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Benjamin Franklin’s Phonetic Alphabet

Benjamin Franklin, along with advocating for the turkey at the US national symbol, writing an almanac, experimenting with electricity, inventing bifocals, and helping to found the United States, also proposed a new, simplified alphabet. Franklin came up with it in 1768, and Noah Webster published it in 1789. He dropped some letters, came up with new ones for common phonemes, and assigned only one sound for each letter.  

Franklin was confident that his new alphabet would easier to learn and, once learned, would drastically reduce bad spelling. He believed any difficulty in implementing a new alphabet would ultimately be overcome by its logic and simplicity. However, biographer Walter Isaacson has written that the alphabet “took his passion for social improvement to radical extremes.” But in the heady days after the Revolution, a national language seemed like a natural development for a new country. Franklin’s proposal found little support, even with those to whom he was closest. He did, however, manage to convert Webster, the pioneer of spelling reform.

But it didn't catch on. Would you want to bother learning an entirely new alphabet and way of spelling after you'd spent years learning it the traditional way? Read about how Franklin's alphabet was constructed at Design Decoded. Link


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Franklin tried taking a big step at once. Unless you've got a strong dictator at the top, change needs to come in small steps.
I'd be content with seeing the letter 'C' go away in my lifetime. Sorry, Miss S.
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Yes, I'd want to relearn an alphabet. I'm a proponent of UNIFON and was unaware of Franklin's attempt. After studying Japanese and seeing how much easier it is to have a language with tight orthography, I look back on the years I spent learning how to spell properly. What a damn waste.... English is the only language to have spelling bees. We should not be proud of the fact that our language is confusing enough to have competitions.
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