Midwest Phonetic Alphabet for Modern American English


Midwest Script is a constructed phonetic alphabet for American English.

Edit: Thanks to Simon Ager of Omniglot.com for including Midwest in his directory of constructed scripts!

Midwest Phonetic Alphabet IPA-ish chart

This page is under re-construction! Full alphabet, examples, and more information coming soon! Thanks!

If I had any skill or experience in creating fonts, I would do so and spare you this imperfect handwriting, but as it is, please forgive the handwritten glyphs and samples crudely embedded as images.

Script Facts

Number of glyphs: 39
Sources / inspiration:
Latin, Old English Runes, Asiatic Abugidas, extended Latin used for linguistic transcription.
To encode the author’s dialect of English as phonetically as possible, using an alphabet that looks more natural than synthetic or academic.
Use: I use the script to study phonetics in literary composition. Also to write arcane personal notes that ideally make friends and family suspect I am quietly channeling the weird communiqué of occult demons.

From James Joyce's "The Dead"
A few of the best sentences written in the English language, from the climax of James Joyce’s “The Dead.” Hover over for transliteration.

Midwest Alphabet

Letter Name Use
01-eilif eilif Medial sound in uh-oh; perhaps replaces terminal t in ancient, faint, and similar words. For this reason, the glottal stop may not be as alien to American English as textbooks suspect.
02-car car /k/
03-god god /g/
04-tool tool /t/ — A strict t. Not the mere tap in the middle of water, but the end consonant of watt.
05-door door /d/ — A strict d. Like the tool glyph, this is not used for the alveolar tap.
06-pine pine /p/
07-birch birch /b/
08-ghost ghost Silent. Represents an ancestral /k/,/g/,or/gh/. Most frequently occurs in words ending in -ly (from an Old English -lig) or -y. Also used in thought and similar words for the silent -gh-.
09-thrush thrush Alveolar tap. Medial consonant in water. The reason why latter and ladder sound alike in casual pronunciation.
10-shoal shoal /š/ — Consonant in she.
11-genre genre /ž/ — Medial consonant in measure. Approximately the consonant in French je.
12-sol sol /s/ — Straightforward sibilant s of standard speech.
13-zorillo zorillo /z/
14-thunder thorn Initial consonant of thunder\ but not of the, an unvoiced dental fricative.
15-thalet thalet Initial consonant of the. Voiced dental fricative.
16-fee fee /f/
17-vow vow /v/
18-eng Eng Final consonant of any gerund form –ing when pronounced precisely.
19-engvoc Eng vocalic Initial phoneme of English when pronounced casually.
20-need need /n/
21-needvoc need vocalic Final phoneme of any gerund form –ing when pronounced casually, or of button. May be initial sound in understand or interest when pronounced quickly.
22-mount mount /m/
23-mountvoc mount vocalic Final vowel of bottom, initial vowel of immortal when pronounced casually.
24-human human Breath noise when preceding /j/, as in human. Unvoiced palatial aspirant.
25-universe universe Palatial approximant consonant as in you, universe, human, etc.
26-eel eel Vowel in eat, wheel, and second sound in the diphthong of alive.
27-ride ride Consonant beginning road.
28-earth earth Initial vowel of earth (there is no ea-), and final vowel of water (there is no –e-).

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