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Osmanya (Somali) script

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 28, 2000, 20:59

If you have Adobe, you can see the Osmanya script used by some Somali
speakers.  Right now, it has no official status -- and that is because right
now Somalia has no government.  The condition of East Africa in general is
extremely dire, with *another* famine in southern Ethiopia while breakaway
state Eritrea and Ethiopia are at war.  The only rulers of Somalia are
strongmen warlords like the late Muhammad Aidid, or the resolve of local

The most common script used to write Somali is Latin, and this is the

Labials: b f m w
Dentals: t d dh s n l r
Palatal: j sh y
Velar: k g kh
Uvular: q
Pharyngeal: x c
Glottal: ? h
Short vowels: i e a o u
Long vowels: ii ee aa oo uu
(in Osmanya: iy ey a? ow uw)

I have no idea how dh is pronounced.  Also note the unconventional use of c
as the voiced pharyngeal.  (I have used the cent sign when using Latin-1 to
transliterate language with pharyngeal consonants.)

This alphabet was invented by a Muslim leader, a sheikh if I'm not mistaken.
  The order of the letters are based on Arabic, but the letters themselves
have more of a Greco-Coptic look to them.  It is a true alphabet, not an
abjad like Arabic or an abugida like Ethiopic (both of which are also used
to write Cushitic languages including Somali, Oromo, Beja etc.)  This script
could just as easily be used to write Swahili, except the alphabet lacks a
p.  There are no capitals in this script.

The last two letters are additions used to write ee and oo (long e and o),
but their status is doubtful.  They appear to be ligatures of some sort.  I
have not seen a quality font typeface of this script either; it's all
handwritten samples.  Can anyone give this script a Times Roman-like look,
and an Arial-Helvetica and/or Courier-type face too?

I have no .gif file, or else I'd post it.  I've only found this in a .pdf
document so far.  But I'll look for more data.

This the script I might use for standard Tech.  Of course I'll require quite
a few additions and alterations...

Daniel A. Wier  ¶¦¬þ
Lufkin, Texas USA

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