Bassa Vah alphabet

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Bassa Vah
𖫔𖫧𖫱𖫒𖫨𖫴 𖫣𖫧𖫱
Script type
Directionleft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesBassa [ISO 639-3:bsq]
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Bass (259), ​Bassa Vah
Unicode alias
Bassa Vah
Final accepted Unicode proposal, U+16AD0 – U+16AFF[1]
The Bassa Vah alphabet.

Bassa Vah, also known as simply Vah ('throwing a sign' in Bassa) is an alphabetic script for writing the Bassa language of Liberia.[2] As an old system nearing extinction in the 1900s, it was rediscovered among Bassa in Brazil and the West Indies, then revived in Liberia, by Thomas Flo Lewis.[3] Type was cast for it, and an association for its promotion was formed in Liberia in 1959.[1] It is not used today and has been classified as a failed script.[4]


Vah is written from left to right. It is a true alphabet, with 23 consonant letters, 7 vowel letters and 5 tone diacritics, which are placed inside the vowels. A fullstop/period is represented with 𖫵.

IPA Latin Bassa Vah IPA Latin Bassa Vah IPA Latin Bassa Vah
[a] A/a 𖫧 [g] G/g 𖫖 [ɔ] Ɔ/ɔ 𖫨
[b] B/b 𖫢 [ɡ͡b] Gb/gb 𖫝 [o] O/o 𖫩
[ɓ]/[mᵇ] Ɓ/ɓ 𖫔 [ŋ͡m] Gm/gm 𖫔 [p] P/p 𖫥
[c] C/c 𖫟 [h] H/h 𖫤 [s] S/s 𖫒
[d] D/d 𖫗 [hʷ] Hw/hw 𖫠 [t] T/t 𖫡
[ɖ]/[ɺ] Đ/ɖ 𖫦 [i] I/i 𖫭 [u] U/u 𖫪
[dʲ]/[ɲ] Dy/dy 𖫕 [ɟ] J/j 𖫙 [v] V/v 𖫣
[e] E/e 𖫫 [k] K/k 𖫑 [w] W/w 𖫛
[ɛ] Ɛ/ɛ 𖫬 [k͡p] Kp/kp 𖫘 [xʷ]/[ħʷ] Xw/xw 𖫚
[f] F/f 𖫓 [n] N/n 𖫐 [z] Z/z 𖫜


Vah uses 5 diacritical marks to denote tonality of its vowels. It distinguishes five tones: high, low, mid, mid-rising, and falling.

IPA Latin with a Vah with 𖫧 Vah diacritic
˦ á 𖫧𖫰 𖫰◌
˨ à 𖫧𖫱 𖫱◌
˧ a 𖫧𖫲 𖫲◌
˨˧ ă 𖫧𖫳 𖫳◌
˥˩ â 𖫧𖫴 𖫴◌


Bassa Vah was added to the Unicode Standard in June 2014 with the release of version 7.0.

The Unicode block for Bassa Vah is U+16AD0–U+16AFF:

Bassa Vah[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+16ADx 𖫐 𖫑 𖫒 𖫓 𖫔 𖫕 𖫖 𖫗 𖫘 𖫙 𖫚 𖫛 𖫜 𖫝 𖫞 𖫟
U+16AEx 𖫠 𖫡 𖫢 𖫣 𖫤 𖫥 𖫦 𖫧 𖫨 𖫩 𖫪 𖫫 𖫬 𖫭
U+16AFx 𖫰 𖫱 𖫲 𖫳 𖫴 𖫵
1.^ As of Unicode version 15.1
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points


  1. ^ a b Everson, Michael; Riley, Charles (2010). "Final proposal for encoding the Bassa Vah script in the SMP of the UCS" (PDF).
  2. ^ Coulmas, Florian, ed. (1999). "Bassa alphabet". The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. p. 39. doi:10.1002/9781118932667.ch2. ISBN 9780631214816.
  3. ^ "History of the Bassa Script". Bassa Vah Association. Archived from the original on 2007-02-22.
  4. ^ Unseth, Peter (2011). "Invention of Scripts in West Africa for Ethnic Revitalization". In Joshua A. Fishman; Ofelia García (eds.). Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity: The Success-Failure Continuum in Language and Ethnic Identity Efforts. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 23–32. ISBN 9780199837991.

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