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"We have here {scheme of Sir John Herschel} the fewest letters with which it is possible to write English. But, on the other hand, with the addition of two or three more vowels, and as many consonants, every known language might probably be effectively reduced to writing, so as to preserve an exact correspondence between the writing and pronunciation, which would be one of the most valuable acquisitions, not only to philologists, but to mankind : facilitating the intercourse between nations, and laying the foundation of the first step towards a universal language, one of the great desiderata at which mankind ought to aim by common consent." Sir John Herschel. Article "Sound," Encyclopaedia Metropolitana , par. 367.
In compiling vocabularies from the mouths of natives, whether of written or unwritten languages, but especially of the latter, and of languages which, though reduced to writing, are in characters (like the Chinese, &) illegible to Europeans, it is of the utmost importance to secure the possibility of a reasonably faithful reproduction of the sounds from the writing when read by a third party having no personal communication with either the speaker or writer.
This can only, of course, be accomplished by the adoption of a system of writing very different indeed from our ordinary English practice of spelling (which is utterly inapplicable to the purpose), fixing on a set of letters, each of which shall express a distinct, recognised, and as nearly as possible, invariable sound, and regulating their combination by simple and fixed rules.
Pending the introduction of a Phonetic character free from objection, and bearing in mind that, after all, it is only a very imperfect representation of the native pronunciation which can be conveyed (although amply sufficient, if due care be taken, to render the speech of a foreigner intelligible among them), the voyager or traveller will find in the "Ethnical Alphabet" of Mr. Ellis [see footnote 2] a stock of characters prepared to his hand capable of accomplishing to a considerable extent the object proposed; [see footnote 3] or he may adopt the following as a conventional system, in which only Roman, Greek, and italic characters are employed, and which, therefore, can be at once transferred from MS. into print at any ordinary printing office. In this example annexed, the letters printed in italic are those whose sounds are intended to be exemplified.

1. long  (uu) as in Engl. boot : Germ. Bruder : Ital. verdura : Fr. ouvrir; --short (u) as in Engl. foot : Germ. rund : Ital. brutto ;--very short or coalescent as in Eng. ruig : Germ. qu​​​​​​​er : Ital. qu​​​​​​​ale.
​​​​​​​2. long (oo) as in Engl. ghost : Germ. Schoo​​​​​​​s : Ital. co​​​​​​​sa : Fr. Or :--short (o) as in Engl. resolute : Germ. hold : Ital. do​​​​​​​lente : Fr. Napoleon.
3. long (re) as in Engl. purse; Fr. leurGael. lu​​​​​​​gh :-short, and very short (u), or in Mr. Ellis's nomenclature stopped, as in Engl. pert, cut; Germ. Ve​​​​​​​such.
​​​​​​​4. ü as in Germ. Güte ; Fr. Augüste. 
5. o as in Germ. Löwe ; Fr. leur ? connu​​​​​​​e.
​​​​​​​6. ô long (ôô) as in :-short as in Engl. hot ; Germ, Gott ?  Ko​​​​​​​mmen.
​​​​​​​7. long (aa) as in Engl. hard ; Germ. Haa​​​​​​​r ; Ital. anda​​​​​​​r ; Fr. char :-short (a) as in Engl. America ; Germ. Burg.schaft ; Ital.    a​​​​​ndar ; FR. Charla​​​​​​​tan.
​​​​​​​8. a long (aa) as in Engl. waft. laugh :- short (a) as in Engl. have, quaff.
9. a as in Engl. bank, hag ; 'r. Prince, ainsl, Vin (?)
* The remarks of Sir John Herschel, contained in the Admiralty Manual, with others explanatory of the Ethnical Alphabet, are given for the information of those gentlemen who are good enough to undertake the duty of assisting the Commissioners by obtaining the materials for the accompanying vocabulary.     f The Ethnical Alphabet or Alphabet of Nations, tabularly arranged for the use of Travellers and Missionaries, with Examples in Ten Languages,--{See p. 7 of this pamphlet.}
¦ In thus directing attention in the Ethnical Alphabet of Mr. Ellis for this special purpose, the editor (Sir J. Herschel) must be understood emphatically to protest against being considered an advocate of the "spelling reform" of the English language for the use of Englishmen​​​​​​​, as proposed and urged by either that gentleman, Mr. Pitman, or Mr. Faulder. 


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