Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Letters and Spelling System in Apatani

English alphabet is being employed to write Apatani for two obvious reasons:
  • It is known well to all literate Apatanis; and
  • It is quite convenient, as well, to write Apatani with slight customization of phonological rules of English.

For the purpose of writing Apatani with English alphabets, following points have been considered and used in this blog:

  • All the consonants, that is, b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y and z, sound as in English.
  • Combinations of consonants such as ch, kh, ng and double consonants (nn, tt etc.) are used specifically as in check, Sikh, ring, sinner and attend respectively
  • Vowels are a, e, i, o, u – as in English, plus two additional vowels e and ii which are unique to Apatani

  • Each vowel in Apatani has a unique sound-
‘a’ as in America
‘e’ as in set
**‘e’ as in tader /tad...r/ (means intestinal worm in Apatani), taker (star)
‘i’ as in sit, India etc
‘o’ as in pot, old etc
‘u’ as in bush
‘ii’ as in siibin /s…bin/ (means goat in Apatani)
**[e may be replaced by e for convenience of writing and typing and its use in words are understood from context.]

  • Apatani being a tone language, all the speech sounds mentioned above except e have variant forms depending on length, pitch and aspiration of the vowel. These variant forms are represented in words with certain combination of letters which are nearest to the sound represented in English words with similar combinations of letters.

  • Representation of speech sounds on basis of length, pitch and aspiration:
Variants of vowel sound a:
a  /as in Papa, ask/ e.g, apu (flower), owpa (about to cut work with spade), ane (mother)
aa  /as in aag (fire), raat (night) in hindi/ e.g, aane (came), owpaa (remove by cutting with spade)
ah  /as in ah!/ e.g, miinah (too busy in doing something), owpah (chance of working with spade/ chance to find something while working with spade)

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