Simpel-Fonetik Spelling

by Allan Kiisk

What is Simpel-Fonetik?

It is a new, simple and easy-to-learn method of writing, spelling words, in English. It is described in the book Simple Phonetic English Spelling - Introduction to Simpel-Fonetik, the Single-Sound-per-Letter Writing Method, by Allan Kiisk. Tate Publishing, 2008.

Simpel-fonetik website

What motivated you, Allan, to develop the Simpel-Fonetik.

When I was learning English as my third language, I was very frustrated by the terrible English spelling. Because English is becoming a global language, millions of people are learning English. They are experiencing the same frustrations. I have great empathy for them. I want to make it easier for them to learn English. I support global use of English.

What are the basic rules for Simple-Fonetik?

  1. 1. Each letter represents only one spoken sound.
  2. 2. For longer vowels and stronger consonants use double letters - add another letter with the same sound.

What does the Simpel-Fonetik alphabet look like?

Simpel-Fonetik alphabet

New letters: Ä,ä, Ö,ö. Letters not used: C, Q, X, Y. Total: 24 letters.

* IPA is the abbreviation for International Phonetic Alphabet.

Why were the letters Ä and Ö picked as new letters?

The letter A in present English is used to represent more than eleven different sounds. Examples: far, ant, all, ago, make, head, read, foam, fear, pair, earn. For all, except the ant and ago sounds, which correspond to the IPA's æ and ə sounds, existing letters could be used, e.g. all - ool, make - meik, head - hed, read - riid. New letters were needed for the ant and ago sounds, because a was chosen for the art sound. Nearly all other languages use the a for art and far sound. The letters Ä and Ö were the best choices because they are already in use in many other languages.

What about C, Q, X and Y?

They are not suitable for Simpel-Fonetik writing because they represent more than a single sound. Each of them can be substituted by other, more common letters. But they will be needed on keyboards and alphabets because we still need to write Chicago, Quebec, X-ray and York.

What are the replacements for the letters C, Q, X and Y?

In place of C use either S (cinder - sinder) or K (cold - kold).
In place of CH use TSH (chip - tship), or K (scheme - skiim), or SH (machine - mashiin).
In place of Q use KW (quick - kwik) or K (liquor - likör).
In place of X use KS (six - siks).
In place of Y use AI (type - taip), or I (typical - tipikal), or J (you - ju).

What are some of the other more significant changes?

In place of J and G as in jungle and gin use DSH (jungle - dshangel, gin - dshin).
Please refer to the book for the derivation and justification for this spelling change.
In place of PH use F (photo - foto).
And in forming diphthongs, two letters placed side-by-side can no longer be used for a third sound, such as au used in pause for the long o sound. In Simpel-Fonetik each letter will have only one, the same sound wherever it appears. Au will always be pronounced as a and u, as in house - haus or cow - kau. The only way to represent the au sound is to use the letters a and u.

Don't you need more letters for vowels?

No. For converting English speech to writing just seven vowels are needed. Additional letters such a Ü and Õ would be needed for dealing with other languages or writing dialect expressions, but they are not needed for the basic English writing. And keep in mind that longer vowels - and stronger consonants - are written by simply using two of the same letter. Another vowel was considered for the IPA sound ɒ, as in odd, which is in-between the a and o sounds, but it was concluded that using just a or o will greatly simplify the spelling.

Give a sample of Simpel-Fonetik writing.

Here is one:

This is interesting: No federal government order or effort so far for ending the helter-skelter spelling. Don't beg or long for it. It's hard for the big gorilla tu start implementing spelling dogma. It wil linger, limp, loiter, swing from pillar tu post . . .

As you may have noticed, this sample has only two changes: tu in place of to and wil in place of will. It illustrates that Simpel-Fonetik will not change the words that are presently spelled phonetically, based on single sound per letter.

Here is a another sample, shown first in present writing:

When you read Simpel-Fonetik words, you must pay attention to each letter. Remember: Each letter has always the same sound, the sound given in the Simpel-Fonetik alphabet, regardless what letter is next to it.

And here it is re-written in Simpel-Fonetik:

Wen ju riid Simpel-Fonetik wörds, ju mast pei ätenshön tu iitsh leter. Rimember: Iitsh leter häs oolweis the seim saund, the saund given in the Simpel-Fonetik alfabet, rigardles wat leter is nekst tu it.

The selection of the letters for the Simpel-Fonetik writing depends on pronunciation. In present English, the writing often does not tell you how to pronounce the word. That has resulted in different pronunciations in different regions or countries. Each pronunciation results in a different spelling in Simpel-Fonetik. Which one should be used? Some standardization procedure will be required. Simpel-Fonetik will fix the multiple pronunciations problem.

Why is Simpel-Fonetik better than other proposed spelling improvements?

  1. Other proposals are more complicated, difficult to learn, especially for foreigners. Nearly all other proposals that I have seen, don't consider the global use of English and the blending in with other languages. For example: The letter a is often used for the ä (IPA's æ) sound, or the ei sound, whereas other languages use it for the a as in art sound.
  2. The letters and sounds used in Simpel-Fonetik conform with the International (NATO) Alphabet. They also conform with the International Phonetic Alphabet, except that ä, ö and u are used in place of æ, ə and ʊ.
  3. The Simpel-Fonetik is based on the keep it simple principle. It has only one letter for the sound of R, and it uses TH for both of the slightly different pronunciations of that sound, as in then and three, because most people, especially the foreigners, have difficulties pronouncing the English R and TH as it is. One must take into account that there are now at least three times more foreign than native speakers of English.
  4. Simple phonetic writing has been in use in Estonia since 1850s, and in Finland even before that. That method of writing has proven to be ideal. Estonians and Finns don't spend time in learning spelling or pronunciation. They don't spend time asking how you spell this or that. They don't need to look up in the dictionary how to spell or pronounce a word. They do it only for foreign words, and mostly for words originating from the English language.

What are the prospects for Simpel-Fonetik?

Because English spelling is so bad, foreign learners of English have to learn to use the IPA to decipher the pronunciation of English words. But IPA has too many strange letters. Simpel-Fonetik does away with having to learn the IPA. It is simple, easy to learn. It uses letters the same way as in many other languages. Foreigners, especially those who are familiar with the single-sound-per-letter writing method, will favor and support the use of Simpel-Fonetik. That method of writing is expected to develop in coexistence with the present version of English spelling, and it could be referred to as the international version of English spelling.

In the modern, technical, scientific, computer-oriented, competitive world the English spelling places a heavy burden on its users. I am sure that even the native speakers will recognize, sooner or later, that by fixing the spelling problem they will greatly help their children's learning process and their ability to compete with children of other countries. I visualize that Simpel-Fonetik will be used initially for pronunciation guidance in schools and dictionaries. Once the native English speakers become familiar with the great advantages of single-sound-per-letter spelling, they also will support a spelling reform.

The book Simple Phonetic English Spelling concludes with the chapter that discusses the details of implementating the spelling reform.

Where can I buy the book?

The book is available in bookstores in most English-speaking countries. It can be ordered from or The book is of small size, 151 pages. It was intended for learning, teaching and promoting the Simpel-Fonetik method of writing. It is very easy to read because it was written for use also in non-English-speaking countries. It is also available as an audio book and a downloadable e-book.

About the author (in Simpel-Fonetik)

Allan Kiisk spent his tshaildhud in Estonia änd tiineidsh jiers in Germany bifor kaming tu the United States. Hi obteind his elektrikal endshineering edukeishon ät Oregon State änd Stanford Universitys. Hi wörkd äs än endshineer änd mänidsher for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, äs ö professor of endshineering ät the University of Redlands, California, änd äs the prinsipal endshineer in his oun konsalting föörm, Alkitek Associates. Hi änd his waif, Karin, häv träveld änd livd in meni kantris. Thei häv setld daun nier Sacramento, California, klous tu their tshildren änd gräntshildren.


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Alternative spelling/writing systems for English

Benjamin Franklin's Phonetic Alphabet, Deseret, Dialectal Paleotype, Interbet, Pitman Initial Teaching Alphabet, Quikscript/Read Alphabet, Shavian, Simpel-Fonetik, Unifon


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