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Personal View 10. 1999 by Valerie Yule. Part 2.

4. Internationl English Spelling - Interspel Gidelines.

Fonemes are the sounds that distinguish words in a language. Some are simpl, some are diphthongs - combinations of two fonetic sounds - or may even be pronounced as triphthongs. Interspel's categories of fonemes are for pragmatic everyday use, not theoretical linguistics.


2. Vowels. 48 spellings represent 19+ vowel fonemes. The unclear schwa is the 20th (qv).

TÀBL 1 shows words exemplifying vowel spellings for eleven vowel sounds that in Interspel have only one spelling each in initial/medial and final positions.

FonemeSpellingFinl position FonemeSpellingFinl position
? put ? pwt

TÀBL 2 shows words exemplifying vowel spellings & spelling when the vowel in final position, for eight vowel fonemes with 3-4 options for their spelling. (Contrast up to 12 options in TO.)

FonemeSpellings Finl pozision

Notes on TÀBL 2 spellings.

The first spelling for each foneme shows grav accents.

The second shows how grav accents can be representd by colons where desired or when grav is not posibl, eg in emails.

The third shows singl vowel letrs for optionl use in adult text where confusion wil not ocur.

The 4th spelling shows digrafs as an option when the first three are not suitable.

The final 'positionl' spellings show the spelling of vowels in final place in words. These spellings are economicl, reduce waste, and simplify words for readrs and spelrs. In the exampls for the foneme 'ER', stress is shown by 'UR' 'ER' is notstressed and fully unstressd schwa is omitd, as in URBN. Spellings as in BALA rathr than BALAY ar optionl for French-origin words where 'AY' looks crude.

The spelling as in BEE is used for nouns, to make these words longr and visibly distinct in comparison with shortr, pronouns, verbs and function words.

TÀBL 3. Spellings for sequences of vowel fonems within words

Spellings that represent fonèms alredy shown in tàbls 1and 2 are in brakets.

Vowel sequencesEnd in - a End in - eEnd in - iEnd in - o End in - u
Begin with a
aa ae ai ao au
Begin with e
ea ee ei eo eu
Begin with i
ia ie ii io iu
Begin with o
oa oe oi oo ou
Begin with u
ua ue ui uo uu


idea creàt clear

dial spesial

boa oàsis

dual uzual quak





suet quest




gòing (boil)

fluid quit



iota milion


duo quote



(miut) pius



Notes on TÀBL 3 spellings. No clumsy 3-letr vowel sequences are needed to show sequences of vowel sounds, as in many reform proposals. (It would assist evaluation of all spelling reform proposals if their proposers always included a table to show how they would spell these 25 sequences of vowel fonemes that occur in English words.)

Grav accents are optionl to clarify pronunciations, and may usualy be omitd.
CLEAR pronounsd as cle-ar. ÌDEA shows vowels in final position.
Grav accents can distinguish the vowels in EON/ CREÒL and BOIL/ GÒING if necessry.
SPESIAL, MILION, VIZION and UZUAL ilustrate prinsipls for comn sufixes for words of clasicl orijin.
QUAK QUEST QUIT QUOTE: pronunciations with Qu, not chanjed at this staje of reform.

Dictionary pronunciation keys can use Interspel principls for acurat pronunciation of words. These wil usualy be identicl with standard Interspet exept when vowel sounds hav mor than one posibl spelling, and a miniml numbr of 'exeption words'. TO resemblance wil remain strong, since Interspel is basicly 'TO cleand up'.

3. Grammaticl and morfemic conventions.

1. Verbs and plurals end in S regardless of sound /s/ or /z/. as in CATS, DOGS
Words ending in /s/ can be distinguishd by SS as needed, eg. PRINSESS/PRINSES

2. Participl endings as in JUMPD/ LERND/ NOTED regardless of /d/ or /t/ articulation

3. Apostrofes are optionl in possessivs, but can be used to avoid confusion as in BILL'S BILLS.
No apostrofe for comrnon abreviations, as in DON'T, CANT, ISNT.
Apostrofes can be used for abreviations such as IT'S (it is) GOV'T. PARL'T.

4. Afixes. Words do not change with afixes if pronunciation does not change, eg. DAZI/ DAZIS, FLY/ FLYS/ FLYING/ FLYT, VAIRI/ VAIRIUS/ VAIRID/ VAIRIING/ VAIRIÀSION.

4. Pronunciation.

Just as speakrs pronounce words from TO dictionries with their own local accents, so local variation continues in pronouncing Interspell. But since its spellings are standard, there is not the internationl uninteligibility that would result from 'spelling as you speak.'

1. Long vowels in initial and medial place, and final Ù as in MENÙ can be speld with grav accents, mainly as aids for lernrs, and not to be made into a burdn for them. Most accents can be omitd in adult text. Spelling patrns as in HOPING/HOPNG can distinguish long and short vowels.

2. Consistent conventions for spelling classicl stems and sufixes result naturaly in slurrd pronunciations thru th efects of articulation -
/zh/ as in VIZION TREZUR
-ION can be condensed to -n as in COMPETISN, SUJESTN, VIZN, when preferrd.
3. Unclear vowels
i. TO vowels that ar not spoken are omitd, as in TECNIKLY, DIFRNT.
ii. Sylabic consonants are speld as in PATD, SILABL, ANSR, but a vowel can be insertd to avoid long consonant strings, e.g. PRESENTD or PRESENTED are both acceptable
iii. Unstressed schwa ER as in HER CONSERT.
iv. Stressd schwa spelld UR as in OCUR DISTURB URBN, GURL.
v. Unclear vowel in classicl afixes. Consistent spelng 'A' used as in -APL, -ANT, -AN, -ANS, -ARI, -AT, -ALY, -IAL. eg. EDABL, DEPENDANT, DEPENDANS, LIRARI, SEPRAT (contrast SEPERAT), FINALY, SPECIAL
vii. Unclear vowel in final position is always R or A as in SINGR, MORTR, BANANA
viii. Vowels can be insertd when the sound chanjes e.g. METL/ METALLIK, CRÈTUR/ CREATD.
4. Irregular stress in words. Irregular stress on the second syllabl can be shown by:
i. dubld consonants when needed, mainly for lernrs, e.g. UMBRELLA, CANNAL, REJECT/ REJECCT, CONTENT/ CONTENNT or lernr's books can use bold letrs to show stress, as in REJECT.)
ii. UR as in FRATURNITI contrasts with FRATURNÌZ, and PURFECT with PERFECT.
5. 'Pronunciation Spellings' - Some words could be pronounced according to their TO spelling, as they alredy are in some dialects: e.g HERB HOUR HEIR HONEST WHOL MOTHR BROTHR OTHR LOV SON. ONE (TO) might be speld WON, in th word family ONLY WON WONCE etc?

6. Dubld consonants are used in only three ways, as needed:
i. Final /ss/. DENSS can be distinguishd from DENS, and PASS from PAS.
ii. To show irregular stress. COMITTI is distinguishd from COMITI.
iii. RR to distinguish vowels /a/ar/or/, mainly for lernrs, as in CARROT CORRAL.
7. Words that sound the same (homofones) are speld the same, except for 5 sets where context may not automaticly direct meaning: TU/ TOO/ TUW, NO/ KNO, FOR/ FAUR, HOL/ WHOL and THAY'R PUTTING THAIR HATS OVER THER. Pronunciation Spelling might also solv some potential confusions.

8. Forin words may be re-speld when they are suficiently adoptd into English, eg. CADETT, DEPO, DEBRI, BUTI, MERANG, PASTILL, SARJNT. Some words may remain obdurat special cases, eg. BURJOISI, LINJERIE, BOQUET, MILIEU.

5. Interim rules while TO is phased out:

i. C and K remain in TO. In initial position: c as in CAT, COT. CUT (A O U), K as in KEG, KIT (E I)
Medial position: Use C as in ACT, CARACTR. Final position: Use K as in COK, MÀK, MÀKING. MÀKR.

ii. Qu can be gradualy replaced with KW and X with KS if this proves desirable.

iii. A few very common 'sight words' can be temporarily retaind, eg. ALL HALF, ONE, ONCE, PUT, WAS (ws?) WHAT, WHO, WHOSE, OF = /ov/, OFF = /of/. These spellings rejection of reform on sight. Thousands of 'sight words' are a burdn for lernrs today, but a dozen ar no problem.

iv. Internationl sientific vocabulary from Greek roots such as PNEUMA, PSEUDES, PSI and PTERIS may retain initial silent letrs to avoid problems of recognition and how to find in dictionry serches e.g. PNUMOMIA, PNUMONIA, PSYCOLOJI, PTERDIFITE.

v. Proper names. It is up to their ownrs to decide how dificult they want their spellings to be.

Sampl Texts in Interspel - Internasionl English Spelling

to compare with other spelling reform proposals


a) In text for adults. Interspel for adults resembls braud-band pijin spellings. Riters can opt for alturnativ vowel spellings such as MAID, WEEL, LYT, BRYTR or colons as in EXI:TMENT, LI:T, if acsents are unwantd or not posibl, as in emails, or when using singl vowel letrs mit alow confuzions, as with MAD, WEL, LIT. Running text is 13.5% shortr. 95% of letters and 36% of words are unchanged. Apart frorn deletions, 79% of words are unchanged or changed by one letter.
It ws on th furst day of th nu year that th anounsment ws mad almost simultaniusli from thre obsurvatris that th mosion of th planet Neptun, th outrmost of aul th planets that wel about th Sun, had becom veri erattik. A retardasion in its velositi had ben suspectd in Desembr. Then a fant remot spek of lit ws discovrd in th rejion of th perturbd planet. At ferst this did not cauz eni veri grat exitment. Sìentifik pepl howevr found th intelijens remarkabl enuf, evn befor it becam knon that th nu bodi ws rapidli groing larjr and britr and that its mosion ws quit difrent from th ordrli progres of th planets.
b) Interspel for beginrs and English language lernrs can use acsents for all long vowels.
Iregular stress on second sylabl is shown as in OBSURVATRIS, PERTURBD, REMÒT, ERATTIK.
Gravmarks apply here to around 4% of caractrs one word in five.
It ws on th furst day of th nù year that th anounsment ws màd almòst simultàniusli from thre obsurvatris, that th mòsion of th planet Neptùn, th outrmòst of al th planets that wèl about th Sun, had becom veri erattik. A retardàsion in its velositi had bèn suspectd in Desembr. Then a fànt remòt spek of lìit ws discovrd in th rèjion of th perturbd planet. At ferst this did not cauz eni vert gràt exitment. Sìentifik pèpl howevr found th intelijens remarkabl enuf, èvn befor it becàm knòn that th nù bodi ws rapidli gròing larjr and brìtr and that its mòsion ws quìt difrent from th ordrli prògres of th planets.

2. TH BUTFL PRINSESS in Interspel for lernrs

Delibratly composed to demonstrate maximum text changes required to reform TO. Half the TO spelngs ar irregular. Th SurplusCut version is 8.3% shortr. Interspel is 15.4% shortr, and changes 8% of letrs, apart from added gravmarks.
Wons upon a tìm th bùtifl dautr of a gràt majisn wontd mor perls tu pwt amung her trezùrs. "Lwk thru th sentr of th moon when it is blu," sed her muthr in ansr to her question. "U mìt fìnd yr hart's dezìr." Th prinsess lafd, becauz she doutd thèz wurds. Insted, she ùzd her imajinàsion, and moovd intu th fotografi bisnis, and twk pictùrs of th moon in culr. "I persèv mòst sertnli that it is almòst whòli wìt." she thaut. She aulso found that she cwd màk enuf muni in àt munths tu by herself tuw lovli hùj nù jùels too.
3. Dictionry pronunciation gide. 95% of th spellings in this 104 word story cd be used as a dictionary pronunciation gide for beginrs. Only TRESURS, QUESTION, LAFD, IMAJINASION, and LOVLI require rules beyond th basic sound-relationships. OF is a 'sight word'.

Notes on Interspel gide-lines.

1. A standard spelling is needed, rathr than 'spelling as you speak for three reasons:
- for computer translation of English into other languages
- as a check on the runaway development of new 'English languages'
- to ensure comprehension across accents, dialects and individual difrences.

Howevr, spelling inexactitude in personal comunications should not be regarded as if it were a moral lapse. Optionl alternativ spellings are acceptabl during transition; they allow temporary flexibility in public experimentation to arrive at the most useful spelling forms.

'Regularity' is defined as 'consistent use of the most logicl/ useful grafeme - not as often defined, as 'th TO grafeme that most frequently represents a foneme', a usage which helps nobody.

2. Vowels.
i. Over 240 TO spelling patrns reduced to 48.
The interim alterniv spellings for eight vowels help to smoothe transition to a future system of one-sound/ one-spelling. This transition period servs as a testing time to ensure that the best solutions are found.

ii. Positional Spelling. In TO vowels tend to be speld mor economicly in word endings than in medial positions. Interspel systematises this. An advantage of distinctiv spelling patrns for final vowels is clarifying word-structure and compound words, as in 'BOYISH PLAYRS PLOWING' rathr than 'BOIISH PLAIERS PLOUING'. Spellings of long vowels in word endings need no diacritics except to distinguish words such as DÙ (DIU) and DU.

iii. Long vowels are a great bugbear in English spelling. TO's hatchpotch of expedients hav resultd in major boobytraps, and reformrs' sensibl respelngs oftn look so difrent from stupid TO spelngs that they are rejectd as uncouth and stranje by TO readrs. Interspel's solution of singl vowel letrs with optionl grav accents as needed has five advantajes:-

3 Minor spelling issues: Some uncertainties and posibl solutions

a) Shortr function words. Is fast reading for meaning assistd by the TO practice of shortr spellings for function words and longr spelngs for greatr meaning-bearers to make th structure of sentences mor visibl? eg. EE/ BEE, NO/ KNOW, THE/ THEE.

b) IU as in MIUT is a familiar pijin spelling patrn and TO readrs can recognize it.

c) The vowel that has no distinctiv spelling, schwa, as in PUT, GOOD, WOULD, WOLF. A Welsh solution might be to use 'w' as a vowel also perhaps only in lerners' spelling as halfway to UU which is unpopular at present. 'w' is visualy and fonemicly close to 'uu', especialy in handwriting. A betr solution would be welcome. WWD A SAKFWL OF WWL BE HARD TO PWL?
Or omit representation of this vowel altogethr? WD A SAKFL OF WL BE HARD TU PL?

d) Interspel shows spoken English as in forml public speaking. Suffixes as in TREZÙR PICTÙR SPESIAL MILION are slurrd naturaly by articulation processes even in forml speech and there is no need to reduce their spellings down to TREZHA, PICHA, SPESHL.The classicl-origin '-ION' formation is so common internationly that this is one reason not to respel it with 'SHUN', but insted to allow natural articulation to slur it into the evryday pronunciation of this word element.

e) No aditional auditory distinctions.

i. 'th/ th'. Pijin spellings facilitate popular litracy as they do not need many auditry discriminations that others beside dyslexics can find dificult. No new spelling distinction between voiced/ unvoiced /th/ sounds is needed. Silent readrs need none and spelrs need to be spared new hassl. Lernrs of English can have bold or undrlined print for voiced /th/ ; their greatr problem is usualy in trying to say /th/ at all. Listenrs notice lernrs' 'dis ting' or 'zis sing' but the 'wrong' /th/ is rarely noticed.

ii. /s /z/ sound differences in plural and verb endings. Articulation govrns whethr a final S wil be pronouned /s/ or /z/ as in saying CATS AND DOGS. Lernrs generalise the singl plural and verb '-S' spelling erly and easily, and are then helpd by this visual gramr in readng for meaning, and saved from the need to make unnecessry auditry and spelling discriminations in new vocabulary.

4.3. The unclear vowel. Interspel's SurplusCut rules give lernrs more clues than Cut Spelling, and help to segment words to get meaning eg.NÈDED ERRER not NEDD ERR.

4.4. Location of stress in words - shown when weak shwa vwels are cut, eg. MELNCOLI, PRAMBÙLÀTR or clarified by UR /ER, eg. IMPERCEPTABL, IMPURTINENT.

4.5.'Spelling Pronunciation'. A 200-year-old trend is to pronounce many words as they are speld, eg. the initial /h / is now usualy pronounced in HOSPITAL, HOTEL and HERB, and HONEST, HOUR, HEIR could follow suit. Following this trend can cut some Gordian knots when the English language itself sets problems for rationl spelling; that is, rathr than change the spelling, the pronunciation of some words could be changed to match the spelling, as suggestd by Professor Collinge of Manchester University. Some spellings of words according with regionl pronunciations could become acceptd as the standard, eg. to distinguish current homofones such as SON/SUN WON/ONE.

4.6. Backward compatibility with TO. Future readers of Interspel need to know to decipher text in obsolete TO - with IS only that TO has many surplus and misleading letrs, 'gh' patrns, C & G as in CIRCUS/ GARAGE, Y as final /i/, 40 commonest irregular words, a chart of vowel spelngs, how to 'fudge' spelngs to gess words in context - and a dictionary for obsolete vocabulary.

5. Words that sound the same (Homofones). The homofone argument against spelling reform is not valid. The English language is rich in homofones that TO alredy spels the same. Readrs of text rarely notice these homografs. because context automaticly directs their meaning, even for LETTER/ LETTER - eg. 17% of the previus 100 words are TO homografs with mor than one meaning - COMMON, IRREGULAR, FUDGE, USE, FAST, BOUND, ISSUE, RICH, REFORM, SETS, SOUND, READERS, TEXT, RARELY, DIRECTS, EVEN. Spelling need not distinguish homofones except for posibly five sets of common words (qv). This wil take a burdn from spelrs. and spelchekrs wil be less unreliable.

6. Spellings of importd words. Most importd words can be respelt in Interspel. but some, especialy French, are so problematic that they may be best left as visibly imports. Lernrs can be givn a page to demonstrate Continental sounds and how to pronounce remaining forin spelling patrns as in BUCLÈ, BUFFANT, BUTIQUE. BUDOIR, BUFFE, BOUILLON, BOQUET, BURJEOISIE, rather than attempting complete respelng, as some do (eg BUURZHWAAZEE, BOEKAI, - until such words have become everyday English, as in BEEF, MUTTON, DEPO, AMATR and CADETT.

7. Further reforms must be based on reserch and public experience with Interspel and on finding solutions for the remaining problem points.

5. Some refrences relevant to Interspel.

A longr list is obtainabl from the authr. The SSS Spelling Scheme Review Subcomittee holds a bibliografy of V Yule's spelling publications, which include most of the relevant articls publishd in Spelling Progress Bulletin and the Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society that ar not listd here.

Afferbeek Lauder. 1965. Less Stalk Strine, a Lexicon of Strine usage. Sydney. Ure Smith

Downing, J & Leong, C-K, 1982. The Psychology of reading. N.Y: Macmillan.

Martin, J H. 1981.'A phonemically consistent alphabet' in Spelling Progress Bulletin, 21.4.7-10.

Pitman, J & St. John, J. 1969. Alphabets and Reading. London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons.

Tune, N. (ed.) 1982. Spelling Reform, a Comprehensive Survey. California: Spelling Progress Bulletin. Also Spelling Progress Bulletin, ed. N. Tune from 1961-1983

Upward, C.1996. Cut Spelling: a handbook. Simplified Spelling Society, 2nd edition. Also Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, ed. C. Upward, 1987.

Yule, V. 1982. Spelling reform: arguments pro and con. In N. Tune (Ed.) 9-18. Spelling Reform: a comprehensive survey. Cal: Spelling Progress Bulletin.

- 1982. Internationl reform of English spelling & its advantages. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 4:9ff

- 1982 A research-developed reform for English spelling. Spelling Progress Bulletin, 22.4.10-13.

- 1982d. Spelling as technology. New Scientist 96 1335. 356-7. Rewritn, regrafd and incorrectly retitled by a copy-editor hostile to reform as 'Shorter words mean faster reading'.

- 1986a. The design of spelling to match needs and abilities, Harvard Educational Review, 56: 278-297.

- 1986b. Yule, V. & Greentree, S. Readers' adaptation to spelling change. Human Learning 5: 229-241.

- 1985. The American report, 'Becoming a Nation of Readers'. Reading (U.K.) 20. 2.: 82-88.

- 1987b. English spelling and pidgin: examples of international English spelling. English Today 4.3: 29-35.

- 1989a. Children's dictionaries: spelling and pronunciation. English Today 17.1: 13-17.

- 1989b. Two experimental versions of 'cut' spelling. JSSS. 3.2:30.

- Yule & MacKay, C. K. (Unpublishd. See Thesis) Practice effects in reading text in a modified spelling.

- 1991 Orthography and Reading: Spelling and Society, Doctoral thesis, Monash University. Copy with SSS, Copies from UMI Dissertation Services. Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. 1992. 1416. Order 9231850

- 1996 Take-home video for adult literacy. International Review of Education, UNESCO, 32:1-3,187-203

6. The future - The milennium starts now.

The present time of unfetrd public experiment on the Internet is the greatest chance for intemationl testing and introduction of a more consistent and simpl spelling system.

No drastic initial transition. Transition is a bridging period of adding alternativ spellings to the sevral thousand alredy acceptd in dictionries. Interspel can be used as an initial lerning spelling for TO. All solutions to problems can be tested and improved in the popular arena. Bad spelling on the Net shows the trends and problems that spelling improvers can take into account. Because it is a clean-up of TO, features of Interspel can be pickd up at difrent rates for varius uses - personl, Internet, email, film and TV subtitling, publishing and business. Features can be taken up a few at a time according to judjment and ability. At first there wil be inevitabl inconsistencies and lapses - as spelling in this articl shows. 'There will be times when 'a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.' (Emerson).

SurplusCut Spelling can be taken up first for popular use befor it is accepted in schools. This is the common sequence for inovations in education.

An Internationl English Organisation must monitor and evaluate developments and supervise oficial implementation of outcomes, along with extensiv trialing and testing of improvements.

Spelling reforms who seek only an ideal sound-symbol correspondence may hope for drastic changes to be imposed by fiat and in schools, but in other countries sweeping changes hav required dictatorships and/or an iliterat majority. Most successful Westrn spelling reforms hav been updatings and have been used imediatly in the marketplace.

What the market wil bear. Deciding this is mor art than sience. Most pepl wil read print that they want to read or must read, taking litl or no notice of SurplusCut changes that are not disruptive. Aclimatisation comes esiest thru exposure to text that pepl want to read, eg TV subtitles. When there is no motiv to induce peple to want to read something, decisions about whether to read on are made from sampling the text; obtrusiv spelling changes can decide them against reading furthr. This Personl Vew has used a miniml Surplus-Cut spelling, because reserch so far indicates this can be tolerated or not noticed by most readrs apart from specialists. If the idea of spelling in this way interests readrs, they can explor it themselvs and take it as far as they like in personl writing such as letrs and where conciseness is an advantage, as in hedings and labels (hedngs and labls).

Transfer to Interspel in print and electronic comunication. Methods, gimiks and gajets to popularise reform.
Further developments may include:
i. Alfanumeric improvemnts in designs for letrs and numbrs, to prevent confusions.
ii. Replacing keybord caractrs Q, X with new symbols. C might become/ tsh/ as in Indonesian. But re-using obsolete caractrs would confuse internationly and disturb TO bakward compatibility.
iii. Gramr and language reforms could also help to promote English as the world's internationl language, and reduce the hevy burdn on children to lern irregularities of gramr. Irregular verbs could be rationalised, eg. BRING/ BRINGD TEACH/ TEACHD.

The future. Comunications tecnology includes spelling as a basic element - inventd erlier than the printing press, electronics and the Net. In comunications tecnology most developments are improvements rather than revolutions, and so must retain bakwards compatibility for a period. Until there is a revolutionary future breakthru to a writing system that can cross languages, like Chinese without its dificulties, spelling reform stil requires bakwards compatibility with international TO and its heritage of print. The prime criteria for English spelling improvement are imediat usefulness and future potential both at home and abroad.

Interspel - International English Spelling - deservs reserch attention and investigation on all these grounds.

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