Phonetic English


Our alphabet and spelling system for English is complicated and counterintuitive. Children and foreign speakers have trouble decyphering the labyrinthian and arbitrary system of "rules" (which aren't really rules) and unnormalized foreign spellings. I decided to rework the alphabet in a way that is consistent and intuitive, for fun and to see what it might look like.

Natural languages are all spoken or signed, whereas written "language" is orthography. By creating a new orthography, I'm not actually changing English itself at all.

With this orthography, extra knowledge wouldn't be required to pick up a book and read every word correctly.

This writing system would probably create some confusion for non-American English speakers, so the standard orthagraphy could continue to be used in a similar way as Latin (as a scientific standard) or Chinese characters (as symbols to join mutually unintelligible languages).

The Alphabet

Phonetic Order

a ä e i y w u ø o r l n m b p v f g k d t z s ž š h A Ä E I Y W U Ø O R L N M B P V F G K D T Z S Ž Š H

The alphabet for Phonetic English is arranged with vowels first, then sonorant consonants, and then obstruent consonants. Obstruent consonants are arranged in pairs with the voiced one first. Ž, Š, and H are last because they are used in digraphs ('dž', 'tš', 'dh', 'th') and positioning them last separates these diagraphs from the phoneme represented by their first character (D, T). Y and W serve both as vowels and consonants, being semivowels (IPA: j, w) when unstressed before a vowel.

  • a as in bat (bought)
  • ä as in bät (bat)
  • e as in bet (bet)
  • i as in bit (bit)
  • y as in byt (beat)
  • w as in bwt (boot)
  • u as in but (but)
  • ø as in pøt (put)
  • o as in bot (boat)
  • r as in ro (row)
  • l as in lo (low)
  • n as in näp (nap)
  • m as in mäp (map)
  • b as in bät (bat)
  • p as in pät (pat)
  • v as in lyv (leave)
  • f as in lyf (leaf)
  • g as in gørl (girl)
  • k as in kørl (curl)
  • d as in dun (done)
  • t as in tun (ton)
  • z as in zw (zoo)
  • s as in sw (sue)
  • ž as in mežør (measure)
  • š as in prešør (pressure)
  • h as in häpy (happy)


  • ai as in ail (aisle, isle)
  • aw as in awl (owl)
  • ei as in eil (ale, ail)
  • oi as in oil (oil)


  • ng as in strang (strong)
  • dh as in dhen (then)
  • th as in thin (thin)
  • as in ir (jeer)
  • as in ir (cheer)

Where are C, J, Q and X?

C, Q and X are redundant letters. C is either K or S. 'Ch' is a combination of T and Š, so it's written as 'tš'. Q pretty much only appears with U, and sounds like 'kw', so 'kw' is how to write this in Phonetic English. X iz 'ks', 'gz', or just 'z'. J, the voiced counterpart of 'ch', is used about as infrequently. It's written as 'dž'.

Alternate Spellings

The 4 new letters can also be written with digraphs if you can't type the new characters.

  • ä→aa
  • ø→oo
  • ž→zh
  • š→sh