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On Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 3:28 AM, Paul Bennett <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> What intrigues me, though, is a writing system that would let someone
> literate in Hamer be more or less literate in the rest of Ethiopia. To this
> end, I'm thinking of a Ge'ez based writing system.
>
> There are a couple of key things to bear in mind:
>
>  * Unlike Amharic, consonants do not (almost) universally come with a
> following vowel.
>
>  * Unlike Amharic, vowels carry a much greater functional load, can cluster
> in at least VVV clusters, and are far more numerous.
>
> With this in mind, I've been thinking of a semi-alphabetic system.
>
> Consonants would be written purely alphabetically, using the Series 1 form
> of the Ge'ez syllable (the /@/ series) plus some diacritics. There has been
> talk of Amharic spelling reform to place two dots over geminated consonants;
> I think that's a pretty good start. Maybe a single dot for "lack of
> release". Acute and grave on the final (or first?) letter of yes/no and
> negative words respectively.
>
> Vowels could be written using the Aleph row for [ +glottal ], one of the
> "spare" <h> rows for [ +laryngeal ], and the Ayin row for plain / "umlaut".
> The additional vowels would be written with another of the "spare" <h> rows.
>
> The consonants would look something like this, in roughly the order above,
> with some blanks to be filled in later:
>
>  በ ደ ጀ ገ ፐ ተ ቸ ከ ቀ ዘ ፈ ሰ ሸ ኀ ፀ ረ ለ መ ነ ኘ ወ የ
>
> Note that this order is for convenience of notation. I'd probably stick with
> the H, L, X, M, ... order used for the relevant subset of Ge'ez.
>
> The exact nature of the blanks, and the diacritics to be used, are left as
> an exercise for the reader, along with the possibly-redundant process of
> writing out the entire series for the vowels.
>
> Questions, comments, suggestions?

Personally, I'd try to keep it as similar to standard Ge'ez as
possible, so keeping it syllabic instead of turning it into an
alphabet. A virama of some kind could be introduced for consonants not
followed by a vowel; a second virama-like diacritic would be used for
unreleased final consonants. Geminates would be spelled out (either
prepending the same consonant with the plain or unreleased virama,
choose your poison).

I'm not quite sure I understand how the vowels work from your previous
post. Can all of those vowels follow any consonant? If so, new
diacritics may be required for glottalized and laryngeal vowels. Are
long vowels distinguished from sequences of two short vowels of the
same quality? You mention diphthongs but don't list them; are they
also distinguished from sequences of their components? If the answer
to both of those are "no", then long vowels could be spelled by
appending a vowel-only character of the same quality, while and
diphthongs would append vowel-only characters of a different quality.
If Category IV vowels are reduced from certain sequences, they could
just be spelled as if they were unreduced (like diphthongs).