English Speling Prioritys: the ESP alfabet

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( Kapital-i, in 'I, myself', now spels Il as in isle or aisle.
Leter y spels sym for seem or seam and partys for parties.
Leter w spels swn for soon. )

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In november 1997, the BBC serys 'Scare Stories' fytur'd the population explosion. Robert Macnamara had komision'd a statistikal investigation of every konsyvabl faktor that mIt korelat with the population rait. Only uon such variabl was found. And it was praktikly a perfekt fit.

HI population raits went with hI femayl iliterasy. So, women's equal rIts ar nyded to stabilis the population, wich is nyded to prevent the further destroying and poisoning of the world's natural resorses.

In 1970, rIting of 'The End', Isaac Asimov play'd the grusom gaim of working out how long, at present growth raits, it wud tak for the mas of humanity to equal the mas of the univers: les than 5000 yers. To equal the mas of animal lIf on erth (exept algae to fyd humans): les than 500 yers.
(Asimov yus'd a simpl exponential formula, lIk that yus'd to work out the growth of kapital at kompound interest.)

Asimov said that unles the population problem kan be solv'd, non of the other problems kan be.
Given that iliterasy of women is a ky faktor in the problem, the English-spyking pepls hav don precius litl, especialy to mak English speling ysier. Radikal ils requir radikal remedys.

In 1998, the Human Development report found over 20% of the UK (the hom of English) funktionaly iliterat.
In 1999, 'Save The Children' promoted a skym, led by futbaler John Barnes, of Dad ryding to boys. Boys tend to be les literat than girls. They ar also mor lIkly to rebel against the konflikting speling ruls that mak no sens. From the speling reformer's point of viw, the mor kompliant girls ar mor lIkly to humor rong-heded konventional literasy tychers.

With 22% of adults having very low literasy levels, experts partly blaim'd 'trendy' tyching teknyks moving away from foniks - tyching children to ryd by matching leters and sounds.

Also in 1999, a government komision'd report stated adults in England hav pwrer literasy and numerasy skils than any kuntry in Europ exept Poland and Ireland.
Ireland is partikularly signifikant bekaus the Irish hav to lern tw of the worst spelt languajes in the world - Gaelic and English.

Sir Claus Moser reports this lak of adult basik skils is disasterus for sosiety and the ekonomy.
The German-spyking pepls most resently mov'd to mor rationaly spelt spych.

Even in Britain, Dr Mont Follick eventualy won 'The Case For Spelling Reform' ( as his posthumus bwk was kal'd ). Join'd by Sir James Pitman, he led a bak-bench kampain in parliment against the kombin'd oposition of the Churchill and Attlee front benches.

The government agry'd on skwl trials of Pitman's initial tyching alfabet. ITA is stil som way off a uon-leter uon-sound alfabet. But the idea was to start children off with a konsiderably mor rational version of the English alfabet, to help them pik up rIting mor quikly and mak an ysy transition to ordinary English spelings, with al the extra speling ruls that konflikt and confus.

Profesor John Downing led the government tests on ITA wich, on the houl, wer positiv. But he was to dyply regret that ITA introdus'd nw leters to augment the Roman alfabet. ( This was reported in the journal of the Simplify'd Speling Sosiety, edited by Chris Upward. )

ITA has 43 ( or 44 ) karakters. 14 of thos ar unwyldy tw-leter kombinations. Mont Follick's alfabet reform yus'd no nw leters. He ran a languaj skwl, bomb'd-out during the war. And he nw that pepl dont lIk to lern long alfabets. ITA over-lwk'd that tychers and parents, to say nothing of the children, mIt not lIk having to lern a lot of unesesary nw leters.

Every-uon nos that languaj has to be lern'd yung, or children, lIk the 'wild boy' growing-up alon in the wuds, never spyk. A mathematician, hw bekaim blind in leiter lIf, told me that he kud never ryd braille fluently, bekaus uon lost that kind of kapasity, by uon's fortys.

By inventing nw alfabets, I found out the hard way that I never bekaim fluent in them. The trubl even with establish'd short-hands is that they tak a big investment of tIm to aquir and kyp up.

Therfor, speling reform must work with konvention. The Roman alfabet, invented by an ancient pepl renown'd for ther rational law, is the simplest of the greit traditional alfabets. Sins the nIntynth sentury, it has been aksepted for international postal adreses.

The 'ESP' alfabet and word-koud.

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ESP or English Speling Prioritys ar the ruls of English speling, given priority over konflikting spelings, to sekur a short but rational uon-leter uon-sound English alfabet. Ther ar no nw leters to lern. (ITA had 43 or 44 leters.) Ther are no nw spych sounds or fonyms to lern. (ITA introdus'd 7 or so nw leters just to mak spych distinktions previusly thot not important enuf to inklud in the alfabet.)

Most of the 27 leters of the ESP alfabet myn exaktly wat yu wud expekt from the traditional English alfabet. So, without further explanation, the unchanj'd leters ar given as abreviations or koud-leters for som of the most komon English words:

a: a/an; b: be(am/is/are); d: 'd/would/should; f: if; g: go; h: he; i: it; j (js/jst): just; k (kn): can; l: 'l/will/shall; m: me/my; n: 'n'/and; o: of; p: up; s: so; t: to*; u: us; v: 've/have(has); w: we; y: you; z: as.

*Exept that for short-hand purposes, to may be render'd 2, lyving t for the.

The leter r is also spelt as normal, tho it tends not to be pronouns'd after an unstres'd vowel. For exampl: earn, verse, girl, work, turn. A yusful short-hand tip is to lyv out the presyding vowel, to konvey an unstres'd vowel befor r. Hens: rn, vrs, grl, wrk, trn.
My koud word for r: her.

That kovers 22 leters with unchanj'd myning. The only rul is that thys leters always hav the sound valu they hav in the abov exampls.
Yusing the fonetik prinsipl also maks posibl number tw, 2 for 'to'; and 4 for 'for' ( unles yu ar doing arithmetik ).

Word prosesing programs automatikly transform singl leters to words of yor chois. Wen thys programs bekaim popular, Prof. Abe Citron, the speling reformer produs'd a list of uon, tw, thry etc leter abreviations for the komonest English words. ( This apyr'd in the 'Spelling Progress Bulletin.' )

The main chanj the ESP alfabet maks to the konsonants is that leter c is konfin'd to its sound valu in words lIk social and ocean. This was a fytur of Dr Reg Deans' 'Britic' ( pronouns'd as 'British' ) alfabet.
And c is mayd the koud leter for 'she', by far the komonest English usaj of this fonym.

In the European family of Roman alfabets, c often fyturs in the speling reserv'd for it in the ESP alfabet. To giv but thry exampls, French: chef; German: schnapps; Italian: Puccini. It wud be yusful if the European Union designated c as the standard leter for the fonym in she or chez.

Folowing from this yus of c, the English digraf ch, as in which, wud be re-spelt tc. 'Which' bekoms 'whitc'; 'witch' bekoms 'witc', and 'watch' bekoms 'watc'.

Failur to agry by speling reformers of English ( hw dont al hav English as ther first languaj ) perhaps has byn kaus'd by tw distraktions.
The leser distraktion has byn the patern ( regular but not rational ) of ading the leter h to som other leter to mak a digraf. This presedent has enkuraj'd the yus of tw leters wer uon leter wil do.

The mor serius trap for speling reformers has byn to folow the patern of speling dipthongs, introdus'd by William Caxton, the first English printer. He put e on the end of a word to chanj a vowel, in a word, to a dipthong.
Hens, from mad to made; cod to code; wed to weed; rid to ride; cut to cute, Amerikans pronouns lIk 'coot'.

Thry objektions to Caxton's dipthongs: Firstly, they ar not fonetik. The Caxton digrafs kan not depend on an apreciation of how vowels kombin to mak dipthongs. They hav to be lern'd by rowt - dumbly, as it wer. But lerning, as a rul, is intelijens first, only then bak'd up by habit, to relys intelijens to lern nw things.

Sekondly, the Caxton spelings wer not folow'd in European languajes, and ther lak of sound lojik is naturaly not akseptabl to Europeans or ther former kolonists. Uon day ther may be a standard Roman alfabet for al the languajes of Europ and ther over-sys kounter-parts. Caxton-rul'd English speling reformers ar tu parokial.

Thirdly, the Caxton dipthongs dont always lwk familiar even to English ryders, wen yus'd konsistently. For instans, Caxton speling reformers render made as maed; ride as ried; code as coed; rude as rued.

But we kan mak gud yus of the fakt that the English vowels also stand for dipthongs, provided we find a beter way of distinguishing them than the first English printer kud. In 'Spelling Progress Bulletin,' a reformer sujested kapital leters for the dipthongs.
I wud adopt this idea for the thry letters: A, I, O. Hens, mAd= made; rId=ride; cOd= code. ( But, as explain'd below, ther ar substituts for I and O. )

This konvention of I ( kapital-i ) for a dipthong alredy exists for the personal pronoun (and uon-leter koud word), I ( as in aisle). I kud be riten lIk an unkros'd t; l wud always be riten with a lwp.

Kapital-a kan be riten as NASA rIts the A's in its logo, without kros -bars. That is lIk an up-turn'd 'v'. A is the koud leter for they, an other personal pronoun, a very komon and gramatikly important grup of words (as the ESP alfabet tabl shows below).

How-ever, the dipthong in 'they' is spelt fonetikly, as ar words lIk vein. Therfor, the ESP alfabet aksepts the spelings ei or ey as a fonetik alternativ to speling this dipthong with A.

Mor-over, the short-hand advantaj of rIting a 'NASA' stIl A is lost in typing, bekaus of having to yus the shift ky for a kapital. Uon mIt just as wel tIp ei or ey, as the kais may be.
( Not yusing A for ei wud redus the ESP alfabet to 26 leters, the saim number as the present English alfabet. )

The koud word for O kan be the poetik deklamation, O, the exklamation, Oh, or owe. The koud words for O and j (wich is just) ar the only koud words to the ESP alfabet not to be found among ( or at al far from ) the 100 most komon English words.

Yusing the ESP alfabet, sentenses ar not started by kapitals. The ful stop or period servs to separat sentenses.

Kapital leters tak longer to tIp bekaus of the nyd to pres the shift ky first. But the ESP alfabet kan even get round this for the leter O, by tIping 0 ( zero ) insted. So, 'code' would be 'c0d', as distinkt from 'cod'.
And for leter I, the number uon, 1, is at lyst a posibl substitut: 'hide', wud be 'h1d', as distinkt from 'hid'.

Leter w, literaly a dubl-u, also servs for the long-u dipthong. Hens, rwd= rude, cwt= coot or cute.

By analojy, y is a sort of dubl-i, yus'd in the way that the words, to the Elgar march, rIm 'glory' with 'free'. Hens, wyd= weed.

Nout, how-ever, thys oditys that kom from ekonomising with the number of leters in the ESP alfabet: ww= woo; yy= ye ( arkaik ). This is distinkt from, say, wud= wood; yer= year.

This komplyts the 27 leters of the English Speling Prioritys alfabet.

Nout: Leter x in the Roman alfabet may be given the same valu as Cyrillic ( or Russian ) 'x', also similar to Greek chi. This is the fonym in Skotish loch or Jerman Bach. It isnt nyded for the English languaj.

LIkwIs, the English fonym th wud be no mor than a sekondary leter in a world alfabet. Foreiners find it hard to pronouns but we understand them and the varius English dialekts that only pronouns th aproximatly.
Thry-quarters of English usaj of this fonym is in the word 'the'.
Some languajes dont hav a definit artikl and foreiners often lyv it out even wen spyking English. So do nws-paper kaption rIters.
The ESP alfabet givs 'the' the short-hand, 't'. OtherwIs, ordinary English speling, 'th', is retain'd for this fonym.

Leter q is left as a sper.

Tabl of the English Speling Prioritys (ESP) Alfabet
klasifying uon-leter word abreviations by parts of spych.

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The English Speling Prioritys Alfabet
Personal Wordsverbs lojik wordsother words
m: myI/1: I(m: me)b: bea: a/an t**/2: to
h: he(h: him)v: have/'ve th: that; p: up
r: herc: she(r: her)k(n): can n: and/'n'j: just
i: it(i: it)g: goo: of O/0: O/Oh/owe
au: our*w: weu: usl: 'll/will/shall f: if
y: you(y: you)d: 'd/would/should s: so
e: their(there)A/ei/ey: they (e: them)z: as

The tabl shows 27 leters plus two digrafs au and th or alternativly 26 leters plus a third digraf ( ei or ey ).

*The dipthong, hws fonetik speling is au dos not hav a singl English leter. au is usualy spelt by the digrafs ou or ow.

**t may be yus'd for the, if 2 is used for to.

Notis that the objekt sektion of personal words ar nyrly al dubl'd-for, by leters in the posesiv or subjekt sektions. This is standard short-hand praktis. Also e kan dubl for 'their' and 'there', bekaus wich is ment kan be told by ther diferent gramatikal positions in a sentens. The saim is tru of yusing b to myn either 'be' or 'by'.

So, the ESP alfabet dosnt just inklud 25 ( or 26 ) of the 100 most komon English words but about 36 ( or 37 ), alowing for the dubl mynings of som leters.

Haf of English in 100 words

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10 words mak up uon-quarter of English usaj (if 'an' also kounts as'a'): and in to the I that is of an it ( shorten'd: ) n in 2 t 1 th b o a i.

Haf of demotik English usaj is kover'd by som 100 words.
So, it wud be ekonomik to mak tw or mor leter shortenings for as many as posibl of thos 100 most komon words, having kouded al the singl leters of the ESP alfabet.
5 words with no singl leters left to shorten them wer: in, or, on, no, at. (The thry-leter word 'out' may be left unshorten'd, tu.)

About 23 (plus 2) words hav fairly klyr 2-leter kouds:
sm: some tl: till nt: not
mn: man wn: when bt: but
md: made al: all bn: been, was, were.
tm: time gd: good af: after
sd: said fr: from mk: make
mt: might lk: like wt: what
hd: had hw: how yt: yet
hs: his rt: right

20 other leter pairs may not be so ysy to ges:
km: come en: any wr: where tu: too
kd: could na: now sy: see ts: its
ms: must ov: over wI: why On: own
mc: much hw: who mA: may yn: even (e'en)
sc: such nw: new wc: which hr: here, hear.

7 thry-leter shorten'd words mIt be:
yor: your onl: only mor: more mos: most.
sns: since wel: well abt: about

Notis that rIting t for 'the', bekaus rekognisabl as the komonest word in English, frys th for 'that'.
7 ( plus uon ) komon words yusing the digraf th ar hyr given short-hand forms:

wi: with; th: that; oth: other; thn: than, then; ths: this; thr: thru / through; tho: tho / though.

LIkwIs for thys 3 4-letter shortenings that kontain th:

thos: those; thys: these; thng: thing.

Nout: short-hands rIt numbers in ther usual Hindu-Arabik form 1, 2, 3, etc.

Any list of unspecialis'd English from every-day spych, jurnalism or literatur, kompil'd on a brod statistikal basis, wud mostly agry on the 100 most komon words. Diferenses wud be marjinal.
The abov listed words total about 107, inkluding diferent versions of the saim word from iregular verbs.

I mayd my list firstly by konsulting my own experiens and baking my own intuition as to the most important words. But I bekaim kyn to chek with other sorses. Som ar alredy sIted. Others inkluded the prIm vokabularys of varius short-hand systems, and Basik English.
The 100 word list, in Helen Fouché Gaines' 'Cryptanalysis,' koms to about 49% of ther sampl. A les konservativ estimat is John Dewey's: haf of popular English in 69 words.

Thys most komon words ar yus'd al the tIm to suport the vast number of les frequent words. That's wI it's hard to mak sens of them on ther own, as the folowing non-sens vers shows. ( Even then I chyted, yusing might not as the komon suporting verb but as the noun for strenth.)
The non-sens vers is first spelt in ful:

Haf of English in a hundred words

Since man has been made, for how much its time
can he or she go on, as we are, from here?
A them-and-us will not do. Then, the one, well up,
shall have most there is, so an-other, than him, had
no-thing but be thru with it all, which some must now,
till who two would, where could, come to good,
that was his, tho her, own, by what you said,
when their might may yet see out my, of your, right
even our such, they, too, at first just, 
were in after, if only about: why
should I like those new over me any more?

Hyr is the saim non-sens vers with the abreviations introdus'd abov:

Haf of English in 100 words.

Sns mn v bn md, 4 hw mc ts tm
kn h or c g on, z w b, fr hr?
a e-n-u l nt do. thn, t 1, wel p,
l v mos e b, s a-oth, thn h, hd
no-thng bt b thr wth i al, ch sm ms na,
tl hw 2 d, wr kd, km 2 gd,
th bn hs, tho r 0n, b wt y sd,
wn thr mt mA yt sy aut m, o yor, rt
yn au sc, A, tu, at 1st j,
bn in af, if onl abt: wI
d 1 lk thos nw ov m en mor?

The abov non-sens vers is a posibl memory aid or nemonik for short forms of about a hundred of the most komon English words. But wat do thos shorten'd komon words lwk lIk in an ordinary text. Languaj reformers hav a konvention of yusing the Gettysburg adres to exemplify ther propos'd inovations.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Adres with the 100 most komon words shorten'd

4-score n 7 yers ago au fathers brought forth pon ths continent a nw nation conceived in liberty, n dedicated 2 t proposition th al men b created equal. na w b engaged in a great civil war, testing whether th nation kn long endure. w b met on a great battlefield o th war. w v km 2 dedicate a portion o th field z a final resting place 4 thos hw hr gave e lives th th nation mt live. i b altogether fitting n proper th w cd do ths. bt in a larger sense w knt dedicate, w knt consecrate, w knt hallow ths ground. t brave men, living n dead, hw struggled hr, v consecrated i, far above au poor power 2 add or detract. t world l little know nor long remember, wt w say hr, bt i kn never forget wt A did hr. i b 4 u t living, rather, 2 b hr dedicated 2 t great task remaining b4 u - th fr thys honored dead w take increased devotion 2 th cause 4 wc A gave t last full measure o devotion th w hr highly resolve th thys dead l nt v died in vain; th ths nation, under god, l v a nw birth o freedom; n th government o t people, b t people, 4 t people l nt perish fr t earth.

English Past Tens Proposal

Ogden and Richards devis'd Basik English as a simplify'd English for world wId yus. They show'd that English sentenses kud be konstrukted with just 18 of the komonest English verbs: come, get, give, go, keep, let, make, put, seem, take, be, do, have, say, see, send, may, will.
(Thys 18 verbs kombin'd with direktiv words, lIk: in, out, with, away, off, etc, may replas many kompound verbs, that hav pre-fixes.)

Only uon of thys 18 verbs has a regular past tens, ading -ed: 'seemed.' Jeneraly the les yus'd English verbs hav this standard past tens.
The English past tens proposal ads 'd to the subjekt of the verb, just as the futur tens alredy ads 'll (short for 'will' or 'shall') to the verb's subjekt.

Hens, 'I'd go' or 'The man 'd go' myns the saim as 'I went' or 'The man went', avoiding the nyd to lern or remember al the iregular past tenses of English.
This kompars to the normal yus of 'I'll go' or 'I will go' for an English verb in the futur tens.

The traditional distinktion of past tens myning betwyn 'I went' and 'I would go' is preserv'd, bekaus only the abreviated form, 'd is propos'd as the suporting verb to put al English verbs in the past tens.
Som traditional English rIters avoid the short form as koloquial, so this regular past tens proposal for 'd wud not konflikt with ther usaj.

Richard Lung.

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