Africa Alphabet

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African Alphabet
Type
alphabet
Languages African languages
Time period
1928 -

The Africa Alphabet (also International African Alphabet or IAI alphabet) was developed in 1928 under the lead of Diedrich Westermann. He developed it with a group of Africanists at the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures (later the IAI) in London. Its aim was to enable people to write all the African languages for practical and scientific purposes without diacritics. It is based on the International Phonetic Alphabet with a few differences, such as j and y, which instead have the same (consonant) sound values as in English.

This alphabet has influenced development of orthographies of many African languages (serving "as the basis for the transcription" of about 60, by one count[1]), but not all, and discussions of harmonization of systems of transcription that led to, among other things, adoption of the African reference alphabet.

The African Alphabet was used, with the International Phonetic Alphabet, as a basis for the World Orthography.

Characters[edit]

uppercase A B Ɓ[2] C D Ɖ E Ɛ Ǝ F Ƒ G Ɣ H X I J K L M N Ŋ O Ɔ P R S Ʃ T U V Ʋ W Y Z Ʒ
lowercase a b ɓ c d ɖ e ɛ ǝ f ƒ g ɣ h x i j k l m n ŋ o ɔ p r s ʃ t u v ʋ w y z ʒ

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sow, Alfa I., and Mohamed H. Abdulaziz, "Language and Social Change," Ch. 18 in Ali A. Mazrui (ed.) Africa Since 1935 (UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. 8). University of California Press, 1993. P. 527.
  2. ^ The capital Ɓ has the form of Ƃ in the original document, which is not the current standard form for capital for this letter in most languages but is still preferred in Dan language and Kpelle language in Liberia.

References[edit]

  • Coulmas, Florian, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems, 1996, Blackwell, Oxford
  • IIACL, Practical Orthography of African Languages, Revised Edition, London: Oxford University Press, 1930
  • Sow, Alfa I., and Mohamed H. Abdulaziz, "Language and Social Change," Ch. 18 in Ali A. Mazrui (ed.) Africa Since 1935 (UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. 8). University of California Press, 1993.