Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hooked On Phonics

I've been working on a Chmatran alphabet, partially for the game, but mostly just to develop the setting more. It's been an arduous experience but I think I finally came up with a group of symbols I'm happy with:

The Chmatran writing system is very simple, befitting such a primitive culture. Their alphabet is unicase, with some symbols representing multiple consonant sounds. There's only one symbol for C and K. There's also only one symbol for G and J. For words with a C sound, readers must rely on cues from the rest of the word to determine what sound it makes. Incidentally, a native Chmatran would actually spell it 'Khmatra'. G sounds are represented by an H after the symbol. Going by Chmatran rules, to make the G sound in a word like 'go' it would have to be spelled 'jho'.

There's no letter for Q or X which are represented by a the KW or KS diagraph respectively (kwantum instead of quantum or ekssterminate instead of exterminate). Dropping these two from the list was a hard decision to make as Q and X are easily my favorite letters of our own alphabet. But the Chmatrans are a simple people and they need a simple writing system.

Words are spelled phonetically for the most part. But since International Chmatran lacks accent marks, they need another way to differentiate between long and short vowel sounds. To make a long vowel it's written twice. Ka is pronounced 'kah' whereas Kaa is pronounced 'kay'.

I don't have very many words in the dictionary yet. But once the grammar rules are robust enough I'll have time to work on a complete list of words and etymologies. Right away, I can say that many of their words related to the natural world could come from the root word for their fertility goddess, words related death could share their origin with the name of their god of death and so on. They'll probably have a dozen different words for genocide.

The only hard and fast rule for Chmatran words is that it must have a lot of hard consonant sounds and sound very rough and unsophisticated. Words I have stashed away so far include: ajhiir, jhaljhash, kalajhn, kefez, kreledesh, meka, nafas, otesh, radijastk and teratsk.