User:AtterCleanser44/Spelling reform

From The Anglish (Anglisc) Wiki

Spelling reform is a popular topic among Anglishers, and I am of the opinion that a spelling reform ought to be done in stages. This has two advantages: first, it gradually makes people accustomed to a new spelling system, and second, it removes confusion that reforming orthography all at once might introduce. This is inspired by Spelling Reform 1, which was thought up by Harry Lindgren.

Note: as I am an American speaker, I originally made this spelling reform with American pronunciation in mind, but I later adapted it to fit British English, such that it became a compromise between standard American and British pronunciations.

The main goals are:

  1. A more consistent correspondence between phonemes and their written form.
    1. The main change here is by writing the "long" vowels with letters actually showing their values rather than magic e.
    2. Most silent consonants have been eliminated.
    3. This is not a fully unambiguous system, e.g., /naɪt/ > nait and knait. But on the whole, there is far more consistency.
  2. Retention of familiarity in most areas for the purpose of making it easier to become accustomed to.
    1. The use of double consonants is extended.
    2. No new diacritics and no new letters are used. In fact, q, x, and y are not used at all except in loanwords and proper nouns.

Unlike a regular proposal for spelling reform, this one incorporates a few Anglish changes such as not using j for /dʒ/ (since this use of j is from French).

Note that this spelling reform is best suited for native English words, as well as borrowings from Old Norse, Middle Dutch, and Middle Low German.


The following are the changes for the vowels. They can be split into two groups: the "short" group and the "long" group. In the short group:

  1. The consonant after the vowel is doubled, even in final position, e.g., bed > bedd, bin > binn.
  2. This applies even to v. I originally decided against vv since it might be confused with w, but since w is no longer part of any vowel digraphs, confusion is now minimal.
  3. For short vowels in final position (only in interjections or words mainly used as such), an h is used, e.g., duh, heh, nah.
  4. If the consonant is k, the doubled consonant is ck instead of kk, e.g., stick, neck.

In the long group, on the other hand, there is no doubling of consonants.

The general rules are:

  1. Short vowels are followed by two consonants, e.g., fill, film. As we can see, ll and lm both do the job of showing that the vowel is short.
  2. Long vowels are shown with two vowels, e.g., meal > miel, truth > truhth.

Short group:

Sound (GA) Sound (RP) Letter Example
/ɛ/ /e/ e bury > berri
heifer > heffer
dead > dedd
/ɪ/ /ɪ/ i build > bild
busy > bizzi
sin > sinn
/ʌ/ /ʌ/ u ton > tunn
love > luvv
flood > fludd
/ɒ/ o stop > stopp
rot > rott
swan > swonn
/æ/ /æ/
a fan > fann
swam > swamm
shadow > shaddou


  1. Short e and i regularly come from ENE /ɛ/ and /ɪ/.
  2. Short u is slightly trickier. If all words with ENE /ʊ/ had remained unchanged, then short u would simply be reserved for /ʊ/, and long u for /uː/. However, a sound change called the FOOT-STRUT split later happened, which led to a new phoneme /ʌ/ in many words formerly with /ʊ/. There are quite a few common minimal pairs between /ʊ/ and /ʌ/, e.g., look-luck, book-buck. Hence, /ʊ/ is not shown by short u.
  3. Short a is from ENE /a/. The TRAP-BATH split, one of the defining features of RP, is ignored, so RP speakers have to learn by rote whether a word with short a has /æ/ or /ɑː/.

Short o deserves special mention for being the trickiest to deal with, since there is no neat correspondence between GA and RP here. One reason is the LOT-CLOTH split, which is in GA, but is no longer present in RP.

The current sets of correspondences between open back vowels:

Sets GA /ɑː/ RP /ɒ/ GA /ɔː/ RP /ɔː/ RP /ɑː/
Set 1 stop stop
Set 2 taught taught
Set 3 loss loss
Set 4 palm palm

Historically, the words from Set 1 and Set 3 simply had /ɔ/ in ENE. Using this fact, we ignore the LOT-CLOTH split in GA, and the two sets are combined into one. Short o is used for this.

As for Set 2, the words had /ɔː/ in ENE, and the set includes words such as draw and saw. This is now represented as oh, e.g., draw > droh, bought > boht.

Lastly, for Set 4, the words simply had /a/ in ENE. The vowel developed into /ɑː/ if it were followed by /lm/, e.g., palm. To represent this, we use long a.

In the end, our sets are represented thus:

Sets Letter Short Example
Set 1 o yes stop > stopp
Set 2 oh no taught > toht
Set 3 o yes loss
Set 4 ah no palm > pahm

This arrangement favors RP speakers; American speakers who have the lot-cloth split will have to remember which letter /ɔ/ is shown by in a word. Also, American speakers who have the LOT-THOUGHT merger will have to remember whether a word uses short o, oh, or long a. And all American speakers have to remember whether a word with /ɑ/ is written with short o or long a (essentially the difference between bomb and balm).

Long group:

Sound (GA) Sound (RP) Letter Example
/eɪ/ /eɪ/ ei play > plei
slain > slein
came > keim
/aɪ/ /aɪ/ ai fly > flai
high > hai
time > taim
/aʊ/ /aʊ/ au now > nau
house > haus
town > taun
/oʊ/ /əʊ/ ou grow > grou
knoll > knoul
hope > houp
/uː/ /uː/ uh moon > muhn
pool > puhl
shrewd > shruhd
/ʊ/ /ʊ/ uu book > buuk
pull > puul
good > guud
/iː/ /iː/ ie flee > flie
team > tiem
sleep > sliep
/ɑː/ /ɑː/ ah father > fahdher
palm > pahm
/ɔː/ /ɔː/ oh sought > soht
fall > fohl


  1. The spellings for the diphthongs are more or less straightforward representations of their actual values.
  2. Long u is from ENE /uː/ and covers the long vowel. The spelling uh is innovative.
    1. The other long u is from ENE /ʊ/ and later shortenings of /uː/. The spelling uu is a somewhat arbitrary choice, but is made to distinguish it from uh. Though not a long vowel or a diphthong, it is grouped here to avoid ambiguity with short u, which stands for /ʌ/. Note that in final position, uu represents /uː/ since /ʊ/ does not normally appear in final position, so too is spelled tuu to distinguish it from two, which is spelled tuh.
    2. If a word has both /uː/ and /ʊ/ as possible pronunciations, the older pronunciation with /uː/ is preferred as the basis of the spelling, e.g., soot > suht, room > ruhm.
  3. Long i is from ENE /iː/ and /eː/. No attempt to distinguish the two historically different sounds is made, so meet and meat are both spelled miet. The use of ie for the sound is from French and is found in words like field and thief.
  4. Long a represents a few special developments of ENE /a/.
    1. The word father is quite unusual in its development. In ENE, the vowel was /a/, and its development into /ɑː/ in RP is not too unusual. However, in GA, it has /ɑː/ instead of /æ/ (separating it from gather).
    2. ENE /a/ before /lm/ regularly became /ɑː/, with natural loss of /l/.
  5. Words that currently use the all spelling generally use the ohl spelling here, e.g., hall > hohl. Exceptionally, shall shows /æ/ and is thus kept as shall. The other main exception is when /l/ is followed by a vowel, e.g., fallow (now fallou).

Note that there are a few cases in which a, e, i, o, and u are used instead of ah, ei, ie, ou, and uh.

  1. In final position of certain function words, e.g.., you > ju, we > wi.
  2. In unstressed final position (for i only), e.g., eighty > eiti, body > boddi.
  3. In foreign words, e.g., Japanese tsunami, kimono.

Schwa and vowels before r:

Sound (GA) Sound (RP) Letter Doubling Example
/ə/ /ə/ e no higher > haier
greatest > greitest
arisen > arizzen
/ɜr/ /ɜː(r)/ er no bird > berd
word > werd
stirring > stering
/ʊr/ /ʊə(r)/ uur no moor > muur
/ɜr/ /ʌr/ ur yes borough > burrou
worry > wurri
/ɛː(r)/ eir no bear > beir
hair > heir
chary > cheiri
/ɛr/ /er/ er yes merry > merri
berry > berri
/ɪr/ /ɪə(r)/ ier no fear > fier
teardrop > tierdropp
near > nier
/ɪr/ /ɪr/ ir yes stirrup > stirrep
/ɑr/ /ɑː(r)/ ahr no far > fahr
starry > stahri
/ær/ ar yes marrow > marrou
harry > harri
/ɔr/ /ɔː(r)/ ohr no bore > bohr
warm > wohrm
floor > flohr
/ɒr/ or yes borrow > borrou
sorry > sorri
/aɪ(ə)r/ /aɪə(r)/ aier no fire > faier
/aʊ(ə)r/ /aʊə(r)/ auer no shower > shauer


  1. Though the regular letter for schwa is e, there are a few rules regarding this:
    1. Schwa in final position is generally spelled a instead of e, e.g., kinda > kainda. This is shown in our pronounciation of final a in foreign words and names such as camera and Rosa.
    2. If there is variation between /ə/ and /ɪ/ in an affix, it is shown with e, e.g., reddest, believing.
  2. Schwa is not always distinct, which means that an unstressed syllable with single e before a consonant cluster may have /ɛ/ or /ə/. For example, in breckfest (breakfast), does fest have /ɛ/ or /ə/? Also, /ɜː(r)/ and /ə(r)/ are both ambiguously spelled er, though the spelling for /ɛr/ as in merri (merry) is unambiguous since r is always doubled. However, these potential ambiguities are an acceptable enough cost.

For compound nouns in which /ə/ is used, if the unstressed element is consciously associated with the regular word, then the unstressed element should be spelled regularly. For example:

  1. foreman > fohrmann
  2. mainsail > meinseil

But for words in which the unstressed element is not consciously associated with the original word, they should be respelled as one new word. For example:

  1. breakfast > breckfest
  2. cupboard > kubberd
  3. woman and women > wuumen and wimmen


Voiceless Voiced Letter Example
/p/ /b/ p, b pluck
/t/ /d/ t, d tuck
/k/ /g/ k, g cat > katt
guild > gild
/f/ /v/ f, v laugh > laff
sieve > sivv
/s/ /z/ s, z cinder > sinder
house (verb) > hauz
/θ/ /ð/ th, dh teeth > tieth
teethe > tiedh
/ʃ/ sh ship > shipp
/tʃ/ /dʒ/ ch, dj chin > chinn
singe > sindj
/m/ m mill
/n/ n nap > napp
/ŋ/ ng (even with /g/)
n before k
/l/ l leaf > lief
/r/ r rick
/j/ j
ewe > juh
hue > hiu
/w/ w wolf > wuulf
/h/ h whore > hohr
whole > houl


  1. Though part of the phonology of current English, /ɔɪ/ and /ʒ/ are not included here, as they are not native sounds, and so no native words have these phonemes. /dʒ/ also does not appear in initial position in native words. Hence, the words toy, measure, and journey are ultimately of foreign origin.
  2. The letter c is found only in the digraphs ch and ck.
  3. Though x for /ks/ is replaced with ks, confusion with the grammatical ending -s is avoided since the latter is represented here as -z.
  4. For -ly derivatives of -y words such as happy and body, the spelling of the base word should remain the same. For example, happy > happi, and so happily > happili.
  5. v and z were hardly used in Old English, but it was not a problem, since [v] and [z] were mere allophones of /f/ and /s/. However, later on, they became their own phonemes, and so they now can contrast with their voiceless equivalents, e.g., the noun house and the verb house, which are differentiated here as haus and hauz. These letters' use grew because of French, Latin, and Greek words that used these letters, but since they are quite useful to distinguish the voiced sounds (which are no longer predictable based on their position), I have chosen to keep them.
  6. The use of dh for /ð/ is un-Anglish. Nonetheless, since I distinguish /f/-/v/ and /s/-/z/, I have chosen to distinguish /θ/ and /ð/. Ideally, these sounds would instead be represented with the obsolete letters þ and ð, respectively, but it should be noted that in Old English, the two letters were more or less interchangeable, and [ð] was a mere allophone of /θ/.
  7. The use of j for /j/ is un-Anglish, as j (in its earlier form i) was seldom used for /j/ in Old English and thus is not part of Anglish spelling. Nonetheless, all the other Germanic languages use j for /j/, which is sensible because j is simply a modified form of i, and /j/ is simply the semivocalic form of /i/. Of course, y, if used, is only a vowel now, and j is no longer used for /dʒ/.
    1. One case in which j does not represent /j/ is when it is part of the historical sound sequence /ɪʊ/, which became /juː/. In this case, if /j/ is not at the beginning of a word, i is used instead, and the whole sequence is simply spelled iu, e.g., hue > hiu, dew > diu (in British English). This is partly etymological and partly esthetic, as I find hjuh to stand out too much in contrast to hiu. Before /r/, it is spelled iur, e.g., cure (a French borrowing) > kiur. Even though i has a consonantal value here, orthographically, it is considered a vowel letter, which is why the usual values for /uː/ and /ʊ/ are not used here; in other words, iu follows the rule that long vowels be shown with two vowel letters.
    2. Note that some British pronunciations may show a sound change called yod coalescence, so a word like diu can be pronounced either with /dj/ or /dʒ/. As a result, di is an ambiguous spelling, but its ambiguity is an advantage, since a British speaker can read diu as having /dj/ or /dʒ/ depending on his pronunciation.
    3. The iu spelling is kept for all words that are pronounced with /juː/ in British English, even if /j/ is dropped in American English, e.g., kniu for knew, Tiuzdei for Tuesday. American speakers have to remember that consonant clusters such as ti and ni have silent i when used before u.
  8. The use of dj for /dʒ/ is un-Anglish. It replaces /dʒ/ in all positions, so edge and the Japanese word judo would now be spelled edj and djudo. The reason for dj is that phonetically, /dʒ/ can result from palatalization of /dj/, and esthetically, I find dj to be a fairly good representation of the sound. Also, it makes changing all instances of j for /dʒ/ easier, as it simply involves adding a d before it.
  9. Ng is used for /ŋ/ and /ŋg/, since the sequence ngg looks a bit clumsy. Hence, one has to remember whether ng in a word has /g/. In practice, this should not be a problem since the number of words with /ŋg/ is quite small, anyway, e.g., stronger, finger, hunger.

Other consonant changes:

Sound Letter Example
/w/ for historical /hw/ hw wheel > hwiel
/n/ for historical /kn/ kn knight > knait
/n/ for historical /gn/ gn gnat > gnatt
/r/ for historical /wr/ wr write > wrait
other silent consonants (none) island > ailand
climb > klaim
listen > lissen
ghost > goust
yolk > jouk
sword > sohrd
answer > anser
/sk/ sk school > skuhl
/kw/ kw quick > kwick
queen > kwien
/ks/ ks fox > foks
wax > waks
/əl/ el thimble > thimbel
nettle > nettel

Though this spelling tries to be flexible to cover differences between American and British English, there are still differences that cannot be covered with a uniform spelling. For example:

  1. The past tense and the past participle of learn; American English always uses learned (now lernd), but British English commonly uses learnt (now lernt) instead. Note that the adjective learned is spelled lerned since -ed in this word is pronounced separately.
  • Shone: American English rhymes it with bone and thus would spell it as shoun, but British English has it rhyme with on and would spell it as shonn.

These differences reflect actual differences in form; spelling differences that show the same pronounciation such as plough/plow are removed, so both American and British English spell it as plau.

For short vowels, when there is only one consonant following it, then the rule is simply to double it, e.g., head > hedd, offer (unchanged). But what if there is more than one consonant following the vowel? The general principle is that for free morphemes, a short vowel should be enclosed by two consonants, so bedsheet is respelled as beddshiet. For spinster, the word is respelled spinnster since the word is clearly felt to be spin + -ster (even though its commonest meaning is no longer tied to spinning). However, the word winter is left unaltered since it consists of only one morpheme.

Cranberry morphemes follow the rules of double consonants, so cranberry is spelled crannberri. Words with obsolete elements also follow the rules if they are transparently formed, so winsome (in which win is an obsolete word meaning joy) is respelled as winnsum, and wedlock (with obsolete suffix -lock) and swineherd (in which herd is an obsolete word meaning herdsman) are spelled weddlock and swainherd. However, in shepherd, both elements have now been obscured because of sound changes, so it is no longer felt to be a compound (even though the meaning is still clearly tied to sheep). Thus, the word is spelled shepperd, not sheppherd.

Irregular spellings[edit]

Some words are irregularly spelled for a few reasons:

  • Etymology - the etymology of some words is made clearer. Generally, the spellings reflect older pronunciations.
  • Homograph avoidance - some words should be kept separate in writing such as for and four, since it is vital that one be able to tell the difference when reading. In the case of whore and hoar, it is simply taboo avoidance.
  • Pronunciation varieties - some words have a few different varieties, and it would be quite troublesome if all these were shown in writing, so only one spelling is used to cover them all (generally the spelling covering the traditionally preferred pronunciation).


  1. acknowledge > aknolledj (the c is removed since it incorrectly marks the stress on the first syllable, so one has to remember that the k is pronounced)
  2. length, strength (unchanged)
  3. say, says, sayest, saith, said, saidst > sei, sez, sest, seth, sed, sedst (the plural of the noun say is seiz)
  4. often (/t/ may be silent)
  5. hoar > hour (to separate it from whore, now hohr)
  6. /tu/
    1. to > tu
    2. too > tuu
    3. two > tuh
  7. /fɔr/
    1. for (unchanged)
    2. fore > fohr
    3. four (unchanged, representing its historical pronunciation)
  8. forehead > fohrhedd (even if one rhymes it with horrid)
  9. bid, bade, bidden > bidd, badd, bidden (badd, reflecting the traditional pronunciation, is always used, even if one rhymes it with made)
  10. welcome > welkum (written with u instead of e as part of etymology)

Derivational affixes[edit]

Inseparable prefixes:

Prefix Spelling Example
a- a- aware > aweir
aloud > alaud
be- be- believe > believ
beset > besett
for- for- forbid > forbidd
forbear > forbeir
mis- mis- misbehave > misbeheiv
mistime > mistaim
step- step- stepbrother > stepbrudher
stepfather > stepfahdher
un- un- unrest > unrest
untie > untai

Derivational suffixes:

Suffix Spelling Example
-dom -dum kingdom > kingdum
freedom > friedum
-ed -(e)d red-haired > redd-heird
white-lipped > hwait-lippd
cool-headed > kuhl-hedded
-en -(e)n liven > laiven
treen > trien
-er -(e)r baker > beiker
seer > sier
-ern -ern eastern > iestern
southern > sudhern
-fold -fould fivefold > faivfould
manifold > mannifould
-ful -fuul helpful > helpfuul
handful > handfuul
-hood -hud motherhood > mudherhud
knighthood > knaithud
-ing -ing roofing > ruhfing
building > bilding
-ish -ish greenish > grienish
bookish > buukish
-le -el twinkle > twinkel
nestle > nessel
-less -les hopeless > houples
heartless > hartles
-like -laik godlike > goddlaik
ladylike > leidilaik
-ling -ling hireling > haierling
foundling > faundling
-ly -li homely > houmli
daily > deili
-ness -nes darkness > dahrkness
coolness > kuhlnes
-ship -ship friendship > frendship
lordship > lohrdship
-some -sum tiresome > taiersum
twosome > tuhsum
-ster -ster spinster > spinnster
gamester > geimster
-teen -tien thirteen > thertien
fifteen > fiftien
-th -th dearth > derth
wealth > welth
-ty -ti seventy > sevventi
eighty > eiti
-ward(s) -word(z) forward > fohrword
seawards > siewordz
-ways -weies sideways > saidweies
endways > endweies
-wise -waiz lengthwise > lengthwaiz
timewise > taimwaiz
-worthy -werdhi roadworthy > roudwerdhi
seaworthy > siewerdhi
-y -i snowy > snoui
happy > happi

Many of the spellings reflect their (historically) stressed pronunciations, e.g., -ful, which may be pronounced as the regular word or with a schwa.

Inflectional suffixes[edit]

So far, we have cleanly separated /s/ and /z/ by reserving s for the former and z for the latter. However, things become complicated when we try to rewrite the following sentences:

  • The man saw three dogs.
  • The man saw three cats.
  • The man saw three churches.

How do we rewrite the grammatical ending -s? We could simply try respelling the ending by how it sounds.

  • The mann soh thrie doggz.
  • The mann soh thrie katts.
  • The mann soh thrie cherchez.

But this would lead to the problem of making it harder to recognize that z, s, and ez are all simply variants of the same ending. The same problem would arise if we tried to respell the ending -ed, which we consistently spell as such to make it clear that it is an ending and not part of the stem.

Currently, there is an inconsistency in how we spell -s and -ed. For the former, we never change the consonant, but we add an e when it is pronounced separately. But for the latter, not only do we never change the consonant, but we also never drop the e, even if it is not pronounced. The latter approach has the advantage of helping the reader recognize the ending, but it does not show when the e is truly pronounced, which leads to problems such as wicked and wretched.

In any case, it is clear that the underlying forms for -s and -ed are /z/ and /d/. The spelling should reflect the underlying form at all times, even when it is not realized as such in certain forms, so they are now spelled -(e)z and -(e)d.

  • The mann soh thrie doggz.
  • The mann soh thrie kattz.
  • The mann soh thrie cherchez.

This allows us to use s at the end of a word to always show /s/.

  • fleece > flies
  • flees > fliez
  • goose > guhs
  • goos > guhz

Admittedly, this makes it unclear whether /z/ or /d/ in a word is part of the stem, e.g., choose and chews > chuhz, mood and mooed > muhd. In practice, however, context should help distinguish them, and it is not as if current English always distinguished suffixes and parts of stems, e.g., bower can refer to someone who bows (bow + -er) or a certain kind of dwelling (the -er is part of the stem).

Suffix Spelling Example
-s -(e)z trees > triez
cats > kattz
speeches > spiechez
-'s -'z man's > mann'z
hat's > hatt'z
church's > cherch'z
-s' -(e)z' songs' > songz'
knights' > knaitz'
churches' > cherchez'
-en -(e)n children
brethren > bredhren
kine > kain
-s -(e)z slays > sleiz
sits > sittz
singes > sindjez
-ing -ing flying > flaiing
falling > fohling
-ed -(e)d played > pleid
booked > buukd
hated > heited
-en -(e)n beaten > bieten
known > knoun
-est -(e)st sittest > sitt(e)st
teachest > tiechest
-eth -(e)th playeth > plei(e)th
singeth > sindjeth
Adjectives and adverbs
-er -er smaller > smohler
greater > greiter
-est -est sweetest > swietest
latest > leitest

Function words[edit]

The spelling rules for function words are somewhat different. For one, many words do not use double consonants, even if their vowels are short, since these words are generally used in unstressed positions, e.g., in (in contrast to the noun inn). Also, some long vowels in final position or before r are shown with only one letter, e.g., so (instead of sou, the spelling for the verb sow), or (instead of ohr, the spelling for oar and ore). Moreover, the voiced fricatives are represented with the letters v, z, and dh as well, but initial /ð/ is always spelled as th.

For have, the new spelling is hav. This is to prevent confusion with halve (now havv). Note that the noun half is spelled haff, and the plural is havves.

For either and neither, the variant with /iː/ is chosen, since it historically shows the same sound change as key (now kie).

The spellings are based on the stressed forms of the word. The exceptions are the articles, which keep their current spelling.

Spellings for function words (pronouns and determiners):

  1. I, me, my, mine > ai, mi, mai, main
  2. thou, thee, thy, thine > thau, thi, thai, thain
  3. he, him, his > hi, him, hiz
  4. she, her(s) > shi, her(z)
  5. it(s) > it(z)
  6. we, us, our(s) > wi, us, aur(z)
  7. ye, you, your(s) > ji, ju, jur(z)
  8. they, them, their(s) > thei, them, their(z)
  9. what, which > hwot, hwich
  10. who, whom, whose > hu, hum, huz
  11. a(n), the (unchanged)
  12. this, these, that, those > this, thiez, that, thouz
  13. either, neither > iedher, niedher
  14. any > enni
  15. one > wun
  16. no, none > no, nun
  17. each, every > iech, evri
  18. both, all > bouth, ol
  19. few, fewer, fewest > fiu, fiuer, fiuest
  20. little, less, least > littel, less, liest
  21. much, many, more, most > much, menni, mohr, moust
  22. some, such, (an)other > sum, such, (an)udher
  23. enough > inuff
  24. aught, naught > oht, noht
  25. yon, yond, yonder > jon, jond, jonder

Basic auxilaries:

  1. be, am, art, is, are, was, wast, were, wert, been > bi, am, art, iz, ar, woz, wost, wer, wert, bin
  2. have, has, hast, hath, had, hadst > hav, haz, hast, hath, had, hadst
  3. do, does, dost, doth, did, didst, done > du, duz, dust, duth, did, didst, dun

Modal verbs:

  1. can, canst, could, couldst > kann, kannst, kuud, kuudst
  2. may, mayst, might, mightst > mei, meist, mait, maitst
  3. will, wilt, would, wouldst > will, willt, wuud, wuudst
  4. shall, shalt, should, shouldst > shall, shallt, shuud, shuudst
  5. must (unchanged)
  6. ought, oughtst > oht, ohtst

Adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions:

  1. not (unchanged)
  2. ever, never > evver, nevver
  3. too > tuu
  4. also > olso
  5. at, on, from, after, off, in, under, upon (unchanged, but inner keeps its spelling)
  6. up (unchanged; note that the verb is spelled upp, and upper keeps its spelling)
  7. of > ov
  8. to, into, onto > tu, intu, ontu
  9. down > daun
  10. out > aut
  11. with, within, without > widh, widhin, widhaut (even if one pronounces it with /θ/)
  12. between, beyond, before, behind > betwien, bejond, befohr, behaind
  13. beneath, underneath > benieth, undernieth
  14. about, above, against, along, among > abaut, abuv, agenst, along, amung
  15. over > ouver
  16. by > bai
  17. through > thru
  18. away > awei
  19. like > laik
  20. nigh, near > nai, nir
  21. toward > toword
  22. here, there, where > hier, thehr, hwehr
  23. hither, thither, whither > hidher, thidher, hwidher
  24. hence, thence, whence > hens, thens, hwens
  25. when, why, how > hwen, hwai, hau
  26. and, but, or, nor, for, so (unchanged)
  27. yet > jet
  28. since, once > sins, wuns
  29. while > hwail
  30. than, then (unchanged)
  31. if, unless (unchanged)
  32. whether > hwedher
  33. lest (unchanged)
  34. though, although > tho, altho
  35. until, till > untill, till
  36. as > az
  37. thus (unchanged)

Example sentences:

  1. I am a man of my word. > Ai am a mann ov mai werd.
  2. What did you see in the sea while fishing? > Hwot did ju sie in the sie hwail fishing?
  3. You beheld a ewe grazing by a yew tree. > Ju beheld a juh greizing bai a juh trie.
  4. He is better at writing than I thought. > Hi iz better at wraiting than ai thoht.
  5. Sam's brother's wife cooked us nine wonderful meals. > Sam'z brudher'z waif kuuked us nain wunderfuul mielz.
  6. I shall acknowledge all my misdeeds. > Ai shall acknolledj ol mai misdiedz.
  7. The worker has hewn the trees by himself. > The werker haz hiun the triez bai himself.
  8. He sees three fleas on the fleece and lies about the lice. > Hi siez thrie fliez on the flies and laiz abaut the lais.
  9. Thou art shunned since thy sins are great. > Thau art shunned sins thai sinnz ar greit.
  10. Of these two, which month hath thirty days? > Of thiez tuh, hwich munth hath therti deiz?
  11. Neither side has won everyone's hearts. > Niedher said haz wunn evriwun'z hartz.
  12. Ye gods, this is too much for me to bear! > Ji goddz, this is tuu much for mi tu beir!
  13. I have drawn my greatest work at last. > Ai hav drohn mai greitest werk at last.
  14. We have to leave the house at once. > Wi hav to liev the haus at wuns.
  15. This box was full of clayey earth. > This boks woz fuul ov cleii erth.
  16. One should mind one's own business. > Wun shuud maind wun'z oun bizznes.
  17. The good old priest was wholly holy. > The guud ould priest woz houlli houli.
  18. Their friendship ended on the steamship. > Their frendship ended on the stiemshipp.
  19. Oh no, all my awls are gone! > Ouh no, ol mai ohlz ar gonn!
  20. Aw, this is rather awful, isn't it? > Oh, this iz radher ohfuul, izn't it?
  21. The palm trees can't withstand these strong winds! > The pahm triez kann't widhstand thiez strong windz!
  22. Things won't get any better if we don't help each other. > Thingz woun't gett enni better if wi doun't help iech udher.
  23. The moon rises as the sun sets. > The muhn raizez az the sunn settz.
  24. On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... > On the eitth dei ov Christmas, mai truh luvv sent tu mi...
  25. You can't handle the truth! > Ju kann't handel the truhth!
  26. It's always darkest before the dawn. > It'z olweiz dahrkest befohr the dohn.
  27. I've had enough beer for today. > Ai'v had inuff bier for tudei.
  28. All my gold shall go to him who slays the foul wolf. > Ol mai gould shall gou tu him hu sleiz the faul wuulf.
  29. The wicked witch uttered a spell that made all the leaves red. > The wicked wich utterd a spell that meid ol the lievz redd.
  30. Ali Baba dealt with the forty thieves. > Ali Baba delt widh the fourti thievz.
  31. "The sun shone brightly yesterday," said the Englishman. > "The sunn shonn braitli jesterdei," sed the Inglishmann.
  32. Thou wast cleansed of evil. > Thau wost klenzd ov ievel.
  33. Welcome to the world of tomorrow! > Welkum tu the werld ov tumorrou!
  34. You have done well. However, that is not enough! > Ju hav dun well. Hauevver, that iz not inuff!
  35. Eleven children are looking at the new teacher. > Ilevven children are luuking at the niu tiecher.

Letter names[edit]

None of the letter names for the vowels are changed, even though those vowels are the result of the Great Vowel Shift on the original names. However, the consonants may be changed to reflect their new values. Some of the names show French influence, so they have been altered as well.

Letter Pronunciation Phonetic spelling
a /eɪ/ ei
b /biː/ bie
c /tʃiː/ chie
d /diː/ die
e /iː/ ie
f /ɛf/ eff
g /giː/ gie
h /heɪk/ heik
i /aɪ/ ai
j /jeɪ/ jei
k /keɪ/ kei
l /ɛl/ ell
m /ɛm/ emm
n /ɛn/ enn
o /oʊ/ ou
p /piː/ pie
q /kaʊ/ kau
r /ɑːr/ ahr
s /ɛs/ ess
t /tiː/ tie
u /aʊ/ au
v /viː/ vie
w /wiː/ wie
x /ɛks/ eks
y /waɪ/ wai
z /ziː/ zie


  1. The name for c is based on the Old English name for c.
  2. The name for g is based on its use for /g/ since its use for /dʒ/ is from French.
  3. The name for h is based on the Old English name for h.
  4. The name for j is based on its use for /j/ since its use for /dʒ/ is from French.
  5. The name for q is based on the Old English name for q, which originally had /uː/ (probably taken from the Latin name for q).
  6. The name for u is based on the Old English value of long u; its current English value of /juː/ shows French influence.
  7. The name for w is based on the Dutch and German names for w, which simply has their typical value of w followed by a long vowel.
  8. The name for y is of obscure origin and is kept here since no better name for the letter has emerged.

Optional changes[edit]


A particularly nettlesome part of English spelling is the representation of the fricatives /f/, /v/, /s/, /z/, /θ/, and /ð/. Old English did not make an orthographic distinction between the voiceless and voiced sounds because they were not phonemically distinct. However, in Middle English, the voiced sounds became phonemicized, and various attempts to show the voice contrast in the fricatives were made with great inconsistency.

The most obvious solution would be to simply give all the sounds separate letters, so:

Sound Letter Example
/f/ f leaf > lief
laughing > laffing
/v/ v leave > liev
liver > livver
/s/ s cinder > sinder
fleece > flies
/z/ z wise > waiz
graze > greiz
/θ/ th death > deth
teeth > tieth
/ð/ dh scythe > saidh
teethe > tiedh

However, since v and z are foreign letters, and dh is based on th, which displaced the native letters þ (thorn) and ð (eth), these are not really compatible with Anglish. Another common solution in some spelling reforms is to use thorn for /θ/ and eth for /ð/, but scribes apparently never thought to differentiate the two letters like that.

We can come up with an innovative solution. For /s/ and /z/, if we wish to avoid using z in native words:


  • Initial: s, e.g., cinder > sinder.
  • After short vowels: ss, e.g., kiss, bless.


  • Initial: z (only in loanwords and interjections, and this can be naturalized to /s/ in Anglish), e.g., zephyr, zounds > zuhnds (since the word came from a shortening of God's wounds).
  • After long vowels, diphthongs, and consonants: s, e.g., hazel > heisel, freeze > fries, cleanse > klens.

The problems so far are:

  • There is no way to represent /z/ after short vowels, e.g., bissi would show /s/ rather than /z/ in busy.
  • There is no way to represent /s/ after long vowels, diphthongs, and consonants, e.g., flies would show /z/ rather than /s/ in fleece, and pens would show /z/ rather than /s/ in pence.

One solution to the former is to simply use s with no doubling, e.g., busy > bisi, arisen > arisen. This is one of the few times when a short vowel is not followed by two consonants. In practice, little confusion should arise since if a short vowel precedes /s/, then ss is used, so mossy and dizzy are now mossi and disi.

As for the latter, in Middle English, some scribes occasionally used double consonants as well as e to indicate voicelessness, e.g., mowsse (mouse), howsse (house), liyffe (life), theeffe (thief). The spellings of the vowel sounds appear to show that these are not variants with shortened vowels but forms with the original long vowel. Though this violates the usual rule that a single consonant after a long vowel or a diphthong is to be shown with only one consonant, in this case, we can make an exception and allow for s to be doubled. Hence:

  • /s/ after long vowels, diphthongs, and consonants: ss, e.g., fleece > fliess, mice > maiss, pence > penss.

Alternatively, for /s/, ß can be repurposed for this. In English, this was simply a ligature of ſ (long s, an archaic form of s) and short s, and this ligature was found in italic type in some old texts. Here, we can extend this to roman type and repurpose it. As a result, it is now used similarly to how German distinguishes /s/ and /z/ after long vowels and diphthongs by using ß (called eszett in German) for the former and s for the latter.

  • /s/ after long vowels and diphthongs: ß, e.g., fleece > fließ, mice > maiß.

In any case, solutions of the same kind can be applied to /f/ and /v/:


  • Initial: f, e.g., fiend.
  • After vowels and consonants: ff, e.g., laugh > laff, leaf > lieff, life > laiff, shelf > shelff.


  • Initial: v (mainly in loanwords and interjections, and this can be naturalized to /f/ in Anglish), e.g., vampire > vampaier, vroom > vruhm.
  • After vowels and consonants: f, e.g., liver > lifer, leave > lief, stove > stouf, shelve > shelf.

For /θ/ and /ð/, thorn and eth are used:


  • Initial: þ, e.g., thunder > þunder.
  • After vowels and consonants: þþ, e.g., death > deþþ, heath > hieþþ, loath > louþþ, month > munþþ.


  • Initial: ð, e.g., the > ðe, those > ðous.
  • After vowels and consonants: þ, e.g., withy > wiþi, breathe > brieþ, loathe > louþ, northern > nohrþern.

The advantage to this use of double consonants is that it is unambiguous, but the disadvantage is that it is quite counterintuitive since we closely associate double consonants with short vowels, so seeing them after long vowels and diphthongs is awkward. It is also a bit strange to see double consonants right after one consonant since we are so used to seeing shelf instead of shelff and having shelf show /f/ instead of /v/.

Soft c and g[edit]

Rather than get rid of c, we can also implement c and apply a soft-hard distinction to it and g. Soft c for /s/ is from French, as is soft g for /dʒ/, and in Anglish spelling, their soft values are /tʃ/ and /j/, respectively. The problem is that Anglish spelling does not make a clear distinction between soft and hard c and g all the time. The rules for hard and soft c now also apply to /ʃ/, which comes from OE sc.

So far, for the unambiguous parts, we have:

Letter Sound Example
c followed by a, o, and u
g followed by a, o, and u
sc followed by a, o, and u
cat > catt
god > godd
school > scuhl
c followed by e or i
g followed by e or i
sc followed by e or i
cheap > ciep
year > gier
sheen > scien
ck at the end of a word
g at the end of a word
sk at the end of a word
frog > frogg

Now the remaining problems are:

  • Finding a way to represent hard c and g before i and e.
  • Finding a way to represent soft c and g before a, o, and u.
  • Finding a way to represent /tʃ/ and /ʃ/ at the end of a word (/j/ never appears at the end of a word, so there is no need to worry about it).

For hard c, the easiest (and current) way to do this is to use k, e.g., keep > kiep, kenning. Old English scribes generally did not make a distinction, but occasionally used k for clarity. Unfortunately, no such solution is available for g, as Old English scribes did not have an alternative to use.

As for the second problem, Old English scribes sometimes added an orthographic e after the consonant to show that it was soft. If we were to apply this solution, then choke would now be ceouk, and yard would now be geahrd. Occasionally, for /j/, consonantal i (which would later become j) was used, so young could also be spelled jung, and yoke could be spelled as jouk.

As for the third problem, since ck is already used for final /k/, c can be used. The same applies to sc.

Now, if we apply the clearer solution of using k for hard c before e and i, then we get:

Letter Sound Example
k before e and i
g before e and i
sk before e and i
guild > gild
scare > skeir
ce before a, o, and u
ge before a, o, and u
sce before a, o, and u
chap > ceapp
yonder > geonder
show > sceou
c at the end of a word
sc at the end of a word
match > macc
wash > wosc

Unfortunately, there is no separate letter for hard g. As a result, ge and gi are ambiguous, and a word spelled as gier could mean year or gear.

There is one solution to this. In late Middle English, gh was occasionally used for /g/, e.g., ghos (goose), ghoot (goat), ghest (guest). This use of gh appears to have come from the Middle Dutch use of gh for /ɣ/. Since this is a convenient way to show /g/ without using any French forms, we can have gh be used before i and g to show g. Thus, guest is now ghest, and gear is now ghier.


Following Harry Lindgren's approach, I think that it would be best to incorporate the changes piecemeal.

Step 1

Introduce the rule that a stressed short vowel be followed by two consonants (with exceptions such as function words).

  • cat > catt
  • top > topp
  • nun > nunn
  • ring, went, sank, lost, tusk (unchanged)

Rewrite the following vowels such that they are short:

Sound (GA) Sound (RP) Lexical set Letter Example
/ɛ/ /e/ DRESS e friend > frend
/ɪ/ /ɪ/ KIT i pretty > pritty
/ʌ/ /ʌ/ STRUT u flood > fludd
/ɑː/ /ɒ/ LOT o don > donn
/ɒ/ CLOTH o dog > dogg
/æ/ /æ/ TRAP a fan > fann
/æ/ /ɑː/ BATH a laugh > laff

Change all instances of o for short u.

  • son > sunn
  • come > cumm
  • month > munth
  • honey > hunny

As a result, if the vowel in a word is a short vowel, the vowel letter is followed with two consonant letters. Note that the converse is not true; a vowel letter followed with two consonant letters can denote a "long vowel".

  • lot > lott
  • But: cough > coff (which has /ɔː/ for speakers with the LOT-CLOTH split)
  • trap > trap
  • But: half > haff (which has /ɑː/ for speakers with the TRAP-BATH split)