Several months ago, I wrote about my fascination with alternative alphabets, the history of English-language reform, and an alternative alphabet named Quickscript, which I revised a bit. Since then I’ve gone back and played with my new version of Quickscript on occasion. But just on occasion. I mean, it’s not like I’m obsessed with it. I’m not a lunatic.
Anyhoo, since then I’ve rethought some of my assumptions about what a good phonetic alphabet should be. In some ways, I started from scratch, and jettisoned the idea that a new alphabet would have to use existing English letters. Ultimately, I wanted to come up with an alphabet that incorporated the following assumptions, in addition to—or instead of—the assumptions I enumerated in my previous post.
- The script characters should be easy to write, without making multiple pen strokes.
- Similar phonemes should have similar characters where possible.
- I decided that Arabic numerals were dumb, and new numbers were needed.
- The alphabet should be organized by phonemes, and not the old A, B, C, D, etc. method of organization.
- Capital letters and lower-case letters should have similar letter forms.
With that in mind, what I came up with was this.
With this new alphabet, all of the letters are organized by phonemes, i.e. similar noises made by similar placement of the tongue and lips. For instance, take the sounds made to pronounce the letters D, T, L, and N. In all four cases, you make the sound by placing your tongue at the top of your mouth behind the front teeth. The phonemes, in other words, are similar; therefore, the letter characters for those four letters are similar. To the extent possible this same lettering convention is carried through for all the other phoneme groups. Of course, English has some odd phonemes link “NG” that are set off by themselves, with no friends to hang round with.
I’ve created a TrueType font for this new alphabet, which you can download from here, if you are similarly geeky about alternative alphabets. Which applies, I assume, to practically none of you. IN any event, there are too many letters for the regular Latin Alphabet, so the extra characters are incorporated into the extended Latin, making them accessible from the Insert Symbols command in Microsoft Word, or whatever your word processor is.