I made a couple of big changes in my phonemic English alphabet, which I call the Wāᵧrd (Wayard) alphabet, after the Wayard/Weird sisters in Macbeth. I have always tried to make it a compromise between General American (GenAm) and Southern British Received Pronunciation (RP), but vowel length is important in RP and I did not clearly mark which vowels were short and which were long. Now, only long vowels and diphthongs get diacritics. To match with a e i o and u, the three other lexical sets that are short vowels in RP now have their own symbols:
- put - pʊt
- dog - dɔg (same as "o" in RP and in GenAm with caught/cot merger)
- very - verʏ (never stressed, always comes at the end of a root)
If you're IPA-savvy, note that the first two are the same as the IPA symbols (the second one only for GenAm), but the last one is not
I also made a change to the two "x" letters, which have a distinctive behavior. They follow an unstressed initial e at least as often as not and I wanted a shortcut to indicate the stress, so now unstressed e is left out before unvoiced x (x) and voiced x (ξ). So:
- expert - expurt
- extreme - xtrēm
- exit - eξit
- exact - ξakt
It helps that the greek letter Xi, which I use for the voiced x, looks like an E, and so does the uppercase Ξ if you use your imagination.
The following are not changes, but they should cover most of the pronunciation rules, which I have never explained on this forum:
- ᵧ is an unstressed schwa. All words except ᵧ (a) and ðᵧ (the) must have at least one non-ᵧ vowel. The uppercase version is Ɣ.
- If the primary stress does not fall on the first non-ᵧ vowel, it is marked with an underdot, as in "himsẹlf".
- A letter with a macron (bar above) is pronounced the same as the name of the letter: ā ē ī ō ū.
- The letters a and o have alternate long sounds: "å" as in "spa" (spå) and "o̊" as in "boo" (bo̊). The letter â is pronounced the same as "å" in RP and the same as "a" in GenAm, as in "âsk".
- For the other long vowels and diphthongs, the shape of the diacritic mark will give you a hint about the traditional English spelling: ă as in "tăt" (taught), ŏ as in "lŏd" (loud), and oͥ as in "poͥnt" (point).
- Several vowels may sound different when combined with an "r": "ur" as in "hurt", "ēr" as in "bēr" (beer), "ār" as in "bār" (bear), "år" as in "stårt", ᵧr as in "pāpᵧr" (paper), "or" as in "for", and "ōr" as in "fōr" (four). The last two are pronounced the same in the two reference dialects, but differently in many other prominent dialects.
- The three symbols ʒ, ʃ, and ŋ have the same values as in the IPA: bāʒ (beige), fiʃ (fish), riŋ (ring). The uppercase versions are Ʒ, Ʃ, and Ŋ, respectively.
- "Th" becomes ð if voiced or þ if unvoiced. The uppercase versions are Ð and Þ, respectively.
- "Wh" becomes ƕ. The uppercase version is Ƕ.
- "Ch" becomes "c", which never makes a "k" or "s" sound.
- "G" always sounds like "get", never "gem".
- "S" always sounds like "sip", never "is".
- "Q" sounds like "qu" as in "queen" but the "u" is not written.
- Some common words follow RP in a lexical set disagreement and may confuse Americans: "what" is "ƕot", "was" is "woz", and "of" is "ov". Don't confuse "ov" with "ɔf" (off). Also watch out for pʊr instead of pōr for "poor" and wosp instead of wåsp for "wasp".
- But if there is a difference in stress, expect the GenAm pronunciation, so for example we have "controversy" as kontrᵧvursʏ instead of kᵧntrovᵧrsʏ and "filet" as filạ̄ instead of filᵧt.
A tilde can be used after any letter to indicate that it marks a sound in a foreign word that is not found in RP or GenAm English and can't be approximated by a similar English sound. The exact sound-letter correspondence will depend on the language it's trying to represent.
Hēr år ᵧ fū ξampᵧlz:Ðᵧ furst hâf ov Hamlᵧt's fāmᵧs sᵧlilᵧqʏ:
- loch - loc~
- llan - l~ån
- salon - sålọn~
- über - u~ber
- Goethe - Go~tᵧ
- Xhosa - X~hosa
To̊ bē, or not to̊ bē, ðat iz ðᵧ qescᵧn:
Ƕeðᵧr 'tiz nōblᵧr in ðᵧ mīnd to̊ sufᵧr
Ðᵧ sliŋz and arōz ov ŏtrạ̄jᵧs forcᵧn,
Or to̊ tāk årmz ᵧgānst ᵧ sē ov trubᵧlz
And bī ᵧpōziŋ end ðem. To̊ dī—to̊ slēp,
Nō mōr; and bī ᵧ slēp to̊ sā wē end
Ðᵧ hårtāk and ðᵧ þŏzᵧnd nac'rᵧl ʃoks
Ðat fleʃ iz ār to̊: 'tiz ᵧ konsᵧmạ̄ʃᵧn
Divọ̆tlʏ to̊ bē wiʃt. To̊ dī, to̊ slēp;
To̊ slēp, pᵧrcâns to̊ drēm—ī, ðār'z ðᵧ rub:
For in ðat slēp ov deþ, ƕot drēmz mā kum,
Ƕen wē hav ʃufᵧld ɔf ðis mortᵧl koͥl,
Must giv us păz—ðār'z ðᵧ rispẹkt
Ðat māks kᵧlamᵧtʏ ov sō lɔŋ līf.Ðᵧ bigịniŋ ov Mᵧkbeþ:
Ƕen ʃal wē þrē mēt ᵧgān
In þundᵧr, lītniŋ, or in rān?
Ƕen ðᵧ hurlʏburlʏ'z dun,
Ƕen ðᵧ batᵧl'z lɔst and wun.
Ðat wil bē ār ðᵧ set ov sun.
Ƕār ðᵧ plās?
Ɣpon ðᵧ heþ.
Ðār to̊ mēt wiþ Mᵧkbeþ.
Ī kum, Grāmặlkin!
Fār iz fŏl, and fŏl iz fār:
Huvᵧr þro̊ ðᵧ fog and filþʏ ār.Ðᵧ bigịniŋ ov ðᵧ ŪS deklᵧrạ̄ʃᵧn ov indipẹndᵧns:
Ƕen in ðᵧ Kōrs ov hūmᵧn ivẹnts it bikụmz nesᵧsārʏ for wun pēpᵧl to̊ dizọlv ðᵧ pᵧlitikᵧl bandz ƕic hav kᵧnektᵧd ðem wiþ ᵧnuðᵧr and to̊ ᵧsūm ᵧmuŋ ðᵧ pŏᵧrz ov ðē urþ, ðᵧ seprᵧt and ēqᵧl stāʃᵧn to̊ ƕic ðᵧ Lăz ov Nācᵧr and ov Nācᵧr'z Gɔd entị̄tᵧl ðem, ᵧ dēsᵧnt rispẹkt to̊ ðē ᵧpinyᵧnz ov mankị̄nd riqị̄rz ðat ðā ʃʊd diklạ̄r ðᵧ kăzᵧz ƕic impẹl ðem to̊ ðᵧ sepᵧrạ̄ʃᵧn.
Wē hōld ðēz tro̊þs to̊ bē self-evidᵧnt, ðat ăl men år krēạ̄tᵧd ēqᵧl, ðat ðā år endọ̆d bī ðār krēạ̄tᵧr wiþ surtᵧn unạ̄lēᵧnᵧbᵧl Rīts, ðat ᵧmuŋ ðēz år Līf, Libᵧrtʏ, and ðᵧ pᵧrsūt ov Hapʏnᵧs.Jenᵧsis 1:1-5 (Kiŋ Jāmz Vurʒᵧn)
- In ðᵧ bigịniŋ God krēạ̄tᵧd ðᵧ hevᵧn and ðē urþ.
- And ðē urþ woz wiþọ̆t form, and voͥd; and dårknᵧs woz ᵧpon ðᵧ fās ov ðᵧ dēp. And ðᵧ spērit ov God mo̊vd ᵧpon ðᵧ fās ov ðᵧ wåtᵧrz.
- And God sed, Let ðār bē līt: and ðār woz līt.
- And God să ðᵧ līt, ðat it woz gʊd: and God divị̄dᵧd ðᵧ līt from ðᵧ dårknᵧs.
- And God kăld ðᵧ līt Dā, and ðᵧ dårknᵧs hē kăld Nīt. And ðē ēvniŋ and ðᵧ morniŋ wur ðᵧ furst dā.