Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton
pne

Klingon in Devanagari

The other idea, the idea came to me that Devanagari as used for Hindi is not that bad a match for Klingon—it has letters for explicitly-aspirated stops and for the retroflex place of articulation.

So here’s my attempt at a mapping (vowels also demonstrated along with फ p):

KlingonDevanagari
aआ, फा
b
ch
D
eए, फे
gh
H
Iइ, फि
j
l
m
n
ng
oओ, फो
p
q
Qक़्ख़
r
S
t
tlhथ्ळ
uउ, फु
vभ़
w
y
'ॽ, अ
rghर्ग़
w'व्ॽ, व्अ
y'य्ॽ, य्अ

Some notes:

  • Given that p and t are aspirated, I would have expected q to be so as well, but the description only mentions a “slight puff of air”, compared to p’s “strong puff or pop” and t’s “puff of air” (ambiguous, but preceded by “like p”). So the use of क़, based on the character for the unaspirated voiceless stop क, seems reasonable.
  • I’m not completely enamoured by the choice of क़्ख़ for Q, especially given that both क़ and ख़ are also in use (for q and H, respectively). However, given the fact that क़्ख़ is a ligure will help, I imagine. Also, I’m not sure whether ambiguity could arise in practice; I suppose बाक़्ख़ाअ baQa' (a general invective curse) could be confused with बाक़ख़ाअ baqHa' “he mis-terminates it”, but eh. I suppose much the same is true for the spoken forms.
  • Likewise, I’m not too fond of थ्ळ for tlh, if only because it’s a digraph; it makes me wonder whether simply ळ (or some other letter) might not be enough. I also considered using त्ळ to increase the visual distinction between थ t and त्ळ tlh, but that seemed inappropriate given the warning that “The sound is produced with a great deal of friction, and the warning given in the description of Klingon p might be aptly repeated here”; given that p is a stop, I presume this may mean that the initial stop portion of this affricate is strongly aspirated.
  • I’m not sure what to do with v and w, given that Hindi व is—as far as I know—/ʋ/, or more or less in between the two. I decided to go with nukta’d bh भ़ for v (no precomposed letter for that, unfortunately) and व for w. (I suppose I could have gone with un-nukta’d bh भ given that it can’t contrast with anything, but this follows the lead of ग़ ख़ क़.)
  • I’m not too sure what to take for the glottal stop '. There is a Devanagari glottal stop, ॽ, but I’m not sure how well-supported it is by fonts. Also, it might look a bit odd; but the main reason is that I’m not sure how well combining vowels would go with it. ॽाॽ ॽेॽ ॽिॽ ॽोॽ ॽुॽ -'a' 'e' 'I' 'o' 'u'? अाअ अेअ अिअ अोअ अुअ? आअ अेअ अिअ ओअ अुअ?
  • Speaking of vowels, I think I’d like to make this an alphabet. Since no Klingon syllable can start with a vowel, no independent vowel letters are needed, so I thought I’d just use combining forms for vowels.

    So then (influenced, I suppose, by आ and ओ, which look like अा and अो—i.e. अ + combining ा and ो, respectively), I thought I might use अ for glottal stop. Unfortunately, it doesn’t combine/ligature well with w or y (but then, neither does ॽ); and I think it would look odd with explicit vowel marks: अा अे अि अो अु a e I o u.

    (Oddly enough, in Semagic preview, as well as in the composer window, it’s अे अि अु that look reasonable: just the ones where the combination doesn’t look like an existing character! Perhaps the other two particular ones could use precombined आ and ओ.)

    I suppose I could go the fully-alphabet route and always use independent vowels. That would be even less Hindi-like.

Tags: devanagari, klingon
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