This is the writing system for a conlang by the same name invented by Colin
Harrison for a novel that he is (meant to be) writing. The Qohenje language is
described in ever-increasing detail at http://perso.orange.fr/cjh/qohenje/.
The Qohenje writing system is organised around its vowel (+tone) symbols, with
the consonantal elements reduced to peripheral articulatory gesture marks (see below).
The vocalic core is considered the main part of the syllable - the logical reverse
of abjads, which tend to feature the consonants, and marginalise the vowels. Qohenje
is pronounced [kxɒhɛnjɛ].
The vowel inventory is a simple 5 cardinal system, multiplied by the three tonal
The vowel symbols
The consonant diacritics
The consonantal diacritics are representative of phonetic features, rather than
phonemes. The Qohenje system has eight symbols that represent five articulation types
(the absence of a symbol corresponds to the "default" articulation type (= voiceless
stop), and five places of articulation (again with a zero default although the zero
place specification doesn't have a clear physiological correlate).
These symbols are combined to indicate the particular consonantal values possible
in Qohenje, as follows:
The linear order of the gesture symbols depends upon their position in the syllable.
The above grid shows the order for initial (prevocalic) consonants.
In addition, there are two semivowels (j and w) - used particularly for initial
consonant clusters and diphthong formation - that have distinct symbols, not part
of the preceding chart:
The syllable in Qohenje has the following arrangement:
Note that while the initial C slots are fixed, and if one of these elements is
absent, the corresponding slot remains blank, the final C slots are mobile: the final
C symbols are written from right to left, starting in slot 4, except with
The double vowel symbols
Word-internally, if two mid-tone vowels are separated only by a glottal stop, they
are written with a single symbol.
Additionally, syllable sequences of the type CVaCVa (i.e. adjacent open syllables
with the same V: sje.te, ha.la, no.qo, etc.) are optionally represented with
the double vowel symbols corresponding to the repeated vowel, and with the onset C of
the second syllable written beneath the V. Such representations are distinguished from
normal final C by the order of the C symbols: in normal closed syllables, the final C
symbols are written from right to left, while in rhyme syllable representations, they
are written as for the onset C symbols: left to right and with fixed positions.
The absence of any C specification at all in initial position indicates a
glottal stop ('), while the absence of any gesture signs in final position
marks an open syllable.
Qohenje is written from left to right. All lexical breaks are signaled with a vertical
bar called a cehjan, which stands immediately after the lexeme.
A double cejhan marks a phrase or sentence boundary. Spaces after a single cehjan are used
for various effects including parentheses, apposition, and the English "comma" function.
Cejhan are not written before or after ligatures that occupy the full
height of the line.
In addition to the standard script described above, there are a large number of
"ligatures" - combined symbols with conventional sound-sense associations, a bit like
Chinese characters. These ligatures stand for specific lexical items, mostly syntactic
markers and grammatical words (pronouns, demonstratives, etc.).
Some examples of ligatures:
Sample text in Qohenje
sjájle 'o neqújla ci te le'ajdja 'o jawhe 'aNqíjd gaxilháwN tójes 'o cojkújros
te babàj gani'aN kaj WeHec fiwge pijm hafáran nes te gàj cora
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Further information about Qohenje can be found at:
Other alphabets invented by visitors to this site