A government spokesperson announced the details of the bold programme in a press conference attended only by official media representatives as all other journalists were tied up. The spokesperson discussed at length the historic precedents for introducing the programme, arguing that ‘Egypt was always a country of hieroglyphs’ and ‘the alphabet was a foreign import that goes against our heritage and traditions’.
“If our great ancestors could manage only with those little drawings of birds and stethoscopes, why do we need the alphabet? They established a great civilisation and built the pyramids without needing these irritating Greco-Aramaic figures that don’t even look like anything, and so shall we.” The spokesperson was interrupted by loud cheers from the attending journalists before adding: “All that ‘words’ have done for us is sow discord and encourage disrespect for authority. Enough is enough.”
The spokesperson said that the letters used to spell words like ‘no’ or negative sentiments would be retired first as part of a five-year plan, until only the letters ‘S’ and ‘I’ are used. A press release explained how citizens could conduct a meaningful conversation using only those letters. For example, we were given this illustrative conversation:
A man walks into a shop, greeting the shopkeeper:
At which point, the customer pays for what he bought and leaves.
The spokesperson argued that such exchanges would lead to a revival in activities such as pointing to things, hand gestures, and even drawing, reconnecting Egyptians with their ancient heritage and reviving the national identity. The spokesperson also outlined how names could be personalised by adding numbers such as citizen Sisi969 or Sisisi1989 and so on. The numbers would stay largely the same except for the number 4 which will be banned and replaced by an inverted ‘S’.
The spokesperson then ended the press conference with the charming new salute ‘Sisi is Sisi!’ upon which the crowd of journalists from the State Information Service (SIS) began cheering once again. There was something surreal about wordsmiths cheering a cull of language but then again it will make their job much easier.
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