (gee), ???? (homosexual), and ???? (the/thee).[63]: 25 

Syllabic values don’t apply inside phrases, though this was previously the case. In early paperwork, Watt writes “individuals” as ???????????? with the expectation that readers will interpret the primary ???? as , however the second ???? as .[6]: 13  This contextual worth switching was quickly executed away with, so in later paperwork, whereas “bee” is written ????, “bees” is written ????????????.

In 40-letter variations of the alphabet which embrace the letter ???? (ew) which represents , the letter ???? when standing alone can be utilized to signify the phrase “you”.[63]: 25, 51 


  • Hymn from the Deseret Second E book, printed in 1868. The primary line of the hymn reads “I am going to serve the Lord whereas I’m younger” (????’???? ???????????????? ???? ???????????????? ???????????????? ???? ???????? ????????????), and is pronounced as .

    – Hey, how are you? – I am doing nice, thanks! – It was good seeing you, however I’ve bought to run! Take care!

    • – ????????????????, ???????? ???????? ????? – ????’???? ???????????????? ????????????????, ????????????????????! – ???????? ???????????? ???????????? ???????????????? ????, ???????????? ????’???? ???????????? ???????? ????????????! ???????????? ????????????!
  • Oil floats on water, however mercury sinks beneath each. This is because of their relative densities.

The primary lesson within the Deseret First E book reads merely:[65]

Within the Deseret Second E book, there’s a model of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star on web page 19:[66]


There have been two important handwritten types of the Deseret alphabet: a cursive model and a printed model. Over the lifetime of the alphabet, the cursive type fell out of favor amongst most customers of the alphabet and by 1856 no extra cursive paperwork exist.[38]: 21  Its impression on the glyphs can nevertheless nonetheless be plainly seen within the loops of sure characters equivalent to ????, ???? and ????.[6]: 13  The earliest surviving variations of the Deseret alphabet, from 1853 (one yr earlier than its January 1854 approval), have printed and cursive types side-by-side, suggesting {that a} cursive type was a part of the plan from the very starting.[68]


Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anybody can edit
????????????????????????????????????, ???? ???????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????? ???????????????????????? ???????????? ????????????????

The cursive type of the Deseret alphabet was primarily utilized by two individuals: George D. Watt, and James Henry Martineau.[38]: 21  Watt, a stenographer, recorded a number of bishops conferences and wrote different private paperwork on this cursive model.[6]: 13  A chart of the cursive type seems beneath. The blue glyphs signify tips on how to write every character, whereas the highest row of printed glyphs exhibits the corresponding Unicode reference glyph.

Early Deseret cursive lineup based on a document written by its creator George D Watt.svg

The cursive model has many unorthodox traits unusual to alphabetic writing systems. Vowels will be dropped if the author is in a rush and feels the phrase is apparent as in an abjad, letters will be written above or beneath the bottom line relying on what precedes them, and ???? is positioned on letters after they’re already written as in an abugida. Moreover, in contrast to the typeset alphabet, the cursive alphabet has no letter case. These traits might have arisen as a result of Watt was an area skilled in Pitman shorthand, which is written in an analogous means.[6]: 13 

The desk beneath exhibits some examples of how the cursive type is written. Dropped vowels are marked in parenthesis.

Deseret cursive examples based on the Mormon bishops meeting minutes recorded by George D Watt.svg

Block letters[edit]

George D. Watt discovered his personal alphabet cumbersome to put in writing and deserted it. As he wrote to Brigham Younger on 21 August 1854:[69][70]

Pricey Bro. I herein submit in your examination the results of a lot thought and in depth follow on the brand new alphabet for the reason that Board of Regents final met. I candidly confess that I by no means did like the current development of the alphabet. I used to be not left as free as I might have wished to be within the development of it. […] I’m now completely satisfied that it’s not probably the most expeditious methodology of writing and printing, however quite the opposite it retards the hand in its onward course.

His new alphabet intently resembled an 1853 publication of Isaac Pitman, containing solely 33 letters. Nevertheless, at this level, Younger was nonetheless enamored with the unique Deseret alphabet, and so he rejected the proposal and Watt continued to publicly promote the alphabet as a part of his job regardless of his reservations.[69]

A fraction of Marion Shelton’s Hopi dictionary, the supply of his handwriting. This part exhibits translations into the Hopi language (Orayvi dialect) for phrases that begin with the English phoneme .

After 1855, no extra cursive paperwork seem, and all surviving journals are written in block letters.[38]: 21  Marion J. Shelton, an early Mormon missionary who wrote a dictionary of the Hopi language within the alphabet, was a “typical” 40-letter Deseret author,[6]: 19  and his model of writing is proven beneath.

Early Deseret printed handwritten lineup based on a document written by Mormon pioneer Marion J. Shelton.svg

Design criticism[edit]

Outdated Turkic inscription

The Deseret alphabet was purposely designed in order to not have ascenders and descenders.[6]: 14  This was envisioned as a sensible profit for the alphabet in an period of metallic sort: after many makes use of, the perimeters of type sorts develop into uninteresting, and slender ascenders and descenders are most vulnerable to this impact.[6]

Whereas effectively intentioned, this lack has been described as a “catastrophic” mistake[71] that makes sort look “monotonous”[4] and makes all phrases look alike.[17] Some have drawn comparisons between the alphabet and the Old Turkic script, saying that writing within the new alphabet could possibly be mistaken from afar as a Turkish tax list.[17][16]

The Mormon pioneers have been apparently conscious of the issues attributable to its monotony:[3]: 76 

President Younger has determined that [the letters] aren’t so effectively tailored for the aim designed because it was hoped they’d be. There being no shanks (ascenders or descenders) to the letters, all being very even, they’re making an attempt to the attention, due to their uniformity.

— article within the Juvenile Teacher, 2 October 1875

Different criticism of the design was harsher nonetheless. In an 18 December 1857 editorial within the Boston Globe, the alphabet was described as being “so organized and named as to trigger the best doable annoyance to outsiders” and the design of the letters as “incomprehensible as […] the hieroglyphics of the […] Egyptians.”[41] On 4 March 1872, The New York Occasions known as the alphabet “impolite, awkward and cumbersome.”[40]

Some trendy pc fonts and printed books have tried to appropriate this perceived fault: within the books in John Jenkins’ Deseret Alphabet Classics sequence, the font used provides a descender to ???? and ???? and an ascender to ???? and ???? amongst different tweaks.[72]

Different motives[edit]

Formally, the Deseret alphabet was created to simplify the spelling of English phrases for the advantage of youngsters and English as a second language learners. Among the alphabet’s contemporaries, nevertheless, posited another motivation for its improvement: growing the isolation of the early Mormons.

To maintain outsiders from studying Mormon secrets and techniques (largely dismissed)[edit]

The cost that the Deseret alphabet’s important goal was to maintain outsiders (“gentiles” in LDS terminology) in the dead of night was introduced nearly instantly, as evidenced by the next 1858 Lyttelton Times reprint of an unnamed “New York newspaper”:[39]

Mormon Secretiveness.—The brand new “Deseret Alphabet” is accomplished, and a fount of pica sort has been solid in St. Louis. Specimens of the sort are revealed within the St. Louis papers, however they’re unproducible in varieties that frequent individuals use […] The ukases of Brother Brigham will hereafter be a sealed letter, actually, to Gentile eyes.

Having obtained a duplicate of the Deseret Information in 1859, the Richmond Dispatch disparaged it on April 25, writing “The Deseret Information is crammed with lots of hieroglyphs. It appears to be [an alphabet] which the Mormons alone are to be taught.”[73]

Trendy historians, nevertheless, doubt the veracity of this concept.[3][4] For one factor, notes Kenneth R. Beesley, the Deseret Information and each guide revealed within the alphabet prominently options the important thing to the alphabet,[38]: 36  and anybody with out a key might have gotten a duplicate of A Journey to Nice-Salt-Lake Metropolis, or traveled to Salt Lake Metropolis themselves and acquired one.[3] Up to date students Richard F. Burton and Jules Remy additionally dismissed the secrecy argument, in 1860 and 1855 respectively.[38]: 36 

To maintain Mormons from studying outdoors literature[edit]

With the approaching completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Mormon pioneers would have simple, low cost entry to publications from the east, together with yellowbacks, penny dreadfuls, pulp magazines, and different usually scandalous or soiled publications that have been rising to prominence within the Nineteenth century. Certainly, in an article about the advantages of the alphabet, the Deseret Information proudly wrote:[74]

If our neighborhood have been located as others are, it may be Quixotic to try the introduction of this reform amongst us with the hope of carrying it into sensible operation. However our place is exclusive, we’re united. […] Some have an concept that if a baby be educated within the system of spelling and writing by sound will probably be a detriment to it in studying the current system. […] If they might discover no higher studying than a lot of the depressing trash that now obtains in depth circulation, it will be higher in the event that they by no means realized to learn the current orthography. In such a case ignorance can be blissful. […] The best evils which now flourish and underneath which Christendom groans are instantly traceable to the licentiousness of the press.

— “The Deseret Alphabet—Its Benefits”, 19 August 1868, Deseret Information

In one other article, the Deseret Information cited an instance of the form of literature Mormons would profit from not having the ability to learn: The Police Gazette.[38]: 35  Historians A. J. Simmonds and Roby Wentz contend that whereas this will likely have been a tertiary aim of the alphabet, a form of “completely happy accident”, the principle goal of it was easy orthographic reform.[17][18] Simmonds notes that the instructing of English to foreigners was not a mere hypothetical to masks isolationist tendencies: 35% of the Utah Territory‘s inhabitants on the time was Scandinavian, with German, Italian and Welsh talking individuals additionally making up a substantial share of inhabitants; subsequently, communication between the just lately baptized and the neighborhood was an actual downside.[17]


Between 1855 and 1859, the best way most individuals wrote the glyphs ???? and ???? modified, inflicting encoding issues when trying to transcribe paperwork utilizing the latter glyphs with Unicode.[6]

The Deseret alphabet (U+10400–U+1044F) was added to the Unicode Customary in March 2001 with the discharge of model 3.1, after a request by John H. Jenkins of Apple, making it one of many first scripts to be added outdoors of the Basic Multilingual Plane.[38]: 6  The letters ???? (ew) and ???? (oi) have been added to the Unicode Customary in April 2003 with the discharge of model 4.0.[75]

In response to Kenneth R. Beesley, who submitted the proposal to develop the encoding,[64] “Unicode fonts primarily based on the present heterogeneous assortment of glyphs will probably be ineffective for any sensible typesetting of 40-letter Deseret Alphabet paperwork.”[6]: 29  It’s because the Unicode Consortium selected to make use of glyphs from 1855 because the reference glyphs, whereas by 1859 these glyphs have been already outmoded and changed with newer glyphs. Beesley thus recommends utilizing LaTeX alongside along with his Metafont desalph font to typeset Deseret textual content,[6] however fonts which use the alternate glyphs for the 2 codepoints in query would additionally work for transcription of 40-letter Deseret texts written throughout and after 1859.

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+1040x ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ????
U+1041x ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ????
U+1042x ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ????
U+1043x ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ????
U+1044x ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ????

1.^ As of Unicode model 15.0

On 25 February 2016, the Library of Congress permitted an ALA-LC romanization for the Deseret alphabet.[76] The desk can be utilized to show approximations of titles in non-Latin scripts utilizing the Latin alphabet to be used in library catalogs that don’t assist non-Latin alphabets.

See additionally[edit]


  1. ^ “Pronunciation Information”. Book of Mormon (PDF). Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve, Inc. for Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 2013. p. 533. Archived (PDF) from the unique on 28 October 2020. Retrieved 21 June 2020. (Transformed to IPA from dĕz-a-rĕt’)
  2. ^ Arrington, Leonard J. (2012). Brigham Young : American Moses. New York: Classic Books. pp. 353–8. ISBN 978-0-345-80321-4. OCLC 779877565.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Moore, Richard G. (2006). “The Deseret Alphabet Experiment” (PDF). Spiritual Research Heart. Brigham Younger College. Archived (PDF) from the unique on 31 January 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Wentz, Roby (1978). 38 Mormon Characters: A Forgotten Chapter in Western Typographic History (PDF). Los Angeles, California. Archived (PDF) from the unique on 7 January 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Watt, Ronald G. (2009). The Mormon Passage of George D. Watt: First British Convert, Scribe for Zion. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press. ISBN 9780874217582. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah Beesley, Kenneth R. (2004). “Typesetting the Deseret Alphabet with LaTeX and METAFONT” (PDF). TUGboat. Lecture Notes in Pc Science. TeX Users Group. 25 (0): 68–111. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-27773-6_7. ISBN 978-3-540-22801-1. Archived (PDF) from the unique on 9 Might 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  7. ^ Underwood, Grant (1993). The millenarian world of early Mormonism. Urbana: College of Illinois Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-252-02037-5. OCLC 27643026.
  8. ^ Mauss, Armand L. (1994). The angel and the beehive : the Mormon struggle with assimilation. Urbana: College of Illinois Press. p. 188. ISBN 0-252-02071-5. OCLC 28333190.
  9. ^ LDS Tenth Article of Religion
  10. ^ Dunn, Scott (26 March 1982). “The Tongue of Angels?: Glossolalia in the Mormon Church”. Deseret Language and Linguistic Society Symposium. 8 (1): 38.
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Additional studying[edit]

  • Bigler, David. 1998. Forgotten kingdom: the Mormon theocracy within the American West, 1847–1896. Spokane: Arthur Clark
  • Ivins, Stanley S. 1947. The Deseret Alphabet. Utah Humanities Evaluation 1:223-39.
  • Lynott, Patricia A. 1999. “Speaking Insularity: The Deseret Alphabet of Nineteenth-Century Mormon Schooling.” American Academic Historical past Journal 26 (1):20–26.
  • McMurrin, Sterling M. 2000. The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Faith, Signature Books, Salt Lake Metropolis, 978-1-56085-135-6
  • Thompson, Roger. 1982. Language planning in frontier America: The case of the Deseret Alphabet. Language Issues and Language Planning 6:45–62.
  • Wintersteen, Larry Ray. 1970. A History of the Deseret Alphabet Archived 25 January 2022 on the Wayback Machine. MA thesis, Brigham Younger College.
  • Younger, Brigham (8 October 1868), “Southern Missions—Deseret Alphabet—Relief Societies—Home Manufactures”, Journal of Discourses Quantity 12 By President Brigham Younger, his two Counsellors, and the Twelve Apostles, vol. 12, Liverpool: Albert Carrington, pp. 297–301, archived from the unique on 31 August 2011, retrieved 20 February 2008.

Exterior hyperlinks[edit]

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