Benjamin Franklin's Phonetic Alphabet

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Stan
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Benjamin Franklin's Phonetic Alphabet

Postby Stan » 2005-12-23, 19:10

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/franklin.htm

Notable features:
* Double vowels represent long vowel sounds, e.g. aa = [ a: ] and ii = [ i: ].
* Only one accented letter appears in the alphabet: ê, which represents the a in mane and lane.
* Consonant combinations are used to represent such sounds as the ch in chew and the j in jaw.

Image

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Transliteration:

Much as the imprefections of the alphabet will admit of; the present bad spelling is only bad because contrary to the present bad rules: under the new rules it would be good -- the dificulty of learning to spell well in the old way is so great, that few attain it; thousands and thousands writing on to old age, without ever being able to acquire it. 'Tis, besides a difficulty continually increasing; as the sound gradually varies more and more from the spelling: and to foreigners.
if I was President,
I'd get elected on Friday
assassinated on Saturday
buried on Sunday

Stan
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Location: Jacksonville, Florida

Postby Stan » 2005-12-28, 7:04

nobody finds this interesting?
if I was President,

I'd get elected on Friday

assassinated on Saturday

buried on Sunday

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Kirk
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Postby Kirk » 2005-12-28, 8:11

Stan wrote:nobody finds this interesting?


That's weird, I never saw that post! Thanks for bringing it up again :)

Well, that's really interesting to me, especially because it gives a clue to which vowels he used in his speech (or believed he used). Here are my comments:

--I found it very interesting that he used the symbol representing /ɔ/ as the beginning of the /aʊ/ diphthong. Presumably this means he pronounced it (or believed he pronounced it--he wasn't a linguist as linguistics didn't really exist as we know it today) /ɔʊ/.

--He also uses /ɔ/ for the second vowel in "because" and the first in "contrary," which is quite interesting.

--why did he include /l/ in "would?" It'd been absent in English for centuries in that word. My guess is that traditional orthography was still influencing his new system. This can also be seen with his "to" which would indicate /to/ under his system but it's been pronounced /tu( : )/ since the Great Vowel Shift of the 15th century in English and he was around in the 18th century.

--he had yod coalescence in "new." He seems to indicate /j/ in "few" with /fiu/ but his system has /nu/ for "new." This is consistent with current pronunciation for most Americans.

--he represents the /aɪ/ diphthong as /ʌɪ/.

--he shows a different vowel for "more" and "foreigner." If this is accurate, then he was not "Tory-torrent" merged. B Franklin was born and raised in Boston, which is still mostly not "Tory-torrent" merged to this day. He later went to Philadelphia, which is also largely "Tory-torrent" unmerged.

--he doesn't provide for schwa, which has long existed in English in many unstressed positions and certainly did by the time he was around

--he doesn't show "way" and "age" as having the same vowel. With "age" he implies it has /ɛ/. I think he may have forgotten the <ê> for that one.

--he inconsistently shows [z]. He has it in "is" and "varies" but not in plurals like "rules."

Anyway, thanks for posting this--very interesting, but it appears he didn't exactly stick to his own rules all the time! It still does shed some light on his pronunciation. Very cool.
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks

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culúrien
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Postby culúrien » 2005-12-28, 15:06

I think the accented e is interesting. Americans at least are a lazy people who don't enjoy accenting their letters :wink:
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