Not that I think this is any sort of panacea, but our good friends at BBC have seen fit to ask: "Could a new phonetic alphabet promote world peace?"
Although backers of this supposed universal alphabet claim that "it will make pronunciation easy and foster international understanding", I have doubts that SaypU (Spell As You Pronounce Universal project) constitutes a viable route to world peace.
It is curious that SaypU, which uses 24 letters, dispenses with precisely those three letters that give persons who are unfamiliar with Pinyin (official PRC Romanization for Mandarin) the most trouble: "c", "q", and "x". It also adds a reverse "e" for schwa, but, since standard keyboards do not have this symbol, the asterisk (*) may be used to represent it.
The home page of the SaypU project has a conversion tool that you can use to render various traditional spellings into SaypU. For example, if you enter
English "Let's meet at Leicester Square", the result in SaypU is "Let's miit at Lestɘr skwer."
Turkish "Ben İstanbul'da yaşıyorum" ("I live in Istanbul") gives "Ben İstanbul ' da yashɘyorum."
Vietnamese "Tôi ăn một bát phở, được không?" (lit., "I'll eat a bowl of phở, okay?", i.e., "May I have a bowl of pho?") yields "Toy an mot baat fɘɘ, dɘɘk khong?"
Hindi मेरा नाम बहादुर है ("My name is Bahadur") gives "Mɘeerɘaa nɘaam bɘhɘaadɘur hay."
Japanese ここに 語句 もしくは 文章 を 入力 して 下さい ("Please enter a text") results in "Kokoni go ku moshikuwa bunshoo wo nyuuryoku shite kudasai."
Georgian იოსებ სტალინი იყო საქართველოდან ("Joseph Stalin was from Georgia") yields "ioseb stalini iko sakartvelodan."
After you do the conversion to SaypU, you can push a "play" button and the pronunciations will be read out — quite accurately, it seems.
When I showed this BBC article to my colleagues at Language Log headquarters, the only responses I received are these two:
"The Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different cultures and races, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation."
–Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
"Il est faux de prétendre que les peuples et les personnes humaines se foutent sur la gueule parce qu'ils ne se comprennent pas. Ils se foutent sur la gueule parce qu'ils se comprennent."
– Romain Gary, Pseudo
[Thanks to Mark Liberman, Paul Kay, Deven Patel, Philip Lutgendorf, Katherine Wang, Erika Gilson, Eric Henry, Peter Golden, John Colarusso, and Bill Hannas]