NYAXICON - The Nyakyusa Online Lexicon

Version #00.01-m BETA

Spelling Conventions for Nyakyusa




The Alphabet
The Nyakyusa alphabet consists of the following characters:
a, b, (nd), e, f, g, h, i, , j, k, l, m, n, (ng'), o, p, s, t, u, , w, y

The letter nd:
nd is an allophone {CHECK TERM} (of non-existant nl) and is thus not a proper letter in the traditional sense. However, since the letter d appears in this rather common sound combination it is seen as necessary to list it. The sound is also very clear [d]. (nd) and (ng') are phonological units rather than separate "letters" and are therefore not given separate entries in the dictionary and are listed under the letter N.
The [d] sound only appears together with n (eg. ndaga (thank you)).

Vowels:
a, e, i, , o, u,
The vowels can all be long and are then written twice (eg. fjo (very))

Double letters
Only vowels and the letter M can appear as double letters. There are currently no triple letters in dictionary forms of words.
Many Nyakyusa words are frequently pronounced with extended vowels to emphasize meaning. As this can be done with numerous words, this is considered a non-dictionary-form effect and is therefore not listed. [Expand topic under pronunciation]


Alternative Spelling (Internal capitals) Different languages follow different capitalization systems. German capitalizes all nouns, French capitalizes personal names and names of places. English follows the French system with additional rules for languages and the first person singular personal pronoun (I). Swahili largely follows the rules of English, excepting the capitalization of "mimi". Several languages also capitalize the word for god, or at least when the god in question is the one they believe in and not another god. There is no inherent linguistic reason why either country, language, people/tribe/nation, personal name or place name should be capitalized. It is all a matter of convention.

For languages with little or limited spelling history, a reasonable direction to follow may frequently be to follow the main school language(s) of the country(-ies) in question.

In Bantu languages, the prefix-system invites an unusual spelling for a number of nouns indicating nationality/"country" etc. An example of this would be writing "ubuNyakyusa" rather than "Ubunyakyusa" for the Nyakyusa homeland. Especially in a language with pre-prefixes like Nyakyusa, this may make sense since the word may appear as both UBUNYAKYUSA and BUNYAKYUSA.

The recommended solution is however to drop the captitalization alltogether. This removes the problem, other than breaking with the tradition of the majority written languages of the region. This solution is based on the principle that "each language is it's own system" and not a system due to another language.




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