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Tech continued: Writing

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 18, 2001, 23:32
[Note that this "proposal" is kinda out of order; the Phonology section I posted
here should be preceded by a History section.  This post covers both anyway.]

Before the emergence of Modern Tech, the language was not often written.  In
fact, for thousands of years the language may had been preserved orally, as
there simply is no known written example before circa 1000 CE!  This would be
completely within character of the Elves, who have a long history of secretivity
concerning their culture and their knowledge.

After the Elves were dispersed throught the world after Muslim expansion and
Western colonialism, writing became necessary.

Tech is written in several scripts, the most historically important being Arabic
and Latin.


This is probably the oldest, arriving at the advent of Islam.  This comprises
the complete Arabic consonantal system, with additions used for Persian, Urdu,
Kurdish et al.  Like the Indo-Iranian languages that are written in
Arabo-Persian, the problem of vowels had to be resolved, as Arabic has only
three vowels of two lengths each.  One solution was taken from Assyrian; small
forms of Greco-Latin vowels were written above (or below) the consonant letters.
There are five vowel letters indicating the short vowels, while long vowels,
diphthongs and "umlaut" vowels use both a vowel superscript and a following
consonant letter: /E/ followed by <alif> became /E:/; while the same before
<yaa'> formed /Ei/ (which later monophthongalized to /e:/).

The Ma'ou dialect, spoken by heavily Arabicized Muslim Elves, is always written
in the Arabic abjad, and Arabicisms including a conversion of ejectives into
pharyngealized voiced stops and fricatives exist in the local form, which some
even consider a separate language.


The most common, which actually adds Greek letters for certain phonemes (<theta>
for /T/, <delta> for /D/, <lambda> for /K/, <gamma> for /G/) and some letters
with diacritics (the most common being the caron for /S/, /Z/, /tS/, /dZ/),
acute accents (indicating retroflexes) and dots (marking ejectives or
emphatics), and other additions such as the <eng> for /N/.  Originally many
forms emerged, some using digraphs, trigraphs and even tetragraphs, others using
rather weird conventions.  The standard for latinization of the modern standard
language resulted from "Americanist" conventions and some IPA, thus the
additions above.

While Muslims prefer Arabic, Christians tend toward Latin, and the ruling
dynasty, officially secular, uses both but seems to move toward Latinization.
Buddhists use either or, apparently with no clear preference.  However, Jews
have their own tradition of writing:


Spoken by a few thousand, maybe only a few hundred, Judeo-Tech, like Yiddish,
Ladino and Judeo-Arabic, is written in Hebrew characters and has a lot of words
related to Judaica.  But since Tech is a language with a strong Hamito-Semitic
substrate, not much has really changed.  The phonology appears to have been
somewhat simplified, most notably in the loss of uvulars and merger of
non-ejective affricates with fricatives (the latter also happened in Ma'ou).
The usual convention is to use the _dagesh_ (fortition/gemination point marking)
the _geresh_ (an apostrophe-like mark), and/or the _raphe_ (an overline
indicating lenition or spirantization).


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