--- John Cowan <[log in to unmask]> wrote: >
Andreas Johansson scripsit:
> > Would you please enlighten me on the term
> "alphasyllabary"? Does it mean a
> > mixture of alphabetic and syllabic writing, or
> what?
> It's not a very perspicuous term, particularly
> because it blurs the
> fundamental difference between *abugidas* and
> *abjads*.  We are concerned
> with the former here.
> In an abugida, the basic written forms are
> consonants.  When the consonant
> appears in its basic form, it is understood to be
> followed by a vowel,
> called the *inherent vowel*.  Exactly which vowel
> this is depends on the
> language, though it is often "short a".  To indicate
> the use of a
> different vowel, a "vowel sign" is placed above,
> below, before, or after
> the consonant (sometimes in multiple parts in
> different places), which
> overrides the inherent vowel.  A mark called a
> virama is used when there is no
> vowel at all.  The Ethiopic script, uniquely, writes
> its vowel marks
> attached to the consonant.

not quite uniquely . . . brahmi also attaches, but the
attachments have become separate vowel signs by the
time its daughter scripts emerge

> Vowels not preceded by a consonant are expressed by
> independent vowel
> letters.  Sometimes these are derived from a "null
> consonant" with a
> vowel sign, but often by unique letterforms.
> One or more vowel-less consonants followed by an
> ordinary consonant
> are often written either as a ligature, or with the
> vowel-less consonants
> in a reduced ("half") form with no virama mark.
> Uniquely in Tibetan script,
> they are stacked below the main consonant, often
> many letters deep.
> Abugidas include the Ethiopic script on the one
> hand, and the many
> Indic and Indic-derived scripts (Myanmar, Thai, Lao,
> various Philippine
> scripts, various Indonesian scripts) on the other.
> All of them
> except the extinct Kharosthi script are written
> left-to-right.
> Because of the loss of consonant distinctions in
> Thai/Lao and their
> replacement by tones, these scripts divide their
> tones into tone groups;
> the particular consonant used encodes not only the
> (phonological)
> consonant, but also the tone group.  A tone mark
> then selects the specific
> tone within the group.

by way of a me too, bac uses an abugida. the only
thing is, it's an abugida that looks worryingly like
an alphabet, and indeed has slowly developed
alphabetic characteristics . . .

when written in isolation a consonant has an inherent
|a| /a/.

any other vowel can be added after the consonant

if a consonant is not followed by a vowel then
a) it can attach to the following consonant ( which
again comes after it )
b) it can have a small stroke written onto it like a

the small stroke mentioned in b) has developed into an
'end of word' mark, and is used even after vowels

vowels at the beginning of a word take a small 'empty'
consonant. however, in common handwriting the only
vowel that does this is |a| as all the others have
distinctive enough shapes on their own

there is also a sign used to introduce vowel
diacritics, which are written after the vowel. this
sign has become incorporated into the diacritic signs
and is now inseperable

because all letters are written in sequence, the only
trait that reveals the originally abugidic character
of the scrip is that |a| is marked by the absence of
any other vowel, the fact that in print all vowels and
in handwriting |a| at the beginning of a word are
introduced by an 'empty consonant', and the fact that
vowels never join a following consonant, giving a
quasi-syllabation ( which doesn't correspond to the
true syllabation of the words ) . . .

if this all sounds absurdly complicated, it isn't in
practice . . . trust me !


bnathyuw | landan | arR
stamp the sunshine out | angelfish
your tears came like anaesthesia | phèdre

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