The consonants

So, that’s it for the consonants. If you like IPA, the consonants of English are:

spellingIPAas in …
pppen, spin, tip
bbbut, web
tttwo, sting, bet
dddo, odd
chchair, nature, teach
j (g before [ei])gin, joy, edge
k (c before [^ei], q before w)kcat, kill, skin, queen, thick
gh (g before [^ei])ɡgo, get, beg
fffool, enough, leaf
vvvoice, have
thθthing, teeth
dhðthis, breathe, father
s (c before [ei])ssee, city, pass
zzzoo, rose
shʃshe, sure, emotion, leash
zhʒpleasure, beige
mmman, ham
nnno, tin
ngŋringer, sing, drink
llleft, bell
rɹrun, very

If we are going outside English into adjacent languages, we might also like these. Let’s take them, just in case.

spellingIPAas in …
khxloch, ankh (in Scottish)
lhɬLlanelli (in Welsh)
jhɣvoiced version of kh (in Old English)

That’s nearly it!

The last thing we need is some way of spelling words where these various digraphs appear, but are pronounced separately, as in ‘jachammer’ (the rule for ‘c’ make this the spelling of ‘jackhammer’), ‘longhorn,’ ‘carthorse,’ ‘redhanded,’ ‘mishap,’ ‘hogzhed’ (how we will spell ‘hogshead’), ‘ungainly’ or ‘engine,’ ‘foolhardy’ and ‘hejhog’ (the new ‘hedgehog’). These are mostly at syllable boundaries, which is why the ambiguity in spelling doesn’t matter so much. But we have to do better—a word is a word—so we need some sort of separator to keep them apart. We won’t be using the regular apostrophe any more, as that is a feature of spelling that has no pronunciation, so we can reuse it. But just for idiosyncratic fun, let’s point it other way typographically, and use the left quote instead the right quote. So these words become ‘jac‘hammer,’ ‘long‘horn,’ ‘cart‘horse,’ ‘red‘handed,’ ‘mis‘hap,’ ‘hogz‘hed,’ ‘un‘gainly,’ ‘en‘gine,’ ‘fool‘hardy’ and ‘hej‘hog.’

Wow. Next, the vowels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.