A new, simplified phonetic alphabet for English
The aim with this alphabet was to begin with the 26-character Roman alphabet, add as few characters as possible, here five (ǝ, ð , þ, ŋ, ɋ), drop one (q), and assign four characters (j, c, x, w) to single sounds, to make a total of 30 characters, 10 vowels and 20 consonants. The idea is to minimize the difficulty of transitioning to the alphabet and spelling using it. Where possible, IPA symbols were used, but similar-sounding phonemes distinguished by the IPA are sometimes combined. for example, the IPA distinguishes the sounds of “ə” (schwa) and “ʌ” but in American English they differ only in how they are stressed, and we think it better to minimize the number of symbols and use diacriticals to indicate stress.
For the added characters the UTF-16 codes are shown. The character “ɋ” is actually a variant on “q” but is chosen because it also resembles the familiar variant “ɑ”, with the tail distinguishing it, and the letter “q” can be used for it. The letter “j” is used in a way uncommon in English but common in French and some other languages, however, not the way used in the IPA.
The letter “ð” (eth) for the soft “th” sound is ancient and dropped out of use in the 13th century, but it was found convenient to revive it. The letter “θ” U03B8, the Greek letter theta, capital U03F4, is used by the IPA for the hard “th” sound. We prefer the Old English symbol used for this sound, the thorn “þ” (U00FE, capital Þ U00DE), which seems more readable.
The letter “c” is reassigned to represent the “sh” sound, which is perhaps the one change that may cause trouble for new users. This seemed better than adding the character “ʃ”.
The letter “x” is given the sound like “ch” in “loch” or “chanukah”, which is also a usage in several languages.
The letter “r” is here reclassified as a vowel, although the IPA uses “ɜ”, which looks too much like a three “3”. Some phoneticists may disagree, but we consider it more a vowel and the transition easier if used as such. However, we need a way to indicate the difference between “krent” and ” “current”, which can be done by doubling the letter, “rr” for the latter.
The letter “w” is assigned to represent the short “u”, which it often does in English. The word “wet” might be represented as “hwet”, when the “h” is sounded.
The trilled “r”, as in “burro”, is actually a consonant, but the IPA uses the letter “ʀ”, and this is unsatisfactory. A better solution might be the tailed “ɽ”, “bwɽou”, with diacritical marks used to indicate the many variants. Here we do not include it in the basic fonet alfabet, but classify it as an extension.
Some non-English vowels with other sounds can be represented, as they now are, by these symbols with diacritical marks.
It is commonly supported on many computers to key in any of the UTF-16 characters by simultaneously holding down three keys, ctrl-shift-u then typing the four-character code, followed by some other key like the space bar. Most computers also support reassignment of keys on the keyboard using keyboard configuration software, and the defining of one key, such as the right-alt key, as a kind of third shift key, to be held down while pressing one of the other keys, and for upper case, also holding down the shift key.
Examples of transcriptions:
John Donne, ‘No man is an island, entire of itself’ http://constitution.org/reform/spelling/donne_no_man_is_an_island.htm