James Torck, on the creation of the UNIFON font:
Unifon was invented in 1959 by Chicago economist
John Malone. It is a phonetic alphabet for English, with each of its forty characters
representing a single phoneme (sound). The characters are derived mostly from the capital
letters of the Roman alphabet.
Only the shift key is used as a modifier. I have tried to follow a
certain logic in the shift-key assignments. Most of the vowel sounds and their shift-key
variations should be fairly obvious; the others follow. I chose shift-Y for the sound in "Few."
Although the sound is perhaps more related to the character "U", both U and shift-U were
already in use, and the "Y" sound at the beginning of the sound ("Y" as in "You", or "Yard")
seemed a good second choice. The Roman letters C, Q, and X are unused in Unifon, but there was
no reason not to use these keys. I employed C and shift-C for two sounds which I
think are similar: the vowels of "Earth" and "Look". Similarly, Q and shift-Q are used for the
dipthongs in "Ouch" and "Oil". X was used for the vowel in "Ball", for no other reason
than to avoid wasting a key.
The consonants also require a bit of explanation.
For example, the "hard c" sound is represented by K; the "ch" sound is shift-K. A similar
pattern is followed by shift-S and shift-Z, which create "Sure", and "Measure". I chose
Shift-D and shift-T for the voiced and unvoiced "th" sounds.
[This allows an easy recall: D (voiced)= "Dis" is great; T (unvoiced)= I "Tink"
- James Torck
UNIFON.org fonts include C, Q & X to provide "backwards
compatibility" to the font. Those keys are still used by UNIFON characters, so:
"C" is found at shift-V
"Q" is found at shift-R
"X" is found at shift-X