Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Roman Syllabary

From:Oskar Gudlaugsson <hr_oskar@...>
Date:Friday, May 18, 2001, 3:47
It's a freaky, and rather unpractical, idea, but at least a worthwhile
intellectual challenge; so I'll have a go at it...

What I'm talking about is not designing a syllabary convention fit for the
rendering of any existing language - since that would be all but suicidal -
but rather the construction of a phonology and a Roman-based syllabary that
would neatly fit each other.

An earlier analysis of Babm revealed various flaws; too many needless
distinctions, and too much arbitrariness. The phonology of the Babm
syllabary is too obviously made to fit to the arbitrary quirks of the Roman
alphabet and its traditional values.

I think that such a small syllabary could only realistically work for a
very basic phonology; so quite minimal distinctions. Here goes:

Vowels and diphthongs: /a i u/, /ai au/

Consonants: /p t k l m n s h w j/

a  /a/             l  /la/        w   /wa/
b  /pu/            m  /mu/        x   /hi/
c  /si/            n  /na/        y   /ju/
d  /tu/            o  /au/        z   /su/
e  /ai/            p  /pa/
f  /hu/            q  /ku/
g  /ki/ or /ti/    r  /li/
h  /ha/            s  /sa/
i  /i/             t  /ta/
j  /ja/            u  /u/
k  /ka/            v  /wi/

The thing with {g} there is that /ki/ and /ti/ would not be distinctive -
both surface as [tSi], so the differentiation is suppressed in the fronted

The basic system is that the character which most traditionally holds the
phoneme value is assigned /a/ as a vowel, while the second character with a
similar point of articulation is assigned whichever vowel has the most
similar traits, e.g. /u/ is assigned to /p/ in {b}, since /p/ is labial
and /u/ is rounded. I assign /u/ to /m/, by the same logic, and to make it
more characteristic (quite redundant, I know). The vowel characters are
conveniently put in place by giving diphthongal values to the mid-vowels {e

Babm overly favored the velar phonemes, as we have concluded, and this I
address by making {c x} serve other plausible roles, as fricatives (where
{x} would be a surface [C] due to palatalization). To avoid introducing a
labial fricative phoneme, {f} is /hu/, to be pronounced as [Pu] (similar to
Japanese) or possibly even [fu].

As to how well this would work out as the phonology of an actual language,
I can't say; it's very restrictive. Perhaps introduce some tonemes - to be
orthographized by punctuation marks; although that might be considered a
breach of the syllabaric system, I guess. But still:

" high level tone
' high rising tone
. low level tone
, low rising tone

e'p,m"l"q.    = [   ai        pa      mu   la   ku]
                high-rise  low-rise  high high  low

Something like that.

(Don't ask me how I propose to replace actual punctuation! :p Conscript
other less needed symbols, such as #&/=+, possibly?)



Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>