Tj'a-ts'a~n writing system
|From:||Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, March 11, 1999, 13:13|
I am currently discovering Tj'a-ts'a~n writing system. It is a kind of
ideographic system, where each one-syllable root has its own character.
Unlike language, the Sky People think that writing was created by
themselves. No being (either an elemental or another thing) gave it to
them, and they are very proud of their creation. That's why one must not
forget that writing is for the Sky People a very important issue, even a
political one, and it has often been a subject of controversies and even
political changes! To understand that, here is a complete explaination of
the functionment of the writing system:
- Each lexical root (one-syllable roots only) has its own character
(tj'a-s'ar /tja-sa:r/ or j'a-sar /ja-za:r/ in tj'a-ts'a~n). Multi-syllable
roots are written with several tj'a-s'ar, each one corresponding
phonetically to one syllable (and generally also meaningfully). The only
exception is when you use reduplication. The syllable is written only once,
the mark of reduplication is the ideogram for "reflect, mirror" instead of
the reduplicated syllable.
- The problems come with how to write down the affixes. Writing is mostly
seen as a way to remember the meaning of something that was said, so the
phonetic reality has always been considered as useless. So affixes are
written down only when they are mandatory to understand the meaning of the
sentence (so gender prefixes are mandatory), and there are no special
characters for affixes. One uses tj'a-s'ar as well. The problems come from
the fact that the morphology of roots and affixes is different (some
affixes being only one consonnant, no root of one consonnant exists), and
from the vowel and consonnant harmonies that multiply the number of
pronunciations of a single affix. So, to write affixes, there are two main
- writing in "totally phonetically", with different tj'a-s'ar depending on
the pronunciation of the affix,
- writing in "totally ideographically", with a single tj'a-s'ar whatever
the pronunciation of the affix.
Of course, there has always been middle-way tendencies between those two
extremes. As the writing system is a very political issue, a change of
government or system of government has always been accompanied by a change
in the writing system of affixes (generally reversing what the predecessor
did :) ). The problems of each tendency (that made no one of them win) are:
- for the "totally phonetically": as the division in affixes is often
different from the division in syllables (for instance the gender prefix
for male humans: k'a-n, which is one syllable but two affixes), there is no
way to keep the real pronunciation and the division of affixes.
- for the "totally ideographically": this writing system (at least for
roots) still has a "phonetic" flavour, so writing without keeping in mind
the pronunciation can lead to big contradictions (moreover, the Sky People
don't put any space between words). And also, when writing
"ideographically", which tj'a-s'ar must you use for an affix (which has
always a bunch of different pronunciations), and why?
There has been an attempt, during the Sky People's history, to renew the
writing system with an alphabetic one (I'll tell you more about that when I
discover more about the Sky People's history). But this attempt was
forgotten like the attempt of Akhenaton to make a monotheistic religion in
To finish this post, I must add that the scripts are written in rows, from
right to left, except for monumental writings which can be written in any
direction (some special drawings are used to show the direction of writing,
they are used in script as ponctuation markers. As I don't know much about
them, I can't tell you anymore of that).
Well, I hope posting this on CONLANG didn't bother you, but I don't think
so as the conculture bit I explained was very small and very language-related.
As usual, I'll ask you what you think of it, and do you use this kind of
writing system for one of your conlangs? And do you know any natlang that
uses such a writing system? (I know that Sumerian had a writing system
which was not far from this one, but I'm not sure)
Thank you for reading such a long post :) .
|Sela Jemufan Atlinan C.G.
"Reality is just another point of view."
homepage : http://www.bde.espci.fr/homepage/Christophe.Grandsire/index.html