Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Mandombé Syllabary

This is the Mandombé script taught as a syllabary. These are the syllables of the second group. While the table in Wikipedia enables one to read Mandombé, it is not the traditional presentation.

This picture was found here. The explanation above the group of syllables reads "The Mazta of the 2nd group are the Mazta composed of the roots of the 2nd time or angles of 45 degrees." The chart itself makes sense to me but I do not know how to interpret this commentary. Back to Wikipedia where the same terms are mentioned.

11 Comments:

Blogger Denis said...

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4:07 AM  
Blogger Denis said...

The table on the French Wikipedia is just there to give an overview of the different groups and families. Besides I didn't feel like creating the 80 glyphs ;). I don't think it would be useful to have all the tables on Wikipedia. The article is more there to give an explaination than to be fully didactical, even though the information available is enough to have a good gist of the script. There is a Lingala text if you'd like to practice reading and transcribing back on forth between Latin script and Mandombe: http://www.mandombe.info/texte.htm

4:09 AM  
Anonymous Suz said...

Hi Denis,

I followed the link.
"Kala kala yambo mondele" What do you think? It is hard without knowing the phonology at all. Without the full set of syllables, I can't be sure how the prenasalized consonants are placed.

So there is some ambiguity which I would be able to work through if I ever saw the full set of syllables. Some day...

I see that I was confusing groups and families in the wikipedia chart. So the idea of both reflections and rotations is clear now.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Denis said...

Having a full set of syllables would be useful, but I don't think it is necessary to learn how to read mandombe. Besides I'm lacking a few pieces of information to be able to do a full set.

The five vowels are the easiest thing to identify. I find ddentifying the prenasalisation is pretty easy: as soon as the consonnant linked to the vowel looks too big, I know it's prenasalized. I'm mostly struggling with identifying the main consonant. I used to figure out the transformation with the help of the vowel (for some reason I can see the reversal/inversion better with the vowel) but now I'm thrown off when I see syllables with r following the main consonant, this leaves me with only that consonant to identify the transformation since the vowel is attached to the r with a different transformation.

There's still a lot more to Mandombe. Apparently it can transcribe more than 5 vowels, tones and maybe stresses. I still haven't figured out what consonnant is in family-1 group-4. It's nowhere to be found on the web. But my guess would be that it is one of the 'dj', 'j', 'sh' or 'tsh', since they are found in many Bantu languages.

I don't know if the article on Lingala ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingala_language ) on the English Wikipedia would be helpful for transcribing the Lingala text. I'll try to add more on Mandombe there once I have information about marking tones.

I also wonder if Mandombe can transcribe vowel length, this is necessary in Kikongo, at least in some variations of it.

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Suz said...

I can see the consonants pretty well and the prenasalization. But with prenasalization I have some difficulty deciding between b or k. Other than that one case, the consonants are all pretty clear.

6:05 PM  
Blogger language said...

I have to admit I don't see the point in creating a new script for languages that can be written perfectly well in the Latin alphabet; all it will do is cut people off from the wider world even more than they are already -- people who desperately need all the contact with the world they can get. Also, it looks like a needlessly complicated script. Fun if you're a conlang fan, with endless time to play around; not so great if you're a kid trying to make your way in the world.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Suz said...

I imagine most school children are trying to learn French or English.

3:47 PM  
Blogger language said...

Exactly, so why clutter their brains with this useless script for a language they already know? I can imagine no circumstance in which it would be an advantage to know Mandombé... unless of course it becomes part of the mandatory credentials of a language teacher. Hmm.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Suz said...

Ah, well, you must know our Canadian experience. We have our indigenous scripts. The usual tension between the sentimental and the instrumental. I am not a conlang fan BTW but nevertheless, I find this script not impossible. Not a "practical orthography" but there it is.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous jack said...

Why mandombe it is not useless ? Because all bantu languages can be written prefectly. Latin's writing systems is ont effective for bantu language because all sound can be transcribe. What's the solution ? The selected bantu language is adapted to the colonial language. This is not a good solution and you could guess why.

6:44 AM  
Anonymous jack said...

correction :

*because all sound CAN'T be transcribe"*

6:45 AM  

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