Nu Propozl Foor Fonetik Speliq (New Proposal For Phonetic Spelling)
I've posted an idea for an English phonetic spelling system before. It's an idea I'd still like to see implemented. But I've changed some of the details.
As I recently commented on Facebook (reproduced here since the comment isn't publicly visible):
The transition to phonetic spelling would be painful for a little while. But the pain it would solve in the long run? Think about what our schools could do with all the time that would be freed up by enabling children to read and write faster and more easily during the study of ANY subject (in addition to the time that would be saved teaching spelling)!
And that wouldn't be just during the transition period -- that would be forever after. Those of us who already know how to spell the dumb way need to suck it up and make the switch rather than selfishly clinging to what we're comfortable with.
...plus, imagine all the jobs that could be created in the "respelling industry".
In contrast to my former proposal, the new one would not use accented characters. [Update: I'm not convinced that accents should be nixed after all -- it makes some words a lot longer.] Most of the other changes are a result of that change.
So, here we go.
A Few Basic Principles
There are no silent letters.
No sounds are indicated by combining different letters. For example, a new method is used to spell the English "th", "sh", and "ch" sounds.
Letters are only doubled to indicate a different sound than their single version. (Since letters aren't doubled for any other purpose, this makes the pronunciation of doubled letters unambiguous. The same couldn't be said of combinations of other letters.)
There's only one way to spell each sound (eg. no using "c" to sound like "s" or "k").
Schwas are omitted if they really don't make any sound (for example, the "i" in "Sybil" -- it's a gratuitous letter added because we feel the need to have a vowel in every syllable). Alternatively (yes, I'm a little flexibile :-), they can be indicated with an apostrophe (eg. Sib'l).
Some schwas do represent actual sounds, and would be spelled out, like the "u" in "supply" (It may be a short vowel, but it sure sounds to me like the same sound as the "u" in "but"). If you really don't think there's a sound there, put in an apostrophe, and we'll see which spelling catches on. In some cases, however, like the "a" in "about", there's clearly a sound before the "b", so it must be spelled out.
Single vowels are pronounced as in Spanish (which is also the same as romanized Japanese, which is where I really got these pronunciations from. Maybe romanized Japanese got them from Spanish...)
a is pronounced as the "a" in "father".
e is pronounced as the "e" in "get".
i is pronounced as the "e" in "be".
o is pronounced as the "o" in "go" (but possibly omitting the slight "w" sound that we tend to tack on at the end).
u is pronounced as the "oo" in "boot".
Some vowel sounds can be constructed by combing vowels. For example, the long "a" sound can be spelled "ei", and the long "i" sound can be spelled "ai".
Vowels that can't be created with single letters or as glides are spelled using doubled vowels, as follows:
"aa" is prounounced as the "a" in "bad".
"ii" is prounounced as the "i" in "it".
"oo" is prounounced as the "oo" in "poor".
"uu" is prounounced as the "oo" in "good".
"ee" is prounounced as the "u" in "up". (I know, that one's a little out there, but it's the only double vowel left after making the better matches. And it's actually similiar to how "e" is pronounced in some romanized Chinese.)
Let's cover the natural one's first.
"b" is prounounced as in "boy".
"d" is prounounced as in "dog".
"f" is prounounced as in "fun".
"g" is prounounced as in "boy".
"h" is prounounced as in "hat".
"j" is prounounced as in "jump".
"k" is prounounced as in "keep".
"l" is prounounced as in "lit".
"m" is prounounced as in "man".
"n" is prounounced as in "no".
"p" is prounounced as in "pat".
"r" is prounounced as in "run".
"s" is prounounced as in "sit".
"t" is prounounced as in "tin".
"v" is prounounced as in "vowel".
"w" is prounounced as in "was".
"y" is prounounced as in "yes".
"z" is prounounced as in "zebra".
You'll notice I skipped "c", "q" and "x". In English, "c" can sound like "s" or "k". Or to put in another way, "s" and "k" can be used wherever we currently use "c". So "c" isn't needed for either of those sounds. "q" is only used as "qu", which can be spelled "kw", so it's not needed for that sound. And the sounds "x" makes can be spelled "ks" or "z". So it's free too.
We'll use "c" for the "ch" sound in "chin" (as it is in Esperanto and, I presume, some European languages).
"q" will be used for the "ng" sound (eg. in "ring"), since it looks similar to a "g". (Note that you can't always just replace "ng" with "q" though. For example, in "fungus", "ng" should be replaced with "qg", since the "g" does make a "g" sound after the "ng" sound.)
"x" will be used for the "sh" sound, as in "shin" (similar to how it's used on some Chinese romanizations).
We've got a few more sounds to make, so we'll double up some consonants to make them. That way, we don't have to alter our keyboards or learn how to type accented characters.
"tt" makes the unvoiced "th" sound, as in "thin". [Note: I'm considering replacing this with "ss" -- seems more natural.]
"dd" makes the voiced "th" sound, as in "this". Why "dd"? Because "d" is the voiced version of "t". (I'm not saying it's obvious, but at least it makes some sort of sense.) [Note: I'm considering replacing this with "zz" -- seems more natural, and follows the same voice/unvoiced logic with "ss" above.]
"xx" makes the "zh" sound, like the "s" in "vision". Why? Because "x" is the "sh" sound, and "zh" is the voiced version of "sh".
"gg" is a glottal stop, like the "t" in "football". Why? Because the single "g" sound is formed toward the back of the mouth.
I thought of "ww" for the "wh" sound, as in "when", but the more I think about it, the more I think that can be spelled "hw". So "ww" is out.
When necessary to avoid ambiguity, letters may be separated by an apostrophe. For example, if a doubled letter appears next to the same single letter, it's necessary to indicate which sound comes first. I can't think of any actual examples, but imagine a glottal stop before a "g" -- that would be "gg'g". Or a hard "t" followed by an unvoiced "th" sound would be "t'tt".
The same might occur between doubled and single vowels, or if a consonant is repeated with no vowel sound between. Maybe. Can't think of an actual example.
Finally, there may be some sounds that aren't perfectly represented here. (I'm sure hard core linguists would think so.) This isn't meant to be a scientific system for absolutely precise pronunciation. It's meant to be only as complicated as needed to get the job done.
If I've missed something that can't be almost perfectly approximated using the system above, let me know. Otherwise, approximate.
Aanton Raaundi (Antone Roundy)