History of Kansas City: Nicholas Aleschi Made the Virtuana Language

Aleshi revered George Washington and often featured him in Virtuana publications. From The Fontolina Souvenir, 1926.

Aleschi venerated George Washington and featured him frequently in Virtuana publications.  From the Fontolina memorial, 1926.

Aleschi honored George Washington and featured him continuously in Virtuana publications. From the Fontolina memorial, 1926.

Kansas Metropolis Public Library

This week we celebrated Nationwide Immigrants Day, a vacation meant to honor variety, perseverance, and the contributions of those that got here from totally different locations and cultures from world wide to construct a house in America and in Kansas Metropolis.

Amongst them was Nicholas Aleschi, a poor Italian immigrant who constructed a profitable grocery enterprise in Kansas Metropolis on the flip of the twentieth century. However past groceries, he had even larger aspirations of making a brand new nationwide language that will be simpler for non-English audio system to be taught.

His story fascinated an area reader who requested What is your KCQ?a partnership between the Kansas Metropolis Public Library and The Kansas Metropolis Star, for additional investigation.

A descendant of Alishi donated his papers to the Missouri Valley Library’s collections in 1971. These data, compiled as Nichols Alischi Virtuana Language Grouppresents perception into his campaign to create an easier language system.

Nicholas Aleshi, 1912 Kansas Metropolis Public Library

Nicholas Alessi was born in Sicily, Italy in 1863. The youngest of 5 youngsters, he started selecting olives on the age of 5, incomes two cents a day to assist his household make a residing.

He was among the many 1000’s of Italians – fueled by widespread poverty and battle of their homeland – who immigrated to the US within the Eighties. The 24-year-old Aleshi arrived in New York in 1886 and made his option to New Orleans, the place he labored on a sugarcane plantation and in a while the railroad.

In 1894, he married Josephine “Josie” Asta in Jackson County, Missouri, and the couple settled within the Little Italy neighborhood on the north aspect of Kansas Metropolis, now referred to as Columbus Park. Alishi ran a grocery retailer, importing dairy and olive oil from a storefront at 312 Holmes Avenue and saving sufficient to buy a small dairy farm at 66 and Belinder in present-day Mission Hills, Kansas. In response to a narration written by his granddaughter, Josephine Sisiti, he was one of many first dairy employees within the metropolis to distribute milk door-to-door to clients.

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Nicholas Aleschi (middle left) with helpers exterior his grocery retailer at 312 Holmes Avenue, 1909. Kansas Metropolis Public Library

Though Aleschi beloved America, like many different immigrants, he struggled with the idiosyncrasies of the English language. He referred to as it “probably the most harmful nationwide downside” – an issue he grew to become obsessive about fixing.

A dialog with a gaggle of males in regards to the appropriate pronunciation of his final title Alishi pressured him to compile a dictionary of widespread Italian phrases with the corresponding English pronunciations and meanings. Analyzing the finished desk, he had a imaginative and prescient of a brand new language system derived from Italian pronunciation and English grammar.

Alishi household store Kansas Metropolis Public Library

Aleshi accomplished a tough draft of “Expertise New Spelling” in 1906 and spent the subsequent three years revising it right into a phoneme-based language referred to as Virtuana.

Virtuana “alfabet” reversed its English counterpart however omitted solely 24 letters – Q and X – and every letter had a singular pronunciation. Silent letters and different pitfalls of studying English spelling and pronunciation have been eradicated.

Desk evaluating the alphabets in Virtuana, English and Italian. Kansas Metropolis Public Library

An Italian grocer who lacked any formal schooling had nice ambitions for the widespread use of Virtuana and its adoption because the nationwide language. He started referring to the US as “Virtuland,” denoting advantage, and Kansas Metropolis referring to “Fontolina,” the wellspring from which his new language would circulate.

He modified the spelling of his title from Nicholas Aleschi to “Nicolas Aleschi” and his enterprise to “Italy Dairy Firm”. Its storefronts have been Virtuana billboards, promoting “Fensi Groseri” and “Correct Lengueje Pronounsiashin”.

Virtuana’s Nashinal Universiti and Nie Speling Skool have been headquartered in a small room behind Aleshi’s grocery retailer. Professor Alishi (the nickname he gave to himself) was a trainer, his spouse and their eight youngsters the primary college students.

Classroom Virtuana Kansas Metropolis Public Library

Alischi’s first revealed manuscript, “Expertise from Virtuana Lengeuje,” It was copyrighted in 1909. It was one among six Virtuana-related works that he submitted to the Library of Congress for copyright.

The next 12 months, he was launchedNationwide Desk from Unite State LinguisticsA 16-page pamphlet detailing Virtuana’s historical past, guidelines, and benefits. It included a map of Missouri with the names of all of the “Kountis” and “Kountisiets” in addition to a coloration map of the US, which was additionally bought as a memento in native bookstores.

Nashinal Teble of the Unitet States Lengueje, copyright 1910. Kansas Metropolis Public Library

Nashinal Teble of the Unitet States Lengueje, copyright 1910. Kansas Metropolis Public Library

Aleshi believed his work was an act of patriotism. He felt an incredible nation like the US deserved a novel American language. Vertuana was his present to his adopted nation, nevertheless it got here at an incredible private expense. From 1906 to 1910, he invested almost $2,300 and spent numerous hours creating and selling his new language. He later claimed to have invested over $6,000 in complete or roughly $175,000 in immediately’s {dollars}.

Illustration from the Nashinal Teble of the Unitet States Lengueje, 1910. Kansas Metropolis Public Library

Aleschi printed circulars, calendars, and different propaganda supplies, which have been mailed to newspapers and academic establishments throughout the nation. He additionally wrote letters to state governors within the hope that they might see the advantage of Virtuana and affect state faculty boards and universities to undertake the brand new language.

In 1915 he launched “world trainer‘a newspaper ‘is issued for the welfare of Virtuana’ literature.’ However within the absence of paid advertisers, solely the one concern was produced.

The Common Grasp, December 1915. Kansas Metropolis Public Library

For his efforts, Aleshi was capable of achieve some publicity and help from like-minded spell reformers. He shaped the “Judisari Kommittii” group of six round 1910 to research and enhance Virtuana.

James Greenwood, a superintendent of public faculties in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri, declared Virtuana “a system price investigating,” a quote that Aleschi continuously included in promotional supplies.

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The primary assembly of Virtuana Judisari Kommittii headed by Alishi. From the Nationwide Desk of the US, 1910. Kansas Metropolis Public Library

Native and nationwide newspapers ran tales in regards to the Kansas Metropolis grocer devising a brand new language. Aleschi claimed that Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Howard Taft discovered benefit in his spelling system.

Regardless of the publicity, Virtuana did not take root. Aleshi grew to become pissed off and tried to promote his copyright. When she didn’t obtain any presents, he ceded all rights to the US authorities, hoping that others would take over.

However he won’t utterly abandon his campaign for a brand new nationwide language. The Kansas Metropolis Star reporter who interviewed Aleshi in 1917 observed a “glint in his eye” when requested about Virtuana.

Aleshi lamented that his lack of formal schooling and damaged English have been obstacles in promoting Virtuana’s potential as a viable language. He stated, “The learners must cope with it and we can have our personal language. Sooner or later, it could occur in three or 4 generations.”

Almost a decade later, in 1926, Alischi revealed “Fontolina’s memento Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the US and the twentieth anniversary of the idea of Virtuana. The pamphlet was an abridged model of beforehand revealed materials on Virtuana’s historical past and grammar, and was a product of Aleshi’s different industrial mission, “Internashional Promoting Kompani”.

That very same 12 months, Alischi donated manuscripts and different supplies to the Kansas Metropolis Public Library in order that future Virtuana practitioners may entry them. He additionally had data saved on the Missouri Historic Society, of which he was a member.

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Aleschi honored George Washington and featured him continuously in Virtuana publications. From the Fontolina memorial, 1926. Kansas Metropolis Public Library

Aleschi honored George Washington and featured him continuously in Virtuana publications. From Fontolina’s memento1926.

Throughout his later years, Alishi suffered a collection of strokes that paralyzed one aspect of his physique. Regardless of his poor situation, he continued to put in writing letters and promote Virtuana till his loss of life in 1931.

Though his dream of a uniquely American language was unfulfilled, Alishi’s story embodies the American spirit of a nation based on the ingenuity and fortitude of immigrants.

Aleschi honored George Washington and featured him continuously in Virtuana publications. From the Fontolina memorial, 1926. Kansas Metropolis Public Library

The Alishi household circa 1913.

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