Iezy Ignglish

 A as in Apple? 


But Ignglis? Is that for real? Go to the end of this post for an explanation.

We believe that IE can be learn in a few months rather a few years because it is a highly systematic and reliable system. Yes, it is a real system.

Many will be able to learn it in one or two ... MONTHS, not years.

It is important to note that the scheme should work with the diaphonemes found on the dialect chart. This reform (any reform) should use this approach. These diaphonemes are in a way a neutral set of phonemes. This should reduce the issue of dialects. Every country will have to make a few changes, but kids will learn. This will be nothing compared to what there is now.


ANY vowel e = long vowel 

The strength and the defining feature of this system is that it is highly systematic. As a teacher, this was the sine qua non condition for a new spelling system. Yet the system had to retain some of the underlying structure of English phonology (the Vowel+Consonant + e rule like in rat [] rate (the slant is changed into this / and so I will use [] instead) rid [] ride. But I thought this was a bit contrived (to teach and learn) when I taught it (especially when one has to teach the rule when a suffix is added to words like "ing" and "ed" the "e" vanishes). In other words this system breaks down and this is the reason they have a rule. There is no need for poor systems. I realized that I could combine this idea with the other system: the system of using two vowels to make a new phoneme or digraphs. So was born the vowel+e structure which is the backbone of the system. There are many words in English that have this spelling: glue, blue, sue,... for, toe, hoe,... pie, tie, die,... (ee cannot be used since "e" is the schwa) and "ae" > []e[] digraphs are rare, except "reggae' and a few others. The system carefully links short and long vowel phonemes as they are articulated in the mouth.

The use of é and è (which would replace x and k on the keyboard) was again a teaching choice as the accents could be construed as indicating a higher pitch vowel contrasting with a lower one. Not sure if I am just dreaming that one, but I told you I am not a musician. This seems to confirm the hypothesis though:

and so does that:

IPA vowel chart with audio - Wikipedia

So, does late and let contrast in that manner to you? Anyway, the use of those two letters also helps keeping the new spelling look quite similar to the old one since we know that “e” is one of the most used letters in English and so their use would make a lot of words look like the old spelling: incredible [] incrèdibel. I chose “c” over “k” because there are many more words that start with “c”.Unlike many other systems, I do disambiguate the short i and the long i. To me they did not sound like they should be related at all and so the link had to disappear. Anything that does not make sense is hard to teach and hard to learn of course. When I heard that the “oy” phoneme sounded almost like the long i, it made a lot of sense to spell the long i phoneme as “ay”. IPA describes it as “ai”. Of course, it will make a lot of words look odd to us, but kids will not even think twice about it. There is no way they will be confused. “boy” and “bay” (= by or buy or bye). The only possible issue that could come up is that the accents are so little, they might be missed if the font is too small, especially. I will have to see if this is a problem for French learners.


And more precisely for all phonemes

(The /I/i// phonemes could be position/syllabic bound and might require a simple rule to preserve the final "y" words such as Iezy, for instance. Hyphenation is used when 2 vowel phonemes follow one another.)

The alphabet of Iezy Ignglish will be made up of all of the letters it has.


1. There are too many accents (AKA dialectal variations in pronunciation).
  • Dialectal accents are started to be “learned” or “perceived” by the age of 2, BEFORE children can link phonemes, allophones, with any spelling, phonemic or not. Here is the research.
  • We know that children (their brain, really) have the capacity to learn many languages, many accents. In Italy, for instance, it is common to hear people know a dialect (usually oral) and speak/read/write the standard Italian as well. We suggest that the only reasonable way to deal with this issue is to make all Commonwealth children start to learn another standard dialect by Grade 1 which will —finally— be the lingua franca that all people around the world have long been awaiting for. (Thanks Roman Huczok for reminding me that keeping a dialect and learning a standard is very doable.)
  • To avoid political issues and help make English a true lingua franca, it would be wise to use the diaphonemes used on the International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects - Wikipedia or some other agreed form. If some populations of certain countries or region not be interested, they would have the option of staying with the status quo or reform their dialect as they please.
  • This would not be the Armageddon, the end of English as we know it, an incredible loss of culture,… This is about spelling, not language.
  • The internet, public education for all, social media,... are helping standardizing many accents and, if it were to be reformed in this manner, it will be much easier.
2. I do not want to learn a new system.
  • You won't have to. I repeat … you will not have to. That is our pledge. I do not want to either. This reform is not for me, you, but for the next generation.
  • The change will occur in schools, starting with as many Grade 1 classes as it is possible. Opting out will be possible. In year 2, another group of Grade 1 will start to learn the new system. The first group will go in Grade 2 and will keep learning the new system (or rather learn using the new system since they will have it mastered decoding and spelling already).
3. There will be a need for some people to learn the new system.
  • The 20 to 40 will need to be familiar with the new system, but free programs will be able to transcode from the current system to the other and vice versa, seamlessly and fast. Transcoding is much faster than translating. It is also much more accurate.
  • The cohort that will go into the labour force after 12 to 16 years will speak the same language. Speech recognition software and transcoding programs will do the rest.
4. Street signs and vendor signs will need to be respelled/respelt.
  • No. The new spellers will be able to decipher the old system.
5. ALL documents will need to be reprinted.
  • No. Digital documents will be transcodable. It is much easier to do so.
  • Should a citizen be interested or be in need to read printed documents that are not in a digital format, I am sure we can figure out ways to efficiently recode these (text-to-speech recognition software to deal with that issue) or have someone read the text to him or her or transcode it.
6. Will translators lose their job?
  • No. A good segment of the population will still function in the current system.
  • No. The new spellers will need translation as much as the older generation.
  • There will be a need for some transcoding too.
7. Will teachers lose their job?
  • If a Grade 1 teacher were incapable or unwilling to teach the new system, they could be given the task to teach those children who are opting out or be asked to teach the old system (as a second language) or teach older grades. Substantial accommodations should be given to older teachers wanting to plan (prepare material) and/or learn the new code.
  • There will be a 4 or 5 year preparatory period to start the transition (Year 1/Grade 1) which should give people plenty of time to shift, should they want to.
  • Unions will be consulted and a system will be put in place to facilitate the transition for all
  • Retirement by attrition would be one of the ways used to replace teachers.
  • Grade 1 teachers are often able to teach other grades.
  • New students will need a few teachers to teach the old system as a second-language mode.
8. The language will lose the morphological links between words that will be lost or reduced with a new more phonemic system.
  • Everyone knows the link between language and linguistics or photography and photographer, for instance. These pairs of words resemble each other, but the link is not automatic in the first pair. A more phonemic system will sometimes improve the semantic relation and sometimes obscure it. At the end of the day, some of the words that are linked by how they look, require the learner to remember the pronunciation of the words since they might not be pronounced as they are written and, obviously, their spelling: photographic, but photography: (/fəˈtɒɡ.rə.fi/ VS /ˌfəʊ.təˈɡræf.ɪk/. Which is better? In a reform spelling, these words would be spelled something like this in Iezy Inglgish: fetogrefy VS fetegrafic. Notice that in both, the stressed syllable is the one that does not have the “e” or schwa. Huge advantage for foreign learners where now no one knows where the word stress is put. Is there anyone who canNOT link the two words semantically? A newer system will improve the link between words that are spoken and words that are written/decoded/read. Learning should be faster as a result. The current system obscures the link between words that are spoken (and heard) and words that are written/decoded.
  • Furthermore, yes, there are words that look like they are related and the link will be obscured, but if spelling and misspellings are so important aren’t they a lot of false-positives that a respelling would clarify? Is ready about readingPlea and pleasure (sure?) and pleasant (ant?are linked? Arch and archive? Country is about countingLead (the metal) is about leadingBus and businessCancelis about cans and cellsHave and haven are related? Ache and achievedReinvent and rein (vent)All and allowInventories and invent are linked? Reached and acheResent is about sent/sending? How many more do I need to prove the point that there are a lot of false positives currently?
  • There are words in the current system that appear to be linked, but aren’t. No one seems to be confused. Invest is about a vest that’s in a coat? Numb and numbersare related? Legal is about legAssertive about assActing and actual are related? Deli and deliverHeaven and heavyMan and manyAdd and addressEarl and earlyPet and petty? There are lots of false positives in that sense in the lexicon too.
9. Is it worth it?
  • Suppose we make English as regular as Finnish. Now consider, Finnish kids start school at age 7. Most English-speaking kids start at school at age 5.5. How much does it cost to teach all of those kids for an extra 1.5 years. Teachers are expensive. Daycare? Less so. Imagine the possibilities. Also, there is quite a bit of data that indicates that maybe kids do not need to go to go to school at age 5.5. Again, daycare or universal childcare could make the life of millions, dare I say billions of learners, that much better. THAT is not worth it? What is?
  • Illiteracy rates in the 30% levels in most Commonwealth countries will drop with a simpler system.
  • A simpler system will be MUCH cheaper to teach (fewer specialist teachers will be needed).
  • Learning will happen faster. As students HEAR a new word, they will be able to link it to its ONE possible spelling and when they read a new word, they will be able to link it to a word that they heard. The brain connections will be reinforced more efficiently. Lets take a word that you have never seen printed before: “tuleafashouhe”? Are you sure of it pronunciation? Where is that word stress? And then, a few weeks later, you hear on TV “tlayfaychor”? Would you be able to connect the 2? Most likely not, but if it had been spelled as it is pronounced, then the connections would have been made, with more certainty. It is self-evident that more coherence between systems would make learning faster and easier.
  • Fewer kids will be pulled out and shamed as reading disabled.
  • Less crime as more people will be able to read and write. (Robots will do the menial work that illiterate people sometimes must do).
  • Happier labour force.
  • Better educated/literate labour force.
  • Better economy.
  • More people around the world should be able to learn an easier system.
  • Easier travelling and understanding between people.
  • More people will be able to read books written in the new code. Higher profits for English-speakers.
10. Which industry will lose?
  • Tutoring agencies and tutors could lose out. Still, we could make the first generation that will learn the new code, bicodal. If this is so, they will surely need help to learn the old code, just like pasts generatiosn did.
  • We need to make this a win-win situation. Anyone displaced will be given a choice of work that is related to what they were doing before
  • Teachers (attrition and re-assignment will need to be addressed), but those who cannot cope will be re-assigned.
  • Publishing houses will benefit. Some of the old material will need to be digitized, but a lot has been (Gutenberg project, Google,…)
  • Psychologists who assess students’ reading and writing abilities/intelligence will lose out, but I suspect that this is a small number, seeing how many of these evaluations took place in my 25 years of teaching.
11. What do these new spelling systems look like?
  • Some are using most of the spelling rules that exist now. They are just regularizing many of the patterns. (Masha Bell has one system.)
  • A reform would not mean spelling using a phonetic system like IPA. There is no cursive writing (although this could be created I suppose). Cursive writing is faster than printing words, but aren’t more and more people going to use technology to avoid writing all together? Even in rare instances where people are asked to cursive write, a recorder with speech recognition software could do the work of transcribing much more efficiently than any one could, even with short-hand.
  • Others attempt to maximize the opportunity as a second shot at this will prove unlikely. Iezy Ignglish is such a system. It systematizes the easiest pattern of English: the vowel+e pattern found in many words (piece, clue, foe, reggae/sundae,…) and it echoes the long vowel+Consonant+e pattern found in a lot more words, which is more contrived than the first pattern and which makes decoding a much harder tasks than it should (late, cute, core, mite, mere). The simpler pattern would do away with the cumbersome doubling of the consonant rule to change the vowel value: pat/patting, mat/matting VS mate/mating/.
  • Others can be found on the English spelling society website.
12. Will communication between the ones who know the new system and the ones that don’t be affected?
  • The language/speech/conversations will be the same.
  • The only communication mode that will be affected is the written mode, but is there anyone who thinks that most people will not have smart phones or tablets or computers to allow this?
  • The internet will need transcoding work, but programs can easily be created I am told by programmers. These programs will be able to transcode tons of material and will do it faster that any translation program (and much better).
13. There will be many homophones. Will they not make communication harder? (Thanks to Tomas Murphy for that one.)
  • Hundreds of thousands of misspelling are okay, but 500 homophones will cause issues?
  • There are just 500 homophones. There are 1 million words in the lexicon. Hello?
  • Many cannot be confused as many are not even the same type of words: check (verb)/cheque (noun), ad/add, it’s/its, their/there/they’re,… No one when speaking and listening is confused!
14. Accents will vanish?
  • For the last 250 years (and more) they have NOT vanished even with an extremely POOR system representing them.

A case for writing English as Ignglish

Misspelling? Alphabetical systems have the unique advantage (over other writing systems) to represent accurately “phonemes” (usually basic significant and distinct voice sounds) with symbols called letters. In such alphabetical system, one unique sound or phoneme /a/ should be represented by one unique letter or symbol. In many languages the symbol would be “a”. If it were “a”, but “b” in some other instances, this event or these events would be violating the basic idea and advantage of the alphabetical system. It would be nonsensical to promote such deviations. Ideally, words would be distinct in their pronunciation and in their spelling to make communication unambiguous. Yet, in some instances, there are words that have the same pronunciation, but have different meanings. Homophones such as ascent and assent, ad and add exists and do exist in many languages. THere are not many, however, and here is plenty of evidence, however, that this is not desirable. Many people must commit to memory which is used for which and one must memorize which spelling is used for the two homophones. Moreover, the idea of different spelling for different meaning (when a word sound the same as another) does not make sense when you think that there are very few instances where one fails to make sense of the two words in speech. Finally, there are only 500 legitimate homophones in English, proof that there are not the standard. Spelling differently homophones is often unnecessary.

In a few instances, in some languages, there is the use of two letters to create a new symbol. This is a deviation from the alphabetical principle, obviously (one letter = one sound), but language evolves naturally, and —sadly— so does spelling most of the time, although Samuel Johnson, one man, set the spelling, much of which has remained as is. While there are many explanations as to why these digraphs have occurred, it remains that there are odd “creations” and, often, illogical. In English, there are many ways to represent a genetic /o/ phoneme, for instance (by generic I mean a unit, a phoneme (either a /ɒ~ɔ~o/) that most speakers would approximate to be a generic phoneme /o/). May I suggest the term “superphoneme”, but do correct me if there is a special word for those already created. Depending on the dialect, the vowel or vowels of “no, tow, fault” are all pronounced very similarly. There is no logic for the use of “w” and “u” for either. This is relatively arbitrary. That 2 different symbols are used for the same deviation is even weirder. (There is a lose logical link that could be made for the 2 letters as we say double “u” for “w”, which is its origin, after all, but it does not excuse the duplication). Sure, there is “toe” VS “tow”and, if “o” for “tow” was used, one would need to disambiguate “to” (to go) from “to” (tow), “no” from “know”, etc.. If we were to add an “o” to the first “to” (to go), then “too” would need to be disambiguated from “too”(also). When you think that words like “now” are not even pronounced like “tow”, the whole system falls apart very quickly the other way. What a mess!

So, why “ng”? The “ng” is a velar (8) nasal or /ŋ/. The "g" in English is a velar (8) plosive or /g/. A "n", however, is an alveolar (4) nasal or /n/, which is in terms of place of articulation is much further away (forward) than the velar "g" (8). So, the "g" is much closer to the velar or the palatal nasal than the alveolar "n", which forces me to think that the "g" should in fact precede the "n" and not the other way around. In other words, a word like ding should really be spelled “dign”. Check the diagram below. /n/ is not even close to /g/ or /ŋ/. The connection should be between the last 2, first.

A commented has raised the issue that “n” is used to indicates the manner by which the “g” and the “gn”, as a nasal. And it was argued that the “n” therefore could be placed before the “g”. However, it was ascertained that many digraphs value and position the place of articulation before the manner by which they are going to be pronounced. The 2 “th” (voiced and voiceless) have the “t” first, indicating the place of articulation first, as dental. The “h” indicates the manner by which the “t” should be modified. The same occurs with “sh”. The pattern is clearly pace of articulation first and manner of articulation second. Therefore, the “g” should precede the “n”. That is the pattern.
There are 500+ words in the English language that have the “gn” digraph, btw: (align aligned aligner aligners aligning alignment alignments aligns antiforeign antiforeigner arraign arraigned arraigning arraignment arraignments arraigns assign,…) Search Dictionary for Word Games Crosswords and Anagrams Btw, the “gn” is not pronounced like /ŋ/. That’s not the point. The point is that the “gn” spelling exist. Many of those 500 words are pronounced in French with the /ŋ ( or something very similar, depending on the French dialect. We know that 30% of words come for French. So, are the French wrong or the English? Knowing how many misspellings they are in English (hundreds of thousands perhaps), my bet is that it is the French that are right. Was it a monk who was tired, who needed a new candle, the mouse who did it,…? WE don’t care! It is a misspelling. Period!
Given the prevalence of letter reversals in English, (many _le words like people (/ˈpiː.pəl/ and many _re words like centre (/ˈsen.tər/, for instance), it would appear that this is yet another example.)
English looks like a classic example: A more accurate spelling should be Ignglish. Think about it. Ign + glish. In the original spelling, the g is “used” two times, but it is spelled just once. That’s not very transparent and phonologically sound. Is it there to behave as the /ŋ/ or as the /g/. At the very least, a more accurate spelling as Ingglish would make more sense. I argue that the “ng” spelling does not represent how the /ŋ/ is articulated.
Of course, if we were to re-assign the “ng” to “gn”, it would cause some respelling because “sign” (the poster sign) would be spelled the same way as “sing”. (The poster, the sign, should be spelled as “saygn” (consider boy: bo+ y = boy, thus sa+y+n- sayn). Phonetic logic 101, really. Listen to how the “i” is being pronounced. In fact, in phonetic writing, it is written as [aI] or some other variations, depending on the dialect.

The sounds of American English

1 comment:

glyn said...

Very interesting.
I believe English should be revised too.
I teach English in Thailand as a hobby and just teach pronounciation and go down to below the syllable level to explain mechanics of speaking.
I have no university education but I successfully show my students how to pronounce properly.