Tanw Script

Improvement on the existing Tanw Script

We will write Tanw (Tanii) with some minor modifications and instead focus more on word formation and simple Tanw conversations. Since, Tanw is written using English system we must comply (maximum possible) with the sounds that it represents in English; this is needed as we use English language as official language and our children are learning the languages side by side.

Tanw words can be written purposefully using English consonants and vowels “as is”. We are of the opinion that using too many Phonetics Symbols in writing normal day to day conversations would rather further complicate the the development and growth of our language in the long run. We propose the given modification and use the remaining old writing system.

Tanw Script

Our proposed improvement on the existing Tanw Script

At Henkako, we will continue with the Old Tanw Writing with some minor modifications and instead focus more on word formation and simple Tanw conversations. Since, Tanw is written using English system we must comply (maximum possible) with the sounds that it represents in English; this is needed as we use English language as official language and our children are learning the languages side by side. Tanw words can be written purposefully using English consonants and vowels “as is”. We are of the opinion that using Phonetics symbols in writing normal day to day conversations is rather detrimental in the development and growth of our language in the long run. We propose the given modification and use the remaining old writing system.

Our Proposal

In tanw language, we have some unique sounds that does not have a corresponding symbol in English. However, as proposed by the ALDC (Apatani Language Development Committee) we will use ‘W’ for ‘ii’ and use ‘v’ for ‘ę’:

Script

  1. ‘w’ for ‘ii’ and ‘v’ for ‘ę’. This suggestion is usable and makes sense may not be the best typing experience but it does a good job in representing the sounds.
  2. ‘w’for ‘ii’ – (Diipyo-tasty, Siilying-Tonight, Siilo-today).
  3. ‘v’ for ‘ę’ – (Apvr-pimple, Tadvr-clearly heard, Yapvr-mortar).
  4. ‘W’ & ‘V’ are acceptable only as typing convenience and nothing else.
  5. ‘ii=w’ – (Dwpyo-tasty, Swlying-Tonight, Swlo-today).
  6. ‘v’=’ę’ – (Apvr-pimple, Tadvr-clearly heard, Yapvr-mortar).
  7. ñ=”ng” – (Heñcho-Ticklish, Chañchañ-Cold (by touch), Lañchañ-Red (color)).

Let us try writing with ‘w’ and ‘v’:

  1. Swlo koda ngo tadvr tadvr tagw lyike.
  2. Twrw so hu’biñ pere bagw tola nona?
  3. Gwrw gwte paka inw, mika gwrw miya mwte bite he byo!

There are some more problems when it comes to writing Tanw and needs to be considered such as glottal stop, diphthongs, riding vowels, etc. For the time being, we will be using the following symbols for the glottal stop and riding vowels on Henkako dictionary (phonetic translation). We will be using (‘) single apostrophe to mark “glothal stop”. Example: Ta’ko – to dig open, me’pw – to swallow, me’ta – flat, etc.

Glottal Stop

What is glottal stop? Does Tanw language have it?

The glottal stop is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages, produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract or, more precisely, the glottis. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ʔ⟩. [Ref: wikipedia] Tanw language specifically falls under category of languages that has this feature and for proper pronunciation, it needs to be properly marked. At henkako, we will not be using ‘ʔ’ for marking glottal but use (‘) in our phonetic translations. The apostrophe is used by languages such as Arabic to mark glottal stop. However, it has to be clearly understood, that henkako is updating the phonetic translations and not the actual writing of the word. The word shall remain as it is and be identified contextually.

  • Example: Pyapu (Daru gubuho, yasi pyapu swko hempyodo.). Dictionary spelling will remain as it is, but it’s phonetic translation will be Pyapu [Pya’pu].
  • Example: Lako (Nwka Tarw Lako pere mi nona gwpa swtehenw?) Lako [La’ko].

Riding or Long Vowel

A riding or long vowel sound is the same as its name. The diacritical mark for a long vowel is called a macron (¯), which is in the shape of a line above the vowel. When a single vowel letter is in the end of a word (or syllable), it usually says its long sound (or its name), as in go and be. When two vowels go hand in hand in the same word (or syllable), the first vowel is usually long, and the second vowel is usually silent. e.g., bake makes the /ay/ sound (long a) and the e is silent; goal makes the /oh/ sound (long o) and the a is silent. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, such as with irregular vowels. When there are two adjacent vowels in a word, the first one is long and the second one is silent. The first vowel is marked with a long line and second one is crossed out. Examples of this rule are in coat, ride, and read. There is both a long and short sound to “oo”. The long sound appears as in the words boo, food, smooth, and moose. The following is a list of long vowel sounds, shown along with their diacritical marks: Long a (ā) sound as in ānwñ, lāñchāñ, lābo, lātu, etc. Long e (ē) sound as in Mwnē, Tēñka, nēñka, etc. Long i (ī) sound as in īñdiñ, īñpyo, līñpyo, etc. Long o (ō) sound as in ō, Bōnwñ, chōnwñ, etc. Long u (ū) sound as in Chūdiñ, Chūnyi, etc. Henkako dictionary will use the a macron (¯) in phonetic translation of Tanw words. Note: Glottal Stop and riding vowel are to be reviewed by our linguist.

Word formation problem

As already identified, there are only few modifications that are required to be done for writing Tanw properly and more importantly, making the reading experience simple. It is known fact that people learn languages faster by speaking it than reading texts from it. We would like to develop simple learning tools for Tanw language which may be used by our own people as well as those who are interested in learning Tanw.

Problem: Word formation Since there are no set rules in writing Tanw, we tend to write words by breaking them down; we may read it correctly, but when it goes to the next reader some words would not make sense. Examples:

  1. Searched – Mene, Menwng [sometimes it is written as ‘me’ ‘ne’ or ‘me’ nwng’]. These words ‘me’ ‘ne’ or ‘me’ nwng’ does not make any sense when written separately.
  2. Laughable – Ngarnangke [mostly it is written as ‘ngarna’ ‘ke’].
  3. Consider – Henkako [mostly it is written as as ‘henka’ ‘ko’]

There are hundreds of words similar to the words cited above, which we people write in various different ways. Let us frame a rule for writing such words. As you might have already noticed these words are mostly verbs and to be honest when we write these verbs we get confused how to end it. So, “Mwkako” becomes “mwka” “ko” and so on.

Rule: Not to leave an orphan word.

example: (a). Mwkako – Hwmi ichu che mwkako no? (b). Dwkako – Aye, Swka pila sikoda dwkakele dwpyo jijedo.

Tonal Language

Tone in language is nothing but the use of sound in various pitches and by doing so the speaker and listener distinguishes the meaning of the word spoken. Emotions may influence the tone in any language, but that is different from the tones that actually changes the meaning of the spoken word itself. Not all languages have such properties, but many do and with the change in the tone, meaning of the word changes. Tanw language is a tonal language. Any variation in the tone changes the meaning of the word. Of course, Tanw is not the only tonal language in the world. Please refer to the article Tonal language for details on tonal languages.

Tone representation:

  1. Rising tone (ˊ).
  2. Falling tone (ˋ).
  3. Double raising (˝).
  4. Double falling (“).
  5. Falling-raising (ˇ).
  6. Raising falling (ˆ).
  7. Give long tone to preceding letter (Oo) (double vowel).
  8. glottal (’).

You can refer to the [ http://unicode-table.com/en/#basic-latin Unicode List] for further details.

Tanw Tones

Tanw tones are as in any other tonal language, ‘High’, ‘Rising’, ‘dipping’ and ‘falling’. And with these tones we change the same word into various many meanings.

Let us consider the following examples:

Alo (It means ‘salt’ when spoken with ‘dipping tone’, it means ‘day’ when spoken in ‘rising’ tone). Ala (Ala=hand {when spoken in dipping tone. Ala=soup when spoken in rising tone). One way to deal with such variations in tones and consequently changing of the meaning, is to give symbol to each of the tone separately. It is phonetically perfect. And it does make sense! But with such “markings” for each sound will exhaust the symbols available fast and we will end up with some sounds still “unmarked”. For Tanw language, “marking” every sound with a symbol is practically difficult. Reason is simple, we do not have a script of our own. But we are trying to use some other language’s script to write our language. Chinese have their own script with thousands of independent symbols for their sounds; but in our case we cannot use Chinese for Tanw as it would mean learning the script from the scratch. But we are comfortable with English as we have learned this language as our primary medium from elementary level. So it makes sense for us to use this script and write our Tanw with English system (we are actually doing it already). There are some work around that needs to be done before we could use English writing system for Tanw. And we have actually done most of the work arounds already (1997 Script) has almost all the needed modifications for writing Tanw. However, there exist some long pending “work around” that would make the usage of English writing system (which actually is a script for a language that is less tonal in nature). English writing system is inadequate to represent all Tanw tones (to be precise); then how do we deal with it, while keeping writing Tanw a simple exercise?

Identifying word Meaning by context (Needs more work) Although it is rather little radical to deploy identifiers in Tanw language for similar sounding words. It is not that other languages do not posses identifiers.

Examples

Alo (It means ‘salt’ when spoken with ‘dipping tone’, it means ‘day’ when spoken in ‘rising’ tone, with mid tone it means ‘bones’). Ala (Ala=hand {when spoken in dipping tone, Ala=soup when spoken in rising tone, Mid rising means to ‘come’). You can download the full Official Tanw script proposal from the given link below.

References

  1. Tanw Project
  2. Apatani Language Development Committee.
  3. Popi Sarmiñ Society.
  4. http://unicode-table.com/en/#basic-latin Unicode list.