John R. Malone, a Chicago economist first developed
the UNIFON alphabet in the 1950's. He was working for the Bendix
Corporation and was commissioned to develop a universal phonemic code for
International Air Services. As a result of a tragic air crash and an
immediate demand for quick communication in the air, English was adopted
as the universal language among pilots and ground control. John R. Malone’s
contract was cancelled. Instead, he then used his newly developed alphabet
to teach his young son to read in one afternoon thereby recognizing the
valuable tool he had created for teaching children to read. For many years
he worked to pass on this new method of learning and it was used in a
number of schools in the Indianapolis and Chicago area. John R. Malone
continues to live in the Chicago area and is a devout supporter of
UNIFON. He has seen the success of this reading method in
classrooms and with individuals.
Click on the image above to see an
enlarge version ...
First Graders in Indianapolis wrote their own books in UNIFON to
share them with their classmates. About 20 schools participated in this
My Fair Language... Do We Need a New Alphabet?
by John Malone
Chicago Sunday Sun Times, May 29, 1960
As a result of the changes John R. Malone made in the 1980's, Ken
Anderson's has reprinted his article with the correct character set
Article by John Malone 2007
Design for Teaching Reading"
was first published
Margaret S. Ratz, Ph.D.
A CBS TV show on UNIFON was hosted by Charles Kuralt,
interviewing John Culkin. It was called “The Day They
Changed the Alphabet”
Learning to Read: The Potential for the Isomorphic
Alphabet by Alan R. Burns
From Elementary English, Sept. 1973
Copyright © 1973 by The National Council of
Teachers of English
Ken Anderson's article,
The Case for the Logical Alphabet, 2007
PHONICS AND READING: A MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS
by Professor Arn Bowers
Faculty of Education, University of Toronto
Professor Bowers gave a presentation on this topic to the south
central Ontario Group of The Movement in March, 1979.
Culkin, director of the graduate programs in media studies at the New
School for Social Research. wrote an article for the THE NEW YORK TIMES
about UNIFON. It was published on WEDNESDAY, JULY 20,
John R. Malone turned over the project to John M. Culkin,
Executive Director of The Center for Understanding Media.
John M. Culkin, Executive Director of The Center for Understanding
Media wrote about UNIFON in this article
for the Science Digest, August 1981. (see article at John Culkin)
In an educationally deprived section of South Chicago, 1st graders were
reading by Christmas with the UNIFON method. This class continued
to have the highest level of reading proficiency of any class.
Biography of one of the teachers at Howalton Day School (1947-1986), Ethel Darden / Using John R. Malone's unifon alphabet
and trained by Dr. Margaret Ratz, Howalton, as cited by John Culkin in
the New York Times
of July 20, 1977 demonstrated the highest first grade reading scores
in the Chicago area from 1974 to 1975
There was an article about
UNIFON in an edition of The New York Times.
"The Instructor”, a magazine for teachers also had an
article on UNIFON in the early ‘80’s.
A Foundation was established called “The Foundation for
Consistent and Compatible Alphabet” to fund research and teaching using
Roselyn Doyne Clark, a teacher
of deaf and multiply handicapped students used UNIFON and combined
it with Dr. Orin Cornett’s CUED SPEECH to create her own method
called NU-VUE-CUE. http://hometown.aol.com/nuvuecue/ She first
read about UNIFON in “The Instructor” magazine and
later met and worked with John R. Malone. She was very successful
using this method in Indiana. She developed many teaching tools for this
purpose. Her students learned quickly and were able to transfer to
Standard English. Roseyln is now retired and lives in Ohio. The following
picture is of her classroom at that time where she used the UNIFON
Reference to a UNIFON font that was created in 1985 for several
American Indian Tribes can be found at http://jaie.asu.edu/v25/V25S3dev.html / The
following is the paragraph on UNIFON ...
"The first project assisted four
American Indian tribes--the Tolowa, Karuk, Yurok, and Hupa--in making the
transition to bilingual literacy (Schools, 1985). Humboldt State
University has developed an alphabet (named UNIFON ) which reproduces
phonetically each of the oral languages of these tribes. Using the
computer's type and graphic capabilities, this project is compiling a
Natural Resources Dictionary for each of these four Indian languages."
John R. Malone Limerick,
calligraphy by his wife ...
click on the picture to see
Galen Alessi, Western Michigan University, wrote an
article " Generative Strategies and Teaching for
Generalizations"*, based on B. F. Skinners work.
UNIFON was mentioned in this article.
It was sited as one of two ways to teach English (two options sited below)
for generalized learning to take place. The article is based on the idea
that the more specifically the community can reinforce the correct
response, without the possibility of error, the faster learning can take
Option 1. Teach the sounds in the English language that are phonetic
those that are not. (current standard phonetic teaching)
Option 2. Expand the character
set to accommodate the irregulars and then
eliminate the unique
published in The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 1987
Creating Bilingual Fonts - Unifon
Author: Ruth Bennett
Keywords: writing language Indian
Text: Macintosh attracts users because of its graphics
capacity. One of the outstanding graphic features that the Macintosh has
had since its inception in l985 is not the most obvious. In the days
before video graphics, Macintosh had its unusual graphics capability,
displayed in features such as its font-building capacity. A variety of
fonts may be installed on the Macintosh, and these fonts can be used
interchangeably. One can switch fonts within a text, for example, or one
can change fonts in outline fashion, or create more interesting
formatting. The font-building capacity is essential for the user who works
with non-English languages. A problem can arise with the non-English
language font when one is working with both English and a non-English
language. The non-English fonts may be cumbersome because of the time it
takes to switch to the English language font. If one is typing in more
than one language, one may have to switch fonts with each language shift.
If one is doing translations, and particularly literal translations, one
must switch fonts each time one shifts languages. This may occur several
times ineach sentence, with a method of transcription that alternates from
word-to-word with an English, then a non-English word. Whether one uses
the mouse and the menu, or a keyboard function key, switching interrupts
the flow of typing and therefore the flow of thought. In addition, the
physical movements take up time. Switch fonts several times can
significantly lengthen the time it takes to type a document. A solution,
worked out with the American Indian languages of Yurok, Karuk, Tolowa and
Hupa, is to create bilingual fonts. These languages have been recorded in
a phonetic orthography called Unifon. The Unifon orthography is based on
the capital letters of English. In designing bilingual fonts, I arranged
the Unifon symbols and the English language symbols on the same font.
Since the American Indian language orthography is primary, I put the
capital letters of English and the additional Unifon symbols on the free
keyboard position, moving the lower case letters of English to the Caps
Lock position. The table on this page illustrates the use of the bilingual
Unifon/English font with Microsoft File, and suggests the number of shifts
from one orthography to another involved in work with two languages. In
the table, three orthographies are in use: the English language
orthography, the Yurok Unifon orthography and the International Phonetics
Association orthography. The IPA orthography, as I have designed it, uses
English language symbols with a different match of symbol to sound than
English uses. This element in the design is another feature contributing
to ease of typing. For the Unifon font, however, enough symbols differ
from English that it became necessary to create changes in the English
language font. The Unifon symbols occupy the free keyboard position. The
Unifon phonetic font has 42 symbols, with the majority of the Unifon font
the same as the capital letters of English. The Unifon orthography was
created with the capital letters and the numbers were replaced with
additional Unifon symbols. The free keyboard position is used for Unifon,
with the assumption that the Yurok Unifon is the primary orthography when
it is used. The English language small letters were shifted to the Caps
Lock position. The numbers replaced by Unifon symbols on the free keyboard
position were shifted to the Shift position. The fonts for each of the
languages of Yurok, Karuk, Tolowa and Hupa, therefore, have two
orthographies installed within the same keyboard set. There are three
orthographies if one counts the IPA orthography, and this was accomplished
by selecting IPA symbols that concur with the English language
orthography. The result is that the shift from the English to the
non-English orthography is contained within one font, thus saving the
typist the time it takes to shift fonts. As not all orthographies share
symbols with the English language, my solution may not be practical to
others who are working with non-English languages. I hope to be helpful
for this purpose by encouraging Macintosh users to develop bilingual fonts
and by suggesting some basic considerations. In designing a bilingual
font, there are certain questions to answer. The first concerns. where to
place the non-English language symbols.
There are two
options: ONE. Symbols can be added to the English language fonts on
lesser-used keys. TWO. Symbols can be placed on the lesser-used levels of
the keyboard, such as Cap-Lock, Option or Shift/Option. The first option
is more practical when the non-English language orthography does not vary
too much from the English. Diacritics that are added using the Option and
Option/Shift keys on the standard Macintosh SE keyboard, make it possible
to type German, French and Spanish. (See Janet Spinas-Cunningham,
''Parlez-vous Macintosh? Tips on How to Get the Right 'Accents,''' Known
Users, May, l989. For fonts where a greater number of symbols vary from
English, making it impractical to add symbols to the English-language
keyboard, one must free up one or more keyboard levels in order to to
place the entire set of orthographic symbols on the same level. Another
keyboard level can be used for English. Any number of software types
produce bilingual materials with the bilingual fonts. I have used
Microsoft Word, Microsoft File, Fullpaint, Hypercard and others. The
software for creating bilingual fonts is Altsys' Fontastic +. Fonts are
designed and arranged on this program, and moved, with the Font/DA Mover,
into the system or stored on a disk with the Font/DA Mover.
Copyright © july august, 1989 by Ruth Bennett
The book Tolowa Language Dictionary, second edition
edited by Loren Bommelyn and Bernice Humphrey was published. The
dictionary is based on a UNIFON character set shown below. Click on image
Original bookmark created by John R. Malone. Click on bookmarks to
John Culkin died and most of the UNIFON publications were
lost at that time.
Wright created a website that included a page on UNIFON
1996 - 1997
Proposal was made in 1996-06-01;
revision 1997-01-21to include UNIFON in the Conscript
UnicodeRegistry U+E740 –UE76F standards. http://www.evertype.com/standards/csur
Daniel O'Rourke also created a copy written
UNIFON font somewhat different then the
one we are using. This can be seen at ...
The current http://www.unifon.org/ web
site was created. Originally a font commissioned by Dan Knip and
created by April J. Lagarde was used. Eventually a font from
Greg Wright's site "Greg's Place" http://home.tir.com/~gtwright/unifon.htm The
most recent fonts can now be easily downloaded from this
page on this site.
Small bits of UNIFON were used in a comic book series
Actual writing in
UNIFON began in earnest! Original stories by Neil
Stewart were linked to the web site joining the
translations already done by Paul Stought.
determined that John
R. Malone was living in the Chicago area and conversations with him
filled in some of the history of which we were not previously aware.
Using the dictionary
created by Scott White Toby Peers created the web converter ... No
longer available. Now either a web page or a selected text could be
converted to keyboard UNIFON. If one has the UNIFON font installed they
could then copy and paste this into Word and change it to the UNIFON
Dan Knip and Pat
Katzenmaier had the opportunity to meet with John
R. Malone and hear directly about his development and experiences with
completed the Lookup
file Now a Standard English word could be put into this application
and one could see the unifon_characters for that word, even if they did
not have the UNIFON font installed.
Scott White created
the UNIFON Converter ... Large amounts of text could now be
translated into unifon_characters even if the recipient did not have the
UNIFON Font installed.
Dykstra created a Roman-style UNIFON font
We discovered that Vic Fieger had a UNIFON font called Data Control
/ This is a very nice font with better spacing then we have had
Ken Anderson created the educational
tools that are on the website. He also began translating a number of
children's books and other readings into UNIFON.
We became clearly aware from Ken
Anderson's research and conversations with John R. Malone that he (John
R. Malone) had changed some of the unifon characters in the 1980's. The
character set we found when we began this website ...
... were not the ones John R. Malone chose to use after 1980's.
The chart below is his preference. We are in the process of converting
this website in accordance with these current characters. For the time
being you may still find some of the older characters for I and OY on this
Ken Anderson found a copy
of Margaret Ratz book, "UNIFON:A
Design for Teaching Reading"
Additional historical articles
were recovered by John Malone and added to the website...