Deseret alphabet

The Deseret alphabet (/ˌdɛzəˈrɛt/ (listen);[1] Deseret: 𐐔𐐯𐑅𐐨𐑉𐐯𐐻 or 𐐔𐐯𐑆𐐲𐑉𐐯𐐻) is a phonemic English-language spelling reform developed between 1847 and 1854 by the board of regents of the University of Deseret under the leadership of Brigham Young, the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).[2] George D. Watt is reported to have been the most actively involved in the development of the script,[2][3][4]:159 as well as being its first serious user.[5]:12

Deseret alphabet
Script type
CreatorGeorge D. Watt, under the direction of the Board of Regents, led by Brigham Young
Time period
Mainly 1854–1869; some use in modern era
LanguagesEnglish, Native American languages (Hopi language)
Related scripts
Parent systems
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Dsrt (250), Deseret (Mormon)
Unicode alias
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and  , see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (𐐎𐐮𐐿𐐨𐐹𐐨𐐼𐐨𐐲, 𐑄 𐑁𐑉𐐨 𐐯𐑌𐑅𐐴𐐿𐑊𐐲𐐹𐐨𐐼𐐨𐐲) in the Deseret alphabet
Early Deseret alphabet chart found in Jules Remy and Julius Brenchley's A Journey to Great-Salt-Lake City (1855)

In public statements, Young claimed the alphabet was intended to replace the traditional Latin alphabet with an alternative, more phonetically accurate alphabet for the English language. This would offer immigrants an opportunity to learn to read and write English, he said, the orthography of which is often less phonetically consistent than those of many other languages.[2]:65–66 Similar neographies have not been uncommon, the most well-known of which for English is the Shavian alphabet.

The Deseret alphabet was an outgrowth of Young's, and the early LDS Church's, idealism and utopianism. Young and the Mormon pioneers believed "all aspects of life" were in need of reform, and the Deseret alphabet was just one of many ways they sought to bring about a complete "transformation in society".[4]:142

Young also prescribed the learning of Deseret to the school system, stating "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."[6]

During the alphabet's heyday between 1854 and 1869, books, newspapers, street signs and correspondence used the new letters, but despite heavy and costly promotion by the early LDS Church, the alphabet never enjoyed prolonged widespread use and has been regarded by historians as a failure.[2][5][7][8][9]

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