Designing Spelling Systems

The following is a post to the Saundspel group made by Paul Stought on Sept. 2, 2003.  I've added some questions of my own at the end.  (You can recognize my part - it's where it starts to get verbose.)

Some questions I asked myself while I was designing my spelling systems. Not in any special order.

Why? is a question that applies to most of the following.

  1. Is capitalization going to be used?
  2. Are you going to represent stress?
  3. Are you going to add new symbols not found on the standard keyboard?
  4. Are you going to use c k q and x?
  5. What symbol will you use for the vowel in, foot?
  6. What symbols will you use for the free vowels?
  7. What symbols will you use for the short vowels?
  8. Are you going to represent the British short o?
  9. Are you going to spell; car and corn as in traditional spelling?
  10. Are you going to use one symbol for more than one sound? Cat, amung; thro, bruthur.
  11. Are you going to represent one sound with more than one symbol? Muen, blu.
  12. Will you use c or k for the c/k sound or both?
  13. Will you use ck?
  14. Will you spell the tt in butter as d? Budur, butur.
  15. How will you spell the unclear t/d sound at word end? Passed/pasd or past?
  16. How are you going to treat the schwa sound? Above/ubuv.
  17. Are you going to merge any sounds? Fothur, bothur, coz, ol; pul, dul; marry, mery.
  18. How are you going to treat optional pronunciations such as the t in cents and winter and the p in empty?
  19. Are you going to compress syllabic consonants? All or just some? Fier, fiur, fieur; cuvur, cuvr; famuly, famly; sevurul, sevrul, sevrl.
  20. How are you going to spell the ngc sound in think?
  21. How are you going to spell the ngg sound in finger?
  22. Are you going to retain the ch th sh ng spellings?
  23. How are you going to spell the si sound as in, vision?
  24. Are you going to use any "sight words"? The, a.
  25. How are you going to spell spa and idea? Spoh, iedeuh.
  26. How are you going to spell around and alone?
  27. Is y going to be both vowel and consonant? Yes, very.
  28. Are you going to spell y as in tradword, try, as well as the tradword, story? My/mi.
  29. How are you going to spell the y in emptying and the e in freeing? How do you explain the rule for this?
  30. Are you going to compress vowels at word end? Tudae, tuda, Sunda, ugry, ugre, ugree, reela, eny, enee, mee, me.
  31. Are you going to compress vowel combinations? cryaet, coed, suusied, cioety.
  32. How are you going to spell going? Boing?
  33. Are you going to hyphenate words like boathouse? Boethous, boet-hous.
  34. Are you going to use apostrophes? Iem, cant, Tomz, charlzuz. Ther ar thre c'z in that sentunts.
  35. How are you going to compress contractions? Iem, cant duznt, wvdnt.
  36. Will you distinguish the two th sounds? Baeth, bath.
  37. How will you handle grammatical inflections?  Which is the past tense of flap: flapped, flapd or flapt?
  38. Similarly, how will you handle standard prefixes and suffixes?  Do gentleman and handyman have the same ending or not?
  39. How is word compounding handled?  If you compress "shue" to "shu", then how do you spell shoebox: shubox or shuebox?
  40. Will you provide distinct spellings for homonyms, either in a few cases (tu/too/tew), or more generally?
  41. How do you handle words that are frequently pronounced without stress, (the, of, and, can, etc.)?  Do you have more than one spelling (dhi/dhuh) depending on stress?  If not, do your spellings represent the stressed or unstressed form?
  42. Can your system handle English interjections, which often don't follow the usual rules: duh, eh, uh-huh, brr, psst?
  43. Can your system handle words with foreign sounds, such as loch and contretemps?
  44. Will you allow alternate spellings of words with dialectal variations, or will there be a single standard spelling of such words?And if there is to be a standard spelling, how is it chosen?
  45. Is your system capable of handling potential new words, at least ones which fit normal English word patterns?  Or does it depend on accidents of the present distributions of words?
  46. If your system requires diacritics, how difficult will it be to use them, both visually and practically?  For instance, accented i's are hard for some people to read, and many reasonable combinations, such as an e with a tilde, are not present in many fonts.


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