Famous Australian restauranteur Paul Mathis has invented a new symbol that he hopes will replace the word "the" in everyday communications. Written much like the cyrillic letter "Ћ" and pronounced "th," it's a typographic ligature of an uppercase T and a lowercase h. "The word 'and' is only the fifth-most used word in English," Mathis tells The Age, 'and it has its own symbol – the ampersand... isn't it time we accorded the same respect to 'the'?"

Mathis has invested around $75,000AUD (see update) into developing the symbol, and believes it will save us all lots of time. As The Age points out, it'll also allow for longer tweets. The idea of cutting letters to save time isn't without precedent — the ampersand itself is a ligature of the Latin word for and, "et." Businesses have also toyed with the concept in the past; General Motors famously issued a company-wide directive stating that the word "employee" should be shortened to "employe" to save time and company ink.

To hammer his point home, Mathis has crafted a range of Android keyboards called "THE Keyboard," which all include the Ћ symbol. The most expensive (and convoluted) of the keyboards also includes shortcuts for the 14 next most-used words in the English language.

Update: We just spoke to Mathis about his campaign and he's informed us that he may have been a little off with his original estimate of how much he'd spent so far. He's only spent $38,000AUD (roughly $34,000) over the last two years, with the vast majority of the money going towards web design and app development.

Thanks, bwguevara!