The Corpus

These are all the books I’ve transcribed into the social spelling system. After a while reading it, I find it strangely likable despite its various alien features.

Here are 2 more, for salutary purposes. This is what happens if you abandon the principal that the new spelling must be guided by the old. The result is no longer stable against rhotic/non-rhotic accents or the various merges discussed above. There are a lot of schwa characters, which don’t occur in the social spelling.

The first uses the British English pronunciation of English (RP), so is non-rhotic. This must be pretty strange to anyone with a rhotic accent.

The second uses the Carnegie-Mellon pronouncing dictionary. This uses ʌ where RP uses ə (as well as where RP uses ʌ), so it also looks very odd when rendered into the social orthography. It also uses ɚ for a rhotacised schwa, which I render as ər, but no other rhotacised vowels. Despite being a schwa, this can be the stressed syllable in a word. This dictionary also can end a word with a short vowel (usually ʌ or ɪ), so we need to introduce “magic h,” which is silent after a final vowel, but shortens it.

The diphthongs, as we know, are /eɪ/ as in face, /æɪ/ as in price, /ʌʊ/ as in goat, /ɪʊ/ as in cute, /ɒɪ/ as in choice and /æʊ/ as in mouth. If we pretend that the /ɪ/ is really a semivowel /j/ and the /ʊ/ a /w/, we get an orthography that obeys all the rules we’ve described, but doesn’t look anything like the usual way of spelling English. Here’s a sample.

Finally, perfect spelling! Exactly 1 symbol for each sound, no funny extra rules.

To make this work we have to bend the definition of “sound” a bit. The rule is that the diphthongs are spelled as above, but the long sounds aa, ae, au, ee, eu, ui are spelled ah (ar), eh (er), oh (or), ih, uh (ur), ʊh (ʊr) depending on whether they are followed by an r. This uses a 30-letter alphabet: a b d ð e f g h i k x l m n ŋ o ʊ p r s ʃ t þ u v w ƕ y z ʒ. (The names of the letters are a be de edh e ef ge aich i ka khi el em en ing o oo pe ar es esh te thorn u ve dubbelu whare wi ze ezh.)

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