Get REAL: Rational English Alfabet Literacy.

And the Downing finding that least-rules spelling, or a consistent alfabet, improves literacy.

The Spelling Bee in my bonnet.

The Spelling Bee is a spelling contest between children that has been going-on in America for generations, and has been copied over here, like many other things. It is a sort of religious revivalism against constantly flagging standards of literacy. Except that standards cannot flag that never flew.
Mountains of money have been poured away into a Brave New World of literacy where everyone spells like Dr Johnson.

If I had to give the prizes for a Spelling Bee, I would have to say to the winners: Congratulations! God has given you a better memory than mine. You need no gifts from me.
And I would have to say to the losers: First prize to the first person to be knocked-out of the contest for having the stubborn intelligence to spell the word as it sounds, rather than as the dictionary tells you it's spelt. Second prize would go to the second person disqualified, and so on.

Of course, like all prizes, this upside-down system is fallible, because children are well aware that the words, they have been given to spell, are chosen, for their fonetik stupidity, to catch them out. So, they may have guessed merely the wrong stupid spelling rather than the right stupid spelling.

You only had to look at a British attempt to make television of the Spelling Bee. The show had small children competing to recite spellings that could not be worked-out by a consistent rule. The series hardly got started before they had little girls bursting into tears. To atone for this, the adults had to put themselves on the rack, or they would have looked like bullies. This is not so far from the truth. Imposing an authority in orthography has no independent appeal to fonetik logic. And, of course, the adults couldnt get it "right" always either. So, what is the point?

The moral of this story is the failure to impose an arbitrary or eccentric standard that is deemed correct by reason only of tradition, which exhalts the advantage of good memory, possessed by a few, over reason available to all.
The Spelling Bee in my bonnet is over the reactionary charm of lazy and servile conformity, however stupid. The Spelling Bee is a competitive worship of stupidity. The person who conforms best to the stupidest spellings is judged the best speller, when they are only the best conformer. The basic value is conditioning from early childhood to unquestioning obedience to the leader. It puts the dictate into dictatorship.

A democratic spelling contest would be between the most consistent ways to spell words, while keeping them intelligible. In other words, what is the way to make all words conform to simple rules without their becoming too remote from their familiar spellings? On my Kompromis Speling page, I gave the example of the word, phase, as a difficult little word to spell more rationly or sensibly without puzzling conventional spellers, not familiar with fonetik spelling. I couldnt compromise, having to opt for a straight fonetik spelling: phase = feiz.

The Kompromis Speling page has examples of awkward compromises that I had to make to square a rationalisation of the spelling rules with conventional spelling.

I think that's inevitable, given the disorder of English spelling. But it may also be true that some conventional spellings dont need the change that some rational reformers think. Whatever is the case, reason and evidence are the guide, not unquestioning authority.

Rigid hostility to all change is not realistic, intelligent or adaptive. Radical changes are needed to English spelling, if the English language is to remain viable as a mainstream means of communication. Never the less, I tried to compromise with conservative usage, so that learned familiarity is not sacrificed, more than necessary, to reasonable reforms.

Conformity and authority, of course, have their value. We could not make a move without relying unquestioningly on the judgment of experts. But we know that those experts are being put thru the mill by others who have studied their subjects. This is not happening with English spelling. It is time it did. That is why I support the expert judgments of Dr Mont Follick and Professor Downing.

The uncivilised privilege of English literacy.

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There is making oneself understood with proper consideration for others. That is why older people should not be obliged to abandon conventional spelling - tho conventional spelling sometimes abandons them. That is also why children should be introduced to a convenient spelling system for them to learn to communicate effectively with each other. Illiteracy should not be a considerable social problem at all.

It is because we are not democratic enough, or considerate enough to each other, that we have not tolerated children being freed to spell rationly so that they can spell at all, and have a secure basis from which to pick up the irregularities of conventional spelling.

The need for freedom of spelling is a lesson of life. If we went thru our social institutions from education, to politics and the economy, it is lack of democracy, or consideration for others, that is why they work so badly and frustrate people's wishes.

Correct spelling only should mean that people are concerned to communicate efficiently with each other. Pedants, of an orthography, have talked of the beauty of the English language. English law used to be regarded as near perfect before Jeremy Bentham dared to criticise it, as an adjunct to the Conquest. Noam Chomsky, who should know better, once spoke of English spelling as near perfect.
Near anarchy, more like it, largely based on copyists' letter inflations and printers' technical hitches.

Scholars and literary figures, such as founded the Simplified Spelling Society, promoted the republic of letters, instead of a social class oligarchy of literacy. Mostly unnecessary illiteracy deprives perhaps twenty per cent of the population from better employment. It also deprives society of their full ability to make independent judgments as citizens. Prisons have a sixty per cent illiteracy level. That is unnecessary and intolerable in a civilised society.

By now, it is also well-known that a lot of disruption in class-rooms is caused by those, who dont understand, preventing those who do understand, from getting on. Often, the unruly are unruly to hide their shame at not grasping unruly English spelling. The problem of English spelling must be made more "ruly" if problem children are to be more ruly.

"A bad work-man blames his tools." But bad tools make for bad works. As H G Wells said, English never learned to spell. And those, who have never learned its bad way to spell, may be frustrated into bad behavior. This is compounded by finding they have no job opportunities, from never having been given the keys to knowledge, by way of written English. They may be "prepared" to graduate from anti-social behavior, in the classroom, to crime in the outside world.

Who was Downing and what was his finding?

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John Downing showed that starting children, with fewer and more consistent rules of spelling, helped them, as a stage towards mastering the complicated rules of conventional English spelling.

Downing's finding was the result of an officially sponsored test, that he was put in charge of reviewing in the early 1960s.
How did this come about?
In the 1950s, the languages teacher, Dr Mont Follick MP conducted a parliamentary campaign for spelling reform, especially helped by James Pitman MP, of the short-hand family fame.

This was an epic battle of back-benchers against front-benchers. Incredibly, they eventually wrung-out of the government a promise to try whether children would learn better by starting with simplified spelling.

As a teacher of languages, Mont Follick knew that people dislike long alfabets. Unfortunately, he died and his old comrade James Pitman did not act on this wisdom. His grandfather, Isaac Pitman invented a shorthand with a long alfabet. Regretably, grandson James followed suit in devising a long alfabet: James Pitman's Initial Teaching Alfabet (ITA) was forty three letters. Some of these extra letters, to the normal 26 Roman letters, were actually two Roman letters joined as if one.

One has to remember that in the early 1960s, literacy education still had exacting ideas of "correctness" that really hindered rather than helped people to communicate. Only one dialect was tolerated as correct (BBC English) and only one spelling was supposed to be correct (Dr Samuel Johnson's dictionary, 1755). However, the correct dialect and the correct spelling were somewhat haphazardly related.

If anything, Pitman's ITA exceeded convention in his zeal to appear correct, with the superfluous fonetik distinctions he made. It was the extra letters that Mont Follick knew people disliked, that John Downing came to say he deeply regreted. Had ITA not been so cumbersome, it would not have been dropped.
I know this was an issue, from a teacher I asked, when ITA was falling-out of use, in the early 1970s.

Downing found in practise that a relatively consistent system will advance children's literacy learning. This page would like to pass-on his legacy to to-day's teachers of "synthetic phonics" (or foniks, in my spelling).

Cut Speling.

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Mont Follick and Downing noted people prefer short alfabets. Likewise, English has too many letters to many of its words.
Research has shown a main source of spelling confusion is over repetition of letters. Generally, it is consonants, which are doubled. It is easy to see why repeated letters are a source of confusion, because they rarely have any fonetik basis. Medieval copyists of manuscripts were paid by the letter and repeating letters was one way of boosting their fees.

Especially suspect are monstrosities like "though" and "through." (I ceased to manifest these spellings as soon as I didnt have an editor correctlng me, tho rejection was editors' standard mode of correction.) Repeated letters have less to do with scholarship than scam. Americans have somewhat reduced repeated consonants. We should, in all honesty, tolerate doing away with spelling the same letter twice for no fonetik reason. Equally, we should tolerate the conventional spellings.

The Simplified Spelling Society member Valerie Yule advocated "Cut Speling." That is the practise of leaving-out unneeded letters from one's spellings. Over the years, especially since putting-up web pages, I have had this in mind. I admit my pruning of dead letters has been modest, compared to what would be fonetikly justified. I went little further than Teddy Rooseveldt's spelling reforms in official documents. I would like to do more (or rather less) but felt it might look too unfamiliar and off-putting to conventional spellers. Tho, I did plenty of cut speling on my duplicate web pages which are in Kompromis Speling.

The previous paragraph in cut speling would look like this:

The Simplifi'd Speling Society member Valerie Yule advocated Cut Speling. That is the practis of leaving-out uneeded leters from one's spelings. Over the years, especialy since puting-up web pages, I hav had this in mind. I admit my pruning of ded leters has been modest, compar'd to what wud be fonetikly justifi'd. I went litl further than Teddy Rooseveldt's speling reforms in oficial documents. I wud like to do mor (or rather les) but felt it miht look too unfamiliar and of-puting to conventional spelers. Tho, I did plenty of cut speling on my web pages wich ar in Kompromis Speling.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in Cut Speling might look like this:

For-scor and seven yers ago our fathers brot forth upon this continent a nw nation conceiv'd in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that al men ar created eqal. Now we ar engag'd in a great civil war, testing whether that nation can long endur. We ar met on a great batlfield of that war. We hav com to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for thos who here gave ther lives that that nation miht liv. It is altogether fiting and proper that we shud do this. But in a larger sens we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot halow this ground. The brave men, living and ded, who strugl'd here, hav consecrated it, far abov our poor power to ad or detract. The world wil litl know nor long remember, wat we say here, but it can never forget wat they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be here dedicated to the great task remaining befor us - that from these honor'd ded we take increas'd devotion to the caus for wich they gave the last ful mesur of devotion that we here hihly resolv that these ded shal not hav died in vain; that this nation, under God, shal hav a nw birth of freedom; and that government of the peopl, by the peopl, for the peopl shal not perish from the erth.

Note that I have re-introduced the old convention of an apostrofe to replace the e in the past tense ending, -ed, when the e is silent.
It will be seen from these two renderings into Cut Speling that its scope for reform is very limited. All the confusion of spelling rules are left in place. Worse still, the shearing of superfluous letters exposes our reliance on these confusing spelling rules. Yet the speling cuts still make the passage look strange enough. Evidently, our minds crave for familiarity, which inhibits change.

At the same time, adaptation is needed, when conservatism, by itself, fails so many learners. The moderate change, of the Cut Speling program, is a tempting proposition for the spelling reformer who wants to encourage simpler spelling without putting-off people used to the conventional spellings.
I think people used to be more intolerant of any change, when society still seemed to be relatively static. But they dont have to read anything that deviates from the conventional forms. And freedom of spelling is perfectly legal.

Moreover, we all have a good idea of what letters dont add to the meaning of words, so this Cut Speling reform can be carried out fairly consistently, by anyone, without having to wait forever on some central directive to follow certain new rules. Cut Speling has the potential to become a popular movement, and to become familiar and accepted, in its turn.

Letter, e, ambiguous as vowel or dipthongs' accent.

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Besides too many trivial fonetik distinctions, ITA made a mistake common among spelling reformers. It relied on William Caxton's rule for distinguishing dipthongs, from vowels, by adding an "e". Caxton introduced the printing press to England, from about 1477 and the English language has been suffering from this technological limitation of the primeval press, ever since.

Using letter, e, as an accent to turn a vowel, into a dipthong, has no scholarly or academic justification. It is purely the result of a technical hitch that wont go away, or a chronic case of technical hiccups.

A main stumbling block, to spelling speech and speechifying spelling, Caxton's e, combined with the five vowels, no longer has the sound of the vowel, e. In that way, the reader has to arbitrarily remember five different uses of Caxton's e, that cannot be remembered by the rule of the sound value of vowel, e. He cannot go back to first principles to remember fonetikly the formation of dipthongs from vowel combinations.

In this context of the ambiguous use of letter-e, it is perhaps worth quoting the moral of a recent report that a fashionable mish-mash of methods was blamed for confusing children and not improving literacy standards since the 1950s.

Nor has the Caxton e-accent any educational value for learning any other languages using the Roman alfabet (or of course any other alfabet). It was just a locally adopted expedient. Being fonetikly meaningless, the e-accent evokes no sympathy or understanding from abroad, nor indeed from the intelligent English-speaking child who tries to spell dipthongs as fonetik combinations of two particular vowels. It was a parochial regularity of no meaning or value beyond English speakers already used to the writing habit of adding letter, e, to a vowel for a dipthong.

The Simplified Spelling Society, early in the twentieth century, made the mistake of a reform, "Nue Speling," that adopted the Caxton e-accent for all dipthong spellings. The mistake was to adopt a regularity without rationality.

Some spelling reformers and conventional spellers may think that giving-up the Caxton spellings is too big a departure from convention. But this is key to the problem of English literacy. English is a phonographic language (or fonografik, as I would prefer to spell). That means English is written by sound. Whatever fashions, in English pronunciation, may come and go, any English word can be remembered as a combination of sounds.

For example, you may follow the English fashion of pronouncing "real" roughly as "ri^l" where the sign, ^, may stand for an undistinguished vowel sound, whose tongue position is somewhere in between the five vowels. But many a person's sound memory will unconsciously spell to themselves "re-al" like the Spanish pronunciation. And that is fine: it is allowing the (fonografik) English alfabet to do its job of translating sound into writing.

Many English words have the Caxton's e at the ends of words, not just after the vowel, and the SSS found that their system of Nue Speling always needed Caxton's e immediately after the vowel, to show a dipthong. Hence: made/maid became: maed. (In actual fact, you could leave "maid" as it is. Some people pronounce: maid, as it is spelt.) The point is that "maed" tempts one to think and say: ma-ed.

This comes close to revealing the nonsense - the non-sense - of making a letter double as an accent: the accent, e, will be pronounced as if it is still the vowel, e. The confusion of usage may be unconscious but it could take place, in people's minds, every time the fonetik logic of the language over-came the ad hoc usage of letter, e, as an accent.

The following example may or may not be quite fitting but it illustrates well enough the possibly sub-conscious mental process of spelling a word more fonetikly than is the custom. The word, friend, is usually pronounced "frend" but Ive heard it pronounced as it looks to sound: "fri-end." The difference was not very noticable. (The Chris Andrews' song, To Whom It Concerns, starts something like: "Ma fri-ends, please hear me do,..")
Then again, English used to be pronounced more as it is spelt, and the older fashions sometimes persist locally.

The sound value of vowel, e, as a memory hook, may not be foregone, even when letter, e, has no sound meaning, as an accent for dipthongs. So, the conflicting usage of letter, e, can force people's dipthong pronunciation to go wrong by remembering "e" as a vowel when it is only an accent. This defeats the purpose of the e-accent.

Of course, learners should know about the Caxton spelling convention when they have to come to terms with it, in ordinary usage. But that is a later stage to the peculiar state of near anarchy that passes for literacy in English.

Rational English Alfabet Literacy/Realistic Early-Alfabet Learning.

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This writer accepts the basic principle of the Initial Transitional Alfabet, as an early-learning alfabet. But, for the reasons just given, it must follow other than Caxton's conventional dipthong spellings, as a starting point for literacy. At this point, the English language has a powerful ally in its very diversity of dialects. There is probably a dialect somewhere that fonetikly pronounces a conventional spelling of some English dipthong.

In general, for any dialect of English that approximates the conventional English spelling of dipthongs, draw attention to it, in teaching literacy. The language doesnt even have to be English, as in the Spanish pronunciation of "real." It is familiar to football fans, who know of Real Madrid.
I would not change this "ea" family of spellings, as I did on my Kompromis Speling pages. I am still learning the best compromises!

I have given other examples, of conventional spellings that are fonetikly spelt according to some local dialects, on my page explaining compromise spelling (Kompromis Speling).

What could an early-learning alfabet look like?
It should be a bridge or transition from simple "one-sound: one-letter" to complicated convention. It must not be so simple that the learner cannot relate it enough to ordinary spelling. Yet it should not be so hedged-about with spelling qualifications that it cannot be quickly grasped as a working spelling system.

An early-learning alfabet would probably be somewhere between my English Spelling Priorities Alfabet and my Kompromis speling system, as a compromise with conventional spelling. I sketch out a possible early-learning alfabet here. Ive called it REAL: Rational English Alfabet Literacy. And I will use the short-hand, REAL, below. (REAL could also stand for Realistic Early-Alfabet Learning.)

In practical terms, this is a summary of the most regular forms of spelling, by which a learner can write any thing in English speech. The complications can come later.

It has to be remembered that as soon as children learn one spelling rule, in too many cases, they will fall foul-of, and be frustrated by, conflicting rules. So, it is surely better (as John Downing's research showed) to say to children: We are going to teach you first one set of rules for spelling, and not worry you and discourage you straight away, when you spell a word that follows conflicting rules.
The learning child can be taught easily to spell rationly. But teaching irrational English spellings teaches confusion. It is a model for "English muddling thru" that is the incompetant style of so much government.

Teaching speech-spelling relations consistently, tho convention is inconsistent, is also the right lesson, in good social relations or indeed in relations with animals, namely: be consistent. Sending mixed messages is distressing. It wastes someone's time and emotional energy if they have to keep guessing: well, do they want my friendship or dont they? If one wants a friendship, one must be consistent about it, not blowing hot and cold. One must make up one's mind.

Likewise with learning spelling, a child must be allowed to make up their mind that it is acceptable to spell a foneme in some standard way. The fact that conventional English spelling cannot make up its mind how to spell many a foneme is no reason to muddle children's education.

Let us make a standard early-learning alfabet to which all learners can relate.

How would we go about this?
Firstly, consider what is the minimum alfabet needed to spell rational English. This was covered by my page on an English Spelling Priorities (ESP) alfabet. Then we can go onto consider the best bridge alfabet to conventional spelling. If we are going to build this spelling bridge we should be as familiar with a rational side of the bridge, as with the other, conventional side.

We are not talking about the International Phonetic Alfabet (IPA) with well over a hundred letters. No alfabet, no matter how long, can ever hope to distinguish every mutation of dialect. We are talking just about the most stream-lined alfabet, offering the least resistance to communication in English speech, not about capturing each other's accents.

An early-learning alfabet is a rational bridge to the conventional spelling. Once a child or learner has picked-up the simple system, a conventional spelling check program could be written to convert a standard rational spelling system to the conventional spelling, at the press of a computer button.

How few letters can a rational English alfabet do with? This is a proper technical question. We should not be put-off by fears that it will never work. Learned and high-placed professors said that about the steam engine and the aeroplane.

Vowel pronunciations shift in time and space. An orthography based on them is a house built on sand. It will not stand. Youve got to be a bit flexible and adaptive to all people's needs. Let the conventional spellers spell conventionly. Let people spell rationly, if they are to spell at all. And if they graduate to conventional spelling, fine! Then the job's been done. If not, that's fine, too. At least theyve got a rational means of communicating that's much more efficient than existing spellings.

An early-learning alfabet might be as follows:

No change in the spelling of the following consonants: b, d, f, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, z.

Each letter is spelt one way. The main exception is that plurals are usually spelt with letter, s, on the end of a word, tho pronunciation is closer to letter, z, which is generally little used.

Three less important consonants have the digrafs: th, sh, ch.

(Digraf ch = tsh. A World Roman Alfabet could let sh = c and therefore ch = tc. Then words, like fetch, would be spelt: fetc.)

The five vowels, a, e, i, o, u have their conventional meaning as vowels always. e.g. pat, pet, pit, pot, put.
The letter, e, is never used as an accent to distinguish five dipthongs from the five vowels.

The dipthong in: two, moon, shoe, rue, crew, is always spelt with a double-u: w. Thus: tw, mwn, shw, rw, crw.

By analogy, the letter, y, is treated as a double-i, to stand-for the foneme in: see, sea, me, key, gene, machine. Thus: sy, my, ky, gyn, machyn.

Strictly speaking, we dont need a single letter to stand for a combination of vowels or a dipthong. But it may be the best way of getting rid of the technical anachronism of the Caxton e-accent. The capital-i letter, I, is the personal pronoun, I, meaning myself, and pronounces the dipthong, ai, as in: aisle/isle.

Capital-i can be used as this dipthong, written like an uncrossed t or an unlooped small-L.
Australian and Cockney also pronounce the dipthong, ai, in words like rain, Spain, mainly, plain. These are an acceptable alternative.

One has to be careful about what fonts to use. Arial is "sans" serif or without serifs. (That is the meaning of a simple font like Gill sans.) Arial does not distinguish capital-i, I, from l, small-L.
That does not matter, if you object to having to use the capital shift on the key-board. For, number one, 1, might be used instead. That is: isle = 1l; pie = p1; ride = r1d; by = b1.

Times New Roman font does not distinguish small-L from number one. So, you cannot use that tactic in that font. But that font does distinguish capital-i from small-L. On my simpler spelling pages, I used another font that made this distinction.

A similar trick can be used with the number zero, 0, by letting it stand for the dipthong, ou, in: oh, toe, row, so, mould. Americans typicly spell: mold, dropping the u. Thus mould = mold = m0ld. And m0l = mole, as distinct from moll. And you dont need the double-l: "mol" would do, rationly speaking.
The zero, 0, can be used to tell e.g. on from own. Thus: 0n = own.

The ou-dipthong is often spelt: oa, as in: goat. But I wouldnt bother to change this spelling rule. It does not worry me that people might pronounce, for instance, goat, a bit like: go-at. In my Kompromis speling rules, I got rid of the "oa" spelling as one more spelling, to trip-up over, but this depends on whether it is much cause of confusion.
If the zero were used for this dipthong, so "goat" is spelled: g0t, as distinct from: got, that would be fine, too.

Other English speakers pronounce words like: rain, Spain, with the dipthong, ei. Australians regard this as effete. My sympathies are with them, tho it was long before I got used to their feeling on the matter.

Only about five per cent of English words spell the "ei" (or "ey") dipthong correctly according to the dominant English dialect: for example: vein, prey. But that is an under-estimate, when one allows that Cockneys or Australians would pronounce: vain, pray, as they are spelt (fonetikly) with the dipthong, ai/ay.

There is an esthetic objection to using capital-a, A, for the dipthong, ei, tho this is the sound we use when we recite our "A, B, C,..." Letter A, unlike I = ai, is simply too out-size to include in words otherwise made of lower case letters.
That leaves the fonetik digraf, ei, for that dipthong.

There are a few English dipthongs other than the five that Caxton signified with his spare blocks of the letter, e.

There is the dipthong, oi (or "oy"). Fortunately this is rational. Words like: boy, oil, do fonetikly pronounce the combined vowels, o and i.

There is also the dipthong, au, which is not spelt as it sounds, except in rare cases like "aural". This is quite a problem because it leaves little option but to spell words like: how now brown cow, as say: hau nau braun cau.
To keep w, instead of u, would confuse with words like: haw, caw.

So great is the confusion of English dipthong spelling that, at some points, radical revision to English conservatism, is inevitable, if we are to get out of the mess that the orthografy or "correct spelling" makes of education and the lives it stunts or wastes.

From this discussion, a suggested English Learning Alfabet (REAL) is drawn-up in table 1. This is a slightly modified version of the table on my web page about an English Spelling Priorities alfabet.

Table 1: R.E.A.L. from modified E.S.P. Alfabet
Personal Words verbs logic words other words
possessive subject object
m: my I/1: I (m: me) b: be a: a/an t: to
h: he (h: him) v: have/'ve th: the p: up
r: her sh: she (r: her) k(n): can n: and/'n' j: just
i: it (i: it) g: go o: of/o' O/0: O/Oh/owe
au: our w: we u: us l: 'll/will/shall f: if ch: which
y: you (y: you) d: 'd/would/should s: so
e: their (there) ei/ey: they (e: them) z: as

In table 1, each foneme is represented by a letter and a word. The word can be the name of the letter, just as the letters of the alfabet, in effect, have names when they are recited: A, B, C, etc. The value, of naming the letters of the alfabet by the most common words that use them, is that the single letters may stand as short-hand for these most common words in the language.

My ESP alfabet page was rather more economical, because a one-sound: one- letter alfabet. This REAL version departs slightly from that, with a few digrafs: th, sh, ch. (The slightly more economical ESP alfabet might still be used for short-hand purposes.)

Foot-note: Pan-European or World Roman Alfabet.

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Few people are more critical of the European Union than myself but the EU is not Europe, and we should adopt more sensible practises from wherever they come. A common Roman alfabet for all European languages wouldnt necessarily be carried-out by the EU, which doesnt include all Europe. And European languages are world-wide.

In any case, I would expect a European or world agreement will have the foneme represented in English, sh, and in French, ch, alloted the single letter, c, as part of a one-sound one-letter World Roman Alfabet.

My ESP alfabet adopted c, as in "ocean" or "social." Letter, c, is often associated with that sound in many European nations' alfabets, e.g. schnide, chef.
That means that we could spell digraf, ch, in "church" (which sounds like tsh) as tc. Thus, church could be spelt in a more rational spelling system, as tcurtc.

Having said all that, I am ready to concede that English teachers of foniks probably would prefer to start with "sh" as in "she" and so I use this digraf in REAL, as distinct from my basic ESP alfabet.

Other European alfabets, than the English alfabet, do not spell k as c. Equally, REAL could adopt the European practise of not spelling f as "ph" or "gh".

X already has a distinct fonetik meaning, called chi, in the Greek alfabet. Likewise, the Cyrillic alfabet's x. It is the "ch" in the Scottish pronunciation of loch. It is not a foneme of the first importance.
I would expect a World Roman Alfabet to assign x the foneme that it stands-for in the Greek and Cyrillic alfabets. But I dont include x, for basic teaching purposes, in REAL, because it is not much used in British speech.

An even more marginal foneme is represented by the digraf, th. Some languages, including Russian, dont even recognise the definite article, given in English as the word, the, which is the main use of this foneme. So, for the purposes of REAL, it is probably best not to bother to replace digraf, th, with a single letter.
The foneme, th, is probably not important enough, for strictly practical purposes, to be in a World Roman Alfabet (as distinct from the IPA). Foreign speakers of English tend to use substitute fonemes. French speaking people often use z, instead. Indeed, some English dialects also use alternatives, like t or d.

The letter, q, can be left as a spare for new uses. When it came to devising a Europe-wide or a world-wide Roman Alfabet, the letter, q, could become a bone of contention between any competitors for the most important unassigned foneme in global speech.

Richard Lung.
march 2008;
january 2010.

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