THURSDAY, DEC 31, 2015

27 Phonemes

For Universal Spoken Language based on Semantography



TUCSON (A-P) — Semantography is ideographic and written, but Bliss favored assigning sounds to basic Bliss symbols. The idea is not to replace natural language but to allow for speaking the ideographs when necessary. The sounds used could be typed on a keyboard to quickly generate ideographs and writers would learn the spoken form mainly for that reason. If Semantography were used universally, primary literacy would be the ability to read, while the ability to speak and type the ideographs would be secondary.

A starting point is to consider all the basic speech sounds used to construct words having different meanings in natural languages (phonemes as distinct from all possible phonetic sounds), with some attention to the frequency of the speech sounds. Use the most common sounds and avoid sounds likely to be problematic to many, so !Kung clicks are best avoided while the "m" sound, the most commonly used sound, should be used.

To construct syllables/words consonant sounds modify sounds that can be made for an extended time (vowel sounds) using the vocal cords, usually at the beginning or end, though some, such as the ng sound, only goes after a vowel.


n, neat
m, meet
k, coat
g, goat
p, pike
b, bike
h, hype
w, wipe
t, tote
d, dote
s, sue, si (Spanish)
z, zoo
r, ray
l, lay
f, fain
v, vain
j, yet, so j = English y sound as in yes [jEs]
N, after vowel as in bring [brIN] or ring [rIN]
S, sh as in she [Si], ch in English is [tS], so shin [SIn] chin [tSIn] rich [rItS] fish [fIS}

So for English speakers only the last three are unusual. N is short for ng, S is short for sh, there is no jay sound and per international usage j is the y sound in you [ju].

Characters c, q, x, y and most capitals are not used for semantographic speech sounds but may be used to write native language proper names as historically spelled. So you could be going to "Rome" or [rom]. When saying c, q, x, y sounds, perhaps when spelling foreign words to a non-English speaker, you have to use the X-SAMPA sounds which are not found in English. Close enough is "ch" for [c], "k" for [q] as in Quran, and [x] is a guttural "h" sound as in Spanish "caja," and [y] is a vowel close to [I] in "bit." This is likely a non-issue for most.

Note: To write phonetically, to record every sound humans can make, requires being able to write over 900 sounds. These sounds, however, are not used to create distinct spoken words. Most languages use 30 to 40 distinct sounds, phonemes, to create words that sound different enough to have different meaning. No one sound is used by all languages. The m sound is found in 94% of languages and all other sounds are less shared, such as the 'jay' sound in English which is why, in Semantography, it is not used.

The 27 speech sounds used to speak ideograms are among the most commonly used. All happen to be in English, but common phonemes in English are not used. The omitted 'th' sound is not common in human languages though it is often used in English in two forms. All speakers of all natural languages will have to learn a few new sounds or X-SAMPA symbols for phonemic sounds that may or may not be in their native language. Some languages use only 11 sounds, but no sounds are used in all languages, not one, so native speakers, including English speakers, will have to adapt.


Open sounds that can themselves be syllables/words or come before, after, or between consonant sounds that modify vowel sounds. The characters between the brackets are words written in X-SAMPA. Initially the phonemic spellings will look funny, but there is only one way to pronounce each, not 13 different ways to spell each sound as used in English.

i     beet, peat [bit, pit] (not as in English, but Spanish si)
a    bought, padre, father [bat, padre, faTr]
@  but, putt [b@t, p@t]
u    boot, pool, food [but, pul, fud]
o    boat, pole [bot, pol]
e    bait, mate, el bebe [bet, met, el bebe]
E   bet, depth [bEt, dEpT]
I     bit, dip [bIt, dIp]
r     Bert, bird, butter, Ray, nurse [brt, brd, b@tr, rei, nrs]

Letter 'r' is by convention considered a consonant, but it can function as a vowel. So "beer" is [bir] and the [ir] is a diphthong. In "Bert" a spoken [@rt] is possible but would likely go unnoticed. Typically there is only one vowel. Say [brt] without a [@] vowel. Sounds almost the same as [b@rt]. You can say [brt] because [r] is a vowel, but a deeply held belief that [r] is a consonant maybe overlooked.


Consonant blends:

tS is the 'ch' sound as in chief, t+S, e.g. French [frEntS]. Say French without S and hear the t.
dZ in 'jet' is d+Z, the Z sound being the zh sound in measure [meZr], so major [medZr], but Z not used other than to write place names, so no dZ sound either.
nj in 'onion' [@nj@n or @Y@n] or million [mIlnj@n or mIlY@n]. So n+j (n+y sound) or X-SAMPA Y.
hw in 'when' [hwEn] may or may not have an h sound to make it sound different from went [wEnt], but h comes first though in English spelling it is wh and the blend may be heard as a separate sound indicated by X-SAMPA W.

The tS blend is the only consonant blend used to speak Semantography symbols as it is used in over 40% of languages. Other blends may be used to write phonemicly in natural languages.


Diphthongs (Vowel blends):

au   bout [baut]
ai    bite [bait or baIt]
ei    bait [beit or beIt] or [bet] if i sound not emphasized
iu    butte [biut]
ir     beer [bir], fear [fir]
Ir     bur [bIr or br] fir [fIr or fr], bird [bIrd or brd]
@r  bird [b@rd or brd]
er    Bayer [ber], fair [fer]
ar    bar [bar], far [far]
or    boar [bor]
ur    brewer [brur]
Er    bear [bEr or ber]
rr     perro [perro] for trilled r

In diphthongs two vowels blend and each vowel may not be heard distinctly. The I or i sound is used interchangeably as in syllables like English 'boy, bite, beer, butte' the sound can change depending on if an I or i follows. So 'being' is biIN or biiN, but both forms would be heard as the same word and so in diphthongs the two sounds are considered equivalent and are therefore not used blended to indicate different semantographic words as a syllable break can be added. The sounds o - O, and u - U are similarly blended. In writing, the lowercase form may be used to simplify input.

The vowel sounds in bat [b{t], boy [bOi]. bull [bUl], foot [fUt], father [fATr], strut [strVt], and bawl [bQl] are not used. A few characters are borrowed from X-SAMPA, a typeable form of IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). Words from all natural languages can be typed using 7-bit ASCII X-SAMPA to indicate speech sounds not used in Semantography. X-SAMPA can be used to phonetically spell most natural language words, but can be simplified to spell words phonemically using fewer sounds. For practical purposes a simplified X-SAMPA is good enough.

Historical words and place names are as used historically or as pronounced locally. So in "I'm going to London then Paris" the place names are not necessarily ideographic concepts ('I', 'going', 'then' are) and so would not necessarily have an ideographic form. So in writing semantographicly, proper names can be as written per convention or as pronounced, thus 'London' or 'Paris' could be used, or 'l@nd@n' or 'peri' (or 'per@s' as the English say) could be used to indicate the spoken sound. For English words add:

T = th in thin [TIn]
D = th in then [DEn] or use [T] for both 'th' sounds
{  = vowel in bat. Common in English but not many other languages.
A as in father, arm or use a [faTr, arm for fATr, Arm] as it is functionally the same.
C as in human or use h as it is also functionally the same.
L as in onion (@L@n] or use nj [@nj@n]
O as in thought, [TOt] or use a [Tat], off [Of or af], pot [pOt or pat] boy [bOI or baI] join [dZOIn or dZaIn]
U as in foot [fUt], put [pUt]
Q as in hot [hQt], rock [rQt] or use a [hat, rak]
V as in strut [strVt] luck [lVk] or use @ [str@t l@k]
W as in when [WEn] or use hw [hwEn]
Z as in vision [vIZ@n], measure [meZr], gin [dZIn]

Or simplified from phonetic to phonemic for English:

T = both [boT], the (T@], think [TINk], this, thistle [TIs, TIs@l or use the more correct DIs, DIs@l]
O = boy [bOI], join [dZOIn]
U = vowel in foot [fUt], put [pUt] similar to u sound but not the same, luck [l@k] look [lUk] Luke [luk] lick [lIk] lecture [lEkSr].
{ = vowel in bat, [b{t], pan p{n]
Z = consonant in vision [vIZ@n], measure [meZr]

The X-SAMPA characters to pronounce natural languages need not specify every possible sound humans can make phonetically, but only those actually used to construct words having different meanings, which are the simplified sounds or phonemes of a natural language. In Semantography only E I N S @ and j differ from convention. For English add T D { OU Z which is the short list of phonemes without A C L Q V W. Punctuation marks can be used in X-SAMPA to make fine distinctions, such as using a period within a word to indicate syllable breaks, but semantographic writing tends toward simplicity and avoids over-complicating things.

On average each speech sound in English has 13 different ways to spell it which is why champion spellers will eventually misspell a word. Using X-SAMPA (to add U { Z T D O to @ E I N j S) every English word that sounds different can be written differently with only one way to spell every word phonemicly [tu spEl Evri wrd f@nimIkli], so if you could pronounce a word you could spell it correctly without a spell checker. Traditional orthography, however, prevents useful innovation [tredISInal orTografi, hauEvr, privEnts jusf@l InoveS@n]. Neither Chinese, English, Arabic, or pick one from the thousands makes for a reasonable universal language, and constructed spoken languages merely attempt to regularize the unsemantic nature of natural languages that evolved to serve socio-political ends (sex, wealth, power, ideology...) which are other than the endeavor to express or convey evidence-based meaning about the nature of things or to think well. Our best hope for thinking and communicating clearly is to convey meaning (semanto) in writing (graphy) clearly. Those who manage to think clearly in natural language may be doing so in spite of rather than because of their mother-tongue.

Many companies refuse to do business in writing, demand that you 'call ###-####' if you have an issue or complaint perhaps because they don't want a record of what they tell you in weasel words to exist. If you call and tell them the call is being recorded "for quality control" they won't talk, and if you don't tell them a call is being recorded their lawyers will have your evidence dismissed on the off chance that you can afford one of your own. We recently had to change internet providers because COX refused to reply meaningfully during online text-based chat that could be copied or reply to email other than by perhaps sending email to the local office who merely kept sending voice messages to call a certain phone number. I refused and they terminated service per their business as usual practice. We had frequently been told things, verbal promises were made, that proved false, and when we eventually, after an hour on hold, spoke to a supervisor they said they were not accountable nor responsible for what their employees may not have said on the phone or in person, meaning we failed to understand what their employee had actually said or were making false claims.

n, m, k, g, p, b, h, w, t, d, s, z, r, l, f, v, j, N, S
i, a, @, u, o, e, E, I

n, m, k, g, p, b, h, w, t, d, s, z, r, l, f, v, j, N, S, T, Z
i, a, @, u, o, O, e, E, I, r, O, U, {


treat [trit]
trip [trIp]
tear [ter]
tern [trn]
torn [torn or tOrn but torn is easier to type]
phoneme [fonim]
phonemic [f@nimIc]
Semantography [sEm{ntagr@fi or could be pronounced sEmantagr@fi]
Semanto-graphy [sEmanto-gr@fi]
supercalifragilisticexpialidocious [suprkalifr{gIlIstIkEkspi{lIidoSIs or with syllable breaks for extra clarity:{g.Il.Is.tIk.Eks.pi.{]
terrarium [trreri@m or tr.rer.i.@m]
character [kErEktr or as indicating syllable breaks is an option] (note: no ch sound in 'character')

The Friends of Bliss are working to develop a spoken form for Semantography. Early adapters can start by reading the ebook and perhaps becoming Friends of Bliss.



Back to Home Page



The is a


Contact SolTech Designs