Zhyler Orthography

If you've been here before, but not in awhile, you'll notice (upon scrolling) that this page has changed considerably. Thanks to the magic of font embedding, this page no longer uses images (hooray!). As a result, this is a much, much cleaner introduction to the native Zhyler orthography that can be easily viewed in any of my stylesheets (including the easy to read ones). Enjoy!


The Zhyler Writing System

The Zhyler script is called Žüðey Veskay, or "the Zhyler Letters" (in the script, .xfeY veskaY). Žüðey Veskay is 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 complementary 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". What 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 complementary distribution, but which have two distinct letter forms 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. (Scroll down to see most of this argument repeated verbatim!)

Now then: The alphabet. I shall list the letters in (Zhyler) 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 by right-clicking here (click here for a .zip file).


Alphabet

Lower/Upper Case

Allophone

Example

Romanization

a A a alne alne, "first"

b B b bewbql bewböl, "almond tree"
  p zab zap, "sew!"

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

s S s sayasmos sayasmos, "shark"

z Z z zor zor, "fertile"

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

m M m matum matum, "I see"

n N n nawmos nawmos, "fish"

e E e ey ey, "free"

y Y y yeswiy yeswiy, "rains"

i I i itwin itwin, "white"

p P p pekya pekya, "mountain"

t T t tesven tesfen, "cheetah"

x X ü xgral ügral, "pink"

k K k kenelwi kenelwi, "clay"

u U u urut,u uruu, "musical inst."

g G g geïka genka, "sibling"
  k ug uk, "broken"

ï Ï n* deïwi denwi, "hair"

r R r resler resler, "sabbatical"

l L l level level, "creation"

h H ÿ hrwh ÿrwÿ, "iron"

© á ğ lava©a lavağa, "debt"

â á x foâa ðoxa, "father"

f F ð fezfe ðezðe, "island"
  þ onqf onöþ, "great"

q Q ö qrqtpql örötpöl, "cliff"

w W w werwi werwi, "blood"

, < š ,omo,,o šomoššo, "lesson"

. > ž .iyel žiyel, "orange"

c C č colbol čolbol, "sapling"

j J j jomka jomka, "corpse"
  č qj öč, "brown"

ñ Æ n* añya.al anyažal, "hawk"

o O o ovmos ovmos, "oyster"

* Though both of these letters are represented the same way as the letter for n in the romanization, they're represented differently in Zhyler's orthography.


Zhyler Punctuation

If you've ever looked at this page in the past, you'll notice that this section is actually a section now. How 'bout that?

Zhyler is an odd bird. It has two sets of punctuation marks: three initial, and four medial. The initial punctuation marks are shown below:

/   ?   !

From left to right, these images represent a full stop, a question mark and an exclamation point. In a sentence of Zhyler, these items precede the sentence. Why, you may ask? Think about reading a language like, oh, say...English, aloud. Imagine you come across the sentence, "Went out to the ballpark yesterday?" Imagine you were reading this sentence in a book aloud to someone. If you just started reading it (i.e., if you don't scan ahead), there's nothing to tell you that the sentence is a question. As a result, you'd probably start reading it as a statement. But then, uh-oh! You get to the end and it's a question! If you start reading it as a statement, the best you can do is try to muster a question intonation out of it by kind of raising your pitch a bunch once you see the question mark, resulting in something like, "Went out to the ballpark...yesterdaaaaay?" Sounds pretty terrible. In Zhyler, there's no need to worry, because you know right off the bat whether something's a question, an exclamation or a declarative statement. It doesn't distinguish further, but it's better than nothing. To let the reader know that the end of the sentence has been reached, the last letter is upper case. Below is an example sentence, Sexa amšar amlar, "The man read the book":

/seéa am,ar amlaR

The dot that starts out the sentence up there is the full stop, and the large r at the end of the sentence is the last letter of amlar. That's what a sentence of Zhyler looks like in Žüðey Veskay.

In addition to the three main punctuation marks shown above, Zhyler has the following four punctuation marks that can be used in the middle of a sentence:

-  ;  (///)  "///'

From left to right, the first one is a comma/hyphen, the second one is a colon/semi-colon, the third set is kind of like parentheses, brackets or dashes, and the last are restricted to quotations and names. The comma is used like the comma in English (only less frequently), but is also used to "hyphenate" words. The second mark there is used for a longer pause, and also to introduce things. The third is used any time you want to set something a part from the rest of the text, and the last is used, as was said, exclusively for quotations and names.

That's about it for Zhyler punctuation. If you'd like to see it in action, take a look at the Zhyler Babel text.


Zhyler Numbers

The number system of Zhyler isn't anything very special. There used to be something weird to it, but I just changed that right this second. So now there's nothing.

Like most languages in this global community of ours, Zhyler has a base 10 system. Below are the numbers 0 through 9, from left to right:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

To combine them into larger numbers, you combine just the way you would in English (opposite of the way you used to do it, but that time is no more...). Here's an example of 19,480 in Zhyler:

19480

That's all there is to it.


Note on the Look of the Script

Some have posited that Zhyler's orthography is a remapping of the extended Roman alphabet. In one sense, this is true; in another, not.

My goal with Zhyler's orthography, from the beginning, was that I wanted it to look like Latin—not just the Roman alphabet, but actual Latin. In order to do this, I took the script I was devising, and tried my best to map each character to a Roman character. Where a Roman character wasn't available, I took the closest one, or modified one that was near enough. There was a basis for the system, though. Here, for example, are some of the original ideas I had done by hand (I'm not great with my tablet, so bear with me):

Some hand drawings of the original Zhyler script.

As you can see, the stops, for example, all have in common a central line, with a shape that's written to the left of the line for a voiced stop and the right of the line for a voiceless stop (I realize now I should've included the affricates in that drawing, too. Oh well...). There's also a systematic relationship between the vowels and their corresponding glide. But looking at the labial stops, the shape was a backwards "c" shape (note that the shape is not inverted, which is what led to the funky affricate shapes). This led to Zhyler p, on the right side, and on the left, the curved, backwards "c" shape was straightened and became Zhyler b.

So, yes, the Zhyler alphabet is based on the Roman script. This was intentional, though, to give the script a certain look, and the mappings were not random, by any means.


Conclusion

Wow! This is one of my oldest pages, and yet it just now has finally been completed—some three years after it was started. Here's to perseverence!

Back to Zhyler Main

This page was last modified on Friday, October 22, 2010.
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