tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Jan 30 00:54:29 2002

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Re: Alphabet

At 5:46 AM +0300 1/30/02, Aryeh ben Naphtali wrote:
>ghItlh slapdash <>
>>On Tue, 29 Jan 2002, Aryeh ben Naphtali wrote:
>>> I vote for syllabary (like Sumerian, Akkadian, early Ugaritic and
>>> Phoenician, modern Amkharic, Japanese Kana).

>>The problem with a syllabary is that if you don't have restrictions
>>on the number of consonants and vowels, or the formations of, it gets
>>a bit complicated, and you have many, many characters (for lack of a
>>better term) to remember.  I see Klingon as just complicated enough
>>that your syllabary would be fairly large.  It doesn't following the
>>(C)V or C (only the "nh" sound) form of Japanese (not familiar with
>>the rest), which keeps the Japanese syllabary a reasonable size (46,

>I.J.Gelb of Chicago Oriental Institute has dealt with the problem.

You'll forgive me, but I'm not exceedingly well read in linguistics,
so I haven't seen I.J.'s work.

>It appears that _all_ Semitic syllabaries later developed into alphabets
>(originally, they had had "C+any vowel" structure: hence Arabic and Hebrew
>writing systems). In tlhIngan Hol, the same principle is perfectly valid:
>C+any consonant=a syllable (with the exception represented by the cases when
>the syllable is pausal and therefore "mute" (the end of a word)).

I don't know; the CVC thing seems so omnipresent in Klingon that I have
a hard time buying the mute V.  Also, if they eventually develop into
alphabets, why wouldn't it have happened by the time a race was warp-
capable?  (to mix the linguistic with the fictional :-)

>the close-syllable word, the kind most typical of the language, with look
>like C+V+C(v). All in all (I have counted... sorry, I like maths when I talk
>about languages), the total number of syllable signs appears to be about
>300. This is quite feasible: modern Amkharic has 240 (in practice, I must
>admit, fewer: about 180).

Feasible, perhaps, but likely?

Of course, you may be right.  Is Okrand "into" the languages you mention?

At 4:32 AM +0000 1/30/02, Sean Healy wrote:
>Well, there are 2625 possible syllables in tlhIngan Hol according to what we know: 21 consonants * 5 vowels * (21 consonants + 3 consonant clusters + 1 null), so a true syllabary would be quite large.

That's what I was thinking, though I hadn't done the math.  Thanks for the

>But if you had a CV system, you could get by with 129 symbols: 21 consonants * (5 vowels + 1 null) + 3 clusters, which wouldn't be too bad.

It is much better, but constraining Klingon to CV seems...  wrong.  It
doesn't fit that pattern in my head.  Maybe I'm thinking too much of

>A better route might be like Hebrew, with consonants only, and vowels indicated by diacritics (the technical term for such a consonant-only alphabet is an abjad), which would require only 21 characters.

That was kind of what I was getting at in my post, though I used Arabic
as an example.  Is it not the same sort of thing?

Actually, are there any modern abjads that don't even bother with the
diacritic vowels?
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