Trimming alphabet could be beneficial

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management, LLC
September 19, 2010


As long as I can remember, investors, commentators, demographers and futurists have salivated over the day that western businesses would gain entry to China. “Just wait until ten trillion Chinese consumers begin eating Big Macs or smoking Marlboros or driving Ford F-550 Crew cab pickup trucks. The US economy will explode!”

Then we began to look at the Chinese economy as a threat. “We don’t make anything in the US any more. Everything’s manufactured in China. And besides, they finance all of our budget deficits and mortgage market. What are we going to do?”

If we’re going to successfully compete globally for another 200 years we have to regain some competitive advantage.

Shorten our alphabet.

It makes sense. It builds on our existing strength. We only have 26 letters now.

The Chinese use about 4,000 different characters out of a possible 40,000.

The letter “q” is impotent. It can’t do anything by itself. It’s like a 9-month-old that needs help from “u” just to go to the bathroom. Junk it. Use a “k” instead. That gets us to 25.

Sometimes the letter “c” sounds like “k” and sometimes it sounds like “s.” Punt it.

Now we’re down to 24.

“X” is not only an ugly letter, but it has its own vulgar slang use. You can make either of its sounds with the letter “z” (as in zylofone) or by combining the letters “k” and “s” (as in Noksville.)

Of course there should be no silent “Ks” at the beginning of words or “ph” to make the “f” sound.

We already have three consonants that can make two different sounds. An “f” can sound like an “f” (fox) or a “v,” as in the word “of.” We can always use a soft “g” instead of a “j.” And the British have almost always used an “s” in place of a “z.”

V, j and z. Gone, gone, gone.

This gets us down to a 21-letter alphabet.

Computer and smartphone keyboards can be smaller, reducing manufacturing costs for US products. Correspondence and dictionaries would be shorter, saving trees and ink. The benefits would be enormous.

Silly you say?

It’s no more silly than a lot of things people and institutions do and call it productive.

If furniture stores repeatedly tell people they are going out of business each month, does it really help sales?

Is paying schools to replace French fries with apple chunks going to create fewer fat kids?

Is adding a few pages of disclosures to mortgage closing documents really going to make people – either borrowers or lenders – more responsible?

If we pay farmers not to grow things, does it really help create a strong US agricultural base?

If we extend the unemployment benefit period from 26 weeks to 2½ years, will it decrease the unemployment rate?

If we increase income tax rates on filthy rich Americans, does anyone believe the extra revenue will be used to pay down the deficit?

Well, maybe it does make sense to eliminate those letters.

David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).

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