religion

The Lost Mormon Language

welcome_utah Mormon history is the fascinating story of America’s most successful modern indigenous religion. It is filled with 19th century frontier religion, angelic visitations, the notorious golden plates, and rugged pioneers. But there is one small part to this story that many people are unaware of – the Deseret Alphabet.

The Deseret Alphabet was an alternate to the Latin alphabet of English that was formed by the University of Deseret (now University of Utah) under the direction of Brigham Young. Theoretically, it would have replaced Latin character in English in favor of the phonetically uniformed characters of Deseret.

If that sounds strange, it really shouldn’t. Forming a phonetic alphabet was not an uncommon endeavor in the 18th and 19th centuries. In fact, Benjamin Franklin proposed an alphabet to alleviate mispronunciation and standardize an American version of English. (Which, in my opinion, would have been pretty awesome.)

The reasons why early Mormons devised the alphabet remain speculative. Some argue that they desired a phonetic alphabet to unify the English language, especially for immigrants moving into the Utah territory who struggled to learn the language. Others speculate that the alphabet was created in an attempt to uniquely distinguish the Mormon community from the United States during their bid to become an autonomous State of Deseret.

Whatever they reason, it is fascinating nonetheless! Here are some examples of the lost Mormon language. For you glossophiliacs, add Deseret to your collection!

THE DESERET ALPHABET

deseret_alphabet

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FIVE DOLLAR COIN FROM UTAH (1860)

deseret_coin

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MY HUMBLE ATTEMPT AT THE LORENZO SNOW COUPLET

deseret_couplet

 As man now is, God once was; as God now is man may become.

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TITLE PAGE TO THE BOOK OF MORMON

deseret_bom

 

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