On 8/20/2011 3:11 PM, Peter Cyrus wrote: > By "universal alphabet", do you mean one in which there is a letter > available for each phoneme? Or one in which a reader of language A could > read a name in Language B aloud? > > If the latter, won't you need to distinguish between front rounded vowels > and back unrounded vowels? There should be a concise representation in letters for each phoneme in a language, although digraphs, ligatures, or diacritics may be needed. There should be enough letters for the most common sounds at least. But I'm thinking of something that's not basically a phonetic system, but rather something more along the lines of Tolkien's writing systems, Tengwar and Cirth. Although organized by place of articulation and manner of articulation, the exact definition of the rows and columns has a great deal of room for variation between languages. As with the Tengwar, each language will have its own "mode" defining how the letters correspond with phonemes. So it's not a problem if a letter (call it "y") could be pronounced as a front rounded vowel in one language but a back unrounded vowel in another. You'll only have a rough idea how to pronounce a word in another language. I should add that I'm thinking of this as potentially a writing system for Sangari, but it could also be used for human languages.