The ideal for GL5 orthography is to assign a single letter
(grapheme) for each sound (phoneme). In other words, writing should be
isomorphic with speech. But
the problem is that although English has a minimum of 36 phonemes (some
expand this to 40), we are cramped with only 26 letters to choose
from. Accomodating the excess
sounds in this disparity can be dealt with by one of several
Non-standard alphabets pose their own problem. Acceptance by the world community can be seriously impaired with the introduction of any character not already represented within the standard keyboard repertoire. George Bernard Shaw, and a few modern reformists, argue for a totally new alphabet. Shaw engineered his version by proxy, including in his will a "contest" to design the new alphabet. Kingley Read won the event which was held in 1958 by producing his 48 character "Shavian" alphabet. But such solutions are so radical, besides the difficulty of rendering the symbols, they became virtually unreadable.
Sample of Shavian Text
Other proposals retain the standard 26 letter Roman character set, but rely on vowel combinations or accents to deal with the greater range of vowel sounds than our standard AEIOU palette can provide. Such schemes keep the familiar letters and impose strict phonetic-spelling conventions that result in significantly different word appearances as well. More importantly, double letters are in conflict with our reductionist goal. Neither would the use of accented letters aid the speed of data entry.
An example of this approach is “Inglish ” where words like aand, thaat, faact, laangwidj illustrate the use of double letters for short vowel sounds, while accented forms like réd, rít, gó, awá are used to indicate long vowel sounds. Strangely, consistency still seems to be problematic, at least in the examples provided. ‘Th’ is still rendered in both voiced and voiceless forms, ‘and’ appears as both and and aand, ‘u’ appears in both uv and uníted. Fanetiks also uses many digraphs: OU, OI, EE, AE, EE, IE, OE, UE.
A final alternative could incorporate currently available non-letter symbols, such as the digits. Besides the limitations of capitalization, digits could not be used as single letter words for risk of creating ambiguity with their numeric role. One such spelling system that uses numerals as alphabetical extenders is Chekt Speling which uses 3 (ng), 5 (sh), and 2 (zh).
English Phoneme-Grapheme Ratios
Some phonetic listings for spoken English cite up to 40 different individually identifiable sounds or phonemes. We will consider only thirty-six. These separate utterances form a repetoire of phonemes that are orgnized in various ways. The most common grouping is into vowels and consonents. Additionally, some authorities arrange them into syllabics, non-syllabics, and semi-syllabics. Still others divide them into resonants and non-resonants.
All told, they can be displayed as follows:
This leaves unaccounted such common sounds as long /i/ and the vowel sound in ‘wood’, not to mention a number of blended vowels such as the diphthongs ‘oy’ and ‘ow’. Linguistics applies a rich array of terms for the consonants that are based, for the most part, on anatomic considerations and as to whether they are voiced or not.
labial b p labial v f dental d t alveolar z s gutteral g k palatal zh sh oral h nasals labial m apical y l dental n dorsal w r gutteral ng affricates j ch
Vowels can be catagorized by tongue position using a matrix based on heighth and depth:
beet bit bait boot bet bite bull bat boss bowl bus
The most common vowel in English: schwa (the sound of the second E in "telephone", A in "about", U in "circus", O in "look", etc.)
Multiple characters are used in standard English to accommodate the many additional vowel sounds for which our alphabet makes no provision. For example:
GL5 proposes to designate a single consistently applied symbol for each sound:
Standard English is isomorphic only with the letters e, i, and u:
GL5 preserves these and assigns more single symbols:
English schwa sound in "wood, look, put" is represented
in GL5 by the letter h
English Phonemes GL5
English Alphabet: 26
GL5 Alphabet: 35
Short e and short i are used as the default vowel sound
between consonants. Thus,
Default vowel usage is especially indicated in promoting orthographical consistency when vowels precede the letter [r]. English spelling hosts a vast assortment of such spelling variations:
These examples all illustrate the potential for using an implied default vowel with the glide [-r]. So that in GL5 they become:
Beside the default vowel principle, GL5 has a few unique vowel usage rules:
1. Long e sound, though normally rendered with the  character, will use the [i] character when it occupies the terminal position in a word. For example:
2. Long e sound is frequently used with other vowels to form diphthongs. GL5 provides dedicated characters (7 and 2) in its alphabet for use in the most common forms. Other forms, such as seen in words like "year", "yacht", and "create" require explicit vowel pairs. While such words would be normally rendered as 33r, 3qt, and kr38t, GL5 also recognizes the use of [i] in this setting to achieve typographical compression:
Next up: GL5 Breviations