Restaurateur Spends $75K to Invent a Symbol for 'The'

Melbourne's Mr. Midas wants to make Twitter easier

Melbourne restaurateur Paul Mathis thinks it's high time we had a faster way to type the word "the." It's the most commonly used word in the English language, and those extra keystrokes are just wasting time. 

"The word 'and' is only the fifth-most used word in English and it has its own symbol – the ampersand... isn't it time we accorded the same respect to 'the'?" he explained to The Sidney Morning Herald.

"The main functionality of this is in the texting space," he said. Using one symbol instead of three will, he believes, save time and be more efficient for Twitter.

The symbol Mathias came up with looks like an uppercase T and a lowercase h. It's pretty much the first thing one would think of if asked to find a way to draw the word "the" in a single character, but somehow Mathias spent $75,000 developing his new sign.

"Is this important?" he said. "No. Is this going to change the world? Not really. But is it something that might be useful for people? I think so."

Mathias is no stranger to big endeavors. He was known as "Mr. Midas" in the Melbourne restaurant scene and created a portfolio of ambitious restaurants including Soul Mama, which was a canteen-style restaurant that served only vegetarian food, and 100 Mile Café, which served only locally grown products.

Mathias' shorthand for "the" hasn't exactly caught on yet, but he hasn't given up hope.  


"The Benedictine monks developed the modern version of the ampersand in the Middle Ages, when they were hand-copying religious texts," he says. "I'm not putting myself in the same league, but who knows – maybe in 500 years' time people will be amazed that there was a time when we didn't use 'th'."