The New Akha alphabet is an alternative way of writing the Akha language, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken Yunnan province of China, Thailand and Burma by about 1 million people. It was devised by Ian James. There are a number of other methods of writing Akha using the Latin alphabet.
Part of Ian's aim was to create a script which looked both authentically historic and reasonably sophisticated. The design is based on ancient Pallava/Brahmi, the parent of almost all scripts of Southeast Asia. But while the consonants are clearly derived (and will be somewhat familiar to readers of Tai- and Mon-based languages), the vowels and tones are necessarily specific to Akha.
Akha and related languages of the South Loloish branch of the Tibeto-Burman family.
The consonant phonemes are listed here with the international phonetic symbol and the 'Baptist Akha' romanization. Some of these can be devoiced, shown by the addition of a dot above. Unless in the presence of a creaky vowel-tone (see below), those will also be aspirated (breathy):
Syllables end in vowels (are coda-less), except for those few with final /-m/. Some vowels are paired with lip-rounded versions. A few diphthongs are used in borrowed words.
If one syllable glides smoothly into a second syllable which has only a vowel, the bridging vowel-holder consisting of a vertical bar is used in lieu of a consonant. Otherwise, initial vowels have the glottal plosive as their consonant.
Tones are at one of 3 pitches. Their markers are written as joiners between the consonant and vowel, helping to shape a syllable into a unit glyph. The addition of a 'creaky' symbol over the basic tone symbol gives a shorter, throaty effect to the vowel. If one of the devoiced consonants is involved, the creakiness caps any aspiration.
Here, the vowel /o/ is used as an example to hang off the tone marker. The /m/ phoneme can also fill a syllable, and then like a vowel can also take a tone; there are special forms for solo low and high syllabic /m/.
For numerals, it may be sufficient to borrow the local Burmese (modified slightly), or try a new set based loosely on the Thai:
The romanized extract represents the opening passages of the Bible (Genesis) is the sample given at www.language-museum.com
The Akha Language Podcast : Learn Akha Online
Download a font for the New Akha alphabet (TrueType, 11K)
If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.
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