Every once and a while I get a Qglic bug in my system, and I start tweeting or Facebook-statusing in it. Maybe you know the feeling, maybe you don’t.
Qglic (as previously blogged about) is an alternative orthography for English, which has a goal of providing a more phonemic writing system (for non-linguists, a more one-to-one correspondence of sounds to letters); but the trick to it is to do this without using any “special” characters, and sticking to A-Z.
For it’s part, Qglic is quite good at this, despite the many vowel and consonant sounds in English. General American English distinguishes between 24 separate consonants (maybe 25, if you include the ‘wh’ in which) and 14 vowels. Totaling those numbers, you can see that English has more contrastive sounds than it has letters to write them. Some languages on the other hand, are easily able to get away with having one letter for each contrastive sound, without really running out of letters in the alphabet.
One of the problems, raised to me on Twitter, was that Qglic works great, but only if you have the caught-cot merger. As it turns out, this is probably something that the creator of Qglic wasn’t quite concerned about, perhaps because he doesn’t have this distinction— I think he might even be from western Canada, maybe that explains it? In any case, some words listed by Wikipedia as having separate vowels are the following:
bobble bauble bqbl bock balk bqk body bawdy bqdi bot bought bqt collar caller kqlr chock chalk tcqk hottie haughty hqti odd awed qd stock stalk stqk tock talk tqk wok walk wqk
For a good amount of Americans, these sound the same, and in Qglic they would be written the same as well. Qglic instead uses <o> for the sound in ‘smoke’, /oʊ/. Following are the Qglic monophthongs, and some sample words.
Eng. Qgl. tack tak tech tek tick tik took tjk toke tok talk tqk tuck tuk teak tyk Turk trk tuque twk
For the more visual linguist, here’s a crappy ASCII IPA vowel chart containing Qglic monophthongs…
y i j w e u o r a q
…and an attempt at IPA approximation of the sounds that they represent:
i ɪ ʊ u e/ɛ ʌ/ə oʊ/ɔ ɜ˞/ɚ æ ɑ/ɔ
Qglic also provides some diphthongs:
take teyk tyke tuyk boy boy sound saond
But, how might this work if we had to throw in one more distinction, that is, talk/tock? As it turns out, the solution is already hiding in Qglic itself with <e> and <ey>. Merely making sure to represent the vowel sound in
take teyk tech tek toke touk tock tok
And again, a table:
y w i u j ey r ou e o a q
i u ɪ ə/ʌ ʊ eɪ ɜ˞/ɚ oʊ ɛ ɔ æ ɑ
This of course, covers 12 of the vowels of the 14-vowel system of General American, however it merges the proposed distinction between /ǝ/ and /ʌ/ , and the rhotic equivalents of these.
One of the additional things that has kind of bothered me about Qglic is the use of the apostrophe for the sound /ŋ/ in ‘sing’. One option I’ve come across, aside from writing it with
Maybe you know of some other potential distinctions in English that this should cover, feel free to leave a comment. In any case, I’ve tested this kind of vowel system using RP and my own U.S.-ish English and found it to be quite suitable. For these texts I just found an RP transcription and retranscribed, and then found the text which was apparently more acceptable for Americans (you’ll notice some lexical differences) and transcribed my speech.
Xu nox wind un xu sun wu dispywti9 witc wuz xu strqngu, wen u travlu keim ulq9 rapt in u wom klujk. Xei ugryd xut xu wun hw fws suksydid in meiki9 xu travlu teik iz klujk qf cjb by kunsidud strqngu xun xy uxu. Xen xu nox wind blw uz hqd uz y kjd but xu mor y blw xu mo klujsly did xu travlu fujld hiz klujk urajnd him un ut lqs xu nox wind geiv up xy utemp xen xu sun cqn ajt womly un imydcutly xu travlu tjk qf iz klujk, un suj xu nox wind wuz ublqidc tu kunfes xut xu sun wuz xu strqngr uv xu tw.
Xu norx wind an xu sun wr argywi9 wun dey ubeut witc uv xem wuz strqngr, wen u travlr keym ulong rapt up in an euvrkeut. Xey ugryd xat xu wun hw kjd meyk xu travlr teyk hiz keut qf wjd by kunsidrd strqngr xan xu uxr wun. Xen xu norx wind bliw az hqrd az hy kjd, but xu hqrdr hy bliw, xu tuydr xu travlr rapt hiz keut uraond him; an at last xu norx wind geyv up truying. Xen xu sun bigan tu cayn hqt, an ruyt uwey xu travlr tjk hiz keut qf. And seu xu norx wind had tw admit xat xu sun wuz strqngr xan hy wuz.