Stop trying to make “Ћ” happen

Why do we keep trying to shorten English with symbols? Are we all Prince? 


Gaby Dunn

Internet Culture

Published Jul 6, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 11:58 am CDT

Ever wished there was a shorter way to say “the”? If you have, you are one rare specimen—and Paul Mathis has just the app and the letter (“?”) for you.

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Per Square Media released a video in April, and it’s been circulating on the Internet again recently, asking why “and” gets a symbol in the form of “&” (the ampersand) but “the,” which is the most used word in the English language, still takes up three whole letters. The company also bought a domain but hasn’t used it yet. It claims “?” is the “next step in communication evolution.”

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It seems the idea is the work of Australian restaurateur Mathis. He’s the primary investor and idea man behind creating the symbol that crams “T” and “h” together and eliminates the need for “the.”

“The main functionality of this is in the texting space,” Mathis says. Eliminating two characters, he says, opens up crucial space for texts and with Twitter. His new app for it is called the Symbol App.

Last year Curator’s Code also proposed a symbol for “hat tip” that looked like a curly arrow: ? They got as far as promoting their idea on NPR, but it never took off.

Mathis’ app also includes shortcuts for the other top 15 most used words in the English language? Why do we keep trying to shorten English with symbols? Are we all Prince? Sure, language inevitably evolves, but this app is solving a problem that doesn’t exist. Does anyone really complain about having to use three letters to spell “the”?

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Even Apple was skeptical. Mathis told the Sydney Morning Herald that Apple rejected his app for the company’s store because it doesn’t add anything to the user’s experience.

If I’ve learned anything from watching Shark Tank marathons, it’s this: If you have a product that no one needs or wants, you’re not going to sell that product. In the immortal words of Regina George, “Stop trying to make ? happen. It’s not going to happen.”

H/T Sydney Morning Herald  | Screengrab via YouTube

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*First Published: Jul 6, 2013, 12:14 pm CDT