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From: "Don Osborn" <dzo@xxxxxx>
To: qalam @ yahoogroups . com
Subject: Hausa alphabet(s)
Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2004 06:36:36 -0000

Hausa is generally written these days in a Latin script with three or four additional characters to represent implosive or ejective sounds (the difference being that Niger uses a hooked-y while Nigeria uses a 'y). This is often referred to as "Boko."

Historically, like many languages of the Sahel, and still today to some degree, it was/is written in Arabic script with some modifications. As in the case of other languages this is of course known as Ajami.

There are apparently some other writing systems of sometimes uncertain origin and possibly specialized but in any event very limited use. I bring this up because a "Hausa alphabet" was brought to my attention not long ago (see http://www.bisharat.net/Demos/Hausa_alphabet.htm ) that was claimed to be very old but which most agree appears actually to be recent.

In the discussion on H-Hausa, other info has come up. Nikolay Dobronravin mentioned a "Gurma script (syllabary)" and a script invented by Hausa writers in the 1970s. Mary Wren Bivins brought up possible similarities with some mostly ceremonial scripts described by others (such as the nsibidi "spirit writing" of the Ejagham).

Would anyone here have any comments?

Don Osborn

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