When I was a little kid, I had to learn Braille in school, however I never got to the point to where I could read books in it, and I forgot it all despite that it would probably have been very helpful to me. Why is that? Every braille alphabet I've heard of so far except for English's (and to a lesser extent, German's) follows at least one of these rules:

1. It's an almost 100% match to ink-print spelling (Swedish and Esperanto's braille are like this).

2. It's an almost 100% match to pronunciation (Mandarin and Japanese's braille are like this).

3. It follows both, because the ink-print writing is already almost a perfect match to pronunciation (Finnish and Esperanto's braille are like this).

English's braille effectively starts with a base of our nonsense ink-print spelling ("island" is not pronounced "is land"!) and then makes it even more difficult by adding on tons of abbreviations that are completely unique to Braille. Meaning, you can't read anything more than very, very basic things in Braille without learning all of these abbreviations first, on top of having to learn normal convoluted English spelling. : P

So here's my improved version of Braille. Each sound has its own letter when possible, and words are spelled according to their sounds and not according to their normal English spelling, because this speeds up reading without the need for abbreviations. For example, "through" sounds like "throo" and now becomes "þrú" in Braille. "Enough" sounds like "eenuff" and would become "ínöf". If we want to save even more space, we can do things similar to Old Norse, like "brother -> bruðer -> bruðr", because when we say r we automatically say the "er/ur" sound and so it doesn't need to be spelled out.

It would be easier if we also change some things with the normal Braille alphabet (ex. changed which dots mean which letters, in order to make it faster to write and easier to learn) but since most European-language's alphabets use the same letters as the French one, and apparently everyone wants to keep it that way despite it not being the best method, we'll keep it that way. The basic alphabet would then be: a (ah) ⠁ b ⠃ d ⠙ e (eh) ⠑ f ⠋ g (goat) ⠛

h ⠓ i (it) ⠊ í (ee) ⠌ j (jacket, genre) ⠚ k ⠅ l ⠇ m ⠍ n (nut) ⠝ o (oh) ⠕ p ⠏

r ⠗ s (set) ⠎ t ⠞ u (put, her) ⠥ ú (oo) ⠻ v ⠧

w ⠺ x (ks) ⠉ x (gs) ⠭ y (yarn) ⠽ z (zebra) ⠵

C ⠉ is replaced by s ⠎ or k ⠅ depending on which sound the c makes (k = cats, section; s = cereal). The letter ⠉ becomes "ks" as below. Q ⠟ is replaced by k. The letter ⠟ becomes "st" as below (st is an abbreviation letter that exists in English braille right now).

X ⠭ actually stands for two sounds in English, both "ks" and "gs" (ks = hex, ex-girlfriend; gs = exaggeration, example), so we need to separate these and have one letter for ks and one for gs. Because we removed the letters for c and q, we can add in c's ⠉ (which is fast to write) for the ks sound, which is the more common one.

The new letters, like í ⠌, weren't chosen by accident - these exist in the alphabets of other languages' Braille (Icelandic, Swedish, IPA) with either the same or very similar sounds.

Here is the advanced alphabet. Most of the ink-print letters with special marks match their real sounds, but some (ẑ, ï, ÿ, ë, ṋ) don't and this is just because I wanted to be able to easily show the difference in the number of characters in the text samples below:

⠜ æ ("ah-eh") ⠣ å ("oh-ah", oar, poor, more) ⠪ ö (uh, the)

⠱ ð (father, this) ⠫ þ (path, theme)

⠩ ŝ (sh) ⠡ ĉ (ch)

ẑ ⠮ (azure, pleazure, treasure)

⠢ ï ("ah-ih", I, my, high) ⠒ ÿ (oi, toy, boy, ploy) ⠴ ë ("eh-ih", a, hey, face)

⠬ ṋ ("ng", think, playing) ⠟ ṱ ("st", stuff)

⠂marks a double consonant of whatever follows after (gg, ss, tt etc). Japanese braille does this.
⠒ marks a drawn-out or longer sound of whatever came before it (heeeey!). Japanese braille does this.

Examples of single words (full sentences are further down):
English -> íṋliŝ (2 letters shorter) Ship-shape -> ŝip-ŝëp (3).
Playing -> plëíṋ (2).
Drinking -> dríṋkíṋ (2).
Internet -> intrnet (1).
"It's still too long! Don't you know, that everything like capital letters in Braille will add another letter to the text?"

There is certainly a solution to this. Esperanto braille for example, capitalizes letters when they are names (ex. "Sally, America"), but not really when they're at the beginning of sentences. Japanese doesn't have capitalization at all. Capitalization doesn't change pronunciation, so it's effectively just a complete waste of space in Braille.


* Here are some example texts, translated to the equivalent of the new alphabet. Some words might seem like they're spelled strangely, that's because of my dialect of English. For example, we often say d intead of t (lateral = laderal, butter = budder). The t at the end of "bright" also goes unsaid. Text from Vladimir Nabokov's ”Bend Sinister.”

Normal English, with no abbreviations:

”The operation has not been successful and my wife will die. (59 characters)

Beyond a low fence, in the sun, in the bright starkness, a slaty house front has for frame two cream-coloured lateral pilasters and a broad blank unthinking cornice: the frosting of a shopworn cake. Windows look black by day. Thirteen of them; white lattice, green shutters.” (274 characters)

Braille, with no abbreviations:

"ðö apuräŝön hæz nat bin söksesful ænd mï wïf wil dï. (52 characters. Saves 7 characters.)

bíyand ë lo fens, in ðö sön, in ðö brï ṱarknes, ë slëdí haús frönt hæz får frëm tú krím-kölurd lædurel pilæstrz ænd ë brad blënk önþíṋkíṋ kornís: ðö frastíṋ öv ë ŝapworn këk. windoz luk blæk bë dë. þirtín öv ðem; wït lættís, grín ŝuttrz." (237 characters. Saves 37 characters.)


From "The Crooken Man" (Sherlock Holmes):

I looked at the clock. It was a quarter to twelve. This could not be a visitor at so late an hour. A patient, evidently, and possibly an all-night sitting. With a wry face I went out into the hall and opened the door. To my astonishment it was Sherlock Holmes who stood upon my step. (283 characters)

"Ah, Watson," said he, "I hoped that I might not be too late to catch you." (75 characters)

"My dear fellow, pray come in." (31 characters)


ï lukd ït ðö klak. it wöz ï kwærtör tú twelv. ðis kuld na bí a vizitor æt so lët æn æör. æ pæŝint, evidentlí, ænd pasiblí æn al-nït sidíng. wiþ æ wrï fæs ï went aút intú ðö hal ænd opend ðö dor. tú mï astaniŝment it wöz Ŝörlak Holmz hú ṱöd upan mï ṱep. (252 characters. Saves 31.)

"a, Watsön," sed hí, "ï hopd ðæt ï mït nat bí tú lët tú keĉ yú." (64 characters. Saves 11.)

"mï dír felo, prë köm in." (26 characters. Saves 5.)

—————————— So you can see that already, even without abbreviations, a book in Braille would end up being either shorter or the same length as one in ink-print English. If we say that the Braille must be capitalized in the same way as ink-print English, then they would probably end up being the same length.


Some people will say that it would cause blind people to learn wrong spelling. Well, for one thing, they already tend to have bad spelling due to the abbreviation system of current Braille. For another, the Braille would actually match English's pronunciation, so learning ink-print English spelling will be no more difficult for them than it is for any other English-native kid who heard the spoken language before they learned the written. Thirdly, it would actually be much easier for the average person to learn to read or translate Braille than it is right now, because it'd be "just like how we actually speak".