The Alpha-eps

Occasionally I get these urges to see some little corner of the universe fall before my concept of fasciest perfection. Usually these things ferment (or foment) upstairs for quite awhile, eventually falling on She Dragon’s patient ears but rarely traveling further. But now that The Mindlab is my podium to the world everyone can know the narrowly focused brilliance of my visions.

So far though there are only two real world-changing visions I can remember having and deigning to share here, the first being The Ideal Pants. But my more recent, further reaching ideal, fresh off the drawing board is sure to revolutionize not only this website, nor just the internet. Nay it will impact the very structure of the English language itself.

Ladies and gentelemen I bring you (crudely rendered with in the modern alphabet): The Alpha-eps!

See here’s the thing: When I went to school we learned how to spell phonetically. Now I picked this up pretty well, but there were alot of letter combinations that didn’t quite make sense and letters that could be pronounced a bunch of different ways on the basis of arcane rules like “I before E except after C while sounding like A as in neighbor and weigh”. What is up with that!? Heck there are even letters that aren’t pronounced at all and sounds that can be made using a couple different letters.

The English language has a bunch of anachronistic hold-over spellings from times when people didn’t know how to write, or probably how to pronounce what they were saying half the time either. Well I say enough! Enough pronouncing the “ch” as in “chains”! Enough extra letters like Q and C where a simple K will do! And enough pronouncing A as “ey”, “a”, “o”!

Well down with the alphabet I say! Let there be one letter per sound and one sound per letter!

All hail the glorious equiphony of The Alpha-eps!

(er… “Alfuepc” that is)

Note: I think I got all the sounds in the English language in there (apart from a few unstressed vowels like that schwa dingie). But in the innovative nature of it’s cause the alfuepc is open to suggestions for improvement.

Update 2/27/17: Seeing the way our country has been heading recently, I might not have thrown around the word “fascist” around in such a flippant manner had I known then what I know now.

About Peter

This guy lives in Boston MA with his beloved wife and two kids. You can get some idea of his likes and dislikes from posts on this website or elsewhere.

27 thoughts on “The Alpha-eps

  1. Another thing I keep noticing: As a newly minted writer with the alfuepc I’m still prone to it’s mis-use since I’ve been useing the substandard alphabet for so many years. As a result some of the example words might not use the alfuepc accurately.

    For example I translated “obstacle” as “obctakul”, when it should more accurately be “obctikl” or maybe “obctukl”.

  2. I said, “That alphabet is so null,”

    and you were all, “You’re null too, unit.”

    We’re one step closer to The Feed, Dragon.

    Congrats, man. One day you’re sitting at home constructing phonetic widgits, the next, you’re sitting in the middle of a death trap.

    But I like your chart. Very well put together. Good show old man.

  3. Oy liyk it! A couple of questions, though:

    1. The “I” sound…why is the new letter “oy”? That doesn’t look like it should be pronounced like “I”, but rather the sound of frustration from an eccentric Jewish man.

    2. What do you do about homographs? For example, depending upon the context, “the” can be pronounced “thuh” or “thee”. “Neither” can be pronounced “nee-ther” or “nigh-ther”. In your new system the result would be two different spellings of the same word.

    3. What happens if you’re trying to type in this new alphabet, and you don’t have ready access to those cool new looking letters you’ve added? Is there an easy way to type using alpha-eps without having to stop and push “Ctrl” “Alt” “Whatever” before each letter?

    4. Are you aware that there is already a phonetic alphabet in existence? It’s called IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), and singers use it to properly pronounce different languages in song. It does include mostly really funky looking letters that make no sense to me because I am not learned in that alphabet, but it is extremely accurate.

  4. Glad you like it. In answer to your questions:

    1) In English we really use our vowels in weird ways if you think about it. There are short vowels which are basic sounds, but as I spoke long vowels to myself they actually sound like they’re made up of other shorter vowels. Take the example you give:

    If you pronounce the long vowel “I” as in “icecream”, then it’s actually made up of a short “o” as in “oscar” with a “y” tacked on the end. When you think of “oy” as pronounced in “oy vey” you’re using a long “o”, but the long “o” can be broken down into a short “u” and a “w”. So “oy vey” is spelled “uwy vey”.

    I know some of these are a stretch since some sounds (especially vowels) in a word are severely unstressed or slurred together (like the “uw” in “uwy vey”).

    2) Homographs become synonyms. By contrast homophones become different definitions for the same word.

    3) Ideally when the alfuepc catches on there will be new keyboards to support it. However in the mean time it might not be so easy. I tried to re-use old letters in new ways for this very reason. However I needed a couple new letters. One way to get these new letters is by using the “Insert: Symbols” function of Word for Windows. Or the Windows “Character Map” if you have that.

    The shortcuts to the three new symbols are:

    • th (as in THanks) – letter thorn – Capital: 044e < alt > + < x >, Lower case: 042e < alt > + < x >
    • th (as in THose) – letter T with a stroke – Capital: 0166 < alt > + < x >, Lower case: 0167 < alt > + < x >
    • oo (as in gOOse) – Cyrillic letter yu (or ju) – Capital: 00fe < alt > + < x >, Lower case: 00de < alt > + < x >

    4) I was vaguely aware that something like this existed (there’s pronunciation symbols in the dictionary). One reason I didn’t turn to a pre-defined phonetic alphabet is the reason you mentioned: that they tend to uses many strange symbols and letter modifications and I was trying to simplify the existing ones and not include new ones.

    I’m sure it’s very accurate, but my main concern was with close approximations of sounds. I get the impression that with the IPA you would end up with not only the right general pronunciation, but also define the details of regional accents and emotional inflections. This sort of detailed micro-pronunciation rigor is a bit beyond the scope of what I was looking for. I’m ok with letting accents drift.

    Besides it doesn’t make any sense to me either. I understand the other sort of IPA a bit better.

  5. Dragon,

    This is genius. For me it stands alongside your short-story Octopus Genesus in terms of brilliance. I love alpha-eps and want to start writing with it immediately.

    I think you are right about there being a difference between IPA and alpha-eps. IPA, as I’m given to understand it by Megan, is used by singers so they can get pronunciations correct. Alpha-eps by contrast is designed with the goal to make sense of english spelling. It’s focus isn’t on how we say words (as you say – you aren’t really concerned about regional accents), but rather how we physically write them down.

    My one criticism of alpha-eps really ties into this. As Megan points out, with current keyboard configurations it is really cumbersome to press a bunch of alt, shift and letter keys. If I haven’t misread you and alpha-eps is an attempt to fix archaic english spelling – then in my mind you need to address the typing problem because in the digital-age typing is going to be the first application of alpha-eps. Let me clarify: I know if I used alpha-eps the way you’ve designed it – it would be a double learning curve. I’d be simultaneously focusing on economizing spelling according to the alpha-eps system and trying to remember what “shift”, “alt” and letter keys to press.

    On the same token, I don’t think you should actually cut out those symbols. For me, its those symbols which truly imbue alpha-eps with its sublime irony. You’ve attempted to simplify an archaic spelling system by using forgotten archaic symbols. The characters are the symbolic heart of alpha-eps and if cut them out you run the risk of killing your vision.

    My solution to all of this is that you come up with a beginners type version of alpha-eps as well as an advanced type version. The beginners version could use commonly recognized keyboard symbols like “!, @, #, $, %, ^,&, *, (, ), =, +”. This way anybody could start writing in alpha-eps and not have to hunt around on the keyboard or refer to character maps.

    Once people mastered typing beginner’s alpha-eps, then they could move onto the advanced version which utilizes the symbols that you’ve chosen. And lets face it – if an alpha-eps keyboard is ever going be made, it is NOT going to because of the massive outcry from alpha-eps newbies, but by the users who have actually bothered to master advanced alpha-eps and are annoyed that they are constantly having to hit a bunch of keys to get the characters they want.

  6. Yes, IPA is generally meant for the spoken pronunciation of words, rather than the spelling of them. However, I am of the opinion that the letters we use to spell out our spoken language should reflect the sounds that are uttered.

    If this new system is going to work on a large scale, it must be implemented into the minds of very young children who have not yet learned to spell. That way it will be natural to them, and a new generation of people who spell fuwnetikliy will be set loose amongst society.

  7. I was thinking about it earlier and it occurs to me that throughout most of history a large segment of the population has been illiterate. I suspect it’s easier to impliment a system like this when the populace is still largely non-literate, that way only a few people have to be convinced to re-learn the system.

    As for the “beginners alfuepc”: I see your point. There are two problems with finding alternate symbols for these non-standard letters as I see it:

    1) Letters have to have both lower case and capitals. Prefferably any new lower case and capitals shouldn’t look totally different from each other (like “A” and “a”) so that they’re easier to remember. Thus the associated “beginner symbols” for capital and lower case should be similar to each other in appearance (like “{” and “[” ), and prefferably both should be similar in appearance to the real alfuepc symbol they represent.

    2) For use on the internet or other computer code-based applications there might be problems. Many punctuation marks have specific computer code meanings (ie. “” or “”) while in many applications the regular alphabet letters are set aside for normal forms of naming and word usage.

    Unfortunately I think the best temporary solution to the keyboard is a small step back for the cause:

    Re-introducing non-phonetic letter combinations. I know that this is not ideal, but bear with me. With the alfuepc there’s really no point in having double letters in words like “rattle” since the letters are only pronounced once anyway. What I’m thinking is that double letters can be the beginner’s version of a letter they closely resemble. For instance:

    • th (as in THanks) – letter thorn – Beginner’s Capital: PP, Beginner’s Lower case: pp
    • th (as in THose) – letter T with a stroke – Beginner’s Capital: TT, Beginner’s Lower case: tt
    • oo (as in gOOse) – Cyrillic letter yu (or ju) – Beginner’s Capital: OO, Beginner’s Lower case: oo

    The next intermediary step would be to have a little piece of code in most major software applications that took that double letter and automatically converted it to the appropriate alfuepc letter (like an automatic spell-checker or something). Shouldn’t be too hard.

    The big step will be moving the “[“, “]”, and “;” keys elsewhere in the keyboard.

  8. What about the actual “oy” sound? In the old alphabet, if I spelled “oy,” everyone would think of the aforementioned Jewish man. However, now “oy” has replaced the “eye” sound. What if I actually want to make the “oy” sound?

  9. I realize I’m a few days late to this topic, but I’ve got some basic critique. OK, by basic I mean really lengthy. That’s what you get from me, the biggest language geek I know.

    The concept of making a truly phonetic writing system for English is an interesting one, but I’ll also have to claim it impossible. The fact is that English speakers don’t know how to consciously pronounce English words but have it all taken care of by their brains. On top of that, our pronunciation has very little (if anything) to do with writing. Most people I know are flabbergasted to learn that the pronunciation of the state “Maryland” isn’t “mer-ee-land” but “mer-É™-lÉ™nd.” The irony comes when you find out that the schwa sound, represented by “É™,” is by far the most common vowel sound in English, since it is used in every unstressed vowel sound (except for when it isn’t…..ok, I’ll get to that one later).

    Let me note that you’re using “u” to represent 2 different vowel sounds. You caught yourself translating obstacle incorrectly to phonetics, but let me point out that the “u” you use in “sudr” (shudder) and “apul” (apple) represent 2 different vowel sound. The first is the “short u” sound while the 2nd is “É™.” You’re also dropping that “É™” sound when it comes before a the letter “r” but not when it comes before the letter “l.” You would either have to keep representing all of the “É™” sounds by come symbol or drop them completely, both of which would have the same issue to contend with.

    Unstressed vowels sometimes gain their stressed states and thus go from being pronounced as “É™” to whatever vowel it would return to. Take the example between “inform” and “information.” You may think you know how to pronounce these two words, but I can almost guarrantee that none of you do. The dictionary says “inform” is “in-form” but I have to disagree and call it as “É™n-form.” “information” isn’t “in-form-ay-shun,” it’s “É™n-fÉ™r-may-shÉ™n” (again, dictionary will say that the first syllable is ‘in” but that’s debatable). The second pronunciation is a far cry from how we perceive “information” to be pronounced. Notice that the “form” is the stressed syllable in “inform” and how “may” is the stress syllable in “information.” Essentially, if someone wanted to spell the two words phonetically, they would have to spell the root of the word differently for different forms of the it. Thus, proposing unifomity in phonetical spelling also proposes the corruption of the etymology of some, maybe most, English words. Dropping the vowels (making them just “r,” “l,” “n,” or any other voiced consonnant) would mean putting them back in at times while using a uniform symbol would mean changing it back at those same times.

    For the reason of the whole not taking in full account of “É™,” your phonetical translation for Eskimo, pencil, brother and vendor are also flawed (the latter two not being consistant with dropping any vowel symbol in conjunction with “r”). “i” kind of sounds like “É™” so you’re leaving that in where the word has “i” written into it. The writing system plays tricks on us and we fall right into the trap. That is why “effect” and “affect” are so hard to spell correctly, because both are pronounced exactly the same, as “É™-fect.” You see people trying to sound out the words as “ee-fect” and “ay-fect” when those words don’t really exist, just like no one but foreigners and English teachers trying to teach pronunciation will ever say “mer-ee-land.” We’ve got this whole teaching culture that believes that you can sound out words to spell them, when it’s all some big trick we’re playing on ourselves.

    Plus, plenty of people have different pronunciations for the same words, but spell them the same. This happens all the time between the US and UK versions of English, and sometimes between people of the same nationality. Take the US pronunciation of “gÉ™r-ahj” for garage while in the UK they say “ger-É™j.” Up north we say “pÉ™-cahn” while down south they say “pee-cÉ™n.” How can you have uniform phonetical spelling when there aren’t uniform phonetics?

    Like I said, sometimes we don’t even follow our own crazy rules. I know I don’t pronounce “moustache” as “mÉ™s-tash” but more as “mus-tash.” I know some people (probably more common in the UK) do put a heavy stress on the second syllable but I do not. Therefore, I don’t even follow my sacred rule that every non-stressed vowel is given the schwa sound.

    Also, what’s funny is that it seems that some places in written English have already done the job of proneticizing words. Notice how the word “pronounce” loses the letter “u” when it becomes “pronunciation.” That inconsistency makes spelling in English an even larger pain. The stressed syllable changes position, just like in the “inform” vs “information” example. “prÉ™-nowns” becomes “prÉ™-nÉ™n-sÉ™-ay-shÉ™n” (no, it doesn’t become “pro-nuhn-see-ay-shÉ™” unless you are a foreigner trying to read the word for the first time).

    Oh golly me, looks like I was so focused on vowels that I missed the consonnants. You kept “d” in “shudder” but kept the “t” in “kettle” when it sound more like “d.” Again, just another example about how little we understand our own language’s pronunciation.

  10. Dude. All this is way to much for me to process. All I can say that while Brian might have his points, I don’t say “prÉ™-nÉ™n-sÉ™-ay-shÉ™n”. While I won’t argue most of the word (whether or not the “o” sound in “pro” actually gets enunciated, I don’t know), I definitely say a big fat “see” in the middle of that word.

    Again interesting points, but in my mind, a bit overboard on the “É™”.


  11. Right, that’s what I mean by unstressed consonants are always “É™,” except when they aren’t, just like my moustache counter-points. I think Tim’s case has a little something to do with unstressed vowels being dropped when next to voiceless consonants (the perceived “see” could be just an “s” next to another vowel, Pete tried to drop vowels next to “r”s, and those are even voiced), maybe it has to do with fricative consonants or maybe I’m way off the mark. I’ll save you and myself from really going into it because I’m

    I’ll boast that I know more than most, but I’m free to conceed that I don’t know nearly enough on the subject.

  12. Well I’m still lovin’ the Alpha-eps. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll not only get those Alpha-eps friendly keyboards, but we’ll speak Esperanto too! Think about that – typing Esperanto in Alpha-eps! Now that’s a party.

  13. Yeah, writing systems that were invented within the last thousand years (including Korean, all those Asian/African languages that now use romanized script and stuff like Esperanto….I could go into how Esperanto isn’t really a language, but I’ll save that rant for later) are much more consistent with spelling an such. I’ll have to say that they’re 100% accurate with phonetics, except for when they aren’t.

  14. You are right that I’m using the schwa inconsistantly. Actually I realized I was doing this shortly after posting the example words, hence my early disclaimer.

    My general feeling at this point is that schwas should always implied. This may stick in the craw of linguistic experts (and semi-experts), but I figure it makes sense to the average reader: If you read a word like “apl” (the correct alfuepc spelling of “apple”, another one I messed up) you have to do something with the extra consonant. And maybe it’s because of my bias from knowing the word in a previous alphabet, but it seems natural to use the schwa just before the “l”.

    Maybe you can provide other examples where the above schwa-dropping stipulation would create verbal chaos, but I’ll stick with it for the nonce.

    On the subject of multiple pronunciations:

    Just as a note: I’m pretty sure I pronounce “inform” as “in-form” most of the time, although I’m sure I’ve heard it pronounced otherwise.

    Etymological corruption was also something that occured to me (as well as the fact that all written material (much of which I love)) would become out-moded). However, you can’t make an omlette without breaking a few eggs (and no snarkyness intended, if you can make one without breaking ’em I’d be fascinated to know how). This corruption is a price I’m willing to pay. The only solution to etymological corruption that I can see is to have dictionaries with really extensive etymologies.

    As for the issue of two words spelled the same and pronounced differently: As I see it the solution to this is pretty simple. Basically you keep all widespread pronunciations (someone else can debate which pronunciations are “widespread”). The different pronunciations become different words, but different words that are synonyms. Why can’t we have “piykanz” and “piykonz”?

    And I guess you’re particularly right about “kettle”. It should probably be “kedl” or “ketdl” (I still feel a little bit of a “t” in there).

    I will grant that the alfuepc may not be a pinacle of linguistic art/science. But it doesn’t look worse than English to me. Here we have this language assembled from how many others, with letters pronounced several dramatically different ways (and I’m not talking just a little stress/non-stress difference here), letter combinations that make entirely new sounds, other special cases out the wazoo, and sounds duplicated by multiple letters. It just seems that if we’re going to caim the modern alphabet is phonetic (and it is if you squint really hard) then it should be simpler.

  15. I am a really late entry here, and the collective and individual perspicacity of your comments challenges my thinking. But I will take the plunge and make a few observations and ask a few questions.

    To Dragon: After teaching spelling for some years, I have come to the firm conclusion that learning correct spelling is more a function of the individual’s brain rather than the result of how he was taught or which methods were used or how archaic the system of spelling he was trying to learn. And I further concluded that there is not much at all in the teaching/learning process that affects how well the student ends up spelling. Both of my sons, for example, were taught by the same methods (and in some instances by the same teachers) to read and spell. One can spell; one cannot. I do not know the research behind all of this (whether it is influenced by left brain/ right brain dominance; visual/ tactile/ auditory learning; detail vs.”big picture” perceptions; etc.) I suspect that there is a paucity of research, because educators do not like to admit that they cannot teach anything and everything, and this may be the last frontier in education–the unteachable! Goodness knows that there are tons of brilliant misspellers who were good students taught by good teachers but who never learned to spell.

    All of this leads me to my comment. I am one of those lucky ones who can generally spell correctly, and for people such as me, the present system works fine. Sure, on occasion I misspell or have to check the dictionary, but it is nothing more than one would do to work a slightly more difficult math problem. Therefore, your new system, while truly ingenious and thorough, is unnecessarily baffling to me. It sets up hazards where there were no stumbling steps before. For example, the hard g and soft g spellings were never a problem for me, nor were the hard and soft sounds of the letter c. I like the simplicity of only one c and only one g, both of which have the glamour of mulitple personalities.

    To Dick: I know, I know…the English teacher butts in! But as you know, though this English teacher was schooled in literature and some grammar, she takes her pronunciations from the rural (read: hick) regions of central Maryland (mer-len). I must say that I was very impressed with your grasp of the topic and was particularly dazzled by “fricative” which sent me straight to Mr. Webster.

    One small point (well, maybe two): I can’t follow your argument on “affect” and “effect”. The two words are not pronounced the same. “Affect” uses the schwa, but “effect” uses more of a short e sound as in “bed” (not long ee, as you suggest). I know there is only a slight difference and one must enunciate, but isn’t that what this is all about? Furthermore, I am completely lost in your “information” argument. I pronounce it exactly as the dictionary denotes with a very distinct “in”. I do not do so from a cultivated, affected, English-teacher phoniness, which I couldn’t sport if I tried; I have always pronounced it that way. Now, if you are arguing from a popular viewpoint, you may be correct. But should we equate sloppy enunciation with accepted pronunciation? If that were the case, then “athlete” would be “aflete” and “library” would be “libary”.

    Disclaimer: Any misspelled words are intentional just to see if you are paying attention.

  16. My mom brings up a good point. One thing that is overlooked with this system or any other system, sensible or not, is the fact that you are assuming a user/reader who thinks rationally. There are people who can think about this stuff rationally and those who don’t (for whatever reason). Those who don’t would probably have an issue with this system (or the perfect ideal it is trying to obtain) for the simple fact that they wouldn’t remember or process the very sensible rules properly. If that is the case, they might as well just flounder in the imperfect but established English.

  17. Mrs. Gray: First off, concerning fricative, there are a lot more where that came from! We’ll have to chat sometime.

    Next, you hit on what I thought of last night, this pronunciation business with people claiming to hear certain vowels and such is one of those right/left brain tricks. There’s a paradigm that we can’t break out of. You can’t see the vase when you only see the two faces, or vice versa.

    If you think you hear a short “i” sound in any unstressed syllable, it’s most likely just a schwa. Even though you’ll find it in Webster’s, the distinction between the short “i” in an unstressed syllable and the schwa is negligable, if not non-existant, in American English, so much so that some phoneticists call it the “i-schwa.” In UK English, the unstressed short “i” is often distinct from the schwa, but not so much in US English. Again, because we’re trained to, we think there’s a distinction, then we say the word slow “in….form” and hear what’s not actually there. I know this is mind-blowing, but you need to be outside of the Matrix to see what it is.

    Affect vs. Effect: The only pronunciation I found for effect is “i-fekt” (referencing I know it’s a leap of faith, but it’s really the “i-schwa”….just a schwa. The problem is that some dictionaries will go ahead and write their pronunciation key just as we hear the word (as “mer-ee-land” instead of how it’s really pronounced) instead of how we really say it.

    A Chinese friend of mine got into this when I saw that his Chinese-English dictionary didn’t use schwa. I showed him the difference between those pronunciations between the big fat Webster’s I have. I was on the other side of this issue while on Madagascar, learing the fine details of French pronunciation, where you often just drop the French schwa. That’s another story, but as soon as I stopped listening with my American ears and started training my new ears to hear what was written in the pronunciation keys. I had to stop pronouncing sounds that were clearly written in the text, but weren’t really there in speech.

    Back to Dragon: The real problem for me is that a truly phonetic writing system wouldn’t just have differences in some words, like pecan, it would require different spellings for most words, and I do mean the grand majority. Here’s an example I found: (about half way down)

    “In English the schwa is the first and third vowel in ‘banana’ (I think few people would use an actual “a” vowel there), or the U in ‘circus’, or the O in ‘bigot’. With E and I it is more dependent on dialect: in most American and Australian speech the unstressed E of ‘remain’ or I of ‘horrid’ are also neutral vowels, but in some varieties of British, especially in Received Pronunciation, they are a short I, so that ‘livid’ has both vowels the same. In the non-rhotic accents the unstressed sequences containing R as in ‘letter’, ‘beggar’, ‘victor’ are also schwas.”

    If we use schwa more than the British, then how could we reconcile one writing system? “livid” and “bigot” are just two examples. Just about every multi-syllabic word in in US English uses schwa, while, apparently, UK versions do not. “problem” “infantry” “basket” “robber” “pirate” “victim” “serotonin” “flower” “condom” “enemy” all contain schwas in US speech that may not be present in UK speech. Brits just don’t say their “r”s funny, they often say exactly what’s on the page. I bet they would say “kettle” while we’d say it more like “keddle.”

  18. So then the better option would be to put in the closest sounding vowel everywhere there’s a schwa when spelling, and let people insert the schwas at their leisure when speaking. Then if it becomes popular to re-insert a new vowel when speaking (ie. if “enfuwrc” becomes “(schwa)fuwrc” and later becomes “infuwrc”), you’ll get a new word.

    Doubtless this won’t catch on with anyone but loki, still it feels good to have typed it out.

    I’m sure it’ll be irrelevant anyway once M.T. Anderson’s dystopic future kicks in (as She Dragon alluded).

    Thus works the curse of Bable I guess.

    Perhaps I should’ve just taken the Tolkien route and gone straight for my own Futhark. Play around with alphabets and spellings that are already pretty much out of use, rather than those that people are still mentally invested in.

  19. I went to the video-shop the other day to purchase the Val Lewton horror collection that was just released. There I ran into a man who was employed at the store and who understood all movies in terms of a movie guide. While checking out, the man looked at the DVDs I was buying and said, “Oh if you like Lewton, you must like Roger Corman too.” I said, “Yes.” The man then said, “You know Corman gave Ron Howard his start?” and proceeded to tell me how. Then the man said, “You know Corman gave James Cameron his start too?”. It was here I made a fatal mistake. Rather then letting the man tell me how Corman gave Cameron his start, I said, “Yes, in Battle Beyond the Stars.” Then I added, “Corman gave pretty much everybody their start.” The employee then said, “Well. Not everybody.” I smiled, got my movies, left and thought, “I didn’t mean that literally movie nerd.”

    The movie nerd understood his universe in terms of a movie guide. Anything that strayed from the movie guide, possibly meant that he was someone who couldn’t interact with society, and would forever be fated to work as video-store clerk in a mall where he would give lectures to stray customers on their deficient cinema knowledge.

    This isn’t to suggest that the movie nerd is all bad though. Like the movie nerd, we generally understand all we encounter, whether systems, experiences or items, in a similar way; through comparison. We come into contact with the new and hold it up to what we already know. This is fine. Where it is questionable though (like the movie nerd), is if we beholden only to this method of understanding. If we are, then we run the risk of missing the point and/or worse, not having new experiences.

    For example: How do we frequently define black? By saying it is the opposite of white. If this is the only way we understand black though, I’d posit we don’t really understand it. Understanding black in terms of its opposite white is to only understand black in negatives. To really understand black – I’d say we have to endeavor to understand black itself, not black as it relates to white. Of course, such an understanding is probably impossible. However, if we make the attempt we will get much closer to black’s real essence.

    We should be mindful to understand all things according to their own contexts and internal logics – especially Alpha-eps. Of course Alpha-eps is going to crumble under the scrutiny of English. Why? Dragon is not a linguist and maybe spent a whole 3 hours writing up his system. Furthermore, where is Dragon’s Alpha-Eps posted? On Protozoic. What else is on Protozoic? Let’s see, rice bug farm… hmmm…. Does Alpha-eps really intend to carry out its Napoleonic agenda of disposing of all current keyboard configurations and coming up with a new keyboard? I don’t know. You tell me.

    I do know this. If you try and understand Alpha-eps according to its own logic and not the logic of English, for the audience it was written for, and in its own context, that you too will be writing in German Alpha-eps in no time also.

  20. I didn’t mean to shoot down the whole idea as completely as you might think. For one, I think that combining those double letters (ch, sh, tt, dd, etc.) into their own symbol and dropping silent ones in English writing is a good idea. I just wanted to point out that making a completely phonetic alphabet isn’t going to work. An improved writing system isn’t out of the question, just complete phonetics.

    And making an Alpha-eps key mapping is relatively simple, at least on WinXP. If you do finalize a system, Dragon, you should check it out and then tape on some paper with the new characters on the keys.

  21. I’ve been thinking about this a little more and it occurs to me there’s another sound that should probably be included in the alfuepc:

    “J” as in the name Jaquez or “Zh” as in Zhivago (although purists may point out there’s some difference between the two that’s too subtle for me).

    I don’t know what character I’d use to represent this sound yet, but the shortcut key would probably be a double “J” (ie. “jj” or “JJ”).

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