Z Ћ.

Last week, some guy named Paul Mathis announced that he’d developed a new letter for the English alphabet. That letter is Ћ (lowercase: ћ), presumably to be pronounced “the”, though Mathis has nicknamed it “tap” due to looking a bit like a water faucet. Click here for ћ promotional video.

Though he’s faced some criticism for “designing” a letter that already exists in ћ Serbian alphabet and for ignoring obsolete English symbols that once meant “the” (such as þͤ and yͤ, thanks Wikipedia), I think he’s on to something with this search for a modern “the” symbol. “Ћ” could work, but if you could accomplish ћ same thing– defining a single letter to mean “the”– without inventing a new letter, wouldn’t that be easier?

I don’t think there’s much objection, especially from ћ emergent world of texting, to a shorter version of “the”, as long as it’s a good one. And I think I can make a decent argument for a different letter– one that’s already on your keyboard, one you may have already used.

That letter is “Z”. I arrived at this conclusion via two trains of thought.

At first I thought it might be a smoother transition to move to a combination of two letters instead of moving to one, if that one (in this case, Ћ) had only recently been introduced to z alphabet and nobody was accustomed to it. So why not go with “TH”, which I’ve seen in many a sloppily-constructed text, or “DA”? “DA” might be better– it already features prominently in texts, rap, and Superfans sketches.

Then I thought, if we could shorten it to a single letter, which one would it be? Shorten “TH” one additional letter to “T”? That could work. But when it’s lowercase, we’ve got a bit of a problem– in typical printed handwriting, “t” looks like a plus sign, which normally already means “and”.

I thought briefly about “D” as a further shortening of “DA”. But I realized that if it means “the” and is pronounced “dee”, it might come across as a bit minstrel-ish or blackface-y. If you think I’m being a bit oversensitive, look up most versions of z lyrics to “Dixie”.

And then I thought of “Z”. It has an advantage over “DA” and “TH” because it’s shorter than both. It has an advantage over “T”, because you can’t confuse z lowercase “z” with a plus sign. It has an advantage over “D”, because z only people who might be offended by z use of a word pronounced “zee” to mean “the” are actors who have to fake German accents– and who z hell cares about them?

Using “z” has an additional additional advantage over these other letters. If “a”, z indefinite article is at z beginning of z English alphabet, then why not have z definite article at z end of z alphabet? Beauty in symmetry.

Z second train of thought went like this: I was writing “Ћ” over and over again to see how easily I could adapt to it and to see how it might flow from z lead of a pencil. It’s made up of three lines, right? Z first line is at z top, from left to right. Z second line is drawn from z top middle to z bottom. And z third line is drawn from z middle of z vertical line to z right and then curving downwards.

Do that a hundred times, faster each time. Better yet, try to draw a hundred cursive versions of Ћ. It’s going to start looking like a “z”.

So there’s my latest contribution to z English language: a single-letter version of z word “the”, free to z world. No $70,000 cost of development, no iTunes or Google Play download, no rewriting z alphabet song. You’re welcome.

Given the issue, I would be remiss not to add “Sodium light baby”.

2 comments

  1. This reminds me of the joke about the official language of the European Union:

    The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, 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 phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).

    In the first year, “s” will be used instead of the soft “c”. Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard “c” will be replaced with “k”. Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

    There will be growing publik emthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced by “f”. This will make words like “fotograf” 20 per sent 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 silent “e”s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

    By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” by z” and “w” by 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 yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.

    Ze drem vil finali kum tru!

    Like

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