Alphabet 26

This interested the little guy in me who gets excited about fonts. Yeah, I know.

Alphabet 26 is the brainchild of Bradbury Thompson, and is a project with the goal being to “simplify and improve our alphabet.”

It is misleading for a letter, or for any graphic symbol, to have two different designs. Confusion might set in when school children are taught to recognize words even before they have learned to recognize different symbols for the same letter.

Thompson’s proposal seems modest enough: nix the duplicate symbols meaning the same thing. We need one symbol for each letter. Capital ‘a’ and lowercase ‘a’ should only be distinguished by size, Thompson says.

I’ve gone back and forth as to how I feel about this idea. At first I thought it sounded cool, probably due to the appealing look of the letters sitting next to the proposal on their web site. Once I moved beyond that initial thrill, however, the plan lost its rosy glow. I will be the last one to claim any sort of expertise on typography, but it seems that differentiating by size alone is a faulty method; at the same time some letters (as pointed out on the Alphabet 26 page) already are only differentiated by size. So is it really a big deal?

Here’s another thought. Ever read 1984? If my memory serves me right (and it may not – it’s been at least 2 years) the goal of newspeak in those days was to simplify speech as much as possible. The mind desired simplicity in the mind of the society of 1984. Is this along those same lines? Do we need to simplify the very letters we communicate with?

Or is it just silly?

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