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Aussie invents new letter of the alphabet to replace 'the'

world Updated: Jul 10, 2013 17:15 IST
Paul Mathis

An Australian businessman has invented a new letter of the English alphabet to replace the word 'the' because he thinks it is more efficient.

Paul Mathis from Melbourne has developed the replacement of the word 'the' - an upper-case 'T' and a lower-case 'h' bunched together so they share the upright stem.

He has also developed an app that puts it in everyone's hand by allowing users to download an entirely new electronic keyboard with his symbol - which he pronounces "th".

The keyboard also has a row of keys containing the 10 or 15 (depending on the version) most frequently typed words in English, The Age reported.

So far, Mathis who has opened more than 20 restaurants and hotels across Australia, has invested about AUS $75,000 in the project.

"The word 'and' is only the fifth-most used word in English and it has its own symbol ? the ampersand. Isn't it time we accorded the same respect to 'the'?" Mathis said.

"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," he said.

Typing the symbol will save time mainly in the context of Twitter.

"The main functionality of this is in the texting space," Mathis said.

"The Benedictine monks developed the modern version of the ampersand in the Middle Ages, when they were hand-copying religious texts," he said.

"I'm not putting myself in the same league, but who knows - maybe in 500 years' time people will be amazed that there was a time when we didn't use 'th'," he added.

Mathis has faced criticism on Twitter from people who claim he is attempting to trademark a symbol that has long been in use as part of the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet (pronounced "tshe", the letter represents the "ch" sound found in the word "chew"), the paper reported.

Mathis concedes the likeness, but insists he was a long way down the road on his project before he became aware of it.