Pamarėska/Orthography

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Pomorian orthography is the system of writing the Pomorian language. The Pomorian alphabet, called abecėde is derived from the Latin alphabet, but includes some additional letters with diacritics. The orthography is mostly phonemic - every single phoneme of the spoken language is represented with a single letter or digraph. There are three different orthographies: the traditional, the standard and the eastern (or dictionary). Each one has its' own usage, but only the standard orthography is used as the official one.

Modern Pomorian alphabet

Majuscule forms (uppercase or capital letters)
A Ą Å B C Č D E Ę Ė F G H I Į Y J K L M N O P R S Š T U Ų Ū V Z Ž
Minuscule forms (lowercase or small letters)
a ą å b c č d e ę ė f g h i į y j k l m n o p r s š t u ų ū v z ž
Name of Letters
a a nosinå a rįdžinå čė e e nosinå ė dilgå ef ha i i nosinå i dilgå jot ka el em en o er es u u nosinå u dilgå žė

Occasionally "Ť,ť" and "Ď,ď" can be used to indicate /c/ and /ɟ/ respectively. These letters called "tė hačinå" and "dė hačinå" are not treated as fully independent, but as variants of ordinary "T,t" and "D,d" which could be written instead.

Spelling rules

Palatalization

The Pomorian language has palatalized or palatal consonants as separate phonemes, but there are no special characters to represent them in its' orthography (except for /c/ and /ɟ/ sounds which in the Standard are written sometimes as "ť" and "ď"). Instead a silent "i" letter is used before a back vowel called "i kluså". This applies only to dental consonants (/n/, /l/, /r/, /t/, /d/, /s/ and /z/), other consonants can not palatalize in Pomorian. There is no distinction between plain and palatalized consonants after front vowels in the Pomorian Proper (somewhat palatalized consonants appear in this position, for example: ši - "this" - is usually /ʃʲɪ/, but /ʃʲ/ is not fully palatalized and is not a phoneme in Pomorian)

Written Pronounced
ni /ɲ/
li /ʎ/
ri /rʲ/
ti/či /c//t͡ɕ/
di/dži /ɟ//d͡ʑ/
si /sʲ~ɕ/
zi /zʲ~ʑ/

Nasal vowels

In Pomorian nasal vowels are represented by letters with an ogonek and in the Standard those letters should always be pronounced as nasal vowels. Despite that after plosive consonants (or "stops") most speakers pronounce them as a sequence of an oral (or sometimes nasal) vowel and nasal consonant usually of the same place of articulation as the stop is. This is very common among speakers of Western dialects. For example the word ązù - "narrow" - is pronounced /ɔ̃ː.ˈzʊ/, but blą̃de - "fog" - is /ˈblɒn.dɛ/ or /ˈblɒ̃n.dɛ/. In North-Western dialect a nasal consonant is always fully articulated and does not always match the following consonant, for example: dų́ti - "to blow" - is /ˈdʊm.tɪ/ (as if it was *dùmti), but in the Pomorian Proper the usual pronunciation is /ˈdʊ̃n.tɪ/ or /ˈdʊ̃n.tʲɪ/.

Devoicing

In Pomorian words almost always end with a vowel because of the final consonant reduction - a process happened in Old Pomorian. Only some words still end with a consonant, which if voiced can undergo devoicing before a word beginning with a voiceless consonant. For example: az tėkojå - "I run" - is pronounced /ɑs.tʲeː.ˈkoː.jɒ/, but az gålbėjå - I speak - is /ɑz.gɒl.ˈbʲeː.jɒ/. In non-Western dialects some final vowels are dropped and this rule proceeds in more cases.

History

First records

Early Pomorian was not a written language. First known written record came from a German monastery built in Viestūtė in the XIII century. It is a carving on a stone stating: "Deywes kun semya preienlus esti", which translates as: "God has come to this land". It is the only attestation where final "s" is present, but it is doubtful whether the "s" was actually pronounced as /s/. In later texts of the same century final consonants has already been absent. During this period the first Old Pomorian orthography began forming under the German language influence. About a hundred words and some phrases of that time were recorded by Teutonic order missionaries, for example:

  1. Laypa kaylie! - "Hello!" (literally - "Good health!")
  2. Ie estie drauge nassye - "He is a friend of ours".
  3. Schweytheian weydan thymsaweie - "I enlighten the path in the darkness".
  4. Atuesztun kun swetha - "(in order) to lead to the light".

These words are written with big variations in spelling, but are more or less recognizable.

A beginning of the Pater Noster was written in "Gudoniskei Predichtei" ("Gdańskie kazania" in Polish) from 1395: "Ate Nassye kao essi annebesseich". The word kater - which - is written here as kao (from earlier kan) showing that final "n" has already been dropped or turned into some kind of an approximant and in the result giving the word in North-Western dialect.

Traditional spelling

Before the XVIth century there were only some Pomorian sentences and words written by different scholars. Even after that time only two texts were written about the Pomorian language and traditions in the "Pomoriae" tractate written in 1587 by Rudolf von Magdeburg, including a small song called "Rūta zelioja" (The green rue). The traditional spelling of that time was inconsistent. There was no unified system; different writers came up with different systems untill the late XIXth century, when the traditional spelling was finally unified and more texts were written in Pomorian. However they were still scarce, most Pomorians didn't know how to read or write all the way up to the middle of the XXth century, when education became compulsory from age 7 to 15.

In earlier texts writers tried using digraphs or diacritics to represent the Pomorian phonology. Here are some examples from the XVIIIth century texts:

Modern Traditional (with rare examples in brackets) Examples (with modern orthography in brackets)
ą, ę, į, ų om, on, em, en, um, ą, ę dombu (dąbu), enwykti (įvykti)
å ao, å, a, o walao (vålå), golba (gålba)
c, č c, cz, tz czelina (celina), cende (čįde)
ė e, ei, é ésti (ėsti), sneige (snėge)
i i, y, e schyrdi (širdi), wyrwe (virvi)
j, i klusa i, j, y iu (jū), ieti (jeti), selya (zėlia)
k k, ck, (qu) quetcke (kvėtka), klessti (klesti)
dz, dž z, dz, cz zegoulla (dzegūlia), czieti (džyti)
s s, ss wyrssti (virsti), sissti (sisti), plast (plaste)
š s, sch, ssy, sy nasythi (našyti), schi (ši)
h ch duchti (dūhti), oucha (uoha)
t t, th thu (tu), tenu (tenu)
uo au, ou aust (uoste)
ū u, (ou) su (zū)
v u, w golwa (galva)
y i, y, ie tri (try), wyre (vyre)
ž sy, z, zy zyema (žiema), syireth (žirėti)

Traditional orthography was changed during the 1952 spelling reform, but it is still used as a historic-looking spelling in shops and caffees' signboards. The Pomorian folkbands' names "Dombrowa" and "Soulynia" are written in traditional spelling, in order to give those names an authentic look.

Eastern orthography

The Polish People's Republic (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa in Polish) was a communist state established in 1952. At first, after the World War II end Pomorians like other minority nations in Poland were treated as people of lower category, being even accused in cooperation with nazies. However soon the situation improved. During this time many reforms were provided in different branches of culture and education, concerning Pomorians and their language. The Pomorian people was fully recognized as an ethnic minority and their language became a minority language of Pamaria (or Pomorze Wschodnie in Polish) region. Some newspapers and radio programmes were allowed to be in Pomorian. The language also became taught at some schools as extracurricular lessons. In 1952 the Pomorian Culture Organization was created under the Communists control. In the same year a spelling reform was adopted and the standardized grammar was established based on North-Eastern dialects, which were the most widely spoken back then. This new orthography was similar to the Latvian one having diacritics instead of digraphs to represent different Pomorian sounds.

Letter Name Letter Name Letter Name
A, a a Ā, ā dilgo ā Ą, ą noșino ā
B, b
C, c C̦, c̦ c̦ē Č, č čē
D, d
E, e e Ē, ē dilgo ē Ę, ę noșino ē
F, f ef
G, g
H, h
I, i i Ī, ī dilgo ī Į, į noșino ī
J, j
K, k
L, l el Ļ, ļ
M, m em
Ņ, ņ Ņ, ņ
O o o Ō ō dilgo ō
P, p
R, r er
S, s es Ș, ș Š, š
T, t
U, u u Ū, ū dilgo ū Ų, ų noșino ū
V, v
Z, z Z̦, z̦ z̦ē Ž, ž žē

The "literē su komają" and "su hačim" (letters with a comma and with a hook) are just to indicate palatalization and are not separate symbols. A macron diacritic is used to indicate long vowels. This orthography is very suitable to represent Eastern dialects phonology, but is wasn't very good system for writing in Western dialects and the current standard language.

Modern orthography

After the Communist goverment fell in 1989 in Poland many changes happened in people's life. The communist influence on the Pomorian Culture Organisation has finally stopped but the Organisation itself did not represent new democratic ideas and ceased to exist soon after that. Sauliu Dzelini - a former member of the Organization - continued to work on preserving the Pomorian language. He did a major research in the language and its dialects, recorded more than a hundred Pomorian tales and folk songs called "gėdė" or dziedinkė" unique for their repeating sounds or words. In 1989 he proposed a new Pomorian Proper, based on his native dialect of Viestūtė (Wiastowce in Polish), which is a Central-Western dialect and also the one having the longest written records. This new Pomorian Proper is a mixture of Western and Eastern dialects and the new orthography is a compromise variant between the traditional and Eastern systems of writing combining some of their features. Today books, the media and schools use this orthography.