In this post I summarize the changes in consonant sound spelling in my English spelling reform proposal.
In the following table I show each sound in phonemic transcription, along with an example in traditional spelling and the new spelling that represents it (which usually coincides with the traditional spelling, but in the reformed spelling is used uniformly without exception). In the cases with two spellings for the same sound, the second spelling corresponds to the “doubled” version, which indicates that the previous vowel is “short”.
SH SSH (see 3)
WH (see 1)
X (see 2)
1- A variant spelling of WH is allowed for speakers without the wine-whine merger to represent /hw/. Speakers with the merger are allowed to spell such words with W instead, since they pronounce them with /w/ (why, which, witch -> whi/wi, which/wich, wich).
2- X is not used to spell the sequences /ks gz/ when they are the result of adding morphemes (baks, bags).
3- /ʒ/ is spelled J if morpheme initial or final (rooj, janre).
4- Silent consonants that give no clue about pronunciation are eliminated (det, si, onner).
5- Double consonants are not allowed at the end of a word (wil, poel).
6- Consonants are not doubled when following a reduced vowel or “long” vowel (konekted, poling).
What follows are examples of reformed spellings and examples of ways of spelling these sounds in traditional spelling which would be eliminated by the reform.
/p/ – P PP – ampitheeater –
PH (see /f/ below)
/k/ – K CK – kan, ackurat, aak –
C CC CH
/g/ – G GG – goest, agast –
/tʃ/ – CH TCH – nacher –
/dʒ/ – J DJ – baj, badjer, ejukaashn –
G DG D
/m/ – M MM – bom, sollem –
/n/ – N NN – noem, noen, numattik –
GN KN PN
/θ, ð/ – TH – bath, baath
/f/ – F FF – laf, fotografy, amfitheeater –
/v/ – V VV – luvving, ov –
/s/ – S SS – siith, sikolojy, prins, sent –
SC PS C
/z/ – Z ZZ – sizzers, pozeshn, zilofoen –
S SS X
/ʃ, ʒ/ – SH SSH – shef, pashn, seperaashn, vishn, plessher –
CH SSI TI SI S
/h/ – H – hoo, hoel –
/r/ – R RR – riit, rithm –
/j/ – Y – hallelooya –
/ks, gz/ – X – axent, exelnt, exawsted –
Exceptions to the above:
7- The possessive is spelled -S when pronounced /s/ or /z/ (ships, nachers god), and -ES when pronounced /Vz/ (bridjes, but also see 8 below). The plural and third person singular inflection endings are spelled -S when pronounced /s/ or /z/ and -ES when pronounced /Vz/ (kats, bekums, kawzes).
8- Final -SS is allowed when it’s the result of adding a possessive ending to a word that ends in S to begin with (Wells’/Wells’s -> Wellss).
9- The past tense/participle ending of regular (weak) verbs is spelled -D when pronounced /t/ or /d/ and -ED when pronounced /Vd/ (establishd, endowd, konekted).
As a consequence of all the above changes, “soft” and “hard” C are eliminated, relegating C to the sequences CK, CH and TCH, “soft” G is eliminated, and Q is eliminated. This reform need not necessarily apply to proper names or recent loanwords.