Culture Soup

A Blend of Translation, Culture, and Technology.

Benjamin Franklin's Alphabet

Omni Intercommunications - Wednesday, November 18, 2015

While he was not busy pushing for the turkey to be our national bird, Benjamin Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers that everyone enjoys carrying around in his or her pocket, was engaged in numerous ventures, including a lesser-known attempt to create a new alphabet, perhaps to better render the gobble-gobble of this noble bird. We cannot be sure. It was certainly an offering to the French (Franklin was ambassador at the time in Paris) since the proposed alphabet was “adding new letters to represent the open-mid backrounded and unrounded vowels, and the consonants sh, ng, and … drumroll … the voiced and voiceless th” (Wikipedia). After investing some of his own money to create a new font including his 6 new letters, Franklin soon lost interest in his spelling reform. Interestingly, the only person to show an interest was Noah Webster, the publisher of the well-known dictionary! 

But let’s rectify the myth. According to the United States Diplomacy Center, Franklin never actually proposed to replace the eagle with a turkey on the Great Seal of the United States. And this is good because what would we eat on Thanksgiving? Happy Holidays!

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