Classical Sevensi

A Primer

Grammar


Chapter 1. Orthography

The Sevensi Abjad

Overview
Letters

The Sevensi script consists of 23 letters. It is a cursive script, which means that each letter flows into the next, and it is an abjad, which means that vowels are typically not recorded. The letters 􁈕 and 􁈑 are an exception to this, as in addition to signifying the consonants w and y, they are used to indicate diphthongs and the vowels i, o, u, and å.

As the following table [Or. I‒1] shows, 􁈄, 􁈅, 􁈆, 􁈇, 􁈈, and 􁈉 form the six base letters of Sevensi orthography. To this, a small devoicing mark (􁈢) can be added to produced devoiced versions, and a ring mark (􁈣) can be added to produce alternate sounds. With the exception of 􁈓, the letters produced by the ring mark are all nasals or approximants. Both marks can be combined to produce the letter 􁈖, and there are an additional four letters which do not take any marks at all.

􁈄 G /g/ 􁈅 Ƣ /ɰ/ 􁈆 D /d/ 􁈇 Z /ʑ/ 􁈈 B /b/ 􁈉 V /v/ 􁈀 Ɂ /ʔ/
􁈊 K /k/ 􁈋 X /x/ 􁈌 T /t/ 􁈍 S /ɕ/ 􁈎 P /p/ 􁈏 F /f/ 􁈁 H /h/
􁈐 Q /ŋ/ 􁈑 Y /j/ 􁈒 N /n/ 􁈓 J /d͡ʑ/ 􁈔 M /m/ 􁈕 W /w/ 􁈂 L /ɾ/
􁈖 C /t͡ɕ/ 􁈀 ƛ /tˡl̩/
Or. I‒1: The Sevensi Abjad
Writing direction; spacing; punctuation

Sevensi is written from left to right, starting from the top of the page. Sevensi uses Latin punctuation, where necessary. Spaces are used between words as in English.

Vowel harmony

Although the Sevensi script does not record vowels, it does record vowel harmony through the direction of a word's final stroke. Words with positive harmony end with an upward stroke (􁈠), while words with negative harmony end with a downward stroke (􁈡). Words with neutral harmony lack either mark.

Letter joining

The Sevensi script is a cursive script, which means that letters generally flow from one to the next within a word. The exceptions to this are the letters 􁈂 and 􁈃, which always end a stroke even when they occur in the middle of a word.1 Sevensi letters can vary slightly across their word‐initial, medial, word‐final, and isolated forms, but their overall shape typically remains the same.

There is an important ligature in Sevensi writing: when 􁈕 and 􁈑 appear in sequence, 􁈰 is written instead of 􁈕􁈑. This ligature appears often, as it is a component of two diphthongs.

Indicating vowels

Aside from the vowel harmony marks, the letters 􁈕 and 􁈑 are used to hint at the pronunciation of vowels. 􁈕 appears in the codas of syllables with rounded vowels, and 􁈑 appears in the codas of diphthongs. (The ligature 􁈰, then, indicates a rounded diphthong.) Note, however, that these markings are ambiguous: Given a word with negative harmony, there is still no way to tell (without recognizing the word) if the letter 􁈕 should be represented by o, u, we, or . Similarly, the letter 􁈑 could in the same word be represented by any of ei, æi, ye, or .

1
Note that the vowel‐harmony strokes 􁈠 and 􁈡 are also necessarily terminal, as they always end a word.

Romanization of Sevensi

Introduction to Sevensi Romanization

Latin equivalents have been established for all Sevensi letters, and for the most part these can be substituted directly. The letters A and Å are introduced to represent the unrounded ([ɑ]) and rounded ([ɒ]) positive vowels, and the letters E and O are introduced to represent the unrounded ([e]) and rounded ([o]) negative ones. The letters Æ, U, and I are introduced to represent the neutral vowels [ə], [u], and [i], respectively. Diphthongs are transcribed by following a positive or negative vowel with I.

Because romanized Sevensi records vowels directly, students may find it to be a more convenient representation for studying Sevensi phonology. However, note that the pronunciation of vowels in Sevensi is not necessarily as strict as in most Latin languages, so this specificity may be misleading.

Romanization process

The romanization process for Sevensi is as follows:

  1. Substitute all Sevensi letters with their Latin equivalents.

  2. Add vowels to each syllable. The letter A is used in words with positive harmony, while E is used in words with negative harmony. Æ may appear in any word. Knowledge of the word's pronunciation should inform whether to write A/E or Æ.

  3. Within syllables, make the following replacements:

    • u for æw and i for æy
    • o for ew, ei for ey, and oi for ewy
    • å for aw, ai for ay, and åi for awy

    These replacements should not cross syllable boundaries.

Notes on the romanization
Accent

Sevensi features a simple pitch‐accent system. While not usually recorded in romanizations, accented syllables may be represented with an acute accent over their main vowel. In the case of diphthongs, the accent should be placed over the vowel which precedes I.

Alphabetization

There are two possible alphabetization orderings for romanized Sevensi. The native order is as follows: S, D, X, T, W, H, J, Z, G, M, N, L, ƛ, F, P, V, Ƣ, C, B, Q, K, Y, Ɂ, A, Æ, E, I, O, U, Å.

However, when mixing Sevensi and other Latin text, the following hybrid order should be used instead: A, Æ, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, ƛ, M, N, O, P, Q, Ƣ, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z, Ɂ, Å.

In both alphabets, R may be collated with Ƣ.

ASCII

As explained in the succeeding sections, the ASCII version of the (here, hybrid) Latin Sevensi alphabet is as follows: A, AE, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, TL, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z, 7, AO.

Æ

The letter Æ was chosen for its shape as the harmony‐neutral complement to A and E. Its pronunciation is unrelated to the historic pronunciation of this character in English.

In environments whose character sets are limited, the sequence AE may be used instead.

C

For brevity, the letter C was chosen to transcribe 􁈖. However, it is important to note that the pronunciation of this letter (/t͡ɕ/) is more similar to English ch.

L

The letter L was chosen to transcribe 􁈂, despite the fact that its IPA representation, /ɾ/, is typically transcribed in English as R. However, 􁈂 is pronounced [l] after some consonants, and the letter bears a close relationship to ƛ as well.

The use of L for /ɾ/ is not unheard of in other languages—this is also sometimes seen with Japanese.

ƛ

The letter ƛ is taken from the North American Phonetic Alphabet, where it is used to transcribe the sound [t͡ɬ]. Note that the Sevensi pronunciation of this letter is somewhat different, as it terminates not in a fricative but rather a syllabic approximant.

There is no uppercase form of this letter encoded into Unicode. As a rough approximation, the character sequence U+039B Λ Greek Capital Letter Lamda U+0337 ◌̷ Combining Short Solidus Overlay (Λ̷) gives approximately the correct shape, but note that neither the base character (which is Greek instead of Latin) nor the combining character (which is a solidus rather than a stroke) is ideal.1

In controlled environments, the Unicode private‐use area may be employed to render the uppercase ƛ; however, this solution is clearly unsuitable for interchange. In places where character identity is important—for example, in identifier names in computer code—the lowercase ƛ may be used for both the upper‐ and lower‐case. Elsewhere, the letter Λ̷ or some other substitute may be employed, at the document editor's discretion.

As a last resort, and especially in environments with a limited character set, the sequence TL is the accepted ASCII form of ƛ.2

Q

The letter q was chosen to transcribe 􁈐 because of the similarity of its shape to the letter's IPA representation (/ŋ/). Note, however, that the letter sounds nothing like q usually does in English.

Ƣ

The sound /ɰ/, transcribed in Sevensi with 􁈅, does not occur in English. Similar sounds in other languages have historically been transcribed with the letter Ƣ, and so this symbol was chosen for the Sevensi transcription as well.

As /ɰ/ is an allophone for /ʀ/ (written r) in some dialects of French, the letter R is considered a valid alternate for this letter, especially in contexts with limited character sets. However, in English, Spanish, and many other languages, the letter R is much more similar in pronunciation to /ɾ/, written in Sevensi as L. Consequently, to avoid confusion, the letter Ƣ is preffered over R in situations where it is available.

Ɂ

The letter Ɂ, in both upper‐ and lower‐case forms, is used to transcribe the glottal stop /ʔ/. The unicameral IPA version may be used in situations where the cased variants are not available, and 7 is an accepted alternate in environments with limited character sets.

Å

The letter Å, signifying in Sevensi the rounded positive vowel /ɒ/, historically developed from a semi‐ligature of A and a smaller, overscript O. In Sevensi, the letter is a recognized alternative, used in handwriting or for stylistic effect. In environments with limited character sets, it may instead be written as the sequence AO.

1
See the following Unicode proposal for Latin letters with middle tilde for a compelling argument as to why combining characters are a poor solution to this sort of problem: http://www.unicode.org/L2/L2003/03174r2-mid-tilde.pdf. All of the same arguments hold true for the Latin lambdas with stroke.
2
Note that this is not necessarily a lossless substitution—the sequence TL (􁈌􁈂) is otherwise a valid (if rare) construction across syllable boundaries. However, the resulting pronunciation of these will usually be the same.

Hangulization of Sevensi

In addition to its native script and the system of Latin transcription outlined above, Sevensi can also be written using the Hangeul script. For example, the Sevensi word 􁈓􁈑􁈃􁈡 burg can be written in Latin as jeiƛ and in Hangeul as 젵ᄅᅠᆯ. The table in Or. III‒1 summarizes the characters used in each writing system.

Sevensi Latin Hangeul IPA Sevensi Latin Hangeul IPA
􁈄 g ᄀᅠ [g] 􁈅 ƣ ᄋᅠ [ɰ]
􁈊 k ᄏᅠ [k] 􁈋 x ᅇᅠ [x]
􁈐 q ᅌᅠ [ŋ] 􁈑 y [j]
􁈆 d ᄃᅠ [d] 􁈇 z ᄉᅠ [ʑ]
􁈌 t ᄐᅠ [t] 􁈍 s ᅀᅠ [ɕ]
􁈒 n ᄂᅠ [n] 􁈓 j ᄌᅠ [d͡ʑ]
􁈖 c ᄎᅠ [t͡ɕ]
􁈈 b ᄇᅠ [b] 􁈉 v ᄫᅠ [v]
􁈎 p ᄑᅠ [p] 􁈏 f ᅗᅠ [f]
􁈔 m ᄆᅠ [m] 􁈕 w [w]
􁈀 ɂ ᅙᅠ [ɰ] 􁈂 r/l ᄅᅠ [ɾ]
􁈁 h ᄒᅠ [x] 􁈃 ƛ ᅟᅠᇀᄅᅠᆯ [tˡl̩]
a ᅟᅡ [ɑ] e ᅟᅥ [e]
å ᅟᅩ [ɒ] o ᅟᅮ [o]
ai ᅟᅢ [ʌɪ] ei ᅟᅦ [eɪ]
åi ᅟᅬ [ɔɪ] oi ᅟᅱ [ɵɪ]
æ ᅟᆞ [ə] i ᅟᅵ [i]
u ᅟᅳ [u]
Or. III‒1: Comparison of Sevensi Writing Systems

Hangeul more accurately captures a number of phonological features of Sevensi, such as the relationships between consonants, or the vowel harmonies, than does Latin. However, writing Sevensi in Hangeul requires using a number of archaïc letters, given the number of different consonant sounds to encode. Consequently, there may be technical barriers to writing Hangeul Sevensi in a convenient manner.

As this text is aimed at an English audience, the Latin transcriptions of Sevensi words and sounds will be used, and Hangeul transcriptions will not be employed.

The International Phonetic Alphabet

The following characters from the International Phonetic Alphabet are used when transcribing Sevensi pronunciations:

Vowels
Monophthongs
/ɑ/
Gen.Am. hot; R.Pr. bath.
/ɒ/
Gen.Am. thought; R.Pr. not. May be as high as [ɔ].
/e/
Similar to Eng. play, without the final ‐y.
/ə/
Eng. Tina.
/i/
Eng. ski.
/o/
Ger. oder; Fre. réseau.
/u/
Eng. boot.
Vowels
Diphthongs, ending in /ɪ/
/ʌɪ/
Eng. sky
/ɔɪ/
Eng. boy
/eɪ/
Eng. play
/ɵɪ/
Similar to Eng. phooey, spoken quickly.
Consonants

/b/
Eng. bind
/ɕ/
Jpn. shio. Similar in sound to Eng. sherry, but softer.
/d/
Eng. dine.
/d͡ʑ/
Jpn. chijin. Similar in sound to Eng. Jerry, but softer.
/f/
Eng. fine.
/g/
Eng. guy.
/h/
Eng. hind.
/j/
Eng. yes.
/k/
Eng. kind.
/m/
Eng. mind.
/n/
Eng. nine.
/ŋ/
Eng. hang.
/p/
Eng. pine.
/ɾ/
Spa. pero. [l] is allophonic after some consonants.
/t/
Eng. tine.
/t͡ɕ/
Jpn. chijin. Similar in sound to Eng. cherry, but softer.
/tˡl̩/
A [t] which is laterally released directly into a syllabic [l]. Similar to Eng. spotless, or a contracted catalogue. [ʔl̩] is allophonic after vowels and some consonants.
/v/
Eng. vine.
/w/
Eng. wine.
/ɰ/
Ice. saga; Gle. naoi. [ɣ] is allophonic in most contexts.
/x/
Sco. loch; Ger. Bach.
/ʑ/
Jpn. kaji. Similar in sound to Eng. azure, but softer.
/ʔ/
Eng. cat, button.
/◌́/
Pitch accent; appears over vowels.

A more detailed description of each of these sounds appears in Phonology.