To write the word "laugh," the pen has to make FOURTEEN strokes.

To write "laff," the pen has to make the SAME NUMBER of strokes--no labor is saved to the penman.

To write the same word with the phonographic alphabet, the pen has to make only THREE strokes.

To write the word "highland," the pen has to make twenty-two strokes.

To write "hyland," the pen has to make eighteen strokes.

To write that word with the phonographic alphabet, the pen has to make only FIVE strokes. [Figure 3]

To write the words "phonographic alphabet," the pen has to make fifty-three strokes.

To write "fonografic alfabet," the pen has to make fifty strokes. To the penman, the saving in labor is insignificant.

To write that word (with vowels) with the phonographic alphabet, the pen has to make only SEVENTEEN strokes.

Without the vowels, only THIRTEEN strokes. [Figure 4] The vowels are hardly necessary, this time.

We make five pen-strokes in writing an m. Thus: [Figure 5] a stroke down; a stroke up; a second stroke down; a second stroke up; a final stroke down. Total, five. The phonographic alphabet accomplishes the m with a single stroke--a curve, like a parenthesis that has come home drunk and has fallen face down right at the front door where everybody that goes along will see him and say, Alas!

When our written m is not the end of a word, but is otherwise located, it has to be connected with the next letter, and that requires another pen-stroke, making six in all, before you get rid of that m. But never mind about the connecting strokes--let them go. Without counting them, the twenty-six letters of our alphabet consumed about eighty pen-strokes for their construction--about three pen-strokes per letter.

It is THREE TIMES THE NUMBER required by the phonographic alphabet. It requires but ONE stroke for each letter.

My writing-gait is--well, I don't know what it is, but I will time myself and see. Result: it is twenty-four words per minute. I don't mean composing; I mean COPYING. There isn't any definite composing-gait.

Very well, my copying-gait is 1,440 words per hour--say 1,500. If I could use the phonographic character with facility I could do the 1,500 in twenty minutes. I could do nine hours' copying in three hours; I could do three years' copying in one year. Also, if I had a typewriting machine with the phonographic alphabet on it--oh, the miracles I could do!

I am not pretending to write that character well. I have never had a lesson, and I am copying the letters from the book. But I can accomplish my desire, at any rate, which is, to make the reader get a good and clear idea of the advantage it would be to us if we could discard our present alphabet and put this better one in its place--using it in books, newspapers, with the typewriter, and with the pen.

[Figure 6] --MAN DOG HORSE. I think it is graceful and would look comely in print. And consider--once more, I beg--what a labor-saver it is! Ten pen-strokes with the one system to convey those three words above, and thirty-three by the other! [Figure 6] I mean, in SOME ways, not in all. I suppose I might go so far as to say in most ways, and be within the facts, but never mind; let it go at SOME. One of the ways in which it exercises this birthright is--as I think--continuing to use our laughable alphabet these seventy-three years while there was a rational one at hand, to be had for the taking.

It has taken five hundred years to simplify some of Chaucer's rotten spelling--if I may be allowed to use to frank a term as that--and it will take five hundred years more to get our exasperating new Simplified Corruptions accepted and running smoothly. And we sha'n't be any better off then than we are now; for in that day we shall still have the privilege the Simplifiers are exercising now: ANYBODY can change the spelling that wants to.

BUT YOU CAN'T CHANGE THE PHONOGRAPHIC SPELLING; THERE ISN'T ANY WAY. It will always follow the SOUND. If you want to change the spelling, you have to change the sound first.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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