The Problem With the English Alphabet and How to Make it Better.

sam L
3 min readFeb 10, 2023

If you’re a book lover, you know the pain of moving your books. Boxes and boxes of heavy books. But have you ever thought that in other languages, books are smaller, and easier to move?

I’m reading a book in Hebrew. It is 112 pages and I’m on page 41. It is taking me a long time. As I was flipping through the pages I wondered: is this long because I’m a slow reader, or because it is in Hebrew. And the answer is both, I am a slow reader but also because Hebrew alphabet is an old language made in the time of stone tablets, it is missing vowels. As a result, it is difficult to learn but it is economical on the page.

Every alphabet is different. Hebrew has 22 letters and about 30 sounds. Russian has 33 letters, and about 33 sounds. English has 26 letters but 44 sounds! The additional 18 sounds are made through letter combinations. This means there is a lot of waste. Waste of paper.

Because there are extra 18 letters for those 18 sounds, the words are longer than they need to be and as a result this makes books written in English far larger than in other languages. This translates to all written language in English wasteful and we could save a lot in paper, ink and even effort if we just replace those sound combinations with new letters. We don’t even have to invent them, those letters already exist in other languages.

For instance, “sh” is ш in Cyrillic. Also “ch” is ч in Cyrillic too. I’m sure there is a gh “г” in Ukrainian. Then there are symbols that exist in languages like French above and bellow a letter to denote if it is a short or a long. For instance we could use one over the e in “beer” to reduce the number of double vowels. Some are just arbitrary. Like the u after q, completely unnecessary.

I’m not a linguist, but I think that it has been too long since English language has had a make over. It may not have been necessary 100 years ago before computers, printers and mass publishing, but considering how much we print now, it might be time to think about it. If not for simplicity, then for making a more sustainable publishing and for some, just to make it easier to move their books that make all those boxes weigh so much.

So what would it look like? Here’s a sample:

Replace the following letters with the one on other side of the equal:
oo=ö, ee=ế, sh=ա, ch=Կ, th=բ ph=Փ, ew=ü, qu=ư, ck=k

How would this lool?
New English Alphabet is replaced by:
Nu Engliա AlՓabet

Which is three letters shorter, 15% shorter. Imagine a 200 page book without 30 pages? Ten 200-page books saves 300 pages. A full one and a half book of pages saved. 100 books and that’s 3000 pages, saved, we are now starting to save serious trees! So let’s make English simpler, more phonetic and more sustainable. Get rid of the extra letters by adding new ones.

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