English Phonotypic Alphabet
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English Phonotypic Alphabet
Letters of the English phonotypic Alphabet
Additional letters for other languages in 1845.
The American version of the alphabet of 1855, as reprinted in a medical dictionary in 1871
An early version of the alphabet, 1843

The English Phonotypic Alphabet is a phonetic alphabet developed by Sir Isaac Pitman and Alexander John Ellis originally as an English language spelling reform.[1] Although never gaining wide acceptance, elements of it were incorporated into the modern International Phonetic Alphabet.[2]

It was originally published in June 1845.[3] Subsequently, adaptations were published which extended the alphabet to the German, Arabic, Spanish, Tuscan, French, Welsh, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese and Sanskrit languages.[4]


The letters are as follows (with some approximations to accommodate Unicode)

Late 1843 (English)

At this stage, long vowels had a cross-bar, and short vowels did not

Long vowels

? /i:/, E /e?/, A /?:/, ? /?:/, ? /o?/?, ?-bar /u:/

Short vowels

I /?/, ? /?/, ? /æ/, O /?/, U /?/, ? /?/

(a proper ⟨?⟩ was taller and without the dot, like ⟨?⟩ but with the middle stem not so tall as the others, and did not have a serif at the bottom right)


? /ju:/, ? /a?/, ? /a?/?

Reduced ('obscure') vowels

? /?/, ? /?/


P B, T D, ? J /t? d?/, K G

F V, ? ? /? ð/, S Z, ? ? /? ?/,

L R, M N, ? /?/, Y W H.


_a /e?/
(?)? /?:/
_? /o?/
Ii /?/
Ee /?/
A? /æ/
Oo /?/
Uu /?/
_(?) /?/
(?)? /a?/
_(?) //
_? /ju:/
Yy /j/
Ww /w/
Hh /h/
Pp /p/
Bb /b/
Tt /t/
Dd /d/
Jj /d?/
Cc /k/
Gg /?/
Ff /f/
Vv /v/
?(?) /?/
?(?) /ð/
Ss /s/
Zz /z/
(?)? /?/
Rr /r/
Ll /l/
Mm /m/
Nn /n/
(?)? /?/



  1. ^ Daniels, Peter T. (1996). The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press. p. 831. ISBN 9780195079937.
  2. ^ Coulmas, Florian (1999-03-12). "English Phonotypic Alphabet". The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems. Wiley. ISBN 9780631214816.
  3. ^ Completion of the Phonotypic Alphabet, The Phonotypic Journal, 5 Nelson Place, Bath, Phonographic Institution, vol. 4, no 42, June 1845, p. 105-106
  4. ^ Extension of the Phonotypic Alphabet, The Phonotypic Journal, 5 Nelson Place, Bath, Phonographic Institution, vol. 4, no 43, June 1845, p. 121-123

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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