Spelling Made Simple
Rev. Q. X. Shawtwain
One of my parishioners was recently bemoaning the falling standards of spelling amongst today’s youth. I was obliged to point out to him that this is a problem with deep historical roots. Ever since our ancestors foolishly abandoned their noble Futhorc in favour of the Popish Roman alphabet, English spelling has been pulled hither and yon by the foreign influences of Latin, French, and who knows what else? until it is surprising that anyone can spell anything at all.
While many have tried to reform our spelling over the years, their efforts have been limited by the constraints of the Roman alphabet. They would have been better to imitate the wise king of Korea, who made a new alphabet perfectly suited to his language, and ordained that it should reflect the features of sounds in the shapes of the letters. However, since the printing press, the typewriter and now the computer bind us with ever-stronger fetters to the Roman alphabet, it is not possible for us to discard it completely. Rather, let us employ its symbols more logically, to determine the features of sounds, so that they may be combined in a simple manner to represent whatever sounds we need. Such a system has the advantage, in today’s globalised world, of being able to provide a logical system of spelling not just for one language, but for all.
I set to work at once on such a system, and here present the fruits of my labours so far.
- 1 Consonants
- 1.1 Articulation
|t||stop (since t is in many languages the most common stop, the prototype of the articulation)|
|h||fricative (because, as the most open of fricatives, it is the purest example of this articulation, and the letter is used in European orthographies to convert stops to fricatives)|
|n||nasal (not only does it represent a common nasal sound, but it is the initial letter of nasal)|
|w||approximant (all the other letters representing approximants are used elsewhere)|
- 1.2 Place
By default, consonants are alveolar, since this is the place of
articulation of t and n, the symbols for stop and nasal, and will therefore
minimise learning effort. Other points of articulation are as follows.
|b||bilabial (the letter normally represents a bilabial sound, and indeed, is the initial letter of bilabial)|
|f||labiodental (v was needed elsewhere)|
|d||dental (the initial letter of dental, and the nearest unused letter to a dental articulation)|
|x||post-alveolar (represents ‘sh’ in Basque)|
|r||retroflex (not only does it stand for retroflex, but Indic languages frequently have retroflex rs)|
|c||palatal (used for a palatal stop in orthographies of languages that have such things)|
|k||velar (the alternative, g, is too easily confused with q)|
- 1.3 Lateralisation
|l||indicates a lateral (since it both represents laterals in its most common uses, and is the initial letter of lateral)|
- 1.4 Voicing
Consonants are by default voiceless. Voicing is indicated by
|v||since this is both a voiced consonant and the initial of voice|
- 2 Vowels
- 2.1 Height
|a||low (all based on their normal pronunciation)|
- 2.2 Backness
Vowels are by default front unless otherwise indicated by
|y||central (since it is often used to indicate a high central vowel)|
|u||back (since u represents the furthest back vowel in most languages)|
- 2.3 Rounding
Vowels are by default unrounded, unless indicated by
|o||since o not only represents a rounded vowel, but it is round|
- 2.4 Length
Vowels are by default short. Long vowels are represented by reduplication.
Some work is still needed on this, and any suggestions are welcome, but as
you can see, we can already replace the chaos of English orthography with
the simple, logical tiuo tbvii euowv nveuot tiuo tbvii, hdvat ihv hdvey tkwbvehthxeynv:
hqwbvehdvewv it ihv nveuoeuotbvwlvewv inv hdvey nbvainvtv tiuo hiuohfey hdvey
hwlvinkvhv anvtv awveuowbvhv euohfv aiuotwveetxvhxviuoh hfeuowvtwcviuiunv,
euowv tiuo teetk auauwvnbvhv atkvenvht a hii euohfv twviutbveywlvhv anvtv tbvai
euotbeoueouhvinkv envtv hdvenbv.