Last updated at 18:28 GMT, Thursday, 13 December 2012

Spell as you pronounce?

Summary

10 December 2012

Learning a language is often tricky, particularly when it comes to spelling new words. "The Spell As You Pronounce Universal Project" (SAYPU) wants everyone to spell words the way they are pronounced - and for the world to spell in Latin script.

Reporter:

Karen Zarindast

A page from the dictionary

Would reading become easier if all letters were pronounced in the same way?

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Click to hear the report

Report

School children in English-speaking countries have difficulty spelling words such as 'people' and 'friend'. They contain the odd vowels which are not pronounced. SAYPU suggests it is about time we started spelling what we pronounced and not just in English, but in all languages. Say, for instance, the word 'oui' - or 'yes' in French - would be spelled WEE and the word 'Leute' in German - meaning 'people' - as LOITE. The director of Logos Capital, Jaber George, who is launching the programme today, insists their aim is to help raise worldwide literacy levels by making spelling easier.

"One of the reasons why, in some cultures and in certain languages, there is higher illiteracy rates than in others is because of the difficulty in learning how to read and write, and by having, actually, a phonetic alphabet, then you don't have this problem anymore; everyone will be able to read and write much more easily. So Esperanto, basically, is to have a single language spoken by everyone; here, what we are trying to do is just to have all these languages written using the same alphabet."

Even though there might be linguists out there frowning at the project already, Jaber insists their programme won't undermine the beauty and the playfulness of words and languages. They aim to create their own dictionary of words from around the world. And if you are so inclined, you could log in and add a word or two from your part of the world.

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Vocabulary

vowels

sounds represented by the letters a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y in English

pronounced

said out loud

literacy

the ability to read and write

phonetic

said the way it is written

Esperanto

a universal language that was created to make it easy for everyone to learn to speak in the same way

linguists

people who study language

frowning at

expressing their disapproval about

undermine

destroy or weaken

playfulness

sense of fun

so inclined

keen to do something