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USAGE: Con-graphies

From:Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@...>
Date:Thursday, June 8, 2006, 5:53
On Wed, 7 Jun 2006 Andreas Johansson wrote:
> > Quoting R A Brown <ray@...>: > > > Benct Philip Jonsson wrote: > > > >> - we would better applying our creative talents to conlanging (Er - > > >> isn't that what the list is supposed to be about?) > > > > > > Well, isn't devising con-orthographies a form of conlanging? > > > > Marginally - but spelling English or Swedish in Arabic characters, or > > Tengwar or whatever might be fun, but it's hardly as creative, surely, > > as devizing something like Quenya, Klingon, Brihenig etc,. etc. > > I once tried to spell my conlang Tairezazh in Greek letters, but > gave up on the > project because it seemed impossible to arrive at a system that adequately > represented the sounds of the language while not driving insane those > accustomed to the Greek values of the latters.
After learning some Arabic and Malay, and learning to read Arabic in Arabic script and Malay in the Arabic-derived Jawi script, I thought "Why not use Arabic script as a shorthand for English?" Quite a natural extension, really. (And since I was living in a crowded house with strangers, I wanted to be able to keep my thoughts to myself.) I'd already seen plenty of both Urdu and Persian in Arabic-derived scripts, as well as Jawi, so had a VERY extensive set of consonant symbols to draw on. On the vowel front, however, the distinctions native to (classical) Arabic and to Malay were far too few to encompass the English vowel phonemes. (Plus, only long vowels and diphthongs are usually written in Arabic, tho it's easy enough to write all vowels if you want). Consequently, I often found I couldn't read back my own transcrip- tions! This was so to an even greater degree than in using another shorthand system (either Pitman or Tee-Line) phonetically. There are more homophones when English /o/ and /u/ both map to /u/, and when /e/ and /i/ both map to /i/. Also, I was somewhat confused by the way Jawi writes /g/ as a modified /k/ (kaf), rather than a modified /j/ (jim), when to modern Arabs, /g/ is often an allophone of /j/ (jim) or of /q/ (qaf). Which symbol should I use for English /g/? Finally, on what basis should I create symbols for things like English /wh/ and the lovely sound [Z]? You see, I had a few challenges just making the thing work. And my thoughts were every bit as private in Tee-Line as they had been in Arabic, since few (if any) around me read English in either script. So I reverted to Tee-Line. Yes, I chickened out ;-) A decade or so ago, I flirted with Shavian script, as once before in my youth, at the time Shaw's bequest was won. But the winning solution seemed so remote from everything that went before (moreover, I thought it not particularly well designed) that it was unlikely ever to gain acceptance, even by an army of loyal fans. Perhaps I was wrong? More recently, I've thought of adapting Hangul's principles to create an English writing system. Prodded, I think, by Sai Emrys' notions of non-linear fully two- dimensional writing systems ... of which we hear very little of late. Sai, if you're tuned in, an update would be nice! Regards, Yahya -- No virus found in this outgoing message. Checked by AVG Free Edition. Version: 7.1.394 / Virus Database: 268.8.2/357 - Release Date: 6/6/06


Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Sai Emrys <sai@...>