Did Mormons invent Wing Dings?

by Rusty Lindquist on May 5, 2009 · 16 comments

Wing Dings font...

Wing Dings font...

 

A little while ago, I was talking to a non-Mormon coworker.  He, of course, knew I was Mormon, and as we were talking, he said (in all seriousness): “I heard that Mormons are the ones that invented the Wing Dings font as a secret language”.

In case you’re not familiar, Wing Dings are a font available in Microsoft Word (since version 3.1) that renders letters as symbols.

I thought it was amazing that somehow, somewhere, somebody started this rumor.  I couldn’t help but laugh, as I took the opportunity to explain the inaccuracy of his understanding.

First, to set the record straight, for everyone out there wondering if Mormons invented Wing Dings… no, we didn’t.  In fact, Microsoft created Wing Dings by combining characters licensed from Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes (both Type designers).

But while this particular misconception was harmless (cute, even), many are not.  Many are created as propaganda and are proliferated around the internet (and conversations), and can become a great stumbling block to genuine people seeking the truth.

And so I renew my invitation… to all those who have questions about Mormonism, who have heard things that sound suspicious, ask (here).  We’ll answer you together. 

As Joseph Smith said “The standard of truth has been erected.  No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.  Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, and columny may defame.  But the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent.  Till it has penetrated every continent, swept every country, visited every clime, and sounded in every ear.  Till the work of the Lord shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say ‘the work is done’”.

Rusty

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bloggernacleburner May 5, 2009 at 5:39 AM

You’re friend seems to have had a chance encounter with Deseret, which wasn’t a ‘secret language’ but a phonetic alphabet to aid Mormon immigrants who could speak but not write English. It’s included in the Unicode standard.

Of course, the only way you can properly spell things in the Deseret phonetic alphabet is to sound as if you were from Spanish Fark.

The Daseret Alaaphabet.

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2 Rusty Lindquist May 5, 2009 at 8:17 AM

LOL. Yeah, I explained to him about the phonetic alphabet they used to teach English, I too figured somehow the one had merged into the other. Sort of like that game where you get in a big circle and whisper something to the person next to you, and on down the line till the end, when he blurts out the sentence to see how much it’d changed.

By the way, I’m still laughing at the “Spanish Fark” reference… Good ‘ol Marmans in Spanish Fark!

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3 ditchu May 5, 2009 at 1:41 PM

Just an FYI:
The name Wingdings was not created by microsoft but was used in typesetting. The typesetters needed a way to space text out but if you put in a Blank block it tends to leave a smudge, often with defined edges.
To improve the printing quality… Remove smudges and make the print look nice they created type that was not letters but the flurishes and simple designs we see next to parts of the text. The typesetters called this wing-dings, as they were dings-type blocks that did not hold letters that went on the wing of the text.

God bless,
-D

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4 Rusty Lindquist May 5, 2009 at 9:23 PM

Awesome, I didn’t know that.

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5 Will Powers May 6, 2009 at 4:36 PM

ditchu:

where did you get that bit of malarkey? I’ve been a printer in all kinds of shops for over 40 years, from hand-set type to today, and I never heard of Wingdings until Microsoft made that font.

We called them “dingbats” in the olde days, and typographers still call them that.

A “wingding” is also sometimes used as a term for a wild party.

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6 Rusty Lindquist May 6, 2009 at 4:47 PM

I just know that “dingbat” was a term my mother always used to call me. I wonder how that originated????

“You little dingbat”… I can just hear her now.

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7 ditchu May 6, 2009 at 5:46 PM

Will,
Thank you for the correction.
It is “Dingbats” That i was thinking of. Sorry for the mistake.

I didn’t know about “windding” being a party but I did hear of “shindigg” and that always sounded like it hurt to me.

God bless,
-D

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8 Mo in ER May 8, 2009 at 12:10 PM

A mormon invented the TV, I don’t hear people whining about that, except for parents who have couch potatoes for kids…

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9 ditchu May 8, 2009 at 2:33 PM

As long as we are talking about inventions…
It is a little known fact that most inventions are created by Schottsmen. At least 53-59% of all inventions since the 1500’s in my last estimation.
From Bell to MacAdam and beyond.

Did you know why roadways and Airport landingstrips are often called Tarmac? The may who invented “Blacktop” Asphalt was MacAdam, and tarmac is a short from of “Tar of MacAdam.”
If he was Mormon or not I am unsure. :)

God bless,
-D

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10 Th. May 8, 2009 at 6:11 PM

.

Deseret was invented just to learn English — it also was intended to help the leadership filter what was available to read. It seems a little chilling from 2009, but there you go.

My wife did a bunch of research and wrote a paper on why it failed (ends up there were a LOT of reasons).

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11 Th. May 8, 2009 at 6:12 PM
12 Terrance Treynor May 8, 2009 at 7:23 PM

Maybe the Egyptian Alphabet is the same as Wind Dings. Wait, is there even such a thing as Egyptian Alphabet?

The History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.17, p.238 indicates that Joseph Smith devoted the rest of the month of July to his work:

“The remainder of this month, I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients.”

Also in October 1835 History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.21, p.286:

“This afternoon I labored on the Egyptian alphabet, in company with Brothers Oliver Cowdery and W. W. Phelps, and during the research, the principles of astronomy as understood by Father Abraham and the ancients unfolded to our understanding, the particulars of which will appear hereafter.”

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13 Jared May 13, 2009 at 7:00 PM

“Wait, is there even such a thing as Egyptian Alphabet?”

Egyptian forms of writing – Hieroglyphics, Hieratic, and Demotic – all incorporated aspects of alphabets (technically, they predated but directly led to modern alphabets). While primarily logographic, they were not completely logographic. So, while it may be unconventional to refer to an Egyptian alphabet, it is not entirely incorrect, especially to the lay audience. Joseph Smith was not trained in linguistics, he had only 3 years of formal education. How many people, even today, know the difference between a logographic (assuming they’ve even heard that word) writing system and an alphabetic system?

So while saying “Egyptian alphabet” is not strictly true, it’s no different than me simplifying MRI physics for people with no experience with it or otherwise using terms that people understand, even if not strictly true.

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