Erish alphabet and orthography
|c. 500 CE – present|
The Erish alphabet (Erish: ſƞʀԑxϝ vʌbϝʀɢƞb, Vorkbork Erish: [ˈʢæʢːʃqʼɐ β̞ᵿˈz̪ɒħːɐɬ]), also known as the Erish Vutharc, is an alphabetic writing system that has been used to write Erish since the late 5th or early 6th century. It is a Runic script, derived from the Elder Futhark which, alongside the Erish alphabet's sisters, was once used to write early Leutish languages before the Latin script replaced it in most languages during the Middle Ages. The Erish variations of the Runic alphabet, however, persisted, ultimately expanding into multiple mediums during the Old Erish period, splitting into literary and popular variants which would remain in use until their unification in 1897.
|Y v||Ʌ ʌ||D b||Ϝ ϝ||Ʀ ʀ||C ɢ||X x||P p|
|N н||Ⱶ h||I ı||S ҁ||K k||ʃ ſ||Ψ ᴪ||Ʃ ԑ|
|T ƨ||B в||Π ƞ||Ϻ ϻ||Γ ᴦ||O o||И ɥ||Ϙ ϙ|
|A ᴀ||Φ ɸ|
Erish orthography (ſƞʀԑxϝ ʀƞнɥԑxʀƞıвϙoнϙ, Vorkbork Erish: [ˈʢæʢːʃqʼɐ ˈʕ̞æʃːt̠ʼˌʃqʼai̯ːɸᵿ̃ŋʷᵿ]) refers to the system and norms, including spelling and punctuation, used for writing the Erish language, which is governed by the Erish Language Council (ʃƞʀԑxƨ Ʃвʀϝʌɢʀϝıɥƞb). Modern Erish orthography is founded upon the principle of the "fundamental dialect" (xʀʌobϻϝʌᴦƞb), the notion that speakers of the various Erish dialects should be able to derive their own pronunciations from the written forms of the literary language. In practice, this means Erish spellings largely reflect, as they have for centuries, the pronunciation of Old Erish c. 1100s-1200s CE, though certain concessions have been made for a more modernized grammar.
The Erish Vutharc is a Runic alphabet that consists of 26 letters called "runes" (ʀϙʌhϙԑ), traditionally arranged in four rows called ſϝıнɥϙԑ ("families"); the first three rows consist of 8 runes each, and the last consists of the two runes A and Φ, which are considered distinct letters despite historically being diacriticked forms of Ʌ and Ϙ. The standard ordering of the Vutharc differs from other Greek-derived scripts' "Alpha-Beta" order, following a "Futhark" order common to the Runic scripts that dates back at least to the 5th century.
Likewise, Erish runes use a naming system unique to the Runic alphabets. Each rune's name comes from a word in Erish vocabulary that, per the principle of acrophony, either begins with a sound the rune represents or contains such a sound elsewhere in the word. The names themselves are thought to be largely inherited from the Elder Futhark, though several runes have swapped names to keep to the acrophonic principle.
|Y v||vϙн||vog||[ˈbʰɔːxʷ]||"livestock, cattle"||v||/bʰ/, /pʰ/|
|Ʌ ʌ||pϙʌʀ||wour||[ˈɣʷaʊːħ]||"aurochs"||u||/u/, /ũ/|
|D b||bϙʀԑ||ðors||[ˈd̪ʰɒʢːs̪]||"giant, troll"||ð (dh, th)||/dʰ/, /tʰ/, /l/|
|Ϝ ϝ||ſϝԑx||hask||[ˈʢɒʃːqʼ]||"ash (tree, wood)"||a||/o/, /ã/, /e/|
|Ʀ ʀ||ʀϝʌɥϝ||rauda||[ˈʢo̞u̯ːt̪ʼɐ]||"ride, journey"||r||/ʕ/, /ħ/, /r/|
|C ɢ||ɢϝʌh||caun||[ˈħo̞u̯ːn]||"wound, injury"||c||/ħ/, /kʷʰ/, /cʰ/|
|X x||xҁʌвϝ||kyuba||[ˈt̠ʼuːɸɐ]||"gift"||k||/qʼ/, /kʷʼ/, /cʼ/|
|P p||pʌhҁϝ||wunya||[ˈɣʷʊ̃ɲ̟ːɐ]||"joy, delight, pleasure"||w||/w/, /u̯/|
|N н||нϝʌᴦ||gaul||[ˈʢo̞u̯ːɬ]||"hail"||g||/ʕ/, /ħ/, /w/, /kʷʰ/, /j/, /cʰ/|
|Ⱶ h||hϝᴀɥ||naüd||[ˈne̞u̯ːt̪ʼ]||"need, want, distress"||n||/n/, /Ṽ/|
|I ı||ҁƞıԑ||yeis||[ˈʒai̯ːs̪]||"ice"||i||/i/, /ĩ/|
|S ҁ||ҁϝʌʀ||yaur||[ˈʒoːħ]||"year"||y (j)||/j/, /i̯/|
|K k||kϙʀbϝ||porða||[ˈpʰɒʢːz̪ɐ]||"pear (tree, wood)"||p (f)||/pʰ/|
|ʃ ſ||ſϙhԑ||hons||[ˈʢũːt̪ʰ]||"Erish god"||h (ħ)||/ʕ/|
|Ʃ ԑ||ԑϙʌᴦ||soul||[ˈt̪ʰau̯ːɬ]||"(the) sun"||s||/tʰ/, /cʰ/|
|T ƨ||ƨᴀxx||tükk||[ˈt̪ʰɪt̠ʼː]||"deity, god"||t||/tʰ/, /cʰ/|
|B в||вϙʀɢϝ||borca||[ˈpʰɒħːɐ]||"birch (tree, wood)"||b||/pʰ/|
|Π ƞ||ſƞᴦxҁ||helky||[ˈʢæʎ̟ːt̠ʼ]||"elk, moose"||e||/e/, /ĩ/, /i/|
|Ϻ ϻ||ϻϝhh||mann||[ˈmãːn]||"person, human being"||m||/m/, /Ṽ/|
|Γ ᴦ||ᴦϙx||lok||[ˈɮɔːkʷʼ]||"broth; lake"||l||/l/|
|O o||Sʌoxp||Yuñkw||[ˈʒũːkʷʼ]||"Erish fertility god"||ñ||/Ṽ/|
|И ɥ||ɥϝx||dak||[ˈt̪ʼɔːqʼ]||"day"||d||/tʼ/, /cʼ/|
|Ϙ ϙ||ҁϙнн||yogg||[ˈʒɒɡʷʰː]||"horse"||o||/o/, /ũ/, /u/|
|A ᴀ||ҁᴀxx||yükk||[ˈʒɪt̠ʼː]||"yew (tree, wood)"||ü (y)||/i/, /ĩ/|
|Φ ɸ||pɸᴀbᴦ||wöüðl||[ˈɣʷe̞ʊ̯dd͡ɮʰ]||"inheritance, property"||ö (ø)||/e/, /i/, /ĩ/|
The rune K is uncommon in native Erish words, but does occur, reflecting Old Erish /pʰ/ in words like нʌkϝ (gupa) "hope" or kϝʌᴦ (paul) "pool, puddle". It is, however, more common in loanwords, where it is generally used as a transliteration of f, such as in kᴦϙвв (plobb) "flop (failure)"; kᴦϙвв also demonstrates how the B rune is used as a transliteration of both b and p.
Elder Futhark (c. 0-300s)
Northwestern Futharc (c. 500s-900s)
During and after the Allamunnic migrations, speakers of what would become the Erish and Vorsh languages brought with them their variant of the Elder Futhark, along with certain innovations which had been made to it.
The Northwestern Futharc was, in some respects, a fairly conservative Runic script. All 24 runes of the Elder Futhark were retained, several of them with particularly archaic forms. The horizontal strokes of the h, t, e, l and ŋ runes were retained. The p, ï and ŋ runes appear in linguistic inscriptions centuries before their sisters in the Allamunnic Futhorc, though the ï is repurposed for the Northwestern /ʕ/ (and is thus transliterated as ħ). Abecedarium inscriptions also retain the ordering found on the Kylver Stone, with p preceding ħ and d preceding o.
Nevertheless, the Northwestern Futharc saw several innovations. The f rune lost one of its upstrokes, adopting a shape similar to that of the k rune in the Nordic Futhark. Also similar to the Nordic Futhark, the n rune adopted a ᚿ shape, losing half of its downward stroke; the y rune likewise took on an s-shape (ᛋ) commonly found in other runic scripts of the time. More uniquely to the Northwestern Futharc, the p rune took on a k-shape (ᛕ), and four new vowel runes were created through modifications of existing vowel runes to reflect the changing vowel inventory of the Northwestern Leutish languages.
The earliest attestations of Erish as its own language begin to appear around the 500s, as evidence of the Erish consonant shift begins to be reflected in runic inscriptions. Despite the dramatic changes of the shift, runic attestations (and indeed even the modern Vutharc) only reflect it marginally, namely in the writing of certain consonant clusters; the word for "stone", for example, shifts from ƩTᚨᛁᚿᚨ (staina) to Ʃᛞᚨᛁᚿ(ᚨ) (sdain(a)).
Erish Vutharc (c. 900s-Present)
The 900s saw the beginning of a crucial turning point in the history of Erish orthography. Before, runic inscriptions were mostly brief, and confined to inscriptions on materials such as stone, wood or jewelry. Starting in the 900s, under the influence of Christian missionary efforts of the time, the Futharc, by now pronounced as "Vu-tharc", expanded into written media like parchment with much more lengthy and significant attestations. This "Literary Vutharc" (Bϝʌɢvʌbϝʀɢ) would form the orthographic basis for the culturally significant literature of the Old Erish period, and, indeed, forms the basis of the modern Erish Vutharc.
Much as with the Latin or Greek scripts, the Erish Vutharc was originally unicase, using one form of a rune in all contexts even as those forms themselves took on different shapes in the hands of scribes. With the advent of the printing press, those scribal forms became the lowercase forms, whilst more archaic forms became the uppercase forms, used for names, titles, and so on as in other Belisarian scripts.
However, the advent of the Literary Vutharc did not coincide with an end to the brief inscriptions associated with the older stages of the Runic scripts. To the contrary, as the literary standard based upon the writings of the Old Erish period developed amongst a literate class of bureaucrats, poets, scribes and the like, so too did a "Popular Vutharc" (Yʌᴦɢԑvʌbϝʀɢ) which was, relatively speaking, much more widely used or at least understood. This "Popular Vutharc" used more runes than the Literary Vutharc, and was much closer to the pronunciation of individual dialects, particularly as the sounds of the Erish dialects grew more divergent from Old Erish, though it did not have nearly as great a literary corpus as the Literary Vutharc.
During the 1800s, with the advent of Erish democracy, there arose a debate as to the role of the two alphabets/orthographies. The Literary Vutharc was seen as carrying prestige and the legacy of Erish culture and was argued to be much more dialectally neutral than the Popular Vutharc. The Popular Vutharc, by contrast, was argued to be much more modern and easily learned than the Literary Vutharc, and reflected a democratic spirit to the written language. In 1891, the Erish Language Council (ʃƞʀԑxƨ Ʃвʀϝʌɢʀϝıɥƞb) was formed to resolve the issue. Ultimately, in 1893, the Erish Language Council recommended the continued use of the Literary Vutharc as an official standard, but incorporated several runeforms and spellings common in the Popular Vutharc. In 1897, these recommendations were formally adopted by the Erish Federal Diet.
Features of Erish spelling
Similar to languages like Audonic, Erish has nasal vowels, specifically the vowels /ã/, /ĩ/, /ũ/ and, in dialects which retain front rounded vowels, /ø̃/. In contrast to Audonic, merely being in front of a nasal consonant is not usually enough for an Erish vowel to be nasalized; a word like нϝıϻ [ˈʢe̞i̯ːm] "home", for example, lacks any nasal vowel. Instead, an Erish vowel nasalizes under the following conditions:
- It is before the rune o, as in bıox [ˈd̪ʰĩːqʼ] "thing"
- It is before the runes h or ϻ, which are followed by another consonant, as in pıhƨϝʀ [ˈɣʷɪ̃t̪ʰːɐ] "winter" or ԑƞԑɥϝϻkϝ [s̪ᵻˈs̪t̪ɐ̃pʰːɐ] "to stamp it"
In short, grammatical words and endings, however, the runes h and ϻ often work like the rune o, nasalizing the previous vowel and falling silent; examples include, but are not limited to, -ƞh [ᵻ̃] "the (sg. m.)" and нҁϙϻ [jᵿ̃] "them (f.)".
In Erish, vowels can be long or short in stressed syllables; unstressed vowels are always short and have a reduced, centralized quality. Vowel length is determined by the number of consonants following the stressed vowel: if there is no more than one consonant following the vowel (CV(C)), the vowel is long; in most other contexts the vowel is short. The exceptions to this rule are:
- Vowels are long before hԑ and ϻԑ clusters, such as in xϝhԑ [ˈqʼãːt̪ʰ] "goose" and ſϝϻԑ [ˈʢãːt̪ʰ] "shoulder".
- Long vowels in compound words retain their length, such as in ɥϝʌϻԑɥϝʌᴦ [ˈt̪ʼo̞u̯ːmˌs̪t̪ʼo̞u̯ːɬ] "court of law"
Consonants also have length in Erish. The most simple way of displaying long consonants is by doubling the consonant, as seen in vϙʀʀ [ˈbʰɒʢː] "far".
However, any consonant, apart from h or ϻ, may be lengthened by appearing after a stressed vowel and before another consonant, such as in вƞԑɥ [ˈpʰæs̪ːt̪ʼ] "best". The runes p, ҁ and ſ, however, do not cause lengthening of the preceding consonant, as seen in Sʌoxp [ˈʒũːkʷʼ] "Erish fertility god".
The runes v, b and н devoice in several contexts to their aspirated counterparts:
- When they are short and word-final, such as in ԑxpϝʌн [ˈʃkʷʼo̞u̯ːxʷ] "shoe" (voicing may in this context be restored by inflections, such as ԑxpϝʌнƞh [ˈʃkʷʼo̞u̯ːwᵻ̃] "the shoe")
- When they are before another consonant, such as in нſϙvɥ [ˈʢɒɸːt̪ʼ] "head"
The rune ʀ also devoices in many dialects under similar contexts, such as in pϙʀ [ˈɣʷɔːħ] "husband". Before another consonant, however, it only devoices before ɢ, k and ƨ, as in нҁϙʀƨϝ [ˈʒɒħːt̪ʼɐ] "heart".
Soft, hard and guttural consonants
In Erish, the runes ɢ, x and н have different pronunciations depending upon nearby vowels:
- They become soft /cʰ cʼ j/ before or after ı or ƞ, as in pƞx [ˈɣʷɛːt̠ʼ] "way" or ʀƞıɢ [ˈʢai̯ːʃ] "realm, kingdom"
- They also soften after ᴀ or ɸ, as in ԑɥᴀɢɢ [ˈs̪t̪ʼɪt̠t̠͡ʃʰ] "item, piece", except when before a consonant, as in вɸнɥ [ˈpʰæxʷːt̪ʼ] "bay".
- They become hard /kʷʰ kʷʼ w/ before or after ʌ or ϙ, as in вϝʌɢ [ˈpʰo̞u̯ːxʷ] "book" or vϙн [ˈbʰɔːxʷ] "livestock, cattle"
- They also harden before ᴀ or ɸ, as in ԑxᴀᴦɥ [ˈʃkʷʼɪl̪ːd̪ʰ] "debt, guilt" or нɸxxϝ [ˈɣʷæt̠ʼːɐ] "to live"
- They become guttural /qʰ qʼ ʕ/ before or after ϝ, as in нϝıᴦ [ˈʢe̞i̯ːɬ] "whole"
After another consonant, these runes are guttural, as seen in vıԑx [ˈbʰɪʃːqʼ] "fish".
Exceptions to these rules are indicated by placing the runes p (for hardness), ҁ (for softness) and ſ (for gutturalness) after the above runes, as in нpϝᴦ [ˈɣʷɔːɬ] "whale", нҁϝʌʀ [ˈʒoːħ] "hair" and нſϙoɥ [ˈʢũːt̪ʼ] "hand". In many dialects, the ʀ also acts like ſ when placed after ɢ, x or н, such as in нʀɸxx [ˈʢæt̠ʼː] "back".