invented alphabets

You might have noticed that most of my graphic designs revolve around the use of fonts and playing with letters and words to turn them into images. As an extension of that work I also designed these alphabets... I have been interested with inventing codes and alphabets since I was a small child. Invented alphabets are called Neographies.




ALUWXN
2002

The first of the major scripts I developed was Aluwxn. I desired to create an alphabet that would be written out of a few letters rotated to generate an entire alphabet. I was also interested in the idea of a seed letter spawning other letters. In this alphabet, the basic seed letters are A L U W X N which forms the name of the alphabet. You will notice that the seed letters clearly evolve from each other. Letters in Aluwxn are based on the shapes of letters in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. At the time I developed Aluwxn I was intensely studing the evolution of modern European scripts out of ancient Hebrew. I was also studying divination and I was interested in creating an alphabet that could be related directly to divination by being cast on two dice. One of the original inspirations for this was the Dreidle, a Jewish toy which is basically a single die which is spun like a top instead of tossed like modern dice. Like dice it was once used for gambling and possibly divination. You will notice that the set of letters created by adding a dot to the original letter do not always relate to its parent letter but were simply chosen to resemble Latin characters.




ALU-WXN 3D
2004

In this second version of Aluwxn I had three clear motivations. Firstly, I wanted to revise the shapes of the letters to make the "dotted" letters the same as the plain letters. Secondly, I wanted the "dotted" letters to represent sounds directly related to the plain letters, so that the language could be written without the dotten letters at all. Thridly, I wanted the letters to be represented by a 3 dimensional rotating matrix instead of the 2-D matrix of the original Aluwxn. In Alu-Wxn 3D there are 2 basic 3-D shapes from which all the letters of the alphabet are formed. Each parent shape creates 3 seed shapes which in turn rotate to generate 12 characters. (Except in the case of N-Z and S-H which is actually 2 separate shapes created by the Wxn character) The addition of a single dot to these 24 characters creates a modified character. For vowels, a single dot creates a long vowel. For the consonants the dot signifies the addition of a second letter to create a modified but related sound, such as "ch" "th" "wh" and "ps". Not all of these sounds are found in English, but many are found in languages like Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Arabic, and even Chinese. Most of the 24 basic characters resemble the letters of the Latin script, except for P which resembles the Greek Pi. The addition of two dots doubles the letter, as seen in "v v". Alu-Wxn 3D is easier to use than the original Aluwxn, because the entire basic alphabet is contained in the basic 24 letters. All of the members of the modified "dot" letters can be written by combining letters in the basic set just like we do in English. The dots basically just provide shortcuts for writing in a kind of short-hand as well as providing vowel indicators.

Since I first published the original Aluwxn online in 2003, many Neographies have shown up on language sites on the internet based on the concept of a rotating alphabet. Only one that I know of has given me credit for inspiration.





Ugachiman
2004

Ugachiman stands for UGAritic CHInese MANsions. Basically Ugachiman is an alphabet based on the 28 Lunar Mansions, which are the 28 posisions in the sky that the Moon rests every night. Phoenecian, Arabic, Hindu and Chinese cultures all recognized the Lunar Mansions in different ways. The Medieval European people learned about the Mansions from the Arabs. Each letter is based on the shape of the stars in each Lunar Mansion. The stars are shown in the Chinese version, the Medival European (Arabic) version and the Ugaritic version. Ugaritic is a Cunieform script used by a Phoenecian city called Ugarit around 1300 BC. Many people have asserted over the years that the Ugaritic language represents the 28 Lunar Mansions. I have used the basic letter sounds from Ugaritic and matched them to Chinese and Arabic Lunar Mansions. Ugaritic is a Semetic language, meaning it is related to Hebrew. Carvings in Ugaritic are the oldest known use of the ABJaD Hebrew letter order, which is used in Hebrew today as well as Greek and in versions of Arabic. Through Greek, the ABJaD is the basis of the Alphabetical letter order of Latin scripts. Meaning that the ABC's your kids are learning in school are based on the patterns of the stars. One day I WILL write a book explaing all of this, but for now, this is what you get.






Kapal Setem
2005

Kapal Setem is an evolution beyond Aluwxn. The concept for Kapal Setem was to design a language which could be formed from a singluar cubical parent shape. The idea for this came from cover of the book, Godel Escher Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. On the cover is a block, called a Triplet (triple letter) which forms shadows shaped like letters when light is cast on it. The GEB Triplet shape fascinated me as a child and my studies of alphabets and rotating alphabets rebirthed this interest. One of the curiousities of Kapal Setem is the possibility of creating a 3D text which could be read in ANY direction.

The Kapal Setem is one cubical shape which projects 3 distinct seed shapes. Unlike the seeds of Aluwxn, these seeds have distinct left and right versions. The three seed shapes K P L could be thought of as being similar to the Mother Letters of Hebrew: Aleph, Mem and Shin, and interestingly they resemble these letters! The three seeds, in left and right versions form K P L S T M, which setup two standards. The first standard is the 6 shapes that the alphabet is based on. The second standard is the 6 basic consonontal SOUNDS that speech is based on. Unlike most other languages, Kapal Setem groups similar sounds together. In fact, the specific orientation of the letter, instructs the reader on how to enunciate the basic sound. Speech and writing could be taught together with Kapal Setem because the letters specifially relate to how sounds are created, the school would teach the children first about the 6 seeds and then add to these over time. The vowels are all shown using diacritics, or dots within the letters. These vowels are meant to follow the consonant sound. To write a word starting in a vowel, you must draw the box shape and put the dots within it. The cursive version of Kapal Setem does not use vowel markers at all, much like ancient Hebrew. If you look very closely you can see a relationship between the Kapal Setem letters and the Latin script... specifically: K P B S Z D.





Paap-Nguung
2005

After developing Kapal Setem, I desired to generate a script which was based strictly on the way sounds are made within the mouth. Alexander Melville Bell (father of A. Graham Bell) developed an alphabet called Visible Speech which he used to attempt to help deaf people learn to speak clear English. His alphabet lead to the development of the International Phonetic Alphabet. I designed Paapnguung with a knowledge of his work, but I purposefully attempted to create an original interpretation of speech sounds.

Paapnguung is meant to be a fancy script which illustrates the positions of the lips, teeth and tongue during the articulation of sounds. The consonontal sounds are all represented by open shapes which illustrate a side-view of the mouth. The vowels are closed shapes which illustrate the front view of the mouth. Short shapes like P are Voiceless, while longer shapes like B are Voiced, meaning there is a stress and duration to the sound. A good example of how the shape of the letter relate to the mouth is in L R W. The shape for L shows the lips parted and the tongue sticking out and slightly rolling for a short duration. The shape for R shows curled lips and a long duration without a tongue roll. The shape for W shows lips together for a long duration. This is very different from the shapes for F V Y. For F the mouth is pursed with a short duration. For V the mouth is pursed but the upper lip is curled. For the Y the mouth is pursed but the lower lip is curled and the upper lip is curled backwards indicating its effect on the nose, and the resulting nasal sound. The S Z SH letters show the teeth closed and the lips pulling back from the teeth. In SH the teeth are closed but the lips are curled. The vowels represent the shape of the lips and teeth from front. Making the A sound, the lips take on a square shape with parted teeth. Making an E sound, the teeth are closed but the lips are still in a square shape. During O sounds the mouth forms a circle. Making U sounds the circle gets tighter on the sides and the teeth close. I watched myself in a mirror for hours figuring all of this out!

When written, Paapnguung should have the letters of syllables connected as shown in the letter names. This further helps in the identification of phonetic patterns of speech.