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Encyclopedia > Shavian

Posthumously funded by and named for Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, the Shavian alphabet (also known as Shaw alphabet) was conceived as a way to provide simple, phonetic orthography for the English language to replace the difficulties of the conventional spelling. It was inspired by the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, which is read as it is written and has one letter for each sound. Shaw set two main criteria for the new alphabet: that it should be phonetic, with as great as possible a 1:1 correspondence between letters and sounds; and that it should be distinct from the Latin alphabet so as to avoid the impression that the new spellings were simply "misspellings."


A contest for the design of the new alphabet was held, which was won by a Mr. Ronald Kingsley Read. Read later modified the Shavian alphabet to create Quickscript, with more ligatures intended for handwriting, and another Latin-based script.


Due to contestation of Shaw's will, the trust charged with developing the new alphabet was only able to afford to publish one book: a version of Shaw's play Androcles and the Lion, in bi-alphabetic edition with both conventional and Shavian spellings. (1962 Penguin Books, London)

Contents

Variants

Quickscript

Some years after the initial publication of the Shaw alphabet, Read expanded it to create Quickscript, also known as the Read Alphabet. Quickscript is intended to be more useful for handwriting, and to that end is more cursive and uses more ligatures. Many letter forms are roughly the same in both alphabets; see the separate article for more details.


Revised Shaw alphabet

Paul Vandenbrink has created a modified Shavian alphabet which takes the controversial step of replacing most of the specific vowel letters with markers indicating which of several sets of vowel types a vowel belongs to, thus reducing the number of vowel distinctions and lessening the written differences between dialectical variations of English. This variant, and not the original Shaw alphabet, is presented at http://www.shawalphabet.com/.


"Ŝava alfabeto"

An adaptation of Shavian to another language, Esperanto, was developed by Ĝan Ŭesli Starling; though not widely used, at least one booklet has been published with transliterated sample texts. As that language is already spelled phonemically, direct conversion from Latin to Shavian letters can be performed, though several ligatures are added for the common combinations of vowels with n and s and some common short words.


Pronunciations that differ from their English values are marked in bold red.

Ŝava letter image:shavian-ash.png image:shavian-bib.png image:shavian-thigh.png image:shavian-church.png image:shavian-dead.png image:shavian-egg.png image:shavian-fee.png image:shavian-gag.png image:shavian-judge.png image:shavian-ha-ha.png image:shavian-hung.png image:shavian-if.png image:shavian-woe.png image:shavian-measure.png
Pronunciation [a] [b] [ts] [tS] [d] [e] [f] [g] [dZ] [h] [x] [i] [j] [Z]
Conventional orthography a b c ĉ d e f g ĝ h ĥ i j ĵ
 
image:shavian-kick.png image:shavian-loll.png image:shavian-ooze.png image:shavian-wool.png image:shavian-ado.png image:shavian-peep.png image:shavian-roar.png image:shavian-so.png image:shavian-sure.png image:shavian-tot.png image:shavian-on.png image:shavian-yea.png image:shavian-vow.png image:shavian-zoo.png
[k] [l] [m] [n] [o] [p] [r] [s] [S] [t] [u] [w] [v] [z]
k l m n o p r s ŝ t u ŭ v z


Ligatures
image:shavian-la.png image:shavian-kaj.png image:shavian-au.png image:shavian-aj.png
la kaj aj ajn

The digital age

Shavian is encoded in plane 1 of Unicode, from U+10450 to U+1047F, but appropriate fonts for Unicode Shavian are rare. Before it was standardised, fonts were made that include Shavian letters in the places of Roman letters, and/or in an agreed upon location in the Unicode private use area, allocated from the ConScript Unicode Registry.


External links

  • ConScript Unicode Registry (http://www.evertype.com/standards/csur/shavian.html), describes unofficial assignment of Shavian letters in Unicode private use area (Since withdrawn in favour of the official encoding)
  • Shavian fonts (http://cgm.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/shavian.html)
  • Omniglot.com article on Shavian (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/shavian.htm)
  • Browser test page for Unicode Shavian (http://www.alanwood.net/unicode/shavian.html)
  • Yahoo! Group on Shavian (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shawalphabet/)
  • shavian.org (http://www.shavian.org/)
  • Revised Shaw Alphabet, history, etc. (http://www.shawalphabet.com/index1.html)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Encyclopedia4U - Shavian alphabet - Encyclopedia Article (719 words)
Posthumously funded by and named for Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, the Shavian alphabet (also known as Shaw alphabet) was conceived as a way to provide simple, phonetic orthography for the English language to replace the difficulties of the conventional spelling.
Paul Vandenbrink has created a modified Shavian alphabet which takes the controversial step of replacing most of the specific vowel letters with markers indicating which of several sets of vowel types a vowel belongs to, thus reducing the number of vowel distinctions and lessening the written differences between dialectical variations of English.
An adaptation of Shavian to another language, Esperanto, was developed by Ĝan Ŭesli Starling; though not widely used, at least one booklet has been published with transliterated sample texts.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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