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pitaWiSa writing system

From:Rachel Klippenstein <estel_telcontar@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 25, 2003, 4:52

I just figured out how the pitaWiSa writing system
works.  It manages to represent 13 sounds with only 7
letters unambiguously, thanks to strict syllable
structure rules.

WiSaWiSa don't have hands, so all characters are based
on the imprint of the foot of a WiSa.  Their feet are
typical bird feet, with three toes facing forward, and
one facing backward.  The backward-facing toe is
angled slightly inward, so left and right foorprints
are distinct.  Each letter is based on a foot with the
toe pointed in one of four directions: left, right,
forwards/up, backwards/down.  WiSaWiSa write by
hopping around and making footprints in all
directions.  To those not accustomed to the sight, it
looks pretty funny!

The four footprints of the left foot represent the
four continuants, w, s, W and S (where W and S are the

Three of the footprints of the right foot represent
the three stops AND the three vowels.  One represents
p and u, one represents t and i, and one represents k
and a.  In my representation of the writing system,
I'll use p, t, and k to represent these, but it would
be just as good to use u, i and a.

(The last right footprint indicates reduplication of
the preceding word, which is essentially the only
morphological process in the language besides
compounding.  I'll represent it with R.)

Because of sylable structure rules that dictate that
every syllable has an onset of either a single
consonant (stop or continuant), or a stop followed by
a continuant, with a simple nucleus and no coda, there
is no ambiguity between the consonantal and vocalic
values of the symbols.  If it's initial, it's
consonantal.  If it follows a consonant (stop or
continuant), it's vocalic.  If it follows a vowel,
it's consonantal.

Here are my pitaWiSa sentences again, with the direct
transliteration added on top, then the pronunciation,
gloss and translation:

kwtpkR kwp pstWp pttaR
kwipakwipa kWu psiWu pitapita
house-PL.REDUP  in  sleep  human-PL.REDUP
“humans sleep in houses”

tWpkskR kWp pstWp WtSkR
tWuksatWuksa kWu psiWu WiSaWiSa
tree-PL.REDUP.  in  sleep  WiSa-PL.REDUP
“WiSaWiSa sleep in trees”

tWpksk kwP pstWp kwt sk
tWuksa kWu psiWu kwi sa
tree  in  sleep not  I
“I do not sleep in a tree”


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