by Allan Kiisk
What is Simpel-Fonetik?
It is a new, simple and easy-to-learn method of writing, spelling words,
in English. It is described in the book Simple Phonetic English Spelling
- Introduction to Simpel-Fonetik, the Single-Sound-per-Letter Writing Method,
by Allan Kiisk. Tate Publishing, 2008.
What motivated you, Allan, to develop the Simpel-Fonetik.
When I was learning English as my third language, I was very frustrated
by the terrible English spelling. Because English is becoming a global language,
millions of people are learning English. They are experiencing the same frustrations.
I have great empathy for them. I want to make it easier for them to learn
English. I support global use of English.
What are the basic rules for Simple-Fonetik?
- 1. Each letter represents only one spoken sound.
- 2. For longer vowels and stronger consonants use double letters - add another letter with the same sound.
What does the Simpel-Fonetik alphabet look like?
New letters: Ä,ä, Ö,ö. Letters not used: C, Q, X, Y. Total: 24 letters.
* IPA is the abbreviation for International Phonetic Alphabet.
Why were the letters Ä and Ö picked as new letters?
The letter A in present English is used to represent more than eleven different
sounds. Examples: far, ant, all, ago, make, head, read, foam, fear, pair, earn.
For all, except the ant and ago sounds, which correspond to the IPA's æ and ə
sounds, existing letters could be used, e.g. all - ool, make - meik, head -
hed, read - riid. New letters were needed for the ant and ago sounds, because
a was chosen for the art sound. Nearly all other languages use the a for art and
far sound. The letters Ä and Ö were the best choices because they are already in
use in many other languages.
What about C, Q, X and Y?
They are not suitable for Simpel-Fonetik writing because they represent more
than a single sound. Each of them can be substituted by other, more common letters.
But they will be needed on keyboards and alphabets because we still need to write
Chicago, Quebec, X-ray and York.
What are the replacements for the letters C, Q, X and Y?
In place of C use either S (cinder - sinder) or K (cold - kold).
In place of CH use TSH (chip - tship), or K (scheme - skiim), or SH (machine - mashiin).
In place of Q use KW (quick - kwik) or K (liquor - likör).
In place of X use KS (six - siks).
In place of Y use AI (type - taip), or I (typical - tipikal), or J (you - ju).
What are some of the other more significant changes?
In place of J and G as in jungle and gin use DSH (jungle - dshangel, gin - dshin).
Please refer to the book for the derivation and justification for this spelling change.
In place of PH use F (photo - foto).
And in forming diphthongs, two letters placed side-by-side can no longer be used
for a third sound, such as au used in pause for the long o sound. In Simpel-Fonetik
each letter will have only one, the same sound wherever it appears. Au will always be
pronounced as a and u, as in house - haus or cow - kau. The only way to represent
the au sound is to use the letters a and u.
Don't you need more letters for vowels?
No. For converting English speech to writing just seven vowels are needed.
Additional letters such a Ü and Õ would be needed for dealing with other languages
or writing dialect expressions, but they are not needed for the basic English
writing. And keep in mind that longer vowels - and stronger consonants - are
written by simply using two of the same letter. Another vowel was considered
for the IPA sound ɒ, as in odd, which is in-between the a and o sounds, but
it was concluded that using just a or o will greatly simplify the spelling.
Give a sample of Simpel-Fonetik writing.
Here is one:
This is interesting: No federal government order or effort so far for ending
the helter-skelter spelling. Don't beg or long for it. It's hard for the big
gorilla tu start implementing spelling dogma. It wil linger, limp, loiter,
swing from pillar tu post . . .
As you may have noticed, this sample has only two changes: tu in place of
to and wil in place of will. It illustrates that Simpel-Fonetik will not change
the words that are presently spelled phonetically, based on single sound per letter.
Here is a another sample, shown first in present writing:
When you read Simpel-Fonetik words, you must pay attention to each letter.
Remember: Each letter has always the same sound, the sound given in the
Simpel-Fonetik alphabet, regardless what letter is next to it.
And here it is re-written in Simpel-Fonetik:
Wen ju riid Simpel-Fonetik wörds, ju mast pei ätenshön tu iitsh leter.
Rimember: Iitsh leter häs oolweis the seim saund, the saund given in the
Simpel-Fonetik alfabet, rigardles wat leter is nekst tu it.
The selection of the letters for the Simpel-Fonetik writing depends on
pronunciation. In present English, the writing often does not tell you how
to pronounce the word. That has resulted in different pronunciations in
different regions or countries. Each pronunciation results in a different
spelling in Simpel-Fonetik. Which one should be used? Some standardization
procedure will be required. Simpel-Fonetik will fix the multiple pronunciations problem.
Why is Simpel-Fonetik better than other proposed spelling improvements?
- Other proposals are more complicated, difficult to learn, especially for
foreigners. Nearly all other proposals that I have seen, don't consider the
global use of English and the blending in with other languages. For example:
The letter a is often used for the ä (IPA's æ) sound, or the ei
sound, whereas other languages use it for the a as in art sound.
- The letters and sounds used in Simpel-Fonetik conform with the International
(NATO) Alphabet. They also conform with the International Phonetic Alphabet,
except that ä, ö and u are used in place of æ, ə and ʊ.
The Simpel-Fonetik is based on the keep it simple principle. It has only
one letter for the sound of R, and it uses TH for both of the slightly different
pronunciations of that sound, as in then and three, because most people,
especially the foreigners, have difficulties pronouncing the English R and TH
as it is. One must take into account that there are now at least three times
more foreign than native speakers of English.
- Simple phonetic writing has been in use in Estonia since 1850s, and in
Finland even before that. That method of writing has proven to be ideal.
Estonians and Finns don't spend time in learning spelling or pronunciation.
They don't spend time asking how you spell this or that. They don't need to
look up in the dictionary how to spell or pronounce a word. They do it only
for foreign words, and mostly for words originating from the English language.
What are the prospects for Simpel-Fonetik?
Because English spelling is so bad, foreign learners of English have to
learn to use the IPA to decipher the pronunciation of English words. But IPA
has too many strange letters. Simpel-Fonetik does away with having to learn
the IPA. It is simple, easy to learn. It uses letters the same way as in many
other languages. Foreigners, especially those who are familiar with the
single-sound-per-letter writing method, will favor and support the use of
Simpel-Fonetik. That method of writing is expected to develop in coexistence
with the present version of English spelling, and it could be referred to
as the international version of English spelling.
In the modern, technical, scientific, computer-oriented, competitive world
the English spelling places a heavy burden on its users. I am sure that even
the native speakers will recognize, sooner or later, that by fixing the
spelling problem they will greatly help their children's learning process
and their ability to compete with children of other countries. I visualize
that Simpel-Fonetik will be used initially for pronunciation guidance in
schools and dictionaries. Once the native English speakers become familiar
with the great advantages of single-sound-per-letter spelling, they also will
support a spelling reform.
The book Simple Phonetic English Spelling concludes with the chapter that
discusses the details of implementating the spelling reform.
Where can I buy the book?
The book is available in bookstores in most English-speaking countries. It can
be ordered from the publisher: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, 127 E. Trade
Center Terrace, Mustang, OK, 73064, USA. Tel. 888-361-9473,
Many internet sites, such as Amazon.com,
sell the book. The price shown on the cover is $11.99 (US). The book is of small size,
151 pages. It was intended for learning, teaching and promoting the Simpel-Fonetik
method of writing. It is very easy to read because it was written for use also
in non-English-speaking countries. It is also available as a 4-CD audio book
and a downloadable e-book.
About the author (in Simpel-Fonetik)
Allan Kiisk spent his tshaildhud in Estonia änd tiineidsh
jiers in Germany bifor kaming tu the United States. Hi obteind his elektrikal
endshineering edukeishon ät Oregon State änd Stanford Universitys. Hi wörkd
äs än endshineer änd mänidsher for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, äs ö
professor of endshineering ät the University of Redlands, California, änd
äs the prinsipal endshineer in his oun konsalting föörm, Alkitek Associates.
Hi änd his waif, Karin, häv träveld änd livd in meni kantris. Thei häv setld
daun nier Sacramento, California, klous tu their tshildren änd gräntshildren.
Alternative spelling/writing systems for English
Benjamin Franklin's Phonetic Alphabet,
Pitman Initial Teaching Alphabet,