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From: "Don Osborn" <dzo@xxxxxx>
To: qalam @ yahoogroups . com
Subject: Re: ISO 6438, the Niamey keyboard, and ISO/TC46/SC4/WG1
Date: Sat, 24 May 2003 21:23:20 -0000
Thanks, Peter. It seems that this 1927/30 "African alphabet" was not so much "discarded" as built upon - all of the characters in it are present in both the African Reference Alphabet (though Mann and Dalby's revision seems to have a modified form of the upsilon) and the ISO 6438. (Not sure about the click and fricative lateral symbols, though.)
One difference of approach with the 1927/30 African alphabet would be that the characters in ARA & ISO 6438 were/are meant to have a consistent (more-or-less?) reading across languages. This seems to make sense to me as a goal for orthographies in multilingual societies - understanding of course that it may not be possible to be totally consistent. This would imply need for additional letters (or diacritics) for sounds not previously accounted for.
Regarding the setting of orthographies for African languages, John Philips' discusion of development of the Latin-based Hausa orthography may be of interest. See: http://www3.aa.tufs.ac.jp/~P_aflang/TEXTS/june97/philips.html(approve sites) . During the colonial period there was discussion and development of orthographies, mainly among non-Africans. The African alphabet was conceived fairly early in this process, it seems. An additional character - the hooked-k used in Hausa - may have been decided on a little later. Others in other languages have been added since, evidently in response to perceived need.
More importantly, the process has become more African since independence(s), as evidenced by the expert meetings such as those in Bamako and Niamey, for example. Granted the support of UNESCO was important, and there is continued participation by non-African linguists. But mainly, orthographic questions like the adding of characters and modifying rules of transcription are more likely to be decided closer to where the native speakers of the concerned languages are (this may vary by the country and the number of [literate] speakers of the language).
It would be interesting to have one or both of those pamphlets on the web - if it were possible to scan them I could put the images, or links to another site with the images, on the Bisharat site.
--- In qalam @ yahoogroups . com, "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@w...>
[ . . . ]
> Here are the 36 letters of the alphabet, including the "most important"
> "special letters." I don't know what it might consider "less important"
> ones, though in the "sound chart" it adds the two fricative laterals and
> elsewhere the four click symbols.
> B (hook b)
> D (hook d)
> E (epsilon)
> F (hook f)
> G (gamma)
> N (engma)
> O (open o)
> S (integral sign)
> V (upsilon)
> Z (curly z)
> The letters do _not_ have consistent readings across all languages; this
> is a set of symbols to be used as appropriate for each language. There
> are also suggestions for what to do in case there aren't enough symbols
> for any particular place etc. of articulation.
> Source: International Institute of African Languages and Cultures,
> Memorandum 1, revised edition, *Practical Orthography of African
> Languages* (1930).
> (The first edition, 1927, had sold out 3500 copies, 500 of them in
> Peter T. Daniels grammatim@a...
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