Page 7 - September 2014
P. 7

Peter White (10385)

As I got a few years into my apprenƟceship,        create a phoneƟc font. From the four winning
and having aƩended prinƟng classes at the          designs one was selected designed by Kingsley
nearest School of Art, I began to persuade my      Read. This was cut in 12 point by Stephen AusƟn
employers that they should invest in some          and issued as the typeface known as 'Shavian'.
new type. They agreed and I had the pleasure       Only a few cases were cast one of which is in St
of laying cases with a series of Ultra Bodoni      Brides.
and its italic, Baskerville roman and italic, and
Rockwell Shadow, plus some type ornaments.         Penguin Books published the result in 1962
This proved a wise investment and resulted         as a parallel text ediƟon of Androcles and the
in much new work, especially when I began          Lion. The verso was set in Shavian, the recto
to do layouts for customers. At the end of my      in our familiar 26 leƩer alphabet. The result
seven years, I stayed on for another 14 months     convincingly demonstrates the ability of a
and had the pleasure of training another           phoneƟc alphabet to save considerable space.
apprenƟce – but his apprenƟceship was, by          If the phoneƟc alphabet had been successfully
then, down to five years.                           implemented a third less typeseƫng, paginaƟon,
                                                   prinƟng and paper would be required.

›Ùăٗ Ý«ƒó                                       This idealism of Shaw was never likely to go
ƒÄ— «®Ý ½ƒÊçÙ-                                    further. It would not perhaps to too unfair
݃ò®Ä¦ ¥ÊÄã                                        to describe the idea as somewhat cranky. In
                                                   order to achieve its purpose we would all have
BERNARD SHAW LEFT PROVISION in his                 to unlearn our 26-leƩer alphabet and relearn
will for funds to promote and develop a “New       everything in 'Shavian'. Shaw’s phoneƟc idea’s
BriƟsh Alphabet”. A phoneƟc alphabet, he           were not original; he was conƟnuing work by Sir
argued, would provide labour                       Isaac Pitman and others who failed to take the
saving efficiencies amounƟng,                        project further. Shaw succeeded—but only to a
over the years, to many millions                   limited extent .
of pounds. He predicted a
significant increase in reading
and wriƟng speeds if adopted.

Shaw's alphabet consists of over
40 characters one for each of the
sounds in our language. Thus, for
instance, the word 'though' only
requires two leƩers in a phoneƟc
alphabet rather than six in our
convenƟonal one.

Although his legacy was
challenged the Executor, who
was The Public Trustee, was
eventually able to put in hand
a compeƟƟon to design and

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