And then there were 14. Is the top definite article’s days numbered?

by mo on September 3, 2013

It should not come as a surprise that the impact of texting and social media has now placed the most often used definitive article in English on the endangered word list.  For the grammatically challenged, these are words used with a noun to specify grammatical definiteness of the noun. I have used it five times thus far.

Oh woe to “the” the most used word in the English language. Like “and”  (#5) and its ampersand, one entrepreneur with time on his side (and some cash) wants to make things so much more efficient and use a symbol that bunches an upper case “T” with a lower case “h” so they use the same upright.The "th" I know that saving me that “e” would be life changing!  Think of the savings of space on Twitter.

Paul Mathis of Australia has an app for this so we get the symbol on our keyboards just as the friendly “&” tops the “7.” But only on Android.

Mathis Keyboard

Well that would be a critical first step. But is this really necessary? I know, I know. Writing out entire words is so old school. Based on my unscientific assessment of “writers” (or do I mean content creators) under the age of say 25 or so, they do not seem to need help in abbreviating (or decimating) the English language.

Mathis is not done there, his keyboard also has a row of keys containing the 10 or 15 (depending on the version) most frequently typed words in English. Okay, this would make texting faster and perhaps more comprehensible. The user would still need a grasp of the rules.

The ampersand has been with us since the Middle Ages when those exhausted monks found a short cut for hand copying all those gospels. Perhaps the newest shortcut won’t take as long to catch on.

The top 15: the, be, to, of, and, a, in, that, have, I, it, for, not, on, with.


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