Scripted

The existence of a number of different scripts is one of the most interesting aspects of language diversity. Who hasn’t spend some time looking at foreign undecipherable alphabets and characters?

Not surprisingly, most artistic conlangers (those who would rather have a beautiful language than an easily learned one) eventually develop writing systems for their own languages, generally called conscripts (from ‘constructed-scripts’, the similarity with ‘conscription’ is merely coincidental). Constructed scripts aren’t exclusive of language inventors however, many have been made for existing languages. In fact, some well-established alphabets are known or supposed to have been made by a single person. These include Armenian (which I consider one of the most beautiful alphabets ever written), old Cyrillic, Korean Hangul and Cherokee syllabary. You can find high quality information on both naturally-evolved and constructed scripts in Omniglot (a website conlangers will surely get to like 🙂 ).

In my view, there are lots of benefits in creating a ‘dedicated’ scripts for a conlang. The first one lies in aesthetics, trying to make a conlang as beautiful as possible in its written form. Tolkien’s Tengwar is a well-known example of an alphabet which was definitely designed with aesthetics in mind.

Sometimes you’ll simply won’t be able to come up with a nice orthography for your language using  existent scripts. If you have a rather large number of phonemes and don’t want to rely on diacritics, obscure Latin letters (as ħ) and digraphs, a whole new alphabet may be an excellent choice.

Creating your own ‘design script’ also enables you to choose the most suitable way to represent your language’s phonology and morphology. If your conlang had only two vowels (let’s say a and i) it may have sense not to represent that phonemes as fully pledged letters but as diacritics or some kind of subtle transformation in consonants, so as not be forced to write them an absurdly large number of times.

Conscripts are also a wonderful way to improve realism. If your language is spoken in an entirely different constructed-world, it would make really little sense that it is written with an alphabet from Earth.

Of course, there are also drawbacks. Needless to say that you need some skill to make them (specially if you want to come up with pretty ones). Furthermore unless you are skilled enough to make a neat computer typeface, using your conscript on a PC will be a pain. Even though I’ve made a number of conscripts (which range from ‘quite good’ to ‘aesthetically disastrous’), I still usually write most of my conlangs with Latin letters as I find it easier, quicker and more comfortable. In spite of that, I’m nonetheless proud of my conscripts and I’d like to mention them briefly in this post:

Note: All images feature the name of the script written in the script itself, the word star in a given conlang of mine and the Spanish word amaban (‘they loved’) transliterated (but untranslated!), so as to show how these scripts treat foreign words (this word was chosen because its three syllables have different structures: V ‘a‘, CV ‘ma‘ and CVC ‘ban’).

Mëntinpiky /mæn.tin’pi.kʰi/

Type: Logographic (each character corresponds with a word or morpheme). Characters don’t include any clues on their pronunciation.
Direction: Left to right (from now on LTR).
Used to write: Mëntinlan.
Influences:
A loose understanding of Chinese Hanzi characters.
Notes:
It was formerly known as Meantinpikroi. Foreign words must be written with an alternative alphabet , usually Kali.

Runei /ru’nej/ or /’ru.nej/

Type: Imperfect syllabary (each character stands for a syllable as long as there aren’t consonant clusters).
Direction: LTR
Used to write: Spaele (formerly, it has been replaced by Piumafonte script).
Influences:
A priori.
Notes:
The upper part of each character stands for a consonant (or a few consonantal clusters) whereas the bottom part stands for either a single vowel or a diphthong. There also exists an alternative version with a different sound-to-glyph mapping called Runei noviei (‘new Runei’).

Kali /’ka.li/Type: Alphabet.
Direction: LTR
Used to write:  no language at the moment. It’s used along Méntinpiky for Mëntinlan. It was originally made for English.
Influences:
Latin, Greek and Cyrillic alphabets.

Sohosi /so’hosi/ hieroglyphs

Type: Mostly logographic though some words are spelled as if it were a syllabary.
Direction: LTR
Used to write: Sohosi.
Influences:
Egyptian hieroglyphs and Rongo rongo (an ancient script from Easter Island).

Demotic Sohosi /so’hosi/

Type: Mostly logographic though some words are spelled as if it were a syllabary.
Direction: LTR
Used to write: Sohosi.
Influences:
Sohosi hieroglyps and Egyptian Demotic.
Note: It is a simplified version of Sohosi hieroglyphs.

(‘Full’ or ‘square’) Sibaz /’si.baz/

Type: Hangul like alphabet (alphabetical letters grouped into syllable blocks).
Direction: LTR or vertically (downwards, RTL)
Used to write: Xenechen (New Kar is much more usual), Qiye-Zempa.
Influences:
Hangul (Korean).

(Short) Sibaz /’si.baz/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Tonoryu, Hahdek, Tengoko (Old Kar is more common) and Zissiten (Hevil is more common).
Influences:
(Full) Sibaz and Futhark runes.

Sikäitt /’si.baz/

Type: Alphabet. Vowels placed as diacritics.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Lisnäit.
Influences:
Sibaz and Arabic.

Old Kar or Kyokar /’kjo.kaɻ/

Type: Ideographic, Chinese-like.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Tengoko.
Influences:
Chinese characters.
Notes: Foreign words must be written in another script such as Sibaz or Full Sibaz.

New Kar or Qyokar /ɣʲoˈkaɻ/ or /ʝoˈkaɻ/

Type: Ideographic, Chinese-like.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Tengoko, Xenechen, Theng-thun.
Influences:
OId Kar and Chinese characters (again).
Notes: Foreign words must be written in another script such as Sibaz or Full Sibaz.

Chembook /t͡ʃem’buk/ or /kɛm’buːk/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: Vertical, downwards, columns are read LTR.
Used to write: No language :\
Influences:
Maybe a bit of Tengwar and Sarati.

Piumafonte /pju.ma’fon.te/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Spaele. Formerly, it was also used for Romanice.
Influences:
Tolkien’s Tengwar.
Notes: Letters were designed so that one could write them both easily and fast.

Calasifa’al /t͡ʃə.lə.sifəˈʔal/ and Calasifa’ap /t͡ʃə.lə.si.fəˈʔap/

Type: Abjads (only consonants are written).
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Calacalá.
Influences:
Braille (specially for Calasifap) and Latin alphabet.
Notes: They are basically two forms of the same script. Vowels don’t play any semantic role in Calacalá, so writing them would be pointless.

Bithobal /biˈtʰo.bal/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: Either LTR or bustrophedon (the direction changes in each new line).
Used to write: Ilbaló.
Influences:
?

Xiké /ʃiˈkeː/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Alisne.
Influences:
Sikäitt and Indian Abughidas.

Proto-Kirthai /ˌpɹoʊ.tɔ.kiɾ’tʰaɪ̯/

Type: Alphabet or abjad (both are possible).
Direction: RTL or (rarely) bustrophedon.
Used to write: Proto-Tehya.
Influences:
Ancient scripts such as Proto-Sinaitic (which is a distant ancestor of the Latin alphabet just as Proto-Kirthai is an ancestor of Kirthai itself).
Note: (Update) There are some errors in the image. The native name of the script in Proto-Tehya is Kiħïta, not *Kilïta. The error is only in the transliteration, the (Proto) Kirthai version is right. And the word for ‘star’ would be transliterated more accurately as lini.

Old-Kirthai /kiɾ’tʰaɪ̯/Type: Alphabet or (very rarely) abjad.
Direction: Vertical, columns are read RTL.
Used to write: Tighaia.
Influences:
Proto-Kirthai.
Note: The Tighaia word for ‘star’ can also be written ñini.

Kirthai dunar /kiɾ’tʰaɪ̯ du’naɾ/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Eharthen (common in old texts, used in later texts either ceremonially or decoratively). Seldom used in Tecya.
Influences:
Old Kirthai, Georgian alphabet.

Kirthai /kiɾ’tʰaɪ̯/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Eharthen.
Influences:
Old Kirthai and Kirthai Dunar.

Hevil /ˈhɛ.vil/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Zissiteen.
Influences:
?

Sinte /ˈsin.te/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Kenvei.
Influences:
Hevil, Tengwar, Latin script, Greek alphabet and Sibaz.

Hirtau /hiɹˈtaw/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: Vertical, columns are read LTR.
Used to write: Tecya.
Influences:
Old Kirthai.

Alaved /a.la’ved/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Lindavor.
Influences:
Latin alphabet, ancient Roman cursive and Greek alphabet.

Taleane Raineri /taˈle̯a.ne rai̯ˈne.ɾi/

Type: Logographic.
Direction: LTR (even though some characters look as if it was RTL).
Used to write: Taleane Raineri (actually it is Taleane Raineri).
Influences:
Chinese characters, Old and New Kar and Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
Notes: This is not the writing system of a spoken language but the language itself! Taleane Raineri is a written-only language. Foreign words must be written in Aiedain script.

Human scripts for transcribing the Triband language: RGB mapping and Staff Notation:

If you want to learn more about this scripts, see this post.

Triband script /tɹɪ’bænd skɹɪpt/

Type: Partly alphabetic, it includes logographs..
Direction: Vertical, read downwards, three columns at once, RTL.
Used to write: Triband (common) language.
Influences:
Cuneiform.

Aiedain script /ˌa.jeˈdai̯n/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: LTR.
Used to write: Aiedain language.
Influences:
Latin script, Armenian alphabet, Hebrew.

Nisan /ˈni.san/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: RTL.
Used to write: Nisa language..
Influences:
Arabic.

Elir script /ˈe.liɾ/

Type: Alphabet.
Direction: Vertical, LTR.
Used to write: Elirba.
Influences:
Sarati (maybe).

I hope I haven’t forgotten any script. Till the next post!

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Posted on 2011/10/23, in English, Multilingual, Scripts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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