1069: "Alphabet"

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

Arky
Posts: 183
Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 7:23 am UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Arky » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:27 am UTC

Tova wrote:
coredumperror wrote:I believe the joke is based on the pick-up line "If I could rearrange the alphabet, I'd put u and I together."


Great. Now I understand the comic, and wish I didn't.


Seconded.
Veteran of the One True Thread. And now the Too True Thread?

User avatar
Klear
Posts: 1965
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:43 am UTC
Location: Prague

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Klear » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:47 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:Relevant.


Halfway there it begins to look like Esperanto.

User avatar
Shidoshi
Posts: 84
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:21 am UTC
Location: Brazil - Porto Alegre

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Shidoshi » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:00 am UTC

drc500free wrote:First day of Linguistics, our professor asked us if c and k made the same sound. Then she had us say "car key" and note where in our mouth the "c" and "k" were formed. Blew my mind.

The difference is not due to the letters C and K, more because of the vowel following it.
They have the same sound in: Package and Car. The main thing with "k" is the fact that it keeps its sound even when in front of "e" or "i", whereas "c" doesn't.

EDIT: Eh, seems like JimsMaher made the same comment before me.
Last edited by Shidoshi on Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:02 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Iulus Cofield
WINNING
Posts: 2917
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:31 am UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:00 am UTC

whateveries wrote:Changing the alphabet to suit the way words are pronounced is bound to fail. The primary reason for failure is the different ways in which english speakers the world over will emphasise different vowels and consonants, the only result would be a proliferation of standard english alphabets


Actually, I solved that problem a couple years ago with a revised English alphabet, although I never entirely perfected it:


Iulus Cofield wrote:
Spoiler:
Image

Traditional spelling conventions are all retained. New symbols are recognizable allographs of existing letters My reasoning for this is:
1) It protects etymology and doesn't invalidate all literature written prior.
2) It shows connections between related words in which a sound is silent in some forms, i.e. environ and environment, debt and debit.
3) It allows mutual intelligibility between dialects with differing vowel pronunciations.

But you can also see the pronunciation of a word. Consonants are straightforward. Vowels are straightforward when there's only one in a syllable. If there are multiple vowels (ex: read) one vowel letter can be written silent and the other can carry the pronunciation. In cases where either letter can carry the sound I recommend using the first letter for the vowel and silencing the second, but either would work and be comprehensible.

The large number of new signs is less intimidating than it seems. Almost all of the silent letters are simply very square versions. The exceptions to this rule exist because a squarish version would be unrecognizable to people unfamiliar with the system (i, k, x, and z).

User avatar
Shidoshi
Posts: 84
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:21 am UTC
Location: Brazil - Porto Alegre

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Shidoshi » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:06 am UTC

NotAllThere wrote:
ysth wrote:I think there's a joke here that I am totally missing. Can someone explain for us idiots?


Even after reading all the comments - and that hint - I didn't understand. Then I suddenly got it. So, for the benefit of similarly slow on the uptake people:

There is a saying "Baby, if I could rearrange the alphabet, I'd put u and I together". Randall is saying that if he had that power, he wouldn't use it for anything so trivial; he'd use it to fix perceived problems with the alphabet.

Be glad if you've only got the 26. I've got to put up with äöü - and occasionally éèàç. But not ß (unless I go to the great Northern Kanton).

We don't usually consider accentuation as new letters, or else we'd have a LOT more in Portuguese. áàâã éê õó ç úí. We recently dropped the ¨ so that's no longer in use.

User avatar
Klear
Posts: 1965
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:43 am UTC
Location: Prague

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Klear » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:15 am UTC

Czech has ěščřžýáíé etc and it's brilliant. Add ´to a vowel to make it longer. Add ˇto some of the letters to make them... not sure how to describe it but it beats the hell out of Polish with its ch, cz, sz, rz, dz...

We also have that "one letter for each sound" thing going on, with just a few exceptions. Basically only thing tough about our spelling is the usage of i/y and s/z in some places.

That said, Czech is one of the more difficult languages for other reasons.

Edit: Also, this: http://satwcomic.com/nothing-is-perfect

sethgodin
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:58 am UTC

Alphabetical order

Postby sethgodin » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:00 am UTC

It's in that order because of that song.

Obviously.

User avatar
Klear
Posts: 1965
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:43 am UTC
Location: Prague

Re: Alphabetical order

Postby Klear » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:27 am UTC

sethgodin wrote:It's in that order because of that song.

Obviously.


Which song? This one?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cucBjZXYVW4&feature=related

Q... Q?!

JohnDeCarlo
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:26 am UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby JohnDeCarlo » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:32 am UTC

I have long been envious of the fact that Turkey standardized its alphabet, way back in 1928. And everyone remembers Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

queueingtheory
Posts: 27
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:22 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby queueingtheory » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:33 am UTC

5th Earth wrote:The first thing I would do is reinstate the letter Thorn (þ). It's a perfectly good letter that serves a clear and obvious purpose and I don't know why we stopped using it in the first place.


And eth, which is ðe voiced equivalent. And, like thorn, by eliminating a digraph it helps clarify in this dehyphenated age where t ends a syllable and h begins a new one: for example "eth is shorthand for the voiced th sound and I'd rather use one letter than two".

queueingtheory
Posts: 27
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:22 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby queueingtheory » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:41 am UTC

drc500free wrote:First day of Linguistics, our professor asked us if c and k made the same sound. Then she had us say "car key" and note where in our mouth the "c" and "k" were formed. Blew my mind.


As someone else pointed out we have slightly different consonant sounds that are adjusted by sounds that precede or follow them. If I recall correctly we have 3 different L sounds where German has only one.

And it's funny you should mention "car key" because my wife (American) tries to get me (British) to say "car keys" and "khakis" to friends to point out that they sound exactly the same, while I argue they are actually pronounced slightly differently.

User avatar
Dr. Diaphanous
Posts: 252
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:38 pm UTC
Location: UK

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Dr. Diaphanous » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:16 am UTC

aı fʌkıŋ heıt ınglıʃ spelıŋ

I'm starting to doubt that letters even mean anything, I mean

Spoiler:
A: apple ape arm saw hare
B: bad crumb
C: curtain certain chop chrome Chopin
D: dad bridge
E: rate women resumé she her euphoric toe orange et cetera

I could go on
"God works in mysterious and breathtakingly cruel ways."

jgh
Posts: 146
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:04 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby jgh » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:17 am UTC

Mercurywoodrose wrote:I feel the same way. If were king of the world, id introduce Unifon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unifon), where every symbol represents one sound in english, and every sound in english is represented by one symbol. no more spelling bees, no more guesswork or memorization. but, of course, the curse of the installed base makes this impossible.

But then every word would have dozens of different spellings.
Bud zen efri werd wud haf dusens of divrent spelins.
Bud thn evre wurd wud hav duzenz of difernt spelingz
But then efre werd wud av duzens ov diverent spelens

sideshownick
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:00 am UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby sideshownick » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:21 am UTC

Easy, using a bit of old English spelling, typing diphthongs explicitly, borrowing from chinese, etc. e.g.:

Ye sentens iu ar nau riiding iz taipt iuzing ye lojikal speling ruulz. Iu sii, yat ye ould "th" iz ripleisd wiy "Y", similar tu ould Inglix.
Ai yink yat ceinjing ye alfabet in yis wei alauz uz tu iuuz oul ye priivius leterz wiy veri fiuu inkonsistensiz. Oulyou ai am not xur wot wii wud duu wiy ye leter "Q"?

dmm
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2011 4:34 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby dmm » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:36 am UTC

Wow, I'm the first to remind everyone of this previous xkcd comic:
http://xkcd.com/279/
Or did someone else post it, and I missed it?

User avatar
EpicanicusStrikes
Random Boners = True Attraction
Posts: 130
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:36 am UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby EpicanicusStrikes » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:04 pm UTC

You guys are really going to fucj up my next sobriety test.

wumpus
Posts: 546
Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:16 am UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby wumpus » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:16 pm UTC

5th Earth wrote:The first thing I would do is reinstate the letter Thorn (þ). It's a perfectly good letter that serves a clear and obvious purpose and I don't know why we stopped using it in the first place.


I can only assume that after 1066, all Abbots in England (and likely most of the monks) were French. They probably refused to accept non-French letters. French presumably already had "J", but didn't like any other non-Roman letters.

[also, completely missed joke until reading it here. Note, by the laws of humor the woman in question must be a librarian and committed to the installed base.]

User avatar
flicky1991
Like in Cinderella?
Posts: 779
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:36 pm UTC
Location: London

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby flicky1991 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:51 pm UTC

I'm surprised he's complaining about c/k without mentioning "q"...

But anyway, English can be used well if it's taught well. That just doesn't seem to be what happens nowadays.
any pronouns
----
avatar from chridd
----
Forum Games Discord
(tell me if link doesn't work)

Apeiron
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 5:34 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Apeiron » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:52 pm UTC

freded21 wrote:
neoliminal wrote:
We should just get consonant/vowel combinations like the Japanese. So much cooler to ask a question by adding a sound to the end of a sentence, ka?

Some people do do that, no?


Neither of those are questions.

User avatar
cellocgw
Posts: 2067
Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:40 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby cellocgw » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:04 pm UTC

Oflick wrote:I don't have many problems with the alphabet. Strangely my biggest problem is "c" and "s". I've gotten them mixed up since I can remember. And not just where a "c" sounds like an "s", I mean if someone said "go to the s section in the dictionary", it wouldn't be surprising if I went to the "c" section.



You may be in for a big surprise if you get a c-section by mistake...
resume
Former OTTer
Vote cellocgw for President 2020. #ScienceintheWhiteHouse http://cellocgw.wordpress.com
"The Planck length is 3.81779e-33 picas." -- keithl
" Earth weighs almost exactly π milliJupiters" -- what-if #146, note 7

User avatar
flicky1991
Like in Cinderella?
Posts: 779
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:36 pm UTC
Location: London

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby flicky1991 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:04 pm UTC

Apeiron wrote:
freded21 wrote:
neoliminal wrote:
We should just get consonant/vowel combinations like the Japanese. So much cooler to ask a question by adding a sound to the end of a sentence, ka?

Some people do do that, no?


Neither of those are questions.


They are when you add those bits at the end. That was kind of the point, wasn't it?
any pronouns
----
avatar from chridd
----
Forum Games Discord
(tell me if link doesn't work)

User avatar
cellocgw
Posts: 2067
Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:40 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby cellocgw » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:10 pm UTC

I have an excellent derivation of the perfect replacement alphabet, but there isn't room in the margin of this web page for me to post it.
resume
Former OTTer
Vote cellocgw for President 2020. #ScienceintheWhiteHouse http://cellocgw.wordpress.com
"The Planck length is 3.81779e-33 picas." -- keithl
" Earth weighs almost exactly π milliJupiters" -- what-if #146, note 7

armandoalvarez
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu May 03, 2012 1:39 am UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby armandoalvarez » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:16 pm UTC

5th Earth wrote:The first thing I would do is reinstate the letter Thorn (þ). It's a perfectly good letter that serves a clear and obvious purpose and I don't know why we stopped using it in the first place.


I'm pretty sure we lost thorn in part because of the Norman conquest (French not having the letter) but I think it survived well into Middle English and was only really lost after the invention of the printing press. The printing presses were all imported from countries w/o the -th- sound and thus no letter thorn.

User avatar
SerMufasa
Posts: 159
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:00 pm UTC
Location: Casterley Rock

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby SerMufasa » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:27 pm UTC

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.
Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli.
Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.


Attributed to Mark Twain, no clue if he really did write this.

This issue has even found its way into a children's book, but the resolution is that
Spoiler:
X realizes that all the other letters have much harder jobs than he does, so in the spirit of being lazy he votes against creating a new one
"Winter is Coming, Simba"

dp2
Posts: 346
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:06 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby dp2 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:39 pm UTC

drc500free wrote:First day of Linguistics, our professor asked us if c and k made the same sound. Then she had us say "car key" and note where in our mouth the "c" and "k" were formed. Blew my mind.

.....I don't get it. The mouth only changes for the vowel.

Explain to me how "kar" sounds different than "car".

janhunt
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:11 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby janhunt » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:52 pm UTC

Here’s one of my favorite scenes from “I Love Lucy”, with Ricky trying to read a children’s book and running into hilarious problems with pronunciation:
http://bit.ly/KryPZm

Pete Zicato
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:46 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Pete Zicato » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:53 pm UTC

Typo Knig wrote:The joke is an old pick-up line "If I could re-arrange the alphabet I'd put you and I close together." I wonder if that ever worked.

Thank you. Without knowing this, the panel was a huge non-sequitur.

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby J Thomas » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:53 pm UTC

jgh wrote:
Mercurywoodrose wrote:I feel the same way. If were king of the world, id introduce Unifon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unifon), where every symbol represents one sound in english, and every sound in english is represented by one symbol. no more spelling bees, no more guesswork or memorization. but, of course, the curse of the installed base makes this impossible.

But then every word would have dozens of different spellings.
Bud zen efri werd wud haf dusens of divrent spelins.
Bud thn evre wurd wud hav duzenz of difernt spelingz
But then efre werd wud av duzens ov diverent spelens


On the one hand, people wouldn't have to learn English spellings.
On the other hand, their regional accents would leak through and some of them would get discriminated against for it.

So likely people would try harder to learn some standard pronunciation so they would spell "correctly" anyway.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

User avatar
jonadab
Posts: 79
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:31 am UTC
Location: Ohio
Contact:

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby jonadab » Fri Jun 15, 2012 3:13 pm UTC

The consonants aren't really the problem. Okay, they could use a little cleanup, but it's not a very big deal.

The vowels are where the real problems lie...

Vowels are stupid.

We should just get consonant/vowel combinations


Oh, my word, that would be horrific beyond the bounds of all reason.

English has upwards of twenty different vowel sounds and, worse, several hundred different consonant clusters. If we tried to write English with a syllabary, we'd end up with something like ten thousand different "letters" in our "alphabet". Having several thousand different characters in your orthography is bad enough when they carry semantic meaning (as with kanji or hanzi); at least there the diversity has some advantages to partially balance out the huge disadvantages. Having several thousand characters in a purely phonetic orthography, however, would be pure unmitigated awfulness.

What we do need, however, is distinct symbols for each major vowel sound (and, ideally, symbols for several of the major diphthongs as well). The whole "when two vowels go out walking" thing is gratuitously, bizarrely different from the orthography of pretty much any other language ever, and it plays havoc with any attempt to systematically map pronunciation to spelling.

At minimum, we need distinct vowel letters for each of the following:
a in hat (Anglo short a)
e in bed (Anglo short e)
i in pig, y in gym (Anglo short i)
o in hot (Anglo short o)
u in mud (Anglo short u)
a in bake, e in cliche (Anglo long a, Latin e)
e in feet, i in cliche, y in lynx (Anglo long e, latin i)
i in ice, y in hype (Anglo long i, technically a diphthong but extremely common)
o in soap (Anglo long o, Latin o)
u in flute, oo in boot (Anglo long u, Latin u)
a in father (Latin a), MAYBE could be combined with Anglo short o.
o in dog (technically a diphthong but extremely common)
u in put, oo in book

Several fairly common diphthongs probably could use their own letters while we're at it, just to reduce the frequency of vocalic digraphs, although these are not as important as the ones above:
ou in loud, ow in howl
ew in newt, also often spelled eu in the current orthography
aw in dawn, sometimes spelled au (different from o in hot in many, albeit not all, dialects)
oi in oil

There are also a number of additional vowel sounds that only occur before r (since virtually any vowel sound changes when followed by r in English, because of the way we pronounce r, different from most other languages), but in my opinion this isn't an issue that the orthography needs to concern itself with, since the difference between the vowel sounds never independently distinguishes words: the presence or absence of the letter r can be relied upon.

If I WERE cleaning up the consonants, I'd replace g with j when making the same sound as j (voiced affricate), replace c with k when making that sound or with s when making that sound, use c for the standard sh sound and tc for ch (unvoiced affricate), use f instead of ph in words like phone, replace x with ks and repurpose x (perhaps for one of the new vowel letters we need), borrow the Greek letter theta for unvoiced th, and introduce another letter for voiced th. (Alternately, thorn and eth could be reintroduced, in which case you don't need theta.) But cleaning up the consonants is the least part of the thing. The vowels are really the big deal.

Plus, of course, various words and affixes are currently not spelled strictly phonetically or use phonetic patterns that are not used elsewhere in the language (e.g., ti for sh in -tion). That stuff could be cleaned up independently of any change to the alphabet, but if you're going to change the whole orthography of the language anyhow you may as well do it all.

Daimon
Posts: 189
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:24 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Daimon » Fri Jun 15, 2012 3:19 pm UTC

Eternal Density wrote:Relevant.


Best way to learn German ever.

User avatar
Steve the Pocket
Posts: 707
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 4:02 am UTC
Location: Going downtuuu in a Luleelurah!

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Fri Jun 15, 2012 3:20 pm UTC

Hamra wrote:Having Arabic as my native language, with all its ridiculous complexities and irregularities, I found English to be very simple, and let's face it, it is. You can't appreciate that until you start looking into other languages.

Nope. I took Spanish in high school and having a language that's almost purely phonetic — and where the letter combinations that aren't are at least always consistent — makes me appreciate the rigmarole people have to go through to learn English as a second language.

But hey, that's what happens when one language gets strongarmed into using an alphabet that was designed for a radically different one.
cephalopod9 wrote:Only on Xkcd can you start a topic involving Hitler and people spend the better part of half a dozen pages arguing about the quality of Operating Systems.

Baige.

Fire Brns
Posts: 1114
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 2:25 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Fire Brns » Fri Jun 15, 2012 3:21 pm UTC

JohnSmallBerries wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:xylophone would become zilofone.

If you want "one letter, one sound", you might as well do away with that silent 'e' while you're at it.

I left it in because I was to lazy to put a long o in and I i didn't want it to be zilofawn.

EpicanicusStrikes wrote:You guys are really going to fucj up my next sobriety test.

Next?
Pfhorrest wrote:As someone who is not easily offended, I don't really mind anything in this conversation.
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:It was the Renaissance. Everyone was Italian.

User avatar
da Doctah
Posts: 995
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 6:27 am UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby da Doctah » Fri Jun 15, 2012 3:58 pm UTC

queueingtheory wrote:it's funny you should mention "car key" because my wife (American) tries to get me (British) to say "car keys" and "khakis" to friends to point out that they sound exactly the same, while I argue they are actually pronounced slightly differently.

Wait until she realizes that "pawn shop" and "porn shop" sound exactly alike when you say them.

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby J Thomas » Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:00 pm UTC

jonadab wrote:What we do need, however, is distinct symbols for each major vowel sound (and, ideally, symbols for several of the major diphthongs as well). The whole "when two vowels go out walking" thing is gratuitously, bizarrely different from the orthography of pretty much any other language ever, and it plays havoc with any attempt to systematically map pronunciation to spelling.

At minimum, we need distinct vowel letters for each of the following:
a in hat (Anglo short a)
e in bed (Anglo short e)
i in pig, y in gym (Anglo short i)
o in hot (Anglo short o)
u in mud (Anglo short u)
a in bake, e in cliche (Anglo long a, Latin e)
e in feet, i in cliche, y in lynx (Anglo long e, latin i)
i in ice, y in hype (Anglo long i, technically a diphthong but extremely common)
o in soap (Anglo long o, Latin o)
u in flute, oo in boot (Anglo long u, Latin u)
a in father (Latin a), MAYBE could be combined with Anglo short o.
o in dog (technically a diphthong but extremely common)
u in put, oo in book

Several fairly common diphthongs probably could use their own letters while we're at it, just to reduce the frequency of vocalic digraphs, although these are not as important as the ones above:
ou in loud, ow in howl
ew in newt, also often spelled eu in the current orthography
aw in dawn, sometimes spelled au (different from o in hot in many, albeit not all, dialects)
oi in oil

There are also a number of additional vowel sounds that only occur before r (since virtually any vowel sound changes when followed by r in English, because of the way we pronounce r, different from most other languages), but in my opinion this isn't an issue that the orthography needs to concern itself with, since the difference between the vowel sounds never independently distinguishes words: the presence or absence of the letter r can be relied upon.

If I WERE cleaning up the consonants, I'd replace g with j when making the same sound as j (voiced affricate), replace c with k when making that sound or with s when making that sound, use c for the standard sh sound and tc for ch (unvoiced affricate), use f instead of ph in words like phone, replace x with ks and repurpose x (perhaps for one of the new vowel letters we need), borrow the Greek letter theta for unvoiced th, and introduce another letter for voiced th. (Alternately, thorn and eth could be reintroduced, in which case you don't need theta.) But cleaning up the consonants is the least part of the thing. The vowels are really the big deal.


So how well does the Shaw system do at that? The one that was linked in the first post.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

uaswell
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:02 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby uaswell » Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:17 pm UTC

flicky1991 wrote:
Apeiron wrote:
freded21 wrote:
neoliminal wrote:
We should just get consonant/vowel combinations like the Japanese. So much cooler to ask a question by adding a sound to the end of a sentence, ka?

Some people do do that, no?


Neither of those are questions.


They are when you add those bits at the end. That was kind of the point, wasn't it?

You can also just do it by changing how you pronounce it
I know we do it and so do Spanish-speakers. I.E.
We're going to the park?
¿Vamos al parque?

User avatar
San Fran Sam
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:54 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby San Fran Sam » Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:18 pm UTC

Mercurywoodrose wrote:I feel the same way. If were king of the world, id introduce Unifon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unifon), where every symbol represents one sound in english, and every sound in english is represented by one symbol. no more spelling bees, no more guesswork or memorization. but, of course, the curse of the installed base makes this impossible.


I would just love to see that keyboard.

perakojot
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:58 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby perakojot » Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:18 pm UTC

jgh wrote:But then every word would have dozens of different spellings.
Bud zen efri werd wud haf dusens of divrent spelins.
Bud thn evre wurd wud hav duzenz of difernt spelingz
But then efre werd wud av duzens ov diverent spelens

i don't understand the problem. Serbian language has one-letter-one-sound rule ever since the reformation (~200 years ago), and there are no problems like that. every child learns all the letters in the first grade, and after that can "spell" every word it hears, even if it doesn't know what it means. (consequentially, there are no "spelling bees" as there is no point in the competition if 95% of population would get all the words right on the first try)

A - in serbian is always pronounced as in Africa
B - is pronounced as in Book
C - can't remember an example in english, but it sounds like "tz" in bliTZkrieg
D - as in Door
E - End
F - Friend
G - Group
H - Hand
I - India (always pronounced as you do letter 'E')
J - hell, i give up.. you coul never pronounce J correctly..

;)
Last edited by perakojot on Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:26 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

thesuperbigfrog
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:10 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby thesuperbigfrog » Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:23 pm UTC

The Deseret Alphabet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deseret_alphabet) is another interesting alternate alphabet for English. I think it looks nicer than Shavian.

User avatar
San Fran Sam
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:54 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby San Fran Sam » Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:24 pm UTC

flicky1991 wrote:I'm surprised he's complaining about c/k without mentioning "q"...

But anyway, English can be used well if it's taught well. That just doesn't seem to be what happens nowadays.


It is taught well. Just not in the United States.

Pxtl
Posts: 44
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 1:12 pm UTC

Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Pxtl » Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:41 pm UTC

It took me the longest time to realize he wasn't talking about forgetting about "U", since seriously ditching "U" wouldn't help orthography very much since it really does have a distinct vowel-sound associated with it.


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: hetas and 104 guests