The Rules of Lytspel

The following formatting conventions are used in this document:

Abbreviations used:


The consonants are written as follows:

The sound /k/ is written as «c» or «k», depending on context:

The sound /s/ is written as «c», «s», or «ss», depending on context:

The sound /z/ is written as «s» or «z», depending on context:

The two sounds traditionally written ‹th› are represented as follows:


The short vowels are written as follows:

If the vowels written with just one letter occur at the end of words, «h» is appended, e.g. «Yaaweh, eh, huh» ‹Yahweh…›.

The long vowels and diphthongs are written as follows:

The Schwa

The schwa is an unstressed and neutral vowel that occurs frequently in English words. Lytspel generally writes it as «e» or «u». «u» is used whenever the traditional spelling contains this vowel, e.g. «álbum, nurvuss, suspénd» ‹album, nervous, suspend›. «e» is used otherwise, e.g. «camel, problem, hiden, sentrel» ‹…hidden, central›.

This means that Lytspel doesn’t distinguish between unstressed /V/ as in «fundeméntel» ‹fundamental› or /E/ as in «índex» and the schwa /@/. However, since the unstressed forms of these vowels sound quite similar to the schwa and there is often no agreement between speakers whether to use one or the other, this shouldn’t hurt.

A schwa immediately preceding the primarily stressed syllable can also be represented by one of the other three vowel letters («a, i, o», but not «y»), e.g. «a» in «about», «i» in «imajinaition» ‹imagination›, «o» in «compuet» ‹compute›. The reason for this is that the vowel preceding the stressed syllable is often spoken so quickly that it’s hard to decide whether a schwa or one of the short vowels is pronounced and not all speakers will agree on which one to use. For clarity, it’s therefore better to stick with the original representation of the vowel in such cases, even if most speakers might reduce it to a schwa. Additionally, the reduced vowel often becomes clearly audible in related words, e.g. while the second «i» in «imajinaition» is often reduced to a schwa, in «imajin» ‹imagine› it’s clearly audible as /I/.

At the end of words, the schwa is always written «a», e.g. «extra, daita» ‹… data›. Before other vowels, it is always spelled «e» (never «u») to prevent confusion with /u:/ (spelled «u» in this position). Schwa in this position is very rare.

Between any of /b, p, k/ and word-final /l/, the schwa is omitted altogether, e.g. «flexebl, simpl, articl» ‹flexible, simple, article›. Likewise, final /z@m/ is written «sm» with the schwa omitted, e.g. «criticism, sarcasm». (Why «sm» instead of “zm”, you might ask? Because this combination would be written «sem» if the schwa were not omitted – see the notes on spelling /z/ above.)

Since all these consonant pairs never occur without an intervening vowel at the end of words, there is no risk of confusion.

Vowel Spellings before R

Before «r», the short vowels are spelled as follows:

The long vowels are spelled thus:

Spellings Involving Several Sounds

Spellings Used at the End of Words

Some sound combinations are written in a special way if they occur at the end of words:


Stress is marked using an acute accent in cases where it deviates from the stress pattern predicted by a set of fairly reliable rules. The use of accents is optional (they may be omitted), but recommended – especially in formal contexts such as books and newspapers. In a few cases, two words are distinguished only by the presence of absence of an accent, e.g. «díscuss» ‹discus› versus «discuss».

The rules for predicting the default stress are as follows:

If these rules fail to correctly predict the stress, an acute accent is added on top of the stressed vowel. If this vowel has two letters, the accent is added on top of the first one, e.g. «maintáin, uenéek» ‹maintain, unique›.

Homophones and Irregular Words

Stress marking in derived words:

Disambiguating Multigraphs

Note: This section is of interest mainly to dictionary makers. Users only need to know that they should add a diaeresis if a vowel sequence could otherwise be misread, e.g. «coöperaition» ‹cooperation› (pronounced with two adjacent vowel sounds, not one as in «book»). If a consonant sequence could be misread, a hyphen may be added, e.g. «sheeps-hed» ‹sheepshead› (could otherwise be read as «sheep-shed»).

Spelling of Proper Nouns