Rhetoric | English Phonetics in Plain Text

English Phonetics in Plain Text

© 2014 Vernon Miles Kerr (as “English Phonetics in Qwerty”)  |  © 2017 Vernon Miles Kerr (as “English Phonetics in Plain Text)



English is unique among the Indo-European languages because it is only vaguely phonetic. Written English contains archaic, traditional spellings that are not phonetic but must be learned by rote in childhood.   The struggle that a child in the English-speaking world must go through, is compounded for foreign learners who have grown up with more logical writing systems, like Greek, Spanish, German, Hiragana and even Hindi. This situation is so pronounced that English dictionaries must concoct narrowly understood esoteric symbols, with which to express the English Language phonetically.

Following is a system I have developed to, fairly closely, express the unique vowel sounds and diphthongs heard in the pronunciation of the North American version of English (including a few regional alternatives) using only the 26 letters found on the internationally accepted, standard “Qwerty” typewriter keyboard. The letter/sound combinations in the following tables are static and never change:

Qwerty Fonetix™

English Character(s) The Sound Use:
a ah “dag” for dog
b b “bag” for bog
c sh “cel”    for shell
d d “dag” for dog
e eh “ded” for dead
f f “fag”   for fog
g g (hard g) “gad”  for god
h h “hed” for head
i i “hit” for hit“
j i “jet”    for jet
k k “kag” for cog
l l “lag”    for log
m m “mab” for mob
n n “nad”  for nod
o o (long o) “god”  for goad
p p “pol”   for pole
q ch “qek”  for check
r r “rek”   for wreck
s s “sip”    for sip
t t “tip”    for tip
u uh “up”    for up
v v “vet”   for vet
w oo “bwt”  for boot
x x “mix”  for mix
y ee “myk” for meek
z z “yz”     for ease


Diphthongs Pronounced Examples
ay I (first person singular) As in “I go.”
ey A (long a) As in “Hey, there”
yw you As in “You” and “cute”
ae a (short a) As in “cat”, “hat”, “rat.”
hw wh As in “what,” “when,” “where.”
aw ow As in “out.” “crowd,” “proud,” “dowry.”
th th (soft th) As in “thought”, “theta”
dh th (hard th) As in “the”, “this”,”that”

Example Words

Contemporary English Qwerty Fonetix (North American)
Cat Caet
Dog Dag
Tog Tag
Tag Taeg
Price Prays
Prays Preyz
Praise Preyz
Days Deyz
Daze Deyz
Blaze Bleyz
Craze Kreyz
Crazy Kreyzy
Corn Korn
Check Qek
Cheshire Qecir (or qecayr)
Queen Kwyn
Quite Kwayt
Quiet Kwayet
Quintessential Kwintisenqil
That Dhaet
Thought That
Check Qek
I Ay (capitalization not recommended)
You Yw
Me My
My May
May Mey
We Wy
Short Cort
Court Kort
Courtyard Kortyard
Special Specul
Examination Exaemineycun
Correction Korekcun
Anti Aentay or Aenty
Gracious Greycus
Grateful Greytful
Great Greyt
Grapefruit Greypfrwt
Fruitloops Frwtlwps
Tremendous Trymendus
Stupendous Stwpendus
Strenuous Strenywus
Poison Poyzun
Boys Boyz
Girls Gurlz
New Jersey Nyw Jurzy (Regional: Nw Jurzy)
New York Nyw York (Regional: Nw York)
Los Angeles Las Aenjelus (UK: Las Aenjelyz)
Las Vegas Las Veygus
Light Layt
Job Jab
Jab Jaeb
Jovian Jovyan
Jacob Jeykub
James Jeymz
Gelatin Jelatun (Regional: Jelatin)
George Jorj
Giraffe Juraef (Regional: Jiraef)
Gyroscopic Jayroskapik
Pretty Prity (Regional: Prety)
Petty Pety
Petrified Petrufayd (Regional: petrifayd)
Presume Pryzwm (Regional: prezwm)
Pretentious Prytincus (Reg.: pretencus)
Portend Portind (Reg: portend)
Presumtions Pryzumcuns
Shuck Cuk
Suck Suk
Chuck Quk
Stuck Stuk
Stick Stik
Strict Strikt
Structure Strukcur
Construction Konstrukcun
Contraband Kontrabaend
Contribute Kontribywt
Contribution Kontribywcun
Contrite Kontrayt
Circus Surkus
Circular Surkywlur
Circulation Surkywleycun
Catatonic Kaetutonik
Boat Bot
Bought Bat
Bat Baet
Bait Beyt
Thought That
That Dhaet
Cough Kaf
Diplomat Diplomaet
Diplomacy Diplomusy

Reading Practice

Declaration of Independence

Hwen in dhu koirs uv hywman yvents it bykumz nesisery for wun pypl tw dizolv dhu politikl baendz hwiq haev konekted them with aenothr aend tw asyum amung dhu pawurz of dhu erth dhu separet aend ykwal steycun tw hwiq dhe laz uv neyqir aend neyqirz gad intaytl dhem, a dysunt ryspekt for dhu opinionz uv maenkaynd rykwayrz dhaet dhey steyt dhu kaziz hwiq haev kompeld dhem tw dhu separeycun. Wy hold dhyz trwths tw by self-evident: dhaet al men ar kryeyted ykwul aend ar endawd bay dher kryeyter with surtun ineylyenubl rayts, amung dhoz byyng layf liburty aend dhu purswt uv haepynes; thaet tw sykwir dhoz rayts guvernments ar institywted amung men dyrayvyng dheyr just pawerz frum dhu konsent uv dhu govurnd…

Hamlet Act III Scene 1

Tw by, or nat tw by: thaet iz dhu kwesqun:

Hwedhur ’tiz noblur in dhu maynd tw sufur

Dhe slyngz aend aeroz ov awtreyjus forqun,

Or tw teyk armz ageynst u sy uv trubulz,

Aend bay opozyng end dhem? Tw day: tw slyp;

No mor; aend bay a slyp tw sey wy end

Dhu hart-eyk aend dhu thawzund naequrul caks

Dhaet flec iz eyr tw, tiz u konswmeycun

Dyvowtly tw by wic’t. Tw dy, tw slyp:

Tw slyp: purqaens tw drym: ay, dher’z dhu rub…

Fun with dialects

Southeastern Oklahoma/Northeastern Texas

Meyry hayud u lyutul layum hiz fulyz wuz hwaet ez sno,

Ayund evur hweyr thet meyry wyunt dhu layum wuz cour tu go.

On a hyul for awey stwud aen old rugid krows. . .

(apologies to my late father and extended family) 😉

To Show Emphasis

When using Qwerty Fontetix™ in dictionary definitions, it is suggested to merely boldface the emphatic syllable. An example: komponent (UK:. kompunent)

Fun With Qwerty Fonetx™

To the reader: For a fun exercise please email me using this system at shbang.publishing@gmail.com and I promise to reply in kind. 😉