Basic Roman

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The Basic Roman spelling of English is a 2002 proposal for regular English spelling.[1][2] It is based on five principles:

  • The basic Roman alphabet, with no additional letters or diacritics used;
  • One spelling, with no phoneme (sound) written by two or more graphemes (letters);
  • Short vowels are spelled by single letters, while long vowels and diphthongs are spelled by two-letter combinations;
  • Diphthongs are spelled by their components, and long vowels either as diphthongs or by doubling the letters of the short vowels;
  • Short vowels and consonants are spelled as in the tradition of most Romanized languages.[3]

The Basic Roman system serves no particular standard of English pronunciation. Instead, it gives one way to spell the different varieties of English. The system uses 22 Roman letters to represent the set of English phonemes considered by J.C. Wells.[4] The letters ‘j’, ‘q’, ‘w’ and ‘x’ are not used (letters ‘j’ and ‘w’ are used in an extended version of the Basic Roman spelling, see below).

IPA Basic Roman spelling
word
monophthongs
iy
bead
ɪ
i
bid
ɛ
e
bed
æ
a
bad
ɒ
o
box
ɔː
oo
pawed
ɑː
aa
bra
ʊ
u
good
uu
booed
ʌ
a
bud
ɜr
non-rhotic: aa │ rhotic: aar
bird
ə
a
Rosa's
diphthongs
ey
bayed
ou
bode
ay
cry
au
cow
ɔɪ
oy
boy
ɪər
non-rhotic: ia │ rhotic: iar
near
ʊər
non-rhotic: ua │ rhotic: uar
boor
ɛər
non-rhotic: ea │ rhotic: ear
fair
consonants
m
m
me
n
n
name
ŋ
ng
sing
p
p
peak
b
b
best
t
t
top
d
d
do
k
k
kiss
g
g
green
ts
ts
ts
ch
cheer
dzh ( j )
joy
f
f
fix
v
v
view
θ
t ( th )
think
ð
d ( dh )
this
s
s
sea
z
z
zoo
ʃ
sh
ship
ʒ
zh
vision
x
h ( hh )
loch (Scottish)
h
h
he
ɾ
r
river
j
y
yes
w
u ( w )
west
l
l
like

By way of illustration, the following reference text by V. Yule[5] is given in traditional spelling and in Basic Roman (shown is the non-rhotic version; in the rhotic one, relevant words like ‘daughter’, ‘heart’, ‘pictures’ etc. are spelled ‘dootar’, ‘haart’, ‘pikcharz’ etc.):

Once upon a time, the beautiful daughter of a great magician wanted more pearls to put among her treasures. “Look through the centre of the moon when it is blue,” said her royal mother in answer to her question. “You might find your heart’s desire.” The fair princess laughed, because she doubted these words. Instead, she used her imagination, and moved into the photography business, and took pictures of the moon in colour. “I perceive most certainly that it is almost wholly white,” she thought. She also found that she could make enough money in eight months to buy herself two lovely huge new jewels too.
Uans apon a taym, da byutiful doota av a greyt madzhishan uontid moo paalz tu put amang haa trezhaz. “Luk tru da senta av da muun huen it iz bluu,” sed haa royal mada in ansa tu haa kueschan. “Yu mayt faynd yoo haats dizaya.” Da fea prinses laaft, bikoz shi dautid diyz waadz. Insted, shi yuzd haa imadzhineyshan, and muuvd intu da fotografi biznis, and tuk pikchaz av da muun in kala. “Ay paasiyv moust saatanli dat it iz olmoust houli wayt,” shi toot. Shi olsou faund dat shi kud meyk inaf mani in eyt mants tu bay haaself tuu lavli hyudzh nyu juualz tuu.

A more elaborate version of the system is the Extended Basic Roman spelling of English, which uses also the letters ‘j’ and ‘w’, and has two specific two-letter combinations for the English voiced and voiceless dental fricatives.[6] The above sample text would appear in Extended Basic Roman (non-rhotic version) as follows:

Wans apon a taym, dha byutiful doota av a greyt majishan wontid moo paalz tu put amang haa trezhaz. “Luk thru dha senta av dha muun hwen it iz bluu,” sed haa royal madha in ansa tu haa kweschan. “Yu mayt faynd yoo haats dizaya.” Dha fea prinses laaft, bikoz shi dautid dhiyz waadz. Insted, shi yuzd haa imajineyshan, and muuvd intu dha fotografi biznis, and tuk pikchaz av dha muun in kala. “Ay paasiyv moust saatanli dhat it iz olmoust houli wayt,” shi thoot. Shi olsou faund dhat shi kud meyk inaf mani in eyt manths tu bay haaself tuu lavli hyuj nyu juualz tuu.

The Extended Basic Roman is close to one-to-one phoneme-grapheme correspondence, paving the way to a pronunciation respelling for English by means of the closely related Roman Phonetic Alphabet for English.

Roman Phonetic Alphabet for English[change | change source]

The Roman Phonetic Alphabet for English is a system based on the Extended Basic Roman spelling of English. It includes two pairs of stress marks which disambiguate words which share the same spelling but have different meanings. This is to get a one-to-one phoneme (sound)–grapheme (spelling) correspondence.[2][7] The system has certain similarities to the systems of the NBC Handbook of Pronunciation,[8] the Carnegie Mellon version of Arpabet alphabet,[9] and the World Book Dictionary.[10]

IPA Roman Phonetic Alphabet word
monophthongs
iy
bead \biyd\
ɪ
i
bid \bid\
ɛ
e
bed \bed\
æ
’a │ ,a
handbag \’hand,bag\
ɒ
o
box \boks\
ɔː
oo
draw \droo\
ɑː
’aa │ ,aa
bra \’braa\
grandma \’grand,maa\
ʊ
u
good \gud\
uu
mood \muud\
ʌ
”a │ „a
sun \”san\
homerun \’houm„ran\
ɜr
non-rhotic: ”aa │ „aa │ aa
rhotic: ”aar │ „aar │ aar
fur \”faa\ │ sunburn \’sun„baan\ │ perceive \paa’suyv\
\”faar\ │ \’sun„baarn\ │ \paa’suyv\
ə
a
ahead \a’hed\
diphthongs
ey
made \meyd\
ou
phone \foun\
ay
fly \flay\
au
cow \kau\
ɔɪ
oy
boy \boy\
ɪər
non-rhotic: ia │ rhotic: iar
near \nia\ │ \niar\
ʊər
non-rhotic: ua │ rhotic: uar
poor \pua\ │ \puar\
ɛər
non-rhotic: ea │ rhotic: ear
fair \fea\ │ \fear\
consonants
m
m
map \’map\
n
n
n@ \nout\
ŋ
ng
sing \sing\
p
p
pen \pen\
b
b
best \best\
t
t
top \top\
d
d
desk \desk\
k
k
key \kiy\
g
g
go \gow\
ts
ts
tsar \’tsaa\ │ \’tsaar\
ch
chip \chip\
j
joy \joy\
f
f
fix \fiks\
v
v
voice \voys\
θ
th
think \think\
ð
dh
this \dhis\
s
s
set \set\
z
z
zoo \zuu\
ʃ
sh
ship \ship\
ʒ
zh
vision \’vizhan\
x
hh
loch (Scottish) \lohh\
h
h
home \houm\
ɾ
r
red \red\
j
y
yes \yes\
w
w
west \west\
l
l
like \layk\

Primary stress is indicated by the mark <’>, respectively <”> in the case of \ʌ\ and \ɜr\. Secondary stress is shown by <,> and <„> respectively. Stress marks are placed before the syllables concerned.

By way of illustration, the following reference text by V. Yule is given in traditional English spelling and in Roman Phonetic Alphabet transcription (non-rhotic version):[5]

Once upon a time, the beautiful daughter of a great magician wanted more pearls to put among her treasures. “Look through the centre of the moon when it is blue,” said her royal mother in answer to her question. “You might find your heart’s desire.” The fair princess laughed, because she doubted these words. Instead, she used her imagination, and moved into the photography business, and took pictures of the moon in colour. “I perceive most certainly that it is almost wholly white,” she thought. She also found that she could make enough money in eight months to buy herself two lovely huge new jewels too.
”Wans a’pon a taym, dha ’byutiful ’doota av ”a greyt ma’jishan ’wontid moo ”paalz tu put a”mang ”haa ’trezhaz. Luk thru dha ’senta av dha muun hwen it iz bluu, sed ”haa ’royal ’madha in ’ansa tu ”haa ’kweschan. Yu mayt faynd yoo ’haats di’zaya. Dha fea ’prinses ’laaft, bi’koz shi ’dautid dhiyz ”waadz. Insted, shi yuzd ”haa i,maji’neyshan, and muuvd intu dha fo’tografi biznis, and tuk ’pikchaz av dha muun in ”kala. Ay paa’siyv moust ”saatanli ’dhat it iz olmoust houli wayt, shi thoot. Shi olsou faund ’dhat shi kud meyk i”naf ”mani in eyt ”manths tu bay haa’self tuu ”lavli hyuj nyu ’juualz tuu.

Other pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. L.L. Ivanov, On the Romanization of Bulgarian and English, Contrastive Linguistics, 28 2003: 109-118. ISSN: 0204-8701; Errata, id., 29, 2004 p157. Archived 18 January 2010 at WebCite
  2. 2.0 2.1 L. Ivanov, D. Skordev and D. Dobrev. The New National Standard for the Romanization of Bulgarian. Mathematica Balkanica. New Series Vol. 24, 2010, Fasc. 1-2. pp. 121–130. ISSN 0205-3217
  3. L. Ivanov & V. Yule Roman Phonetic Alphabet for English, Contrastive Linguistics, 32, 2007: 50-64. ISSN: 0204-8701 Archived 22 August 2011 at WebCite
  4. J.C. Wells, Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, Second edition, Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd., 2000.
  5. 5.0 5.1 V. Yule, Spelling without surplus letters
  6. L. Ivanov, V. Yule, Roman Phonetic Alphabet for English, Contrastive Linguistics, XXXII, 2007, 2, pp. 50-64.
  7. L. Ivanov & V. Yule, Roman Phonetic Alphabet for English, Contrastive Linguistics, 32, 2007: 50-64. Archived 22 August 2011 at WebCite
  8. Eugene Ehrlich & Raymond Hand Jr., NBC Handbook of Pronunciation HarperCollins Publishers, London 1984.
  9. The Carnegie Mellon Pronouncing Dictionary Carnegie Mellon University, Version 0.6
  10. The World Book Dictionary, World Book Inc., Chicago, 2002