Omyatloko WIP

So, I’m still updating and expanding on Omyatloko. I’ve begun to catalog various sets of possible glyphs first by shape and then by position. This seems to be the most efficient way to keep track of the glyphs, and I have tried many ways.

This is an example of one of the “sheets”:

As you can see, it’s the “hand” radical rotated and combined with the vowel markers (which do not actually covey any phonemic information unless said “hand” permutation is assigned a consonant sound).

Some of the sheets are – so far – full of unused glyphs, while others are filled with many already assigned glyphs. All in all, it’s progressing, but there is much left to do.

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Rën alphabet

Rën is a script (ritë) developed by Justin Mann for a philosophical language of the same name (Lokë Rën). It is designed to be easily learned and written while giving it a beautiful and complex appearance.

I always try to applaud cursive style scripts, if for nothing else than the undertaking itself. However, like many before it Rën suffers from fatigue. While the design of the individual characters is simple and seemingly elegant, the resulting text looks more like apoplectic PhD student hurriedly trying to finish the last lines of her dissertation. There’s also the issue of voiced/unvoiced consonants being distinguished by only a diacritic…not something that I favor, most especially in cursive alphabets.

On to the sounds (orthographic representation). I’m not sure there is a natlang precedent for having [θ~ð] contrast with [ʒ] but not have [z]. And as a note on presentation, the page gives IPA for the diphthongs but not the base vowels. I suppose we could assume /a, e, i, o, u/ but that doesn’t seem accurate based on the diphthongs. Also, the use of the umlaut seems wholly unnecessary and likely ill-informed based on the rest of what phonemic information is available.

Over all, this script gets a 3×1 for aesthetics and functionality.

Kala phrase


나히 여잔고
nahi yetsanko
girl cry-PROG
The little girl is crying.

Black Panther Alphabet

What I have to say is completely unrelated to the writing, acting, or production value of the movie. All of which I enjoyed. But as a connoisseur of writing systems, I feel as though I should at least give my views on this one aspect of what was, in fact, a great movie.

David Peterson has already covered the fact that the real world language Xhosa is used for Wakanda. So I will leave that alone, except to say that Xhosa has clicks and other features that many languages lack.

Wakandan is an alphabet designed by production designer, Hannah Beachler, for use in the 2018 film Black Panther. It is based on Nsibidi, a system of symbols used in southeastern Nigeria between about 400 and 1400 AD. In the film the script is used to transliterate English text in the credits and other on-screen text. Other symbols that appear on clothes, wall hangings, and other elements in the film, were inspired by Nsibidi, cave drawings and graffiti in Los Angeles.”

So, the geography is all wrong. Based on the Marvel Wiki’s map, and the earliest mention of Wakanda’s location, it’s toward the East and centrally situated between north and south. Relatively far from Nigeria where the Nsibidi script originates.

Now, to the style of the script. I realize the aesthetics for this movie were kept broad, in a sort of Pan-African style, but the entry here talks about “Nsibidi, a system of symbols used in southeastern Nigeria”, which has a modern alphabet and expanded symbols which are sometimes still used. The Xhosa language, spoken in the film has 10 vowels and over 60 consonants. This means that the simple 26 letter cipher-bet used is wholly insufficient. Aesthetically, the script created for the film does not exactly resemble the actual Nsibidi system, never mind the fact that the Nsibidi system is an ideography. By comparison, if I made a fictional Dragon character from a region somewhere in Southeast China, and had them use something that resembles the Tibetan alphabet…that might be as bad as this.

It’s cases such as these that I wish people would simply say that they made something they thought looked good for the project, or matched the aesthetic they were hoping for, rather than loosely tying it to something so different in so many ways. The script isn’t even appealing aesthetically. It’s far too block-ish to fit the overall style of the film, and whoever thought it needed upper and lower case letters needs to spend a day reading about how rare those are in natural writing.

ketlahonu

keltahonu – “turtle day of red month”

Omyatloko presentation

I’ve been editing a new omyatloko (.pdf) presentation page to go along with the new glyphs and radical system. I would like any and all feedback that any one might have. Thank you.

Laala

Laala

Laala is constructed language devised by Simon Ager, the creator of Omniglot, who was inspired to try creating a language after attending the Language Creation Conference in Horsham in 2015. The aim was to create a minimalist language with words based on sound symbolism and onomatopoeia as much as possible. The name Laala means ‘sing speak’, and it is intended to be quite a musical language suited to singing.

Simon seems to have a knack for scripts that function perfectly. This script is no exception. However, it does have an ever so slight hint of Tengwar, it still is quite aesthetically pleasing and looks more naturalistic than many of Simon’s other scripts. I do worry that his orthographical choices far exceed his choice in transliteration schemes, though. What would make this script’s presentation striking is some handwritten samples…free hand. I imagine this script has some quite interesting calligraphic possibilities, possibilities that are potentially enhanced by the isolating nature of the grammar.

I rate this script 4×4 for aesthetics and functionality.