After living with this system for a year or so (it was my pandemic project), I came up with a few tweaks.

First, there are too many ‘z’s. To ameliorate this, we can observe that the letter ‘s’ can never appear before ‘e’ or ‘i’ or final ‘y’: in those contexts, the /s/ sound is written ‘c’.

So, why not make an edict that ‘s’ before ‘e,’ ‘i’ or final ‘y’ is pronounced /z/? This makes words like ‘these,’ ‘those,’ ‘amuse’ and ‘music’ look much nicer. It’s not strictly based on any historical precedent, but clearly at some point in the past there has been a consonant shift from ‘s’ to ‘z,’ so it’s at least not wholly disturbing.


We could make a similar observation for ‘j’ before ‘e,’ ‘i’ or final ‘y.’ As described so far, this sequence cannot occur: /dʒ/ is spelled ‘g’ in that context. A new edict: ‘j’ followed by ‘e,’ ‘i’ or final ‘y’ is actually pronounced /ʒ/. This doesn’t affect many words: ‘seige,’ ‘régime’ and ‘largesse’ are among them. But why not.


Finally, there are too many ‘dh’s. To fix this with a similar rule would say that ‘th’ before ‘e,’ ‘i’ or final ‘y’ is pronounced /ð/, which would give us back words like ‘the,’ ‘these’ and ‘thither,’ but means we’d need a way to spell /θ/ in that context—which does happen, though not super often. Let’s invent ‘thh’ for that purpose. This gives ‘dh’—‘th’—‘thh’ the same relationship as ‘s’—‘c’—‘k.’


‘x’ is strange in that it counts for 2 consonants in its effect on the length of the previous vowel. Should it count for just 1? If it did, we’d have spellings like “foxxy” and “foxe” instead of ‘foxy’ and ‘foax’. Verdict: ❎.

If ‘x’ is ‘cs,’ then shouldn’t ‘xh’ be ‘csh’? That would mean ‘anxiyety’ giving rise to ‘anxhous,’ which is nice, but that is a really common combination, and we’d also see ‘axhon,’ ‘afexhon’ and ‘aflixhon’ for example. Verdict: ❎.

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