Friday, December 23, 2005

William Moon Blind Alphabet

This is the Moon writing system from the early 1840's in England. It is still in use by a limited number of older people in England..

Below is the Cree syllabary. The characters for the p, t, ch, m series are in the same order as the Moon alphabet, when it is grouped by shape. The Cree p,t,k,ch finals also appear as a group in the Moon alphabet.

The fact that these two systems are so similar cannot be a coincidence. These systems appeared within two years of each other, 1841 in Canada and 1843, in England. I suggest that they had a common ancestor in the shorthand descended from John Willis shorthand.

The Moon Code, as it is known, was invented in England between 1843 and 1847 by William Moon who was himself blind. The Moon code was a full alphabetic orthography in which each symbol stood for a letter of the Roman alphabet. However, is is taught by organizing the symbols into an arrangment of similar shapes. It is still used today.

A direct predecessor of the Moon alphabet was the Lucas system. "The script invented in 1832 by Thomas Lucas at Bristol, England, consisting of embossed characters in the sort of symbols used by stenographers, was used in both China and India." The Lucas system can be seen here.

The evolution of Cree from the Frere and Lucas systems has already been written about at Tiro Typeworks.

I am only adding the pieces about the Moon alphabet which shows the order of the symbols, and the John Willis shorthand. More here.


Notes: A Simplified Alphabet. The Ramseyer-Northern Bible Society Museum Collection at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

2 Comments:

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