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2.1 - Alphabets

The Anawanda made use of two scripts, generally referred to as the pictographic alphabet and the linear alphabet, which were two graphic variants of the same basic system.

The pictographic must have been the original form of the alphabet. It was generally written with a thin brush on parchment, and it was also employed for monumental fresco inscriptions. Many of these were refined multicoloured paintings, with varied letter forms and various decorations, standing as true artworks. The linear alphabet originated as a simplified script for use on tablets and for stone carving, but it was soon adapted to the brush, with the development of semi-curved and semi-cursive letter shapes.

The chart below shows the two alphabets. For each letter, only the most basic form is listed, but many variants existed, especially in the pictographic script, where writers were free to vary the shape of letters according to their personal tastes and needs.

Latin Pictographic Linear Symbol
a Pictographic a Linear a snake
b Pictographic b Linear b fish
c Pictographic c Linear c ship
d Pictographic d Linear d open hand
g Pictographic g Linear g open eye
i Pictographic i Linear i sun
l Pictographic l Linear l mountain range or island
m Pictographic m Linear m sea waves
n Pictographic n Linear n fishing net
p Pictographic p Linear p jug with handle
r Pictographic r Linear r star
s Pictographic s Linear s wheel
t Pictographic t Linear t pot
u Pictographic u Linear u moon

In the pictographic alphabet, words were often enclosed within a thick line. In the linear alphabet, word boundaries were signified by a centered dot or a single horizontal or oblique bar. A double dot or double bar stood for a clause separator.

The habit of marking tones with a dot above or below the vowel was introduced in the linear script and then adopted for the pictographic alphabet, where the diacritic evolved to a curved bar. Early pictographic texts show no accent mark, and many later texts show a variable degree of inaccuracy in marking stress. Other forms of inaccuracy were also common in early texts: for example, letter doubling is not always precise, and at times it is not even consistent within a single monument.

Likewise, the letter s was at first developed for the linear alphabet and later back-fit into a pictographic character. It is interesting to note that the Anawanda name for this letter is the only one not to begin with the sound represented by the letter. Besides, while in the linear script this character is consistently used for preconsonantal /t/, in pictographic texts one can also find the letter t in this position, or the letter s used for intervocalic /t/.

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