Certain sounds possibly deserve their own letter in the alphabet, are there any indication that some more letter may be added to the English alphabet?

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    I have such plans. Unfortunately, they're top secret. Jun 3, 2011 at 11:32
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    Plans by whom? What governing body would make such plans or, if it did, put them into effect? And how would that be accomplished?
    – Robusto
    Jun 3, 2011 at 11:32
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    There is no English equivalent of L'Académie française, so there isn't really a decision as such. It's more a matter of whether enough people get interested enough to make an idea popular. Adding letters is a rather major change, and the evolutionary pressure here seems to be to simplify rather than extend, so it would probably be rather hard to get people interested. After all, if yogh, thorn and eth haven't made it back into the alphabet, what hope has anything new?
    – user1579
    Jun 3, 2011 at 12:18
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    In Russian Empire it was proposed by (at the time) Imperial Science Institute in 1904. In 1911 it was approved by the same Institute and already after revolution in the late 1917 it became official. You see how long it took then - I very much doubt anyone would bother with it now. Although those changes consisted of a bit more, than erasing several letters from Cyrillic. Oh and another argument against - you'll need to change English fonts on all computers around the world. Not gonna happen.
    – Philoto
    Jun 3, 2011 at 12:22
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    @kit: I think Twain was making fun of txtese.
    – Mitch
    Jun 3, 2011 at 12:50

5 Answers 5


There have been plenty of proposals to extend or replace the English alphabet, including:

But plans? As Robusto pointed out, plans by whom? There's no Academy of the English Language.

  • Indeed, to refer to an "English" alphabet is probably misleading. None of the characters are unique to English.
    – Marcin
    Jun 4, 2011 at 10:07

If any letters got added to the English alphabet, they would arrive via popular usage, and would no doubt be resisted for a long time first.

But since orthography standardized in English (after The Great Vowel Shift and around the time of, and influenced by, publication of the King James Bible), the present alphabet became fixed.

You can read The BBC's history of letters being added to the alphabet. Their conclusion:

With the invention of J, the English alphabet now contained the 26 letters that we know so well. Other languages in Europe added accents to many letters to get extra sounds, for example á, Å and Ä but English has avoided this. There have also been attempts to revise the alphabet, introducing new letters to represent the ng sound, the ee sound and so on. All such attempts have so far been doomed to failure.

So it looks like we're stuck with A to Z.

  • I wonder how "… letters could arrive via popular usage…" unless someone started throwing in Central European characters and hoping people might understand…Polish doesn't have Czech's five different approximations to English "C" and Russian's Cyrillic is even less comparable but so far even those who'd like to extinguish genderised honorifics have gone no further than Ms then Mx, no? If you're still on the case, benhowdle89, how could anyone demonstrate there were no plans? Could every language-related department of every university in Britain cover the Americas or Antipodes? May 21, 2020 at 23:14

If anything, we might expect to lose letters. Scrabble players excepted, I don't think many of us would miss Q and K that much, for example.

We have obviously lost letters in the past. Here are details of at least three such. As a minimalist, I do not mourn their passing

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    I suspect that it would be C getting the chop, not K - I seem to see K-for-C substitution everywhere, and I'm not sure I've ever seen C substituted for K. (How would we spell "chop" without C? That, I do not know - which is one reason I doubt we'll actually be losing any more letters anytime soon.)
    – MT_Head
    Jun 3, 2011 at 16:53
  • @MT_Head: I wouldn't have much trouble with lamb tshops if they were on the menu. And lots of people are happy to wear sox. As a Brit I could probably live without z, but the US -ize suffix somewhat works against that one. It's hard to see any downside to getting rid of q, though. Jun 3, 2011 at 17:28
  • @FumbleFingers - How would we spell NyQuil, then? "Big N, little y, giant f*****g Q!"
    – MT_Head
    Jun 3, 2011 at 17:38
  • @MT_Head: I personally wouldn't need to spell NyQuil in the first place, since I'm in the UK - and as I've just discovered, it's a US brand name. But nycwil would do it for me if I needed it. Jun 3, 2011 at 17:44
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    @MT_Head: The day after I read Riddley Walker I went back to the bookshop and bought three more copies, because I was worried I'd end up without one after lending it out to people who wouldn't return it. But I've just had a good look, and it seems even four copies wasn't enough to last me 30 years! Jun 3, 2011 at 18:21

I suspect that people will just agree on a convention that a particular chinese sound is always written as XYZ - either just form popular use or perhaps because some foreign authority uses it.

New punctuation seems easier - there is the Interrobang a combined ? and ! (‽). You could argue that smileys have also done this to some extent.

  • ‽ Does it show it? If yes, feel free to copy it :D
    – Alenanno
    Jun 4, 2011 at 0:05
  • No prob! :)
    – Alenanno
    Jun 4, 2011 at 1:16

There are two letters that could easily be removed from English. Q could be replaced by K. Qu could be replaced by Kw.

Replacing C would be only slightly more complicated. Cat becomes Kat. Place becomes plase. J is pronounced like the "s" in pleasure. Then we can combine dj for edj (edge), tj for itj (itch) and ch can be removed.

Dh could be used for dhe (as in the) to differentiate from th (as in thin).

The big challenge is to find another 11 letters for the vowels. Depending on dialect, spoken English has up to 16 vowels, but written English has only 5 letters for vowels.


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