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The Shwa script was invented by Peter Cyrus and is intended to be a universal script, one that can be used to write any language. It is phonetic, but not at as low a level as the IPA - we call it allophonic.

Notable features

The utility of such a script will be obvious. Not only will people be able to pronounce names now written in scripts they don't know, but they will also be able to read aloud names written in scripts they DO know, but whose spelling is different. For example, the letter j represents an affricate dj in English, a sibilant zh in French, a semivowel y in German, and a fricative kh in Spanish. And it solves the problem of trying to write, for example, French on an English keyboard. And wouldn't it be nice for travelers to be able to pronounce the names of towns, streets and sites wherever they are?

Perhaps most important, Shwa will enable the 6000+ languages of the world which have never been written to denote their sounds without either inventing new letters or assigning new interpretations to existing letters. This will enable their speakers to participate fully in the benefits of word processors, printers, text messages and the other tools of modern technology without abandoning their languages. Hopefully, that will help preserve the many endangered languages.

Finally, speakers of languages like English, French and Japanese, whose writing systems are far removed from the spoken language, will be able to learn to write with fewer years of study. That applies to children learning to write the first time as well as to adults learning a foreign language.

Shwa alphabet chart (with IPA)

Shwa alphabet

Sample text in Shwa (the poem "He Tells Her", by Wendy Cope)

Sample text in Shwa (the poem 'He Tells Her', by Wendy Cope)


He Tells Her

He tells her that the Earth is flat—
He knows the facts, and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.

The planet goes on being round.

Downland a Shwa font (OpenType, 21K)

More information about the Shwa script

Other writing systems invented by visitors to this site

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