This phonetic script is a graphic representation of the sounds of speech
invented by Christian Crowley. The symbols are derived from the positions
of the organs of speech as they form various sounds, so related phones
have similar letter shapes. The letterforms represent the right profile
of the speaker.
The three basic consonant shapes are taken from the three stops P,
K and T. The sound P for example, has the lips together and the tongue
flat. The sound K has the lips open and the back of the tongue touching
the soft palate. The sound T is made with the front of the tongue raised,
and is represented by a short vertical line.
Voicing is indicated by a line under the letterform, representing
the generation of sound "below the mouth", by vibrating the
vocal chords. Nasalization is indicated by a line over the
letterform, representing the passage of air and sound "over the
mouth", that is through the nose. Air escaping from the speaker's
mouth is indicated by a horizontal line drawn through the letterform.
Airflow accompanied by some friction or modification of the basic mouth
position is represented by a double horizontal line.
The phones known as "approximants" fall somewhere between
consonants and vowels: L, R, Y and W. Flapped L and R resemble D, which
is reflected in the forms of these letters. Flapped L is like a D with a
low mid-tongue, hence the lower stem on the L letterform. Trilled R is
like a series of quick Ds, so the form resembles a doubled D. Flapped R
is a trilled R with only one contact; no distinction is made between
flapped and trilled R. A distinction is made between the "front"
and "back" L, as in "light" and "hall".
The "back" or "dark" L is made by drawing an L with
an "open fricative" line. Likewise, a line through the flapped
R indicates the American R. An R with the "closed fricative"
double line indicates the ZH sound in "pleasure". Removing the
voice-line from the bottom of this letter gives the voiceless SH, as
A "palatization mark" can be added to any of these consonants
to indicate that the sound is palatized, or that the middle of the tongue
is raised toward the palate, as in "cute", "tune" and
"pure". The letter form for the approximant Y derives from this
palatization mark, as the Y sound is inherent in all palatized consonants.
The letterform for Y is a vertical line that extends both higher and lower
than that of T. This long riser is the "blank" letter used as a
vowel holder, when a syllable starts with a vowel. This reflects the vowel-like
quality of the approximant Y.
The last approximant, W, also has a vowel-like quality. This sound is
characterized by the rounding of the lips, and the letter shape for W is a
vowel holder combined with a round shape. Adding the open fricative line
gives the voiceless, fricative counterpart of W: WH as in "why".
The form of the letter W serves as an introduction to the vowels. Pure
vowels are characterized by where they are formed in the mouth: back or front;
low, mid-range or high; and whether the lips are rounded or unrounded. W is
similar in sound and shape to the rounded back vowels AW, O and U as in
"paw", "lode" and "rude".
The vowel symbol is attached to the consonant it follows, or to the
vowel holder if there is no preceding consonant. Low vowels are written
below the consonant, high vowels above, and mid-range vowels go in the
mid-line of writing.
The unrounded vowels are written as a swoop that curls toward the
part of the mouth where the sound is formed. Back vowels A, UH and OO
as in "car", "cup" and "good" have the
swoop curling towards the left, or the back of the symbolic mouth formed
by the consonant’s shape. Front vowels Æ, E and I as in
"pad", "bed" and "miss" have the swoop
curling towards the right, or the front of the symbolic mouth formed
by the consonant’s shape. Long vowels and diphthongs are formed
by combining two vowel markers into a single symbol.
Phonetic Script consonants
Phonetic Script vowels
Phonetic Script English consonants
the information and images on this page were put together by Christian
Other phonetic/universal scripts