Flownetic - The Simple and Intuitive Phonetic Script


Flownetic is a phonetic script created by Xay Voong in 2012 CE. The philosophy is simple, intuitive, distinguishable, practical. The flow and structure of the symbols imitate the flow and structure of your mouth, throat, tongue, teeth, and lips as you utter each sound. Unlike other featural or phonetic writing systems, the letters are easily distinguishable from each other and simple to write. This makes it easy and fun to read and write these letters.

The problem with most other featural alphabets is that they focus on the similarities between classes of sounds and articulations, rather than the distinct features that make them different. Thus their characters all tend to look alike and cumbersome. Furthermore, vowels tend to get second-class treatment. Too often vowels are represented by nothing more tiny diacritics (or worse, missing altogether). Even in alphabets with true vowels, they usually contain no more than a handful; yet the IPA charts no less than 30 distinct vowels sounds. Even though, in linguistics, vowels are usually called the nucleus of a syllable or word, you couldn't tell from many writing systems of their importance to language. Vowels are just as interesting as consonants, if not more, and deserve more attention.

The Flownetic script addresses these shortcomings by representing only the prominent oral features and their motions for each sound. To remain simple to read and practical to write, letters consist of mainly simple lines, curves, and dots. These elements form intuitive graphemes (letters) by following these rough guidelines. Straight lines represent unrounded vowels, the throat, jaw, teeth, and closed lips. Curves represent rounded vowels and placement and curling of the tongue. Waves are used for sibilant sounds. The dots are neutral or breathy sounds, or modify common vowels. Certain parts of the grapheme are repeated for voiced phonemes, and aspirated phonemes may have an extra dot or line from the unaspirated grapheme. Moreover, much emphasis is put on the vowels and their distinctive feel as they are released from the vocal organs. Note, however, that I'm fluent only in English and Cantonese, and some Mandarin, so I'm more familiar with the vowel sounds used in those languages, and thus could only approximate the flow of the other vowels found in IPA but not in those three languages. Nevertheless, I will try to find suitable symbols for them.

Notable features:

Vocal Tract

To best learn the flow of Flownetic letters, imagine facing to the right, like so:
vocal tract
The letters in the charts below are organized such that throaty sounds are on the left and labial sounds are on the right.

Phonetic Chart

Symbol Sound Symbol Sound Symbol Sound Symbol Sound Symbol Sound Symbol Sound
/u/ /ɯ/ /ʉ/ /ɨ/ /y/ /i/
/ʊ/ /ʊ̈/ /ɪ̈/ /ʏ/ /ɪ/
/o/ /ɤ/ /ɵ/ /ɘ/ /ø/ /e/
/o̞/ /ɤ̞/ /ə/ /ø̞/ /e̞/
/ɔ/ /ʌ/ /ɞ/ /ɜ/ /œ/ /ɛ/
/ɐ/ /æ/
/ɒ/ /ɑ/ /ä/ /ɶ/ /a/
Symbol Sound Symbol Sound Symbol Sound Symbol Sound Symbol Sound Symbol Sound
/w/ /l/ /ɥ/ /j/
/h/ /ŋ/ / ɲ/ /n/ /ɳ/ /m/
/x/ /k/ /r/ /t/ /f/ /p/
/ħ/ /kʰ/ /ɭ/ /tʰ/ /v/ /pʰ/
/ʔ/ /g/ /ɾ/ /d/ /θ/ /b/
/ɡʱ/ /ɽ/ /dʱ/ /ð/ /bʱ/
/ʈ/ /ʈʰ/ /ʋ/
/ɖ/ /ɖʱ/
/ɕ/ /ʂ/ /ʃ/ /s/
/ʑ/ /ʐ/ /ʒ/ /z/
/t͡ɕ/ /ʈ͡ʂ/ /t͡ʃ/ /ʈ͡s/
/t͡ɕʰ/ /ʈ͡ʂʰ/ /t͡ʃʰ/ /t͡sʰ/
/d͡ʑ/ /d͡ʐ/ /d͡ʒ/ /d͡z/
/d͡ʑʱ/ /d͡ʐʱ/ /d͡ʒʱ/ /d͡zʱ/
Symbol Value Symbol Value Symbol Value
0 8 10^0
1 9 10^1
2 10 10^2
3 11 10^3
4 12 10^4
5 13 10^6
6 14 10^9
7 15 10^12


Han Seung Yeon (Korean)

Selina Ren (Mandarin)

Tse On Kei (Cantonese)

Lee Hyori (Korean)

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