English Spelling Reform

 

The upheavals of the Middle English period (1100 – 1500) have left the English language,

in terms of spelling at least, in a bamboozling chaotic mess that is extremely frustrating

for learners of the language.

 

In terms of vocabulary and pronunciation, the English language had pretty much settled

down by the end of the Early Modern period, and by 1700 the “trap-bath” split had

occurred in London. When Samuel Johnson published the first English dictionary in 1755,

he missed a golden opportunity, in my opinion, to radically standardise English spelling.

 

Here we are in the 21st century, with English held aloft as the only viable world language.

But if English is to be spoken by large swathes of humanity all over the world, then it

ought to be spoken well, and for that, we need the spelling of the language to be

drastically simplified, so that words are spelt the way they are actually pronounced, as

they are in other languages such as German and Spanish.

 

My suggestion is as follows:

 

Consonants

 

b, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, y and z would retain their usual pronunciation. They

would also be used in place of current irregularities, for example ‘knot’ would begin with n,

‘physical’ with f, and so on.

 

The consonants left over are c, j, q and x. These would, respectively, represent the sh of

‘ship’, the s of ‘vision’, the th of ‘thing’ and the th of ‘mother’.

 

The affricate ch of ‘cheek’ would be represented by tc, and the j of ‘jump’ by dj. The ng of

‘sing’ would be ń.

 

Vowels

 

The e, i and o of ‘bed’, ‘fish’ and ‘long’ would stay the same.

 

The a would represent the unstressed schwa of ‘caress’ and u the vowel of ‘good’.

 

The vowel sound of ‘sheep’ would be ie.

‘born’: oo

‘turn’: aa

‘far’: ā

‘cat’: ē

‘shoot’: ō

‘cup’: ū

‘here’: ia

‘wait’: ei

‘cure’: ua

‘boy’: oi

‘show’: au

‘hair’: ea

‘time’: āi

‘brown’: ēu

 

 

The r of words such as ‘barn’ would remain, in order to accommodate speakers with rhotic

accents, such as American, Irish and Scottish. In all other respects though, the patterns of

Standard London English would be followed.

 

In order to avoid the confusion between plurals and possessives, plurals would keep their

s-ending, whereas possessives would end with z. Third-person verbs in the present tense

would also end in z. Regular past tense verbs would all end in d.

 

 

Examples

 

chocolate: TCOKLAT

 

John’s cats: DJON’Z KĒTS

 

Scott’s birds: SKOT’Z BAARDS

 

television: TELAVIJAN

 

thwarting: QWOORTIŃ

 

therefore: XEARFOOR

 

psychotherapist: SĀIKOQERAPIST

 

physiology: FIZIEOLADJIE

 

overarching: AUVARĀTCIŃ

 

European: YUARAPIEAN

 

showdown: CAUDĒUN

 

synchronicity: SIŃKRANISATIE

 

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog:

XA KWIK BRĒUN FOKS DJŪMPD AUVAR XA LEIZIE DOG

 

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold:

XIE ASIRIEAN KEIM DĒUN LĀIK XA WULF ON XA FAULD

 

A eunuch irons his dearest knickers on a turquoise yacht:

A YŌNAK ĀIARNZ HIZ DIARIST NIKARS ON A TAARKWOIZ YOT

 

You can plough through a trough though, with tough thorough thought:

YŌ KAN PLĒU QRŌ A TROF XAU, WIX TŪF QŪRA QOOT

 

 

The Lord’s Prayer:

 

Ēuar Fāxar, hō iz in Hevan,

hēlaud bie yoor neim.

Yoor kińdam kūm.

Yoor wil bie dūn,

on Aarq ēz it iz in Hevan.

Giv ūs tadei ēuar deilie bred

and fargiv ūs ēuar sins

az wie fargiv xauz hō sin agenst ūs.

And lied ūs not intō tempteican

būt dalivar ūs from ieval.

Far yoorz iz xa kińdam,

xa pēuar and xa gloorie,

nēu and farevar. Āmen.

 

 

Sermon on the Mount:

 

Blesd ār xa poor in spirit, far xearz iz xa kińdam av Hevan.

Blesd ār xauz hō moorn, far xei wil bie kūmfartid.

Blesd ār xa miek, far xei wil inherit xie aarq.

Blesd ār xauz hō hūńgar and qaarst far rāitcasnis, far xei wil bie sētisfāid.

Blesd ār xa maarsiful, far xei wil bie caun maarsie.

Blesd ār xa pyuar in hārt, far xei wil sie God.

Blesd ār xauz hō ār paarsikyōtid bikoz av rāitcasnis, far xearz iz xa kińdam av Hevan.

Blesd ār yō wen piepal insūlt yō, paarsikyōt yō and foolslie sei ool kāinds av ieval agenst

yō bikoz av mie.

Ridjois and bie eksiedińlie glēd, bikoz yoor riwoord in Hevan iz greit, far piepal lāikwāiz

paarsikyōtid xa profits hō waar bifoor yō.

 

 

All the World’s a Stage:

 

Ool xa waarld’z a steidj,

and ool xa men and wimin miarlie ēktars.

Xei hēv xear eksits and xear entransis,

and wūn mēn in hiz tāim pleiz menie pārts,

hiz ēkts bieiń sevan eidjis. At faarst xie infant,

wimpariń and pyōkiń in xa naars’z ārms.

And xen xa wāiniń skōlboi, wix hiz sētcal

and cāiniń moorniń feis, kriepiń lāik sneil

ūnwilińlie tō skōl. And xen xa lūvar,

sāiyiń lāik faarnis, wix a wauful bēlad

meid tō hiz mistris’z āibrēu. Xen a sauldjar,

ful av streindj auxs, and biardid lāik xa lepard,

djelas in onar, sūdan and kwik in kworal,

siekiń xa būbal repyōteican

ievan in xa kēnan’z mēuq. And xen xa djūdj,

in fear rēund belie lāind wix gud keipon,

wix saviar āis and biard av foormal kūt,

ful av wāiz seiyińs and modan ēnakdauts,

and sau hie pleiz hiz pārt. Xa siksq eidj ciftz

intō xa lien and slipard auld dūfar,

wix spektakals on nauz and pēutc on sāid,

hiz yōqful hauz, wel seivd, a waarld tō wāid

far hiz crūńk cēńk, and hiz big mēnlie vois

taarniń agen tawoordz tcāildic trebal, pāips

and wisals in hiz sēund. Lāst sien av ool,

xat endz xis streindj iventful histarie,

iz sekand tcāildicnis and miar ablivian,

wixēut tieq, wixēut āis, wixēut teist, wixēut evrieqiń.

 

 

Hamlet:

 

Tō bie oor not tō bie, xēt iz xa kwestcan.

Wexar it’z naublar in xa māind tō sūfar

xa slińs and ēraus av ēutreidjas foortcōn,

oor tō teik ārms agenst a sie av trūbals

and bāi apauziń, end xam. Tō dāi, tō sliep,

nau moor; and bāi a sliep tō sei wie end

xa hārteik and xa qēuzand nētcaral coks

xat flec iz ear tō. It’z a konsyōmeican

divēutlie tō bie wicd. Tō dāi – tō sliep.

Tō sliep – parhēps tō driem: yes, xear’z xa rūb!

Far in xat sliep av deq wot driems mei kūm

wen wie hav cūfald of xis moortal koil

mūst giv ūs pooz.

 

 

MacBeth:

 

Tamūrau and tamūrau and tamūrau,

xis petie peis krieps in fram dei tō dei,

tō xa lāst silabal av rikoordid tāim,

and ool auar yestardeis hēv lāitid fōls

xa wei tō dūstie deq. Aut, aut, brief kēndal!

Lāif’z djūst a wookiń cēdau, a poor ēktar

xat strūtz and fretz hiz auar apon xa steidj

and xen iz haard nau moor. It iz a teil

tauld bāi an idieat, ful av sēund and fyuarie,

signifāiyiń nūqiń.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been suggested to me that the English-speaking peoples would never accept

accents over their letters.

 

In which case, an alternative system would be this:

 

‘sheep’: ie

‘born’: oo

‘turn’: aa

‘far’: ah

‘cat’: ae

‘shoot’: uu

‘cup’: ou

‘here’: ia

‘wait’: ei

‘cure’: ua

‘boy’: oi

‘show’: au

‘hair’: ea

‘time’: ai

‘brown’: eu

 

‘singer’: singar

 

‘finger’: finggar

 

 

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog:

XA KWIK BREUN FOKS DJOUMPD AUVAR XA LEIZIE DOG

 

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold:

XIE ASIRIEAN KEIM DEUN LAIK XA WULF ON XA FAULD

 

A eunuch irons his dearest knickers on a turquoise yacht:

A YUUNAK AIARNZ HIZ DIARIST NIKARS ON A TAARKWOIZ YOT

 

You can plough through a trough though, with tough thorough thought:

YUU KAN PLEU QRUU A TROF XAU, WIX TOUF QOURA QOOT

 

 

The Lord’s Prayer:

 

Euar Fahxar, huu iz in Hevan,

haelaud bie yoor neim.

Yoor kingdam koum.

Yoor wil bie doun,

on Aarq aez it iz in Hevan.

Giv ous tadei euar deilie bred

and fargiv ous euar sins

az wie fargiv xauz huu sin agenst ous.

And lied ous not intuu tempteican

bout dalivar ous from ieval.

Far yoorz iz xa kingdam,

xa peuar and xa gloorie,

neu and farevar. Ahmen.

 

 

Sermon on the Mount:

 

Blesd ahr xa poor in spirit, far xearz iz xa kingdam av Hevan.

Blesd ahr xauz huu moorn, far xei wil bie koumfartid.

Blesd ahr xa miek, far xei wil inherit xie aarq.

Blesd ahr xauz huu hounggar and qaarst far raitcasnis, far xei wil bie saetisfaid.

Blesd ahr xa maarsiful, far xei wil bie caun maarsie.

Blesd ahr xa pyuar in hahrt, far xei wil sie God.

Blesd ahr xauz huu ahr paarsikyuutid bikoz av raitcasnis, far xearz iz xa kingdam

av Hevan.

Blesd ahr yuu wen piepal insoult yuu, paarsikyuut yuu and foolslie sei ool kainds av ieval

agenst yuu bikoz av mie.

Ridjois and bie eksiedinglie glaed, bikoz yoor riwoord in Hevan iz greit, far piepal laikwaiz

paarsikyuutid xa profits huu waar bifoor yuu.

 

 

All the World’s a Stage:

 

Ool xa waarld’z a steidj,

and ool xa men and wimin miarlie aektars.

Xei haev xear eksits and xear entransis,

and woun maen in hiz taim pleiz menie pahrts,

hiz aekts bieing sevan eidjis. At faarst xie infant,

wimparing and pyuuking in xa naars’z ahrms.

And xen xa waining skuulboi, wix hiz saetcal

and caining moorning feis, krieping laik sneil

ounwilinglie tuu skuul. And xen xa louvar,

saiying laik faarnis, wix a wauful baelad

meid tuu hiz mistris’z aibreu. Xen a sauldjar,

ful av streindj auxs, and biardid laik xa lepard,

djelas in onar, soudan and kwik in kworal,

sieking xa boubal repyuuteican

ievan in xa kaenan’z meuq. And xen xa djoudj,

in fear reund belie laind wix gud keipon,

wix saviar ais and biard av foormal kout,

ful av waiz seiyings and modan aenakdauts,

and sau hie pleiz hiz pahrt. Xa siksq eidj ciftz

intuu xa lien and slipard auld doufar,

wix spektakals on nauz and peutc on said,

hiz yuuqful hauz, wel seivd, a waarld tuu waid

far hiz croungk caengk, and hiz big maenlie vois

taarning agen tawoordz tcaildic trebal, paips

and wisals in hiz seund. Lahst sien av ool,

xat endz xis streindj iventful histarie,

iz sekand tcaildicnis and miar ablivian,

wixeut tieq, wixeut ais, wixeut teist, wixeut evrieqing.

 

 

Hamlet:

 

Tuu bie oor not tuu bie, xaet iz xa kwestcan.

Wexar it’z naublar in xa maind tuu soufar

xa slings and aeraus av eutreidjas foortcuun,

oor tuu teik ahrms agenst a sie av troubals

and bai apauzing, end xam. Tuu dai, tuu sliep,

nau moor; and bai a sliep tuu sei wie end

xa hahrteik and xa qeuzand naetcaral coks

xat flec iz ear tuu. It’z a konsyuumeican

diveutlie tuu bie wicd. Tuu dai – tuu sliep.

Tuu sliep – parhaeps tuu driem: yes, xear’z xa roub!

Far in xaet sliep av deq wot driems mei koum

wen wie hav coufald of xis moortal koil

moust giv ous pooz.

 

 

MacBeth:

 

Tamourau and tamourau and tamourau,

xis petie peis krieps in fram dei tuu dei,

tuu xa lahst silabal av rikoordid taim,

and ool auar yestardeis haev laitid fuuls

xa wei tuu doustie deq. Aut, aut, brief kaendal!

Laif’z djoust a wooking caedau, a poor aektar

xat stroutz and fretz hiz auar apon xa steidj

and xen iz haard nau moor. It iz a teil

tauld bai an idieat, ful av seund and fyuarie,

signifaiying nouqing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alfie Shoyger

 

 

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