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Zhyler Orthography

Although the shocking lack of unicode characters which would accomodate my personal fonts forces me to use a Romanization system for Zhyler when it has a perfectly good orthography of its own, I can still introduce you to the orthography, thanks to my good friend Gif. True, he is a bit of a drunkard (he's been hanging out with Ipe too much), but he allows me to do things I would never have thought imagineable in the year 1988. So, without further ado, I introduce you to the orthography of Zhyler.


The Zhyler Writing System

Zhyler has an alphabetic writing system not unlike English or Greek. The only difference is that it's shockingly different--in a very limited way.

In modern orthographies, there tends to be this ideal of "one letter=one sound". No orthography on Earth does this, I'm afraid. For example, in Spanish, the letter d can represent the sound [d] and the sound [ð]. What's up with that?! Well, truth be told, those two sounds never actually interfere with each other, since, any time you have the sound [d], you will never have the sound [ð], and vice-versa. These sounds, then, are said to be in complimentary distribution--that is, they are two versions of the same phoneme, or letter, shall we say. Thus, you could represent both sounds with one letter and it'd make no difference. So what Spanish, in fact, comes very close to living up to is the ideal of "one letter=one phoneme" (I say "very close", because in many dialects the letters ll and y are pronounced identically. Similarly, the letters b and v are pronounced identically in all varieties of Spanish).

Zhyler doesn't exactly match up with the ideal of "one letter=one phoneme", but actually matches up (almost) very well with the ideal of "one letter=one sound". One I mean by this is that if Zhyler were to have a rule like Spanish with a difference between [d] and [ð] that made no difference in the meaning of a word, where Spanish has one letter, Zhyler would have two. This mirrors phenomena in the orthographies of other languages, like Hindi, for example, where you have the sounds [ɲ] and [ŋ], which, in fact, are in complimentary distribution, but which have two distinct letters to represent them.

Another interesting facet of the Zhyler writing system is that, though it's written from left to right, like English, the punctuation comes first, and a capital letter comes at the end of a sentence, or, for proper nouns, at the end of a word. The punctuation phenomena is much like in Spanish, where, with a question or with an exclamation, you get an initial punctuation mark, in order to let the reader know what the intonation of the sentence should be before they get to the end. (If you've ever read aloud, you might notice that this can sometimes be a problem in English--especially with intonation questions. Example: "He's on the lawn." vs. "He's on the lawn?" Imagine a very long sentence, and it wasn't until you got to the end that you realized you should've been reading it like a question.) I won't say anymore about punctuation, though--that section will come at the end.

Now then: The alphabet. I shall list the letters in alphabetical order, and give a lexical example with the letter in the word. If you'd like to download the font, you can do so here (click here for a zip file).


Alphabet

Lower/Upper Case

Allophone

Example

Romanization

a a alne alne, "first"

b b bewböl bewböl, "almond tree"
  p zap zap, "sew!"

v v vonal vonal, "song"
  f if if, "fly!"

s s sayasmos sayasmos, "shark"

s z sayasmos zor, "fertile"

d d denler denler, "carpet"
  t vet vet, "wicked"

m m matum matum, "I see"

n n nawmos nawmos, "fish"

e e ey ey, "free"

y y yeswiy yeswiy, "rains"

i i itwin itwin, "white"

p p pekya pekya, "mountain"

t t tesfen tesfen, "cheetah"

ü ü ügral ügral, "pink"

k k kenelwi kenelwi, "clay"

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