Austronesian Hebrew/Orthography/Katakana

From Linguifex
Jump to: navigation, search
a i u e o coda
Y 乂 (Katakana obsolete yi.svg) 也 (Katakana obsolete ye.svg)
Q カ̣ キ̣ ク̣ ケ̣ コ̣ N/A
L ラ͏͏͏͏͏゚ リ͏゚ ル͏゚ レ͏゚ ロ͏゚
Ŋ カ͏゚ キ͏゚ ク͏゚ ケ͏゚ コ͏゚
C [1] サ͏゚ シ͏゚ ス͏゚ セ͏゚ ソ͏゚

Hiroyuki Fujisaka (藤坂 弘幸) discovered AH during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, in WWII. [2]. Since his death in 1944, however, Fujisaka's notes on AH (オーストロネシアヘブライ祖語) Most linguistic documentation since that time has been using the Latin alphabet, but his special adaptation of katakana is preserved here for historical and documentary purposes.

Diphthong-ending /a/
Diphthong-ending /e/

The table to the right shows all the syllabograms Fujisaka-san assigned to AH sounds. He explained that his system should be taken as more consistent and uniform than modern Japanese (e.g., シ is /tu/ not /tsu/, フ is /hu/ not /fu/, etc.) The “plain” vowels begin with glottal-stops (instead of no onset), because AH syllables must begin with a consonant. Fujisaka-san seems to have correctly recalled the obsolete /wi wu we/ characters, but not /yi ye/. Given the extreme rarity of the correct character, we have opted to use the kanji he mistakenly recollected. Unlike his colleagues working on Taiwanese kana and Ainu, he successfully used only monographs (gojūon/(五十音), avoided any digraphs (yōon/拗音) in his kana adaptation. Beyond the basic "50", there are three sets of characters using the dakuten/濁点 ("voiced"), three sets using the handakuten/半濁点 ("muddied"), and one dot-below set, as was done in Taiwan. There are three other full-sized katakana characters used in AH. ン indicates a syllable-coda /ŋ/ (not the variable nasal of Japanese). ヽ is used for reduplication of the previous syllable.

Full stop (句点)
Interpunct (中黒)
Part Alternation (庵点)
Single quotes (括弧) 「 」
Double quotes (二重鉤括弧) 『 』
Wave dash (波ダッシュ)

A ー (chōonpu/長音符) lengthens the preceding vowel, but was used unevenly by Fujisaka-san. More often, he indicated vowel length by writing an overline above the syllable. Hence, dabarūma could be written ダバルーマ, but was usually transcribed as ダバル̅マ. ー is used very sparingly today.

There are also 15 small signs, all of which are subscripted, miniaturized versions of normal syllabograms. All but one indicate a coda consonant. ッ - a small /tu/ - indicates gemination of the following consonant. The "50" all make coda consonants with the small Cu version of themselves except

  • 'T', whose coda-consonant version is ㇳ /to/, because little-ッ /tu/ is already means "gemination"
  • The glottal-stop which cannot be geminated, but its vowel can be lengthened (as can any syllables') with ー
  • 'Y' - which becomes an ィ /i/ when in the coda, even when geminated
  • 'W' - which becomes an ゥ /u/ when in the coda, even when geminated

'H' can be in the coda but cannot be geminated. 'B' uses ㇹ (which one would expect to be /ho/). 'L' uses ㇿ (which one would expect to be /ro/). 'Q' could not be in the coda. 'Ŋ" is written in the coda with a ン, which is a nasal with variable place of articulation in standard Japanese. 'C' can be geminated or in the coda, but is geminated as /t.ts/ and in the coda is /s/. For example, パッス͏゚ is /pat.tsu/ and the construct state of アレス͏゚ /? is アレㇲ /?a.res/. Coda consonants take their voicing from the next consonants, e.g. バㇰ could mean /bag/ or /bak/ depending on what comes next. It is unclear what happened at to such coda consonants at the end of a utterance.

The phonological process whereby /st/ becomes /ts/ is reflected in the spelling. For example, カ͏゚ㇲチ /ŋasti/ becomes カ͏゚シ゚ /ŋatsi/, both in pronunciation and spelling.


  1. ^ That is, t͡s. Semitic studies prefer to use ṣ
  2. ^ 'In 1593, two writing systems were united on the pages of the first book published in the Philippines, a Doctrina Christiana, which represented Spanish with a Roman (specifically Gothic Rotunda) script and Tagalog with an Indic script [Baybayin] (Conklin 1991). About 2,500 years before, the two scripts had separated from their West Semitic ancestor and started to make their way around the world: one, Phoenician, headed west, took on new forms in Greece and Rome, spread throughout Europe, and continued to the Americas; the other, Aramaic, headed east, took on new forms in India, and spread, with continuing new forms, through most of mainland Southeast Asia (minus Vietnam) and the full extent of Indonesia before reaching the Philippines as late as 1300 C.E., probably by way of Sulawesi (Celebes). After circling the world in opposite directions, the two scripts were reunited when Spanish ships crossed the Pacific from Acapulco to Manila only years before the publication of the Doctrina.' -- Joel C. Kuipers and Ray McDermott "Insular Southeast Asian Scripts" in "The World's Writing Systems" Oxford University Press ISBN 0195079930 p.474