Alphabet

Introduction

Tahano Hikamu, or the ‘Round Script’ – also simply known as tahano ‘script’ – is the script with which Ayeri is usually written. The earliest inscriptions of this writing found so far are on parchments from the 1st century K.T. on. This script is rather complex – so much, in fact, that it is currently still difficult to typeset it properly with computers. This has not stopped printing to develop, however. During its long development, letters changed shapes a little, but we will focus here on contemporary use and on the general rules that govern the script and use the ‘book’ style for the letters. There is also another variant with more stylized characters (tentatively named “Java,” more accurately hinyan ‘angular’), introduced in this blog article and exemplified in this supplementary brochure. You can also download a font of this, Tagāti Book G. How some things could be simplified for day-to-day handwriting is illustrated in this blog article.

Consonants

This script works similar to the ones found in India and elsewhere in South Eastern Asia – it is a syllabic alphabet, or abugida. This means that consonants serve as bases or matrices for the vowels, which in turn are written as diacritics. Different than in the scripts of the Semitic languages, writing out vowels is obligatory here, except for the vowel a, which is never written when it follows a consonant immediately, as it is inherent to every consonant letter. Letters do not have special names, but they are plainly called pa, ba, ta, da etc. This script is always written from left to right in lines from top to bottom.

The following chart gives an overview of all consonants that are needed to write Ayeri, with pronunciations in IPA:

pa ta ka ba da ga
ma na ŋa va sa ha
ra la ja Ø (ʔa)

The place holder, or ranyan, is used when there is no consonant base that a vowel can be written on, which is, for example, the case for word-initial vowels. It has no sound value of its own in Ayeri. In languages with a phonemic glottal stop, it may also serve as a letter for that (sound value /ʔa/). Note that if another na follows a na, the first of them is slightly reduced and ligated with the second one:


nana ligature

To suit the needs of other languages that are also habitually written with this script, additional characters have been invented:

fa wa za ʃa ʒa ça
xa ɣa t͡sa k͡wa, k͡va ksa

The pronunciations given here are the most common ones, but individual languages may change things in order to adapt the script to their needs.

Vowels

It has already been mentioned above that vowels are written as diacritics. These can appear on top of or below a consonant and alter the pronunciation of the syllable. Every consonant has two vowel slots. The first one is above the consonant, the second one is below it. Since vowels are always understood to belong to the preceding consonant, the inherent /a/ is replaced by the vowel that is written above the consonant:


pa → pe

The top diacritics for the vowels are as follows:

i e (a) o u au ə

Of course, as an /a/ is inherent to all consonant letters, the a top-diacritic itself basically only occurs with ranyan at the beginning of words. Note that Ayeri itself does not make use of ə. It is only listed here for completeness.

Top-diacritic o is also found written .

Two consecutive vowels do not occur much in English, but in Ayeri, for example, this may well be the case. For this purpose, another slot for a vowel is added below the consonant character, as mentioned above:


pa → pe → pea

The first slot of the consonant pa in the example above is already used for e, however, there is still an /a/ at the end of the syllable, which – if it was not indicated below the consonant – would be swallowed by the e. This works the same way with all other vowels as well.

Vowels are written like this when put under a consonant:

i e a o u au ə

Note that very often, the consonants with ascenders, such as ka, da, ça will have the vowel written under them also in the case of a monovocalic syllable, since crossing the ascender with a vowel is considered unesthetic, although necessary on occasion. The empty top-slot is indicated by a dot here:


ka → ke → kea

Bottom-diacritic o is also found written .

Diacritics

Tahano Hikamu has a plethora of additional diacritics which serve the purpose of marking the alteration of vowels or consonants. The following ones are written under consonants:

tupasati: long vowel ringaya: palatalization of consonant
ya eyra: consonant + /ja/ ulangaya: aspiration of consonant
vināti: homorganic nasal or nasalization kusangisāti: geminated consonant
gondaya: no inherent /a/ raypāya eyra: vowel + /ʔ/ or glottalization

Some of these – namely tupasati (‘long maker’), ya eyra (‘low ya’), ringaya (‘raiser’), and ulangaya (‘breather’) – can also precede the consonant under certain circumstances: This is the case

  1. with consonants without a right downstroke or bowl to attach to:


    naː, ŋaː, vaː, waː

  2. with consonants following na:


    napaː

  3. when there would be two bottom-attaching diacritics:


    ta → ti → tiː → t͡ʃiː (*tjiː) → t͡ʃiːe (*tjiːe)

As can be seen in the example to (3) above, diacritic reordering can produce very complex results, as vowels and “small” diacritics like gondaya and vināti can still be put underneath “large” diacritics such as tupasati, ya eyra, etc. — in the t͡ʃiː step of (3), tupasati is drawn before the consonant ta so as to be able to attach the ya eyra under the consonant. Also note that na typically has gondaya, vināti and kusangisāti written over it rather than under it.

Here are the diacritics that attach in front of consonants:

tupasati marin: long vowel lentankusang: rising diphthong
ringaya marin: palatalization of consonant tilamaya: systematically changed vowel
ya marin: consonant + /ja/ hiyamaya: retroflex consonant
ulangaya marin: aspiration of consonant

Note that it is correct here that ringaya/ya marin has the same shape. Also note that the diacritics on the right side of the table can only occur in this position, and that when stacking diacritics to the front of consonants, the stacking goes from right to left, beginning with those diacritics modifying the consonant, then those modifying the vowel, with the lentankusang diacritic following (from right to left) tupasati marin:


na → nja → njaː → njaːɪ

Also note that rule (2) above is overridden if na followed by a consonant which has a diacritic attached to its front:


napjaː

Last but not least, there are diacritics that attach to the top of consonants. The bottom versions of these are preferred if there is a counterpart, however, the reordering to the top is convenient sometimes, e.g. in the special case of na having no space underneath it to attach diacritics.

gondaya ling: no inherent /a/ kusangisāti ling: geminated consonant
vināti ling: homorganic nasal or nasalization raypāya: vowel + /ʔ/ or glottalization

Note that it is also possible for gondaya to appear after a consonant at the end of a word:

Numbers

Ayeri uses a duodecimal number-place system, so there are separate figures for 10 (A) and 11 (B) as well as from 0 to 9.

0 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 A B

Punctuation

dan
(full stop)
damprantan
(question)
dambahān
(exclamation)
puntān
(dash)
adrumaya
(line break)
danarān
(quotation)
dankayvo
(brackets)
dangaran
(name)
dandan
(abbreviation)
dansinday
(decimal point)

Punctuation in Ayeri is very elaborate as the table above shoes. Note that instead of a comma, a wide word space is used. Clauses themselves are usually written as one string, or with only little space between individual words. The puntān, or dash, serves the function of both dashes and colons. The two forms of the dambahān, or exclamation mark, are interchangeable, however, the horizontal version is preferred at the end of paragraphs, and also for very strong exclamations. The adrumaya indicates a line break within a clause. The dandan is used to indicate abbreviated words or syllables, but it is also used to mark clitics:


bttn. (= batitasan, ‘abbreviation’); ada-savayam ‘to that wagon’

The full stop sign (‘dan’) is also found written , i.e. two straight vertical lines after another.

Abbreviations

nay ‘and’ naynay ‘also, too, furthermore’

An Example

This is a translation of the first article of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights into Ayeri and rendered in the Tahano Hikamu script:

The above reads literally:

s vesyonx jkxenmx-xiknx tigneri jn jktyneri sino=

jn kmo. ri tojrtosx tenubnx jn xipxx jn xaŋx=

my rŋkyonx sitːynsx kxu-netu.

And in normal romanization:

Sa vesayon keynam-ikan tiganeri nay kaytanyeri sino nay kamo. Ri toraytos tenuban nay iprang, nay ang mya rankyon sitanyās ku-netu.

Note that there is usually little to no space between the individual words of a sentence. Syntactic breaks where one would put a comma in Latin transcription are indicated with a wide space. Due to the size of diacritics and the ability to stack them, the line height is usually much larger than in Latin typesetting.