The Minimal Stacking alphabet was invented by David Conant
as an alternative alphabet for English. He use it for notes,
grocery lists, experimentation, and mostly for fun.
The idea behind creating a 'minimal' alphabet was to represent
each letter of the regular English alphabet with the simplest
marking possible while still being distinguishable from each
other and also having blocks of text look interesting and even
slightly attractive. It consists of straight line segments, lines
curved just enough to be distinguishable from straight lines,
and three circles for lesser used letters. The frequency of usage
for each letter was considered so that, in general, the smallest
and simplest shapes are used for the most frequently used letters.
The letter 'E' is simply a dot, "X" is a large oval. I also took
into account second order letter distribution. For each letter I
chose a compatible shape for the four likeliest letters to follow.
This is not possible in all cases, but for the majority of text
output the result should be unambiguous.
The numerals, which are also fairly minimal, were created last;
almost as an after-thought. They were added for completeness. There
is no punctuation, no capitalization ... only the letters and spaces
The Stacking Aspect
With just a few character shapes to choose from, letters are
distinguished from one another by vertical position. There are
three vertical segments; Upper Segment, Middle Segment, and Lower
Segment. Most of the shapes can occur in the upper and lower segment
and represent different letters. A small vertical line in the lower
segment represents 'A', in the upper segment it is an 'I'. The horizontal
line is a 'D' in the upper segment, a 'T' in the middle segment, and 'R'
in the lower segment. The letter 'E', being the most commonly used in
English, is written as a single dot and can occur in any, and even multiple,
segments. The letters that occur in the top segment are [CDEHILMPUY],
middle segment [ET], lower segment [AEFGKNORSV]. The less frequently
used letters [BJQWXZ] have larger shapes that take up all three
segments and are always written by themselves. Since there are
three distinct vertical segments for writing, this results in the
possibility of stacking one letter over another. Assigning shapes
to letters was not necessarily done to maximize (or minimize)
stacking, but writing one letter on top of another happens frequently.
A table at the end shows all possible stacking combinations.
There is some leeway in where to position the 'E' dot. If there is a choice, it should be placed where it is clear where it belongs in a word or at least where it looks best. In the Article below, the word 'free' is written with the 'e' on the same level as the 'r'. In the word 'endowed', the 'e' has to be positioned over the 'n', but the 'e' in 'ed' is on the same level as the d. Otherwise it may look like it was spelled 'endowde'.
Type of script: alphabet
Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines
Used to write: English
Minimal Stacking alphabet
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)