Thursday, March 19, 2015


In order for the (admittedly dubious) assertion in the title of this post to make sense, the gentle reader needs to understand two main points.

First is that Brigham Young, Prophet and second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, saw Ensign Peak at the entrance to the Salt Lake Valley in vision long before the Mormon Pioneers arrived there;

and that, upon arriving at Ensign Peak, he had a vision of what Salt Lake City would look like in the future:

“While gazing upon the scene, . . .  he was enwrapped in vision for several minutes. He had seen the valley before in vision and upon this occasion he saw the future glory of Zion and of Israel, as they would be, planted in the valleys of these mountains. When the vision had passed, he said: ‘It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on.’”


The second is an interesting, relatively unknown bit of Mormon history: that the Saints had their own alphabet for a while.

Though mostly the domain of hobbyists today, the Deseret Alphabet was widely taught in schools, used in newspapers and editions of the scriptures, and still appears on the odd gravestone. There is a building somewhere at This is the Place State Park that has a sign in Deseret on the front; I couldn't tell you which building it is, so you'll just have to get on route 3 yourselves and go look.

Now that you have internalized all this information, you will understand the outcome of my idle wonderings the other day: surely "the future glory of Zion and Israel" included Saints by the hundreds exiting trains to enter Temple Square and the Conference Center; surely as Brigham Young contemplated this vision later, during the great linguistic enterprise that was the Deseret Alphabet, the signs at the train stations would have been so written.

(Purists should note that I use the word "surely" to mean "in the idlest of speculation;" this is a flight of fancy and should not be interpreted as any kind of assertion of doctrinality, intimation that the Church has gone astray by not continuing to use the Deseret Alphabet, or prediction of Mormon supremacy at the expense of all other religious and secular communities in the Salt Lake area. I just wanted to point that out beforehand in case I get hate mail over this, of all things.)

I liked the image. And so, I give you:


(Purists should note that I subscribe to a very minimal interpretation of Deseret phonetics: I don't use any of the letters as stand-alone syllables, and I tend to leave off unstressed schwa sounds on the grounds that you have often to pronounce them anyway when moving on to the next consonant. I also use "short i" for a lot more things than most people probably would, if they cared. I am selective in my anachronistic Deseret usage. For the record, there is not standardized spelling of anything in the Deseret Alphabet; I just wanted to point that out beforehand in case I get hate mail over this, of all things.)

So, UTA, are you suuuuure you don't want to use it as your official map now?

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