Author name: anthony.zimmerman@me.com

Solar Spell vs Legacy Comparisons Discussion

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.
(97 characters)

vs

jak and jil went up thu hil too fetch u pāl uv wotr. jak fel down and brōk hiz krown and jil kām tumbling aftr.
(87 characters, 10% less)


I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
(136 characters)

vs

I hav u drēm that mī fōr children wil wun dā liv in u nāshun wair thā wil not bē jujd bī thu kulr uv thair skin, but bī thu kontent uv thair kairiktr.
(117 characters, 14% less)


Here’s to the crazy ones!
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you cannot do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they
can change the world, are the ones who do.”
(472 characters)

vs

Hērz too thu krāzē wunz!
Thu misfits. Thu reblz. Thu trublmākrz.
Thu rownd pegz in thu skwair hōlz.
Thu wunz hoo sē thhingz difrentlē.
Thair not fond uv roolz.
And thā hav nō rēspekt fōr thu status kwō.
Ū kan prāz them, disugrē withh them, kwōt them, disbilēv them, glōrifī ōr vilifī them.
Ubowt thu ōnlē thhing ū kannot doo iz ignōr them.
Bēkuz thā chānj thhingz.
Thā puush thu hūmun rās fōrwrd.
Wīl sum sē them az thu krāzē wunz, wē sē jēnyus.
“Bēkuz thu pēpl hoo ar krāzē ēnuf too thhink thā kan chānj thu wrld, ar thu wunz hoo doo.”
(434 characters, 8% less)

Solar Spell vs Legacy Comparisons Discussion Read More »

English Accents Discussion

Solar Spell’s first foundational principle is to “spell only the sounds in the word”. This means Solar Spell has its foundation in the spoken word, and yet written words are not spoken words. Written words are composed of unfeeling symbols while spoken words are full of richness, texture, connotation, cadence and inflection. Spoken words can be whispered or shouted or purred or sung. The same word may be said harshly in one breath and lovingly in another. Spoken words are as different from written words as a movie is from a photograph.

Accents add a sort of musical texture to spoken language. Accents are beautiful and we are fortunate for the diversity of English accents heard throughout the world. To return to the movie analogy, accents are like a movie’s soundtrack. And just as it makes little sense to add a movie soundtrack to a photograph, it makes little sense to express accents with spelling.

But now we’ve reached an apparent conflict. On the one hand, accents have no business in the written word. And on the other, Solar Spell’s foundational principle to “spell the sounds” means accent can’t be separated from spelling.

We solve this by identifying an official source of pronunciation. Fortunately the skilled linguists behind English dictionaries have already done this work and provide a pronunciation key for each word. This will be the sound source of Solar Spell. In cases where multiple pronunciations are equally valid, one official pronunciation will be chosen, preferably the one believed to have the longest longevity.

The Solar Spell that appears on this site and in the novel Worlds Apart is based on the pronunciations found on dictionary.com.

While this means Solar Spell is generally derived from the General American accent, it does not impose that accent on anyone. If one’s native accent pronounces certain Rs softer or long-Is with a hint of /oy/, they are expected and encouraged to continue pronouncing those syllables as they always have. No accent is inherently more correct or proper than any other.

English Accents Discussion Read More »

Homophones and Homographs Discussion

Homophone

SAME Pronunciation
DIFFERENT Spellings
DIFFERENT Meanings

here / hear


Homograph

DIFFERENT Pronunciation
SAME Spellings
DIFFERENT Meanings

lead / lead

Homophones are well-meaning attempts to convey meaning through spelling. However every homophone adds spelling overhead and friction for learners. But ultimately homophones are impractical because so many words have multiple meanings. Joe gave his date, a dried date to eat on their most recent date. That date was Oct 4 and now they no longer date. A homophoned version of this might read: Joe gave his daight, a dried date to eat on their most recent dayt. That dait was Oct 4 and now they no longer deyte. This is writing and reading overhead for no gain because context carries far more meaning than spelling. “I bank at the bank on the river bank” is perfectly understandable without resorting to homophones. Since Solar Spell letter patterns mimic spoken English voice patterns, homophones are no more. mī dēr frend fed 3 dēr.

Homographs are the opposite of Homophones. These are words spelled the same but pronounced differently and have different meanings. While homophones convey meaning through spelling, homographs obscure meaning through spelling. “He took a bow before he shot his bow.” They serve no purpose other than to complicate reading. hē tuuk u bow bēfōr hē shot hiz bō.

Homophones and Homographs Discussion Read More »

Eliminate Apostrophes Discussion

Apostrophes violate the spirit of consistency that underpins Solar Spell because the symbol has multiple meanings: it indicates both contraction and possession. Apostrophes add friction to spelling without contributing significantly to readability. Observe that even when misused as in 2 Orange’s for $1 or Its time for dinner or Steves house readability is unaffected. This is because context carries more meaning than spelling. Context explored more in the next section on homophones. In short we don’t speak in apostrophes, nor should we write in them.

Eliminate Apostrophes Discussion Read More »

Macron Discussion

The weakness of Legacy Spelling is evident as it struggles to express the 5 long vowel sounds. To communicate these 5 sounds, Legacy Spelling uses:

  • 8 graphemes (single letter)
  • 49 digraphs (2 letters)
  • 12 trigraphs (3 letters)
  • 4 quadgraphs (4 letters)
  • 8 split digraphs (ex: ae split as in cave)
  • 14 split trigraphs
  • 1 split quadgraph

That adds up to nearly one hundred different attempts to spell 5 sounds. Solar Spell returns strength and clarity to long vowels with a line over the letter (called macron— ancient greek for long). The short vowels are unadorned a, e, i, o, u and the long vowels are denoted with a macron: ā, ē, ī, ō, ū. Legacy-trained pattern recognizers may struggle here as pal / pāl both map to pal instead of pal and pail. Retraining through exposure is required for Legacy readers to “see” macrons.

Macron Discussion Read More »

C and Qu Deprecated Discussion

C – The third letter of the alphabet is not associated with any English sound. It impersonates s, k and sh as heard in Pacific Ocean or is silent as in sick. Since this serves only to add friction to literacy, Solar Spell eliminates C as a standalone letter.

Qu – Similarly qu is a stand-in for the sound combination /kw/. Since readers must already learn /k/ and /w/ individually, learning qu is redundant and adds unnecessary friction to learning. quick becomes kwik.

C and Qu Deprecated Discussion Read More »