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.