Table of Contents
- The Rules
- The Vowel Sounds
- The Consonant Sounds
- The Exceptions
- My Criticisms
- Concluding Thoughts
Uh oh. I’m up late and getting crazy ideas. It’s time for a blog post!
Ever heard of Chinese simplified? I still don’t know what it is, but I assume it’s easier for the guy learning Chinese.
Studying foreign languages and considering the rise of subculture languages like lolspeak has caused me to reflect a bit more on English. English is a st*p*d language for many reasons, but replacing it is next to impossible (since English is the number 1 language in the world) and throwing out the grammar and spelling rules is messy and designed by those who are too lazy to type things out in a legible fashion. Hence, without replacing English with a foreign language or turning it into a mosh of acronyms, emoticons, and misspellings, I propose a simpler English.
First, it is very contrary to my nature to propose such an idea. I prefer having a set of rules – and people like me are labeled “grammar nazis”… or English profs, take your pick (Although I am not, so keep an eye out for subtle trick in this post). Furthermore, it doesn’t make sense to just ditch the establishment anyways because of the purpose of doing this in the first place.
I have two reasons in mind for making English easier:
- So that it makes sense.
- So that it’s easier to read, write, audibly understand, and speak.
The latter goes into the former, but what I mean by “it makes sense” is specifically targeted at getting rid of
the useless particles and confusing grammar that-is-because-it-has-always-been-that-way.
Before you say “International Phonetics Association”, I do have a few issues with that, but I’ll present those in a second.
Here’s the part of the rules that will make the most sense, since the lack of it has contributed to both lolspeak and headaches for English learners everywhere: Phonetics.
A letter should only have one sound. Certain exceptions may be allowed – namely “sh”, “th”, “ch”, “zh”, “ng”, and “y” – but apart from those, having other letters use multiple sounds requires knowing rules that are broken by a half dozen exceptions. (For instance, “gigabyte” is technically “jigabyte” in some dictionaries since “g” before “i” makes the “j” sound as in “giraffe”, but this is not the common pronunciation.)
A couple things to note before assigning pronunciations to letters.
- The pronunciation should be a sound people already use for that letter (and preferably what they think of first when they see that letter).
- It should be designed for the lazy.
People don’t want to learn more symbols or download a new keyboard layout just to make their language make more sense. They want something fast, easy to type, and yet still logical. (And there’s why the IPA chart doesn’t work.) Hence, I propose using no more than two letters for any sound, and preferably, I will use one letter.
The Vowel Sounds
a – The “a” sound as in “battle”, “cattle”, “hat”.
aw – The “aw” sound as in “paw”, “claw”.
aa – The “o” sound as in “hot”, “pot”, “lot”, or the “a” as in “ha” or the sheep sound of “baa”.
o – The “o” sound as in “load”, “boat”, “mope”.
u – The “u” sound as in “up”, “rut”, “mut”.
uy – The “ou” sound as in “should”, “would”, “could”.
i – The “i” sound as in “pit”, “drip”, “sit”.
e – The “e” sound as in “pet”, “met”, “bet”.
ee – The long “e” sound as in “beet”, “meet”, “greet”.
ew – The “oo” sound as in “boot”, “loot”, “root”.
y – The “y” sound as in “you”.
Needless to say “a” won’t be used very often, since in most cases people say “u”. Furthermore, you should have to worry about “a” versus “aa” because the “a” sound can be defaulted to the “aa” sound because the former is too hard to say in most situations (unless you have an East-Coast accent).
ey – The “ey” sound as in “hey” or the “ay” as in “play” or “tray”.
eew – The “ee”+”ew” sound as in “Ew! Gross!”
aai – The “ai” sound as in “aissle” or the “i” sound as in “mile”.
aaw – The “ow” sound as in “pow” or the “ou” sound as in “house”, “ouch”.
The Consonant Sounds
b – As in “bet”.
c – As in “cat”, “car”, “cape”. Substitutable by “k”.
d – As in “dog”.
f – As in “fox”.
g – As in “girl”.
j – As in “jitter”.
l – As in “lion”.
m – As in “moose”.
n – As in “nose”.
p – As in “purse”.
r – As in “roll”.
s – As in “snake”.
t – As in “tall”.
v – As in “violin”.
w – As in “water”, “wave”.
z – As in “zebra”.
Shorthands (letters not needed):
q – Shorthand for “cw” or “kw”.
x – Shorthand for “cs” or “ks”.
sh – The “sh” sound as in “shell”.
th – The “th” sound as in “thought”, “think”.
hth – The “th” sound as in “the”, “thou”, “there”, which has a tonal quality. It can be written as just “th” since the context is usually obvious which is being used.
ch – The “ch” sound as in “challenge”.
jh – The “g” in the French word for red, “rouge”. Never used in common English. (Normally denoted by “zh”.)
h – At the beginning of a word or in a position where a consonant is expected, it can have the sound of “h” as in “ha” or “hope”. In all other cases, it extends the vowel sound, making it more breathy.
Okay, so it may seem tricky at first. Your first question might be how to say simple things like “mace”, but look over the rules another minute, try it out, and you might start to find things become more intuitive. For example “mace” would become “meys”, which is distinguishable from the regular “Mays”, which becomes “meyz”, and it’s easy to tell that word isn’t “maze” by the context of the sentence in which it is used.
The main problem you will probably have is that, as an English speaker, you are accustomed to looking for the letters in a word. Tereh was a sudty taht ntoed ppleoe cloud raed eevn wehn the ltretes of wdros wree sbbcrleamd bcuesae tehy lekood at the fsrit and lsat leettr in ecah wrod to idtnfiey waht it was. Simplified English – as I’ve presented it – and lolspeak don’t work this way, so you can’t read either when their letters are scrabbled. But since no one writes this way in common practice anyways, it isn’t a big deal not being able to read this way.
Examples (and explanations)
Ex 1: Letz go laayt faayr.
Translation: “Let’s go lite [a/the] fire.”
Ex 2: Cros rivr Jordin in yor cunew.
Translation: “Cross [the] river Jordan in your canoe.”
Ex 3: Aee pley hthu trumpet. / i pley thu trumpet.
Translation: “I play the trumpet.”Note: Since the context for “I” is common enough, there is no sense in replacing it, is I gave the phonetically correct version and then the version I would expect everyone else to use.
Now I get to be the cynic.
First, training myself to think this way might be tedious. Like you, I’m accustomed to having English letters be pronounced a particular way, and I don’t like changing it. Then there’s the idea of dropping capitals. Why not? Because it’s hard enough to tell the beginning of someone’s sentence when they don’t use proper punctuation to begin with. Furthermore, the possibility that this won’t catch on means I would get to sit here like a fool and be typing mad in a way no one but I fully understood. Great way to kill a blog, no? -_-
Why write about it? Because it was fun, an interesting idea, and writing about it is a good way to get it out of my system. Who knows – I may end up liking it enough to keep using it anyways.
I haven’t finished. I still haven’t told you about all of the other wonderful – or not so wonderful – features. But I may get to that later. I may either update this post or write a new one.