Si'Sei ("SeeSay") A Regularised Orthography for English

While the LangX project is predicated on the notion that a language other than English - and specifically a new constructed language based on certain successful precedents - would have the best chance of becoming the global IAL, this outcome would not mean a defeat for English: not at all, since the best English words would prevail, as would the best words of all other languages.

Obviously, such an outcome would involve any English words used being respelled according to a regularised orthography. Only a proportion of English words would be eligible at first, due to initial restrictions such as only five vowels (i.e. no diphthongs), but the LangX timeline proposes full orthographic revision and consequent usage at an "unofficial" level. So a complete revision of existing English misspelling might be expected to take place anyway. Here is a suggested scheme towards this end:

[1] Si'Sei is based upon non-rhotic speech. Traditional orthography has arguably favoured rhotic speech (viz. spellings like error, or, bear) but even so this proposed reform will reflect rhotic speech more closely than traditional orthography.

[2] Most consonants are pronounced as in English, the exceptions being c g h q r w x y, which are already duplicated, redundant or used in an irregular fashion. They are here redefined as follows: c = /tsh/ [tʃ] (as in church) and familiar Italian words such as cello, ciao; g = [g], plosive or "hard" g (as in go, get); h = [h] (sounded rather than silent); q = [q] as used in transliteration of Arabic qaf, and perhaps the original pronunciation of queen etc.; x = /sh/ [ʃ] (as in she) x denotes [ʃ] in a number of languages including Portuguese, Basque, Catalan and Maltese. Finally, r w y are used exclusively as consonants here, i.e. at the very beginning of a word or syllable, or after another consonant (or third consonant, perhaps, in the case of [r]). There are also four digraphs: kh =[x] as in Bach, loch; zh = [ʒ] as in measure, treasure etc.; dh = [] as in that, other; th = [θ] as in thin, theatre. The glottal stop is shown by [*], e.g. "Wo*' lo*' bu*'!"

[3] Vowels: RP English is reckoned to have 26 vowels - 12 monophthongs, of which 7 are deemed short and 5 long - 8 diphthongs, of which 5 are described as closing and 3 as centring - and 2 thiphthongs.

Monophthongs: short - pat //, pet /e/, pit /ɪ/, pot /ɒ/, putt /ʌ/, put /ʊ/, patter /ə/ - these are spelt the same except for [1] put /ʊ/, which is spelt puit - this change is made because put, foot etc. /ʊ/ is probably a less common sound in English than putt, kut, hut etc. /ʌ/, and [2] the schwa /ə/ at the end of patter, putter etc. which is denoted by an apostrophe, viz. patter, putter = pat', put' (where the schwa or unstressed vowel is understood it may be omitted, e.g. bottle = bot'l = botl).

Monophthongs: long - part /ɑː/, pert /ɜː/, peel /iː/, port /ɔː/, pool /uː/ - these are spelt pa't, pe't, pi'l, po't and pu'l respectively.

Diphthongs: closing - bay /eɪ/, buy /aɪ/, boy /ɔɪ/, beau /əʊ/, bough /aʊ/ - in this provisional scheme these are spelt bei, bai, boi, boa and bao respectively.

Diphthongs: centring - beer /ɪə/, bear /eə/, boor /ʊə/ - these are bie, bea and bue respectively.

Triphthongs: /aɪə/ as in ire, fire and /aʊə/ as in hour, tower. These are difficult sounds for the average speaker, so here they are rendered aiy' and aow' respectively, though those who can should continue to pronounce such words as triphthongs.

Spelling is according to the standard pronunciation, e.g. due, hue are rendered dyu', hyu'. A way of creating an international standard pronunciation for English was proposed here.

Letter

IPA

Examples

Respelled in Si'Sei

c

/tsh/

[tʃ]

church, chair, each

ce'c, cea, i'c

h

/h/

[h]

hundred, honour

hundr'd, on'

x

/sh/

[ʃ]

she, fashion, notion

xe', faxn, noax'n

dh

/dh/

[]

this, that, rather

dhis, dhat, ra'dh'

th

/th/

[θ]

thin, thistle

thin, thisl

kh

/kh/

[x]

loch, arachnid

lokh, arakhnid

zh

/zh/

[ʒ]

measure, treasure

mezh', trezh'

short front open

[]

cap, chap, shall

kap, cap, xal

short front mid

[e]

shred, lead (metal)

xred, led

short front close

[ɪ]

lid, swims

lid, swimz

short central open

[ʌ]

butter, under

but', und'

short central mid

[ə]

anon, manner

'non, man'

short back open

[ɒ]

cot, shops

kot, xops

short back close

[ʊ]

put, foot

puit, fuit

long front close

[iː]

sheep, lead (verb)

xi'p, li'd

long central mid

[ɜː]

bird, learn

be'd, le'n

long back open

[ɑː]

sharp, rather

xa'p, ra'dh'

long back mid

[ɔː]

daughter, bought

do't', bo't

long back close

[uː]

ruler, cool

ru'l', ku'l

closing diphthong

[eɪ]

rain, rein, reign

rein

     "          "

[aɪ]

buy, by, bye

bai

     "          "

[ɔɪ]

boys, noises

boiz, noiziz

     "          "

[əʊ]

beau, bow (archery)

boa

     "          "

[aʊ]

bough, bow (courtly)

bao

centring diphthong

[ɪə]

mere, fear, weir

mie, fie, wie

     "          "

[eə]

mare, fair, wear

mea, fea, wea

     "          "

[ʊə]

boor, moor

bue, mue

triphthong

[aɪə]

fire

faiy'

     "

[aʊə]

tower

taow'

 

The following excerpt from "The Star" by HG Wells (1887) has been used a number of times to compare spelling schemes, prominent among which is Saaspel. The main problem with Saaspel, in my opinion, is that it takes "Cut Speling" to an extreme: missing out letters for brevity is all very well when the omission is obvious, but not where it cannot be identified by children learning to read - unless a form of shorthand rather than orthographic revision is intended. Si'Sei on the other hand is fully orthographic, only permitting obvious omissions of unstressed vowels (shorthand variants of common words - the, that etc. - might possibly be substituted later - indeed, both Regspel and Lojikl Inglish use shorthand for the, so this could be the way forward). Si'Sei is a provisional scheme, most probably imperfect, so any suggested improvements would be welcomed - for instance, more appropriate digraphs might possibly be found for [əʊ], [aʊ] and one or two other sounds. OLD (Tradspel), ALC (American Spelling), N90 (Newspell 90), SAA (Saaspel), REG (Regspel), LOJ (Lojikl Inglish), SI'S (Si'Sei). 
 

OLD   It was on the first day of the new year that the announcement was made, almost simultaneously, from three observatories, that the motion of the planet Neptune, the outermost of all the planets that wheel about the sun, had become very erratic. A retardation in its velocity had been suspected in December. Then a faint, remote speck of light was discovered in the region of the perturbed planet. At first this did not cause any great excitement. Scientific people, however, found the intelligence remarkable enough, even before it became known that the new body was rapidly growing larger and brighter, and that its motion was quite different from the orderly progress of the planets.

ALC   It was on the ferst dae of the nue yeer that the anounsment was maed, almost siemultaeniusly frum three obzervatorys, that the moeshun of the planet Neptune, the outermoest of all the planets that wheel about the sun, had becum verry erratic. A retardaeshun in its velosity had bin suspected in Desember. Then a faent, remoet spek of liet was discuverd in the reejon of the perterbd planet. At ferst this did not cauz eny verry graet exsietment. Sieentific peepl, however, found the intelijens remarkabl enuf, eeven befor it becaem noen that the nue body was rapidly groeing larjer and brieter, and that its moeshun was qiet diferent frum the orderly progres of the planets.

N90   It woz on the ferst dae ov the nue yeer that the anounsment woz maed, aulmoest simultaeneusli from three observatories, that the moeshen ov the planet Neptune, the outermoest ov aul the planets that weel about the sun, had bekum very eratik. A retardaeshen in its velositi had been suspekted in Desember. Then a faint, remoet spek ov lyt woz diskuverd in the reejen ov the peterbd planet. At ferst this did not kauz eni veri graet eksytment. Syentifik peepl, houever, found the intelijens remarkabl enuf, eeven befor it bekaem noen that the nue bodi woz rapidli groeing larjer and bryter, and that its moeshen woz kwyt diferent from the orderli progres ov the planets.

SAA   It woz on th furst daa ov th nyu yir that th anaunsmnt woz maad, oulmoost simultaaniusli frm ttree obzurvatriz, that th mooshn ov th planut Neptune, th autrmoost ov oul th planuts that weel abaut th sun, had bicum veri eratic. A reetardaashn in its velositi had been suspectd in December. Then a faant, rimoot spec ov liit woz discuvrd in th reejn ov th purturbd planut. At furst this did not couz eni veri graat xiitmnt. Siientific peepl, hauevr, faund th intelijns rimarcubl enuf, eevn bifor it bicaam noon that th nyu bodi woz rapidli grooing larjr nd briitr, nd that its mooshn woz qiit difrnt frm th ordrli progres ov th planuts.

REG   It woz on d ferst dae ov d new yeer that d anownsment woz maed, awlmoest simultaeniusly from three obzervatoriz, dhat d moeshn ov d planet Neptewn, d owtermoest ov awl d planetz dhat weel abowt d sun, had bicum verry eratic. A reetardaeshn in itz vilosity had been suspected in Disember. Dhen a faent, rimoet spec ov liet woz discuverd in d reejun ov d perterbd planet. At ferst dhis did not cawz eny graet exietment. Sieentific peepl, however, fownd d intelijens rimarcabl enuf eeven bifor it bicaem noen dhat d new body woz rapidly groeing larjer and brieter, and dhat itz moeshn woz quiet diferent from d orderly proegres ov d planetz.

LOJ    It woz on th feurst dae ov th nue yeer that th anounsmnt woz maed, aulmoest simuultaeniusly from 3 obseuvtrys, that th moeshn ov th planit Neptuen, th outr moest ov aul th planits that wheel about th sun, had bikum very iratik. A reetaardaeshn in its vlosity had been suspektid in Disembr. Then a faent, rimoet spek ov liet woz diskuvrd in th reejn ov th peurteurbd planit. At feurst this did not kauz eny graet exietmnt. Sieuntifik peepl, hou evr, found th intelijns rimaarkeubl inuf even bifaur it bikaem noen that th nue body woz rapidly groeing laarjr and brietr, and that its moeshn woz qiet difreunt from th aurdeurly proegres ov th planits.

SI'S   It woz on dh' fe'st dei ov dh' nyu' yie dhat dh' anaontsm'nt woz meid, o'lmoast simulteiniusli from thri' obze'vatriz, dhat dh' moaxn ov dh' plan't Neptu'n, dh' aot'rmoast ov o'l dh' plan'ts dhat wi'l 'baot dh' sun, had bikum veri eratik. A ri'ta'deixn in its velositi had bi'n suspekt'd in Disembr. Dhen a feint, rimoat spek ov lait woz diskuv'rd in dh' ri'jn ov dh' pe'te'bd plan't. At fe'st dhis did not ko'z eni veri greit eksaitm'nt. Saientifik pi'pl, haoev'r, faond dh' intelijns rima'kbl enuf, i'vn bifo' it bikeim noan dhat dh' nyu' bodi woz rapidli groaing la'jr 'nd braitr, 'nd dhat its moaxn woz qwait difr'nt fr'm dh' o'de'li proagres ov dh' plan'ts.

 

 

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