An Australian restaurant owner-turned-innovator has created a character to replace the word “the” in the English language. Similar to how the ampersand replaces “and” and the “@” symbol replaces the word “at,” Paul Mathis’ character looks to simplify the most common word in the English language.
"The main functionality of this is in the texting space," Mathis told The Sydney Morning Herald. “Is this important? No. Is this going to change the world? Not really. But is it something that might be useful for people? I think so.”
Mathis argues the ampersand (&) replaces “and,” the fifth most common word in English, and that the word “the,” which is used more frequently, has no such replacement. But as far as a new symbol for “the” goes, it won’t be gaining any wide-scale recognition anytime soon. Read the rest on NPR’s All Tech Considered blog.
Language Is a Virus: How Loanwords Move the World’s Tongues
There are an estimated 6,700 to 6,900 languages in the world today, and they drift through the air like a meteorological echo — Hello! Hallo! Allô! — a roll of thunder or a set of bird calls off in the corner of the ear and the eye. And accompanying every tongue are loanwords, or, rather, lehnwerts, the tin-eared telephone line tossed from house to house, the improvised bridge of a tree knocked across a river’s expanse, or, more prosaically, words one “borrows” from one language into another. Loanwords explain how and why English speakers can say things like Frankfurter, pretzel, hinterland, dreck, or kaput without their conversational co-conspirator batting an eye.