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the 26 letters of the alphabet comprise 5 vowels and 21 consonants. In spoken English, there are 20 vowels and 24 consonants. It is this discrepancy, of course, which underlies the complexity of English spelling." (David Crystal, How Language Works. Overlook Press, 2006) This article is a more in depth treatment of converting English words into SaypYu. Whilst there is already a sizable SaypYu database of words some plurals and other derived forms of word are not yet included, so information is given here on how to form these. The following article uses the reforms to SaypYu that I have proposed in my other articles. Received Pronunciation. SaypYu is a phonetic system and a logical question is what variety of English should be used? SaypYu uses Received Pronunciation (RP). This is the form of English used in many dictionaries including the Oxford and the Cambridge Dictionaries. The table given later allows the phonetic renderings of words given in these dictionaries to be converted directly into SaypYu. Doubled Consonants and Adverbs. English contains many words that have doubled consonants. In a few cases these help distinguish between similarly spelt words, such as “rated” and “ratted”. In most cases the doubling has no consistent function. SayPyu is a phonetic system so when converting to SaypYu very few words will need to retain a doubled consonant. If a word you convert has a doubled consonant check it again. Many adverbs in English are formed by adding “–ly” to the end of a word (“-li” in SaypYu). Where the SaypYu spelling of such an adverb ends in “l” there may be a case for retaining a double l since the sound change is “li” and not “i". When a doubled consonant does occur in SaypYu it is pronounced, there are no silent letters. Homophones. In traditional English spelling there are a large number of homophones, words that have the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings. Being a phonetic system conversion into SaypYu eliminates many of these. Two syllables used in SaypYu, however, are very similar in sound but not spelling. These are “aw” as in “Law” and “oor” or “oo” as in “Door”. Which one should you use when converting into SaypYu? The most logical approach is to use the one which gives a phonetic word closest to the traditional spelling. “Automatic” is more readily understood rendered as “awtɘmatik” than “ootɘmatik”. Generally use “aw” when the original word uses an “a” and “oo” when it uses “o”. Words that need “oo” often have an “r” as part of the syllable, which is why I think of this as “oor” rather than “oo”. This approach does give us a small number of SaypYu homophones with words such as “saw” and “soor” (sore) or “flaw” and “floor”. I do not see this as a problem and the heterographs provide additional information to the reader. For example, one might write “Dhɘ surfɘs ɘv dhɘ floor haz ɘ flaw”. “s” Sound at the End of Words. Most plural forms of words in English are formed by adding an “-s” or “-es”. The third person singular present forms of most verbs take an “-s” or “-es”. Many possessive pronouns such as “yours”, “hers” or “theirs” are formed by adding an an “-s” or “-es” to the possessive adjective form. Many possessive forms of words may have an –’s added to the end and take an additional “s” sound. How this is actually pronounced in English depends on the phonetic ending of the actual word but the rules are the same for all these words. First convert the word into SaypYu, being wary of irregular plural forms such as “teeth”, “feet”, “men”, “knives”, “mice”, “geese” and “children”. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_plural#Irregular_plurals for more details on irregular plural forms in English. For regularly formed plurals any suffix added to the singular form will depend on the sound the word ends in.
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Words ending in Voiceless Consonants such as “f”, “k”, “p”, “t” or “th” take an “–s”. Words ending in sibilants such as “s”, “z”, “sh”, “zh”, “tsh”, “j” take an “-iz”. All other sounds such as Voiced Consonants, Vowel sounds and Dipthongs take a “-z” in SaypYu. The SaypYu forms of these include:“b”, “d”, “g”, “l”, “m”, “n”, “ng”, “r”, “dh”, “v” “a”, “e”, “i”, “o”, “u”, “ɘ” “ey”, “oy”, “ai”, “ou”, “ow”, “ii”, “ir”, “uu”, “ur”, “ayr” Possessive Apostrophes. The use of possessive apostrophes causes problems for many people and some even go as far as to suggest that their use be abandoned. Possessive apostrophes do however provide useful information to the reader so it is my feeling that they be retained when converting into SaypYu. Consensus on how to use the apostrophe varies. The following system is recommended. Possessive pronouns such as “mine”, “yours”, “his”, “hers”, “its”, “ours”, “whose” and “theirs” are inherently possessive and therefore do not need or take an apostrophe. “It’s” is only used for the contraction of “it is”. Singular words that become possessive gain an “–’s” and change their pronunciation to reflect this. In SaypYu this becomes a – ’s, -’z or –’iz depending on the sound of the word ending. See the section on plurals for the rule on which to use. Irregular plurals that become possessive are treated like singular words, so “children” becomes “children’s”, which is “tshildrɘn” and “tshildrɘn’z” in SaypYu. Regular plurals do not change pronunciation when they become possessives, so in both traditional and SaypYu spelling no additional letters are added and an apostrophe is added after the last letter as a marker to indicate to the reader that the word is possessive. The possessive of classes/klasiz would be classes’/klasiz’. Inevitably in traditional spelling there are exceptions to the above. The possessive of “Jesus” is commonly written as Jesus’ but the pronunciation does change. In SaypYu Jiizɘs would become Jiizɘs’iz. “-ed” Suffix. “-ed” is a common suffix on many words in English. Regular verbs form their past tense by adding “–ed” and many irregular verbs have an “-ed” form as their Past Participle. This suffix also ends some adjectives. Except in poetry and some regional accents the “-ed” ending is never pronounced “ed”, however. In RP the actual pronunciation depends on the sound of the word’s ending. If the word ends in a “d” or “t” sound then it is pronounced “ -id” and should be spelt this way in SaypYu. Words ending in Voiced Consonants such as “b”, “g”, “h”, “j”, “dh”, “l” “m”, “n”, “ng”, “r”, “v”, “w”, “z” or vowels take a “-d” sound. Words ending in Voiceless Consonants such as “f”, “k”, “p”, “s”, “sh” “tsh”, “th” take a “ -t” sound. Interestingly, some of our words in Traditional spelling such as “past”, “lost” and “spelt” have evolved from more phonetic spellings of an “-ed” form. Forms such as “spelled” and “passed” are used as alternatives, sometimes in different contexts. “-er” Suffix. “-er” is another common suffix in English. It is often added to a verb or noun to denote someone or something that performs an action, activity or has a property :- “reader”, “baker”, “runner”, “heater”, “cooker”, “astrologer”, “Londoner” etc. It is also used with some adjectives and adverbs as a comparative:- “cleaner”, “wider”, “further”, “faster”. “-er” also forms frequentative verbs. In some words “-er” takes a different spelling, such as in “actor”, “sailor”, “beggar”, “liar”. In all these cases the Received Pronunciation is actually “-ɘ”. Many words already entered into the SaypYu database have this as “-ɘr” but this is incorrect since RP is non-rhotic so the “-r” at the end is essentially silent. When adding new words that end in “-er” or creating “-er/-or/-ar” forms of words be wary of this.
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Converting from IPA, OED and CED Phonetic Alphabets to SaypYu. The following table allows direct conversion of phonetic renderings of RP words into SaypYu. For completeness I have included Arpabet too, but be cautioned that Arpabet represents American pronunciation and not the RP used for SaypYu. Note that IPA and the OED and CED phonetic alphabets use “j” to represent a “y” sound, which is counter-intuitive to English speakers.
O.E.D PA a e ɛ ɪ ɒ ʊ
Arpabet aka C.E.D IPA (Amer. PA Pro!) AE æ /æ/ EH e /ɛ/ /ɛ/ IH ɪ /ɪ/ ɒ /ɒ/ UH oo ʊ /ʊ/
apple, can, hat, plaid ever, head, get, said bed, fell, men, any it, big, finishes, she, odd, hot, waffle good, book, put, should, room, who, through, you, shoe, flew, two, blue about, animal, problem, circus, enemy, incredible, gallop, focus up, mother, mud, tough
a e e i o u
apɘl, kan, hat, plad ever, hed, get, sed bed, fel, men, eni it, bog, finishs, shi od, hot, wofɘl gud, buk, put, shud, rum, hu, thru, yu, shu, flu, tu, blu ɘbout, animɘl, problɘm, surkɘs, enɘmi, inkredɘbɘl, galɘp, fowkɘs ɘp, mɘdhɘr, mɘd, tɘf aarm, faadhɘr. aahaa iit, sii, niid, pliz, griin uuz, fuud, suup, suu urli, burd, sturing
ʌ ä ē aː iː uː ü or ur ī ā ɜː
ɑː iː uː
AA IY UW
arm, father, aha /ɑ/ /i/ eat, see, need, please,
aa ii uu ur
green ooze, food, soup, sue early, bird, stirring
ʌɪ eɪ ɔɪ aʊ əʊ
AY EY OY AW OW
aɪ eɪ ɔɪ aʊ əʊ / ʊ ɔː
/aɪ/ I, ice, hide, deny, fine, /eɪ/
/ɔɪ/ /aʊ/ out, loud, how, house / ʊ/ show, sew, snow,
aisle, sight, why, bye, lie, buy, guide aid, hate, day, they, gray, great, freight, résumé oil, choice, toy, noise
oy ou ow
Ai, aiz, haid, dinai, fain, ail, sait, wai, bai, lai, bai, gaid eyd, heyt, dey, dhey, grey, greyt, freyt, rezyumey oyl, tshoyz, toy, noyz out, loud, hou, hous show, sow, snow, dhow, hɘlow, tow, sowp, ow, rowd, bilow, mowt, bowt awl, fawl, tawk, saw, awgɘst, thaw, bawt door, floor, poor, moor ir, hirow, bir
ɔː ɔːr ɪə
AO AO R
/ɔ/ / ʊr/ /ɪər/
though, hello, toe, soap, owe, road, below, mote, boat all, fall, talk, saw, august, thaw, bought door, floor, pour, more ear, hero, beer
aw oor ir
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ɛː/ɛːr ʊə ju
EH R UH R
air, careful, wear, where, mare, their. mayor pure, cure unite, humid, few, ewe, youth, eulogy
ayr, kayrful, wayr, wayr, mayr, dhayr, mayr pyur, kyur yunait, hyumid, fyu, yu, yuth, yuuləji
/aɪər/ /aʊər/ /ər/ /j/ /ʒ/ /ʃ/ /tʃ/ /dʒ/ /x/ /ŋ/ /θ/ /ð/
fire, tired Hour, sour teacher, afterward, murderer yes, yacht equation, pleasure, vision, beige shy, cash, emotion china, catch giant, badge, jam loch sang, sink, singer thigh, maths thy, breathe, father
aiɘ ouɘr ɘ(r)
faiɘr, taiɘrd ouɘr, souɘr tiitshɘ, ɘftɘ, murdɘrɘ
j ʒ ʃ tʃ ʤ x ŋ θ ð
y j sh tsh j kh ng th dh
yes, yot ikweyjɘn, plejɘ, vijn, beyj shai, kash, imowshn tshainɘ, katsh jaiɘnt, baj, jam lokh sang, sink, singɘr thai, maths dhai, briidh, faadhɘr
The SaypYu project was launched by Jaber George Jabbour in December 2012 and is intended to make pronunciation easier and foster international understanding. SaypU is not intended to replace but to compliment more complex systems such as the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). This page uses a number of reforms to SaypYu that have not yet been accepted by Mr Jabbour. It is my belief that these logical reforms make SaypYu more useful and should be adopted so I have taken the liberty of using them in this series of articles. Additional information and the rationale behind the proposed reforms can be found here:http://www.scribd.com/doc/196958655/Reforming-SaypYu-Next-Steps For more information and to assist in the SaypYu project visit:http://www.saypyu.com/ Using SaypYu in Three Lessons
Philip West March 2014.
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