Phonetic Alphabet for English

A proposed phonetic alphabet for English which provides
a one to one correlation between pronunciation and spelling.

Using this alphabet, when you hear a word, you will know how to spell it, and when you see a word, you will know how to pronounce it (except for stress). This makes teaching and learning to read and write much easier than the present orthography. Only familiar letters are used, with either an Umlaut (two dots) or a Macron (a short line) over some vowels to make enough symbols for the twelve different vowel sounds of English.

Macron vowels (with a short bar over the letter), Ā ā, etc., are preferred to the Umlaut vowels (with two dots over the letter), , , , , , , but Umlaut vowels are used here because they are easier to find than Macron vowels, especially for y, and Macron vowels will not display on all browsers. In handwriting, the Macron is preferred to the Umlaut as quicker to write and easier to read.

Note: The dotless lower case i (as used in Turkish) is preferred for this alphabet, since it provides a better contrast with the Umlaut i. If your browser will not display the dotless i (ı), click HERE to see this webpage with dotted i's.  In some fonts, a Greek iota can be used for a dotless i.

Letter = traditional spelling (phonetic spelling)[name]

1. = a in father (fqur), o in mop (mp) []

2. A a = a in can (kan) [a]

3. B b = b in bib (bıb) [b]

4. D d = d in dead (ded) [d]

5. Q q = th in thus (qus) [qu]

6. = a in make (mk) []

7. E e = e in set (set) [e]

8. F f = f in fife (fıf), ph in Phoenix (Fnıks) [ef]

9. G g = g in gag (gag) [ag]

10. H h = h in ham (ham) [h]

11. = i in machine (musjn), ee in meet (mt) []

12. I ı = i in sit (sıt) [ı]

13. J j = y in yes (jes), i in union (jnjun), h in ship (sjıp) [je]

14. K k = k in kite (kıt), c in cut (kut), ch in ache (k) [k]

15. L l = l in lull (lul) [el]

16. M m = m in maim (mm) [em]

17. N n = n in nine (nın) [n]

18. = o in lone (ln) []

19. O o = o in log (log), au in Pause (poz), aw in laws (loz) [o]

20. P p = p in pipe (pıp) [p]

21. R r = r in roar (rur) [ar]

22. S s = s in sister (sıstur) [es]

23. T t = t in tight (tıt) [t]

24. C c = th in think (cnk), c in ciencia {Castilian} (cıncu) [c]

25. = u in plume (plm), oo in boot (bt) []

26. U u = u in run (run), o in union (jnjun), a1 & a3 in banana (bunanu), e in nerve (nurv) [u]

27. V v = v in verve (vurv) [v]

28. W w = w in way (w) [w]

29. X x = ch in loch (lx), x in Quixote (Kxt), X {Greek Chi}in Xριστος {Christos} (Xrsts), X {Russian Khah} in Xрущёв {Khrushchov} (Xrsjtsjov) [x]

30. = ow in cow (k), a in Albert (lburt), ou in couch (ktsj) []

31. Y y = oo in book (byk), use for u in une {French} (yn), y in Physik {German} (fyzk) [y]

32. Z z = z in zebra (zbru), s in is (ız) [z]

Combination sounds:

ı = i in like (lık), y in my (mı)

j = u in fume (fjm)

hw = wh in what (hwt)

kw = qu in queen (kwn)

sj = sh in shirt (sjurt), ch in chic (sjk)

tsj = ch in church (tsjurtsj)

zj = z in azure (uzjyr), s in treasure (trezjyr)

dzj = j in jail (dzjl), g in age (dzj)

ng = ng in sing (sng)

ndzj = nge in singe (sındzj)


Some examples of words written in the Phonetic Alphabet:

(Sum ekzamplz v wurds rıtın ın q Fnetık lfubet)

philosophy (fılosf), biology (bıldzj), Johnson (Dzjnsun)

caught (kot), thought (cot), cot (kt), cat (kat), kite (kıt), then (qın), thin (cın)

Dialect and regional accents will present problems with any phonetic alphabet. The simple answer is to accept variant spellings and list them in the dictionary. This is done now with Aluminum and Aluminium, tire and tyre, jail and gaol, etc. Some examples of words with variable pronounciation: grass (gras, grs), amino (umn, umın), vitamin (vıtımın, vıtımın), pecan (pkn, pkan), research (rsurtsj, rısurtsj), schedule (skedjl, sjedjl).

Choice of symbols Q q and C c for th sounds: The th in then could be represented by Icelandic Eth, , or by Greek Delta (pronounced thelta in Greek), Δ δ. The th in thin could be represented by Icelandic Thorn, , or by Greek Theta, Θ θ. I chose Q and C because they are already present on English keyboards. Lower case q can be looked at as an upside down d, to which its sound (th in then) is related, and c does have this sound (th in thin) in Castilian Spanish.

For a comparison of how the Fnetık lfubet compares with other suggested reforms, please see the following Letter Matrix Table. For an account of the development of this alphabet, see History.

See the Open Directory for many other sites on English Spelling Reform.

For a history of English Spelling Reform and a survey of different proposals,
see John J. Reilly's Spelling Reform Pages.