wyrdplay.org has gotten big!
And search engines are sending a lot of people here who may
not know what they are looking for, or when they might be close to
finding something unexpectedly interesting. So I'm writing this page as
a guide to what I consider the high points of the site to be.
It isn't a "site map" - a lot is left out. But if
nothing I mention on this page looks very interesting, I'm guessing
that none of the bits I've left out would interest you either.
Except for a page of general English
language links (accessible from the home
page), wyrdplay.org is all about English spelling reform.
If you are unfamiliar with the idea of spelling reform, or if
you tend to think of it in the same way one thinks of
flat-earth geography and perpetual-motion machinery, then I suggest you
start here, for my
non-cranky, low-key introduction
to the subject.
If you know what spelling reform is and
aren't yet clicking the Back button in horror, then you may want to go
the central point of wyrdplay.org, the spelling
system roster. This page has links to all the
spelling systems documented on the site, as well as some described
elsewhere on the Web. It also has links to essays and other
material on related subjects - in my opinion, some of the best stuff on
the site. If you visit the roster, you will also discover there are a
lot of links, and maybe you don't really want to visit all of them
today. So the rest of this page is going to be an outline of
what I consider the "good stuff" to be. (Much of the site is
not in fact my own material - and I must apologize to those
contributors whose material I choose not to mention here.
"Interesting" is a subjective adjective, and if one is going
to hit only the high points, then something has to be left out.
I assure visitors that even the pages I leave out are worth
visiting, and if you prefer to just browse without guidance, click on
the roster link and
have at it!)
The bulk of the reform proposals on wyrdplay.org have been
submitted by three individuals: myself (Alan Beale), Paul Stought and
describes all of my systems, both immature abandoned efforts and more
recent proposals. Naturally, I'm fond of my own stuff, and I
will restrain myself from recommending all of it willy-nilly.
The system DRE
is my most serious proposal; in addition to the introductory link
earlier in this sentence, you might want to check out my rationale for
it. It is probably the longest and most complete such
document you will ever read that fails to once mention the phrase
Like me, Paul has a page summarizing his own work.
Check it out. Paul is presently concentrating on
his system Folksrite, described here.
Paul also has a spelling-reform-related blog, which you will
(an external site).
Paul and I do complicated spelling systems. Bob
Boden does simple ones, but they are very interesting and
thought-provoking. I find the most interesting to be SRS and Bobdot.
Bob is also the inventor of Phondot, a system for improving
the process of learning how to read, which you can learn about at his
In addition to the above, I direct your attention to Axel
English (page written by me) and Rollo Reid's Lojikl Inglish.
If I were forced to select the best single system on this
site, it would be Wijk's Regularized English. Two systems
described elsewhere that I find especially well done are Edward
Rondthaler's SoundSpel and
Bruce Mills' SREA2.
See here for
links to some pages showing the same passage written in
systems for easy comparison, and here for
links to longer passages from literature in selected systems, which
might give you a better idea of their virtues and flaws than short
samples and/or tutorial material.
As a side-effect of developing my own spelling systems, I
have created a number of tools that may be of interest, especially to
others trying to develop their own ideas for reform.
The wyrdplay converter.
converter is a program which can translate English
text into a number of the spelling systems described on this site.
If you have a favorite poem or text passage and are curious
about what it would look like in DRE or Bobdot or Lojikl Inglish (among
others), give it a whirl!
CAAPR stands for "Combined Anglo-American Pronunciation
Reference". What it is is a pronunciation dictionary of
common words that gives both British and American pronunciation.
This is probably interesting to some in its own right, but it
is also useful if you have designed a new logical orthography for
and want to develop your own dictionary. Download it
An earlier version of CAAPR was FEWL, described here, for American
English only. Also see this page, for
tips (and sample code) for writing programs to convert FEWL to
ABCD ("Alan's Basic Codes with Diacritics") is another
pronunciation dictionary. This one is a little different - the entries
are written in a special notation which elucidates the patterns of
English spelling - both when it works and when it breaks down
completely. I think that ABCD may be a useful tool in the
development of systems designed to improve on traditional spelling
rather than to replace it, but there has not yet been time to tell
whether it might succeed at that. Have a look here.
The most popular page on my site is almost entirely
unconnected with spelling reform. It has to do with how to
type accented characters easily on Windows, using a standard USA or
British keyboard. This actually is related to
spelling reform, because the task of designing a better orthography for
English is much easier if you can use diacritics, with the downside
that it is then much harder to show others what you have accomplished,
or get them to try it. Plus, of course, there are other
reasons for wanting to type diacritics, like sometimes needing
write in a language other than English. See this page for
more discussion and a downloadable keyboard map.
Spelling frequency tables.
One way to get a really good idea of the chaotic state of
English spelling is to go through a dictionary and find all the
different spellings for each sound, and all the different sounds for
each spelling. What? You think you have better
things to do with your time? Never fear, I've done it for
you. This page links
to four tables exploring the relationships between sound, spelling and
word frequency for American English. If you've ever
wondered just how many ways there are to spell a long o in English,
these pages are for you. (My answer is 19, and I might have
left a few out.)
comment on this page,
e-mail Alan at wyrdplay.org