Friday, October 07, 2005

Reversed Letters

Most scripts have a traditional presentation format. This is the visual image of the script that the users are most familiar with. For an alphabet it may be a linear display over the chalkboard in school. For other scripts the traditional organization may be a syllabary chart, as in Syllabics, Amharic, Hiragana and Katakana, etc. For some scripts there is more than one format.

This layout for Phags-pa is derived from the layout for Tibetan as seen here, and here.

Consonants

KA KHA GA NGA
CA CHA JA NYA
TA THA DA NA
TTA TTHA DDA NNA
PA PHA BA MA
TSA TSHA DZA WA
ZHA ZA 'A
YA RA LA
SHA SA HA
A QA XA FA GGA

Vowels (and HA)

ΗΑ I U E YA

(There are minor irregularities to this organization for the sake of demonstrating the full set of reversed letters. However, I could not find a complete matrix to copy exactly so this will have to do.)

There are six reversed consonant letters, TTA, TTHA, DDA, NNA, ZA and GGA. In each case the reversal creates a separate letter with its own value. However, for the vowels, I, U, E, subjoined Y and HA, the reversed letters are contextual variants and do not in any way alter the phonetic values of the letters. (I have put in HA twice, first in its traditional position, and second with the vowels because its reversed letter is a contextual variant like the vowels.)

In this script CV syllables are written as a unit and a reversed consonant letter requires a reversed vowel letter, without changing the value of the vowel. One aspect of this type of script, an alphasyllabary, is that letters are arranged in syllabic units. Therefore the form of the consonant can affect the form of the vowel.

While reversed letters were an auxilliary way of creating new letters in Tibetan and Phags-pa, reversals and inversions are the basic manner in which letters were created in Mandombé.

Phags-pa fonts and research is from BabelStone

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