The Phonogic alphabet is the creation of Charles Smith, a recent graduate
of the the University of Minnesota. Charles has been interested in inventing
alphabets since his senior year at high school and has invented a variety of
alphabets since then. He started working on Phonogic in 2002 with a view to
producing an alternative alphabet for English. The name is a
combination of the words phonetic and logical and is pronounced
Phonogic started as an alphabet meant to replace the Latin alphabet
as a way to write English, as its current alphabet is highly unsuited
to the task. Then, after an occurrence in a Finnish language class
at the University, Charles saw a conflict between the orthographies
of Finnish and Spanish, where the sequence represents [l:] in
Finnish but [j] in Spanish. This inspired further research into how
each letter and letter sequence of the Latin alphabet is used in the
languages that use the Latin alphabet. Phonogic then became an alphabet
meant to replace the Latin alphabet for any language whose orthography
uses it, as well as for transcription of non-Latin scripts and perhaps
even for use in phonetics in the same way the International Phonetic
Alphabet is used.
Some letters were inspired by various scripts from
across the world, while others simply resemble characters from others
scripts by coincidence. Not only are consonants and vowels represented
in Phonogic, but features like nasality, palatalization, aspiration, and
ejective are represented by individual letters on analogy with various
scripts of the world (e.g. Lakota, Urdu and Russian). In the future other
features will be added, including tones to represent the world's tonal
languages, including Asian, African and Native American languages.
The letter [ʌ] is used in stressed syllables only, while
the letter [ə] is used only in unstressed syllables whose
pronunciation can vary, such as: chicken, above,
- The letter representing a nasalized vowel is placed after the vowel it nasalizes, including a long vowel or diphthong. The letters for palatalized, aspirated and ejective consonants are placed directly after the consonants they modify.
- Long vowels and long/geminate consonants are written as double letters, or even triple letters in the case of extra length, as is found in Estonian.
- The first set of parentheses is used as the outer set of parentheses in a sequence that includes parentheses within parentheses. The second set is used as the inner set. The same applies to the two sets of quotation marks.
- The letter marked "acronym" is used for acronyms or initialisms that are pronounced as a single word, e.g. NASA. The "letter name" mark is used for initialisms pronounced as the names of the letters, e.g. FBI. The marks are placed directly before the initialism. If the name has a possessive or plural ending, the initialism is enclosed in two marks, and the plural/possessive ending is written directly after in the same word.
- The list separator mark is used as a comma between items in a list. The mark would be used in the following example: bananas, apples, and oranges.
- Numbers are written in the decimal system currently used with Arabic numerals. The second row of numbers are abbreviations mainly for larger numbers to avoid writing a very long number, but still providing the ability to use a number as opposed to writing out the word.
- The format of the chart showing the alphabetical order and letter names to be used for English are given in the following format, from top to bottom: the letter, the letter's name spelled in Phonogic, the letter's name spelled in current English orthography (usually a word), and an IPA transcription of the pronunciation of the letter's name.
Sample text (American English)
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Download a font for Phonogic (TrueType 128K)
If you have any questions about the Phonogic Script, you can contact Charles at:
Also by Charles Smith
Other writing systems invented by visitors to this site