Writing systems of Formosan languages

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The writing systems of the Formosan languages are Latin-based alphabets. Currently, 16 languages (45 dialects) have been regulated. The alphabet was made official in 2005.[1]

History[edit]

The Sinckan Manuscripts are one of the earliest written materials of several Formosan languages, including Siraya. This writing system was developed by Dutch missionaries in the period of Dutch ruling (1624–1662).

After 1947, with the need for translation of Bible, Latin scripts for Bunun, Paiwan, Taroko, Atayal, and Amis were created.[2] Currently, all 16 Formosan languages are written with similar systems. The Pe̍h-ōe-jī of Taiwanese Hokkien[3] and Pha̍k-fa-sṳ of Taiwanese Hakka were also created with by the western missionaries.

Alphabets[edit]

The table shows how the letters and symbols are used to denote sounds in the 16 officially recognized Formosan languages.[1]

a ae b c d dh dj dr e é f g h hl i ɨ j k l lh lj lr m n ng o oe p q R r S s sh t th tj tr u ʉ v w x y z ' ^
Amis a t͡s d, ð, ɬ e b, f, v ħ i k ɾ m n ŋ o p r s t u w x j ʡ ʔ
Atayal a β, v t͡s e ɣ h i k l m n ŋ o p q r ɾ s t u w x j z ʔ
Bunun a b t͡s, t͡ɕ d e, ə x, χ i k l, ɬ m n ŋ o p q s t u v ð ʔ
Kanakanabu a t͡s e i k m n ŋ o p ɾ s t u ɨ v ʔ
Kavalan a b ɮ ə h i k ɾ m n ŋ o p q ʁ s t u w j z ʔ
Paiwan a b t͡s d ɟ ɖ e g h i k ɭ ʎ m n ŋ p q r s t c u v w j z ʔ
Puyuma a b t͡s d ɖ ə g h i k l ɮ ɭ m n ŋ p r s t ʈ u v w j z ʔ
Rukai a b t͡s d ð ɖ ə e g h i ɨ k l ɭ m n ŋ o p r s t θ ʈ u v w j z ʔ
Saaroa a t͡s ɬ i k ɾ m n ŋ p r s t u ɨ v ʔ
Saisiyat a æ β ə h i k l m n ŋ o œ p r ʃ s, θ t w j z, ð ʔ
Sakizaya a b t͡s d, ð, ɬ ə ħ i k ɾ m n ŋ o p s t u w j z ʡ
Seediq a b t͡s d e, ə g ħ i ɟ k l m n ŋ o p q r s t u w x j
Taroko a b t͡ɕ d ə ɣ ħ i ɟ k ɮ m n ŋ o p q ɾ s t u w x j
Thao a b d ɸ h i k l ɬ m n ŋ p q r s ʃ t θ u β, w j ð ʔ
Tsou a ɓ t͡s e f x i k ɗ m n ŋ o p s t u v ɨ j z ʔ
Yami a b t͡s, t͡ɕ ɖ ə g ɰ i d͡ʒ, d͡ʝ k l m n ŋ o, u p ɻ ʂ t f w j r ʔ

Spelling rules[edit]

Revision[edit]

Revision of the alphabets is under discussion. The table below is a summary of the proposals and decisions (made by the indigenous peoples and linguists).[4][5][6] Symbols enclosed with angle brackets ‹› are letters, while those enclosed with square brackets [] are from the International Phonetic Alphabet. The names of dialects are written in Chinese.

Language Proposal 2017 Decision[5] Final Decision
Amis 1. Amis, Sakizaya use ‹^› for glottal stop [ʔ] and ‹’› for epiglottal stop [ʡ],
while other languages use ‹’› for glottal stop
2. ‹u› and ‹o› seem to be allophones
3. 馬蘭: add ‹i’› for [ε]
4. 南勢: change ‹f› to ‹b›
1. Continue to use the standard
2. Advised to use only ‹u› or ‹o›
3. Rejected
4. Accepted
Atayal 1. 賽考利克, 四季: add ‹f›; 萬大: add ‹z›
2. The use of ‹_› to: (1) separate ‹n› and ‹g› sequence from ‹ng›, (2) represent reduced vowel
3. 萬大, 宜蘭澤敖利: delete ‹q›
1. Rejected
2. Continue to use the standard
3. Accepted
Paiwan 1. 中排, 南排: use ‹gr› in place of ‹dr›
2. Inconsistent use of ‹w› and ‹v›
1. To be discussed; 力里 needs a letter for [ɣ]
2. To be discussed
Bunun 1. Add vowels ‹e› and ‹o›
2. 郡群: ‹ti› changes to ‹ci› (palatalization)
3. 郡群: ‹si› (palatalization)
4. 郡群 uses ‹-› for glottal stop
5. The loss of [ʔ] may cause ‹y› become a phoneme
1. Accepted
2. To be discussed
3. Remain ‹si›
4. Remain ‹-›
Puyuma 1. 知本, 初鹿, 建和: add ‹b›
2. 建和: add ‹z›
3. 知本: add ‹dr›
4. 南王: delete ‹’› and ‹h›
5. 知本, 初鹿, 建和, 南王: add ‹o› and ‹ē›
6. The original practice of using ‹l› for retroflex [ɭ] and ‹lr› for [ɮ] (which is [l] in南王) is confusing.
It is suggested to use ‹lr› [ɭ], ‹lh› [ɮ], ‹l› [l]
1. Only in loanwords
2. Only in loanwords
3. Advised not to add
4. Delete ‹h›
5. Only in loanwords
6. Can’t reach agreement
7. Delete ‹’› and use ‹q› for [ʔ] and [ɦ]
Rukai 1. 大武: add ‹tr›
2. 萬山: add ‹b› and ‹g›
3. 霧台: add ‹é›
4. 多納: Use ‹u› in place of ‹o›
1. Only in loanwords
2. Only in loanwords
3. Only in loanwords
4. Accepted
Saisiyat 1. Long vowel sign ‹:›
2. Add ‹c, f, g›
1. Delete
2. To be discussed
Tsou 1. Delete ‹r› for [ɽ]
2. Use ‹x› for vowel ‹ʉ› for convenience
3. Add ‹g›
4. ‹l› has two sounds: [ɗ] and [l]
1. Reserve the letter for 久美
2. Accepted
3. Only in loanwords
4. To be studied
Yami 1. Churches use ‹h› for both [ʔ] and [ɰ] 1. ‹’› should be used for [ʔ]
Thao 1. ‹.› should be used to distinguish ‹lh› (vs. ‹l.h›) and ‹th› (vs. ‹t.h›) 1. Continue to use the standard
2. Add ‹aa, ii, uu›
Kavalan 1. The confusion of ‹o› and ‹u›
2. Add trill ‹r› for 樟原
1. Add ‹o› to distinguish from ‹u›
2. People from the tribe decided not to add
3. Add ‹y, w›
Taroko 1. Add ‹’›
2. Add ‹aw, ay, uy, ow, ey›
3. Reduced vowel ‹e› should not be omitted
1. To be discussed
2. Add ‹ey› [e]
3. People from the tribe wish not to change the current spelling rules
Seediq 1. 都達、德路固: add ‹aw, ay, uy, ow, ey›
2. Add ‹j›
3. ‹w› should not be omitted
4. Reduced vowel ‹e› should not be omitted
1. Add ‹ey› [e]; ‹aw, ay, uy› added only in loanwords
2. Only in loanwords
3. People from the tribe wish not to change the current spelling rules
4. People from the tribe wish not to change the current spelling rules
Sakizaya 1. Delete ‹^› for epiglottal stop
2. Loss of distinction between ‹x› and ‹h›
3. ‹l›, ‹r› seem to be allophones
1. Accepted; use ‹’› for [ʔ] and [ʡ]
2. Delete ‹x› and keep ‹h›
3. To be discussed
4. Use ‹b› [b] in place of ‹f›
Hla’alua 1. Add ‹ʉ› for [ɨ]
2. Delete central vowel ‹e› [ə]
1. Accepted
2. Accepted
3. Remain ‹r› for [r] and ‹l› for [ɾ]
Kanakanavu 1. Change ‹e› [ə] to ‹e› [e]
2. Add ‹ʉ› for [ɨ]
3. Delete ‹l›
1. Accepted
2. Accepted
3. Delete ‹l› and use ‹r› for [r, ɾ]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ministry of Education. (2005). 原住民族語言書寫系統.
  2. ^ 李台元. (2013). 台灣原住民族語言的書面化歷程 [The Literation of Taiwanese Aboriginal Languages (Doctoral dissertation)]. National Chengchi University.
  3. ^ 陳慕真. (2015). 白話字的起源與在台灣的發展 [The Origins of Pe̍h-ōe-jī and Its Development in Taiwan (Doctoral dissertation)]. National Taiwan Normal University.
  4. ^ Indigenous Languages Research and Development Center. (2016). 105年 「檢視原住民族語言書寫符號系統」研究報告. National Taiwan University.
  5. ^ a b Indigenous Languages Research and Development Center. (2017). 原住民族語言書寫系統建議修正版本報告. Revised January 2018.
  6. ^ Indigenous Languages Research and Development Center. (2018). 原住民族語言書寫系統共識確認報告. Revised March 2019.

External links[edit]