Talk:Shavian alphabet

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Clean Up[edit]

I've got this one under control. Working on it now. --WurdBendur 05:34, Feb 24, 2005 (UTC)

As well as n for "and"

          Th for "the"
          v  for "of"

Please add t for "to"

Done. Please feel free to make corrections and additions yourself as well! --Brion 07:06 Sep 10, 2002 (UTC)


"It was inspired by the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, which is read as it is written and has one letter for each sound."

I don't think Shaw's inspiration was derived from any specific alphabet. There are a number of languages with very phonemic spelling, and there had been phonemic alternatives to English long before Shavian. Shaw himself used a form of Pitman Shorthand but was displeased with it. Kingsley Read apparently based Shavian on a previous alphabet, but I don't know anything about that. I do know that proto-Shavian (the version in development before it was accepted into the contest) used the system of tall letters for voiceless consonants and deep letters for voiced ones, but they weren't rotated. This didn't fulfill the requirement that the letters all be recognizable in isolation, which is why the rotation was introduced. --WurdBendur 01:28, Feb 1, 2005 (UTC)


I'm working on a new section called "Disagreement", which will cover the arguments over sound-symbol correspondences. If you're interested, I'm keeping a scratch page with the contents of that section as I work on it. If you're interested, feel free to check it out. --WurdBendur 22:21, Feb 1, 2005 (UTC)

Is this a joke?[edit]

Why cant people make use of all 26 latin letters ie:

  • q = k
  • j = j
  • c = ch
  • g = g
  • k = th
  • p = p
  • x = sh
  • h = h
-- 12:15, 20 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Because that would be a different proposal with different advantages and disadvantages. You haven't fixed the vowels at all, your system for consonants is still insufficient, and some people like the Shavian letters better than the Latin letters. --Prosfilaes 13:47, 20 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Prosfilæs, pay no mind to trolls.Cameron Nedland 02:20, 25 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Quickscript Spelling[edit]

I changed the spelling here in accordance with the new name for the article. martianlostinspace 15:24, 1 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ĝan Ŭesli Starling[edit]

This individual is personally known to me and he actually uses this spelling. In spite of being born John Wesley, he has legally changed it to the Esperanto form. His web site demonstrates how he uses the name on a day-to-day basis, without the diacritics, because for the average American, it is not easy to show these on a computer. So "John Wesley" is incorrect, as is the "Johano Veslej" proposed by someone else. KriZe 20:25, 12 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wouldn't it be Johano Vesli?Cameron Nedland 04:04, 30 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Johano" is the Esperanto version of the name "John", as "Johann" is the German version, "Jean" the French, "Ivan" ("Иван") the Russian, and so on. But the name he uses is not a translation of the original name, but a transcription of its sound into Esperanto spelling, as far as is possible. — I don't know the man, but I've been speaking Esperanto fluently for over 60 years, and I've seen his name often, spelled just this way.
Notes on peculiarities in the spelling:
  • Ĝan: The "a" reflects the American pronunciation of "short o" as [ɑ] or [ɑː] rather than [ɒ].
  • Ŭesli: This spelling looks very strange to Esperantists. Esperanto uses "ŭ" only after the vowels "a" and "e" (and rarely "o") to represent the diphthongs [ɑ͜ʊ], [e͜ʊ], and [o͜ʊ]. It appears at the beginning of a word only in transcriptions of foreign words and names, including "Ŭesli" for "Wesley". Except for such cases, capital "Ŭ" appears only in UPPERCASE TEXT (MAJUSKLA TEKSTO).
  • Starling: Esperanto does not have phonemic /ŋ/ (generally written "ng" in English) at all. Some Esperantists, including many English-speakers, pronounce "n" as [ŋ] before a velar consonant (written "k", "g", or "ĥ"); that isn't wrong, but it's allophonic variation, not part of official pronunciation.
--Thnidu (talk) 05:19, 23 May 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Would it be acceptable to post images of the cover or a page from The Shaw Alphabet Edition of Androcles and the Lion? There's currently no example here showing what Shavian text looks like when set normally, only letters in a table. It's an important piece, and it's still held up by many as the standard Shavian reference. As far as I'm aware, I think it's no longer under copyright in the US, but it may be elsewhere. If it's not a problem, I have some high-quality scans of a few pages, and I can get an image of the cover. -WurdBendur 22:21, 15 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's not out of copyright in the US, to the best of my knowledge. All British works printed after 1922 are under copyright in the US with some hard-to-prove exceptions. More than one image would questionably be fair use, but I'm sure we could justify the cover.--Prosfilaes 21:21, 16 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Upon close inspection of this book, I have not been able to discern any copyright notice. Is it possible that this book was published without copyright, i.e., in the public domain? Can anyone shed some light on this? EthanL (talk) 17:42, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No. Outside the US, a copyright notice was not needed to secure copyright; mere publication did and does that.--Prosfilaes 20:55, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, then we would need to get permission from the publishers. I doubt the publishers have any plans to do anything more with this work, the type used to print the book currently resides in a museum. That doesn't mean permission would be easy to obtain, though! I agree, the book cover should fall under fair use.
One more question. If a work is already out of copyright, and is reprinted, that shouldn't result in a renewal of the copyright, and the publisher would only have copyright on any new material published with it. If this is true, and if the story "Androcles and the Lion" is out of copyright, then would reproducing part of the text be a copyright violation, if you aren't using pictures from the book? I kind of doubt that simply respelling a public-domain text renders it copyrightable. EthanL (talk) 10:53, 1 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've added the Androcles cover, above the IPA notice. I think it looks slightly nicer having it below. Feel free to move it if you think the notice should come first, or if it would fit better in a sub-section.
Unfortunately, my copy didn't come with the Detachable Key Card. Can anyone contribute a scan of the bookmark? I've always wondered what it looks like. Alexander the Drake 02:21, 22 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Some mention of the digital fonts available? I have ghoti and Androcles (which seem to be images of hand-drawn letters, but I know no more than that. --Hugh7 22:55, 24 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

All characters to be deleted![edit]

We have a problem... All of the Shavian characters in this article are unlicensed image files and therefore must be removed! I can think of three possible solutions:

  1. Replace all characters with unicode. Wikipedia is unicode encoded, so there's no problem doing this. We'd probably need to put instructions somewhere in the article with instructions for how to install appropriate fonts. I think this is the ideal way, as images are not scaled appropriately for use as inline text. I will make a start on this, to correct the copyright problem.
  2. If the original uploader can be found, they could update all the character images with appropriate source and copyright information
  3. There are some free images available at commons, but there are a couple of characters missing, I think.

Any suggestions? - Papa November 1 14:38, 18 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

hi! please put instruction for installing said font, i think that would be the most helpfull 01:51, 4 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I haven't been active on WP for a while, so I missed this.
  • Unicode -- bad idea, IMO. For 90-99% of the population, it won't be worth the effort to try to install the font so they can see what the typefaces look like. From a user's point of view, time spent doing that just gets in the way of... reading more Wikipedia!
  • Finding the original uploader -- good idea. Or, would have been, if those images were still there. I could have done some legwork to find out where these came from.
  • Free images with characters missing -- a decent temporary solution. I have some Shavian fonts with Unicode code points installed on my computer, and I'm not seeing them in the current version of the Web page. It's going to take some more work for me -- and I'm a geek. So I would have voted for the solution that gets the bulk of Shavian in front of the bulk of our readers. Hell, I could make the needed supplementary images myself.
Missing options: Ask Shavian users to provide images that are known to be in the public domain -- or to make some. I've become inactive on Shavian lists, but I'm still a member of one, I think. After the imminent US holiday, I could possibly go about this.
I wish I had been paying attention before you (or someone) carried all this out. While technically the status of these images may not have been within the rules of Wikipedia, as a practical matter, I would have happily bet large amounts of money that the creator of the glyph images would, if found, have happily and swiftly released the images under a suitable license; this is not the sort of thing one makes to express oneself or to commercialize. --Rschmertz 05:38, 4 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There's no sense in having a table of Shavian letters if few people can see them. I just uploaded a complete set of letter images and will put them in the table. Any objections? EthanL (talk) 02:39, 16 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would upload SVGs of the letters (and also for the Deseret alphabet); but are the only options uploading them laboriously one by one, or having to get a bot set up and approved? Marnanel (talk) 17:54, 11 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ŝava alfabeto[edit]

Two of the characters printed in boldface red should not be. Specifically, the characters 𐑢 and 𐑘 represent the same sounds in Esperanto as in English.

  • 𐑢 : IPA [j] represents the sound of English "y" as in "yes", which is also written j in normal Esperanto.
  • 𐑘 : Esperanto ŭ represents a [w] sound, used almost exclusively as an offglide, in and . It is also used when necessary to represent the [w] sound at the beginning of a syllable, as in Ŭesli for "Wesley".

I am changing the color and weight of these entries to reflect this. --Thnidu (talk) 04:20, 7 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Haha-Hung reversal[edit]

Once you begin using the alphabet for writing or note-taking, another reason becomes evident: the extremely high-frequency suffix -ing. 𐑦𐑙 can be written without lifting the pen; 𐑦𐑣 cannot. --Thnidu (talk) 20:34, 8 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Makes sense. I think of it as mnemonic: you can have a deep ha-ha but not a tall one, after all. Marnanel (talk) 18:43, 11 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would disagree with the statement that 𐑣 cannot be written without lifting the pen. The most common vowel preceding this termination is the short-vowel of 'if', which in the Shavian alphabet is represented by a simple vertical stroke (without a dot). Ordinarily, when writing, one begins at the top of the letter concerned and moves the pen downwards, so it is true that i-𐑙 can be written without lifting the pen; however, if one begins at the bottom and writes upward then an /i/ can easily be joined in a single motion to 𐑣. While one might think this to be an unusual way to write, it would not be unique in the Shavian alphabet, as Kingsley Read specifically states that several other vowels, namely the Shavian letters /ash, ado, ah/, are to be written upwards—in fact, they have to be. Nor is it difficult to do, as a few seconds' practice will demonstrate. Moreover, if one prefers to spell the /–ing/ ending as /ado/ plus /ng/, then the 𐑣 alternative is the only possible choice that can be written in a single motion. —dshep/2009.03.27 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:53, 27 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The above unsigned paragraph overlooks a significant point: the point of the pen. Nowadays most of us are used to using ballpoint, rollerball, or felt-tip pens, which don't care which direction they're moving in. But through the 1940s the fountain pen was the only convenient kind generally available. If you try to write 𐑦 upward with a fountain pen, the nib will catch at the paper and often tear it, or spatter ink, or both. This is not the case with the upward-moving letters -- 𐑢 𐑥 𐑩 𐑨 -- because they all slant or curve to the right, sideways to the nib when held by a right-handed writer. -- I know this to be the case with dip pens, which I have long experience with, and I have encountered similar behavior with fountain pens. -- Thnidu (talk) 01:43, 14 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Point taken. However, as other, more versatile writing instruments are now, for most of us I dare suggest, the norm—I don't think this should be considered too much of an obstacle. Besides, the 'ash' letter, -- 𐑩 --, the most common vowel, begins with a vertical motion which would, I should think, present difficulties with a nib pen. Admittedly the most handsome results to my mind are obtained with an italic nib, which may require a slight horizontal flick before beginning an upward motion—that or additional strokes. For rapid every-day use however a thicker (2.0 mm or greater) felt-tip pen produces I think good results (a soft pencil of sufficient thickness may also be acceptable). Ball-point strokes are too narrow in my opinion, something which nullifies the inherent beauty of Shavian script. —dshep/2009.08.02

But the present availability of other implements has no bearing on the question of the original forms of the letters when the Shavian alphabet was devised. --Thnidu (talk) 02:10, 4 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For what it's worth, the Shaw alphabet was devised during the late fifties, not the forties, by which time ballpoint pens were readily available.--- — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:20, 10 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sorry, the Shavian letter -- 𐑩 -- is of course the unstressed vowel of 'ado, ago, abut' etc. —dshep/2009.08.02 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:40, 2 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Right-handed handwriting (sorry, southpaws!) tends to be angled to the right; that's the origin of the font style we call italic. The handwritten ado 𐑩 can easily be started in a direction that is slightly rightward of vertical. As long as it curves toward the horizontal -- i.e., is concave downward -- it is distinct from ash 𐑨. -- Thnidu (talk) 00:10, 10 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Are any of these links useful?[edit]

I don't want to barge in and add links to my own work without discussing it, but I wondered whether any of these external links might be of use:

What do people think? Marnanel (talk) 17:50, 11 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Do barge in: useful for the convinced and stimulative for the curious --dshep/2009.04.03 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:03, 4 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

To preserve Marnanel's modesty, I shall add his links to the article page. These are resources too good not to be brought to the attention of Wikipedia readers (and potential Shavian adherents)--dshep/2009.04.04

Why was the above comment removed? It seems reasonable to me that the creator of the links referred to might not wish to be seen as boastful by calling attention to his own work; better then that someone else do it, especially as the links themselves are very much worthwhile--dshep/2009.04.06 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:12, 6 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Other reversals"[edit]

The Other reversals section assumes that Air "𐑺" and Err "𐑻" are ligatures respectively of the letters Egg "𐑧" and Up "𐑳" with Roar "𐑮". Is there any evidence that Air and Err are intended as such ligatures, or is it simply assumed? It seems especially weak to relate Up "𐑳" /ʌ/ to either the sound of Err /ɜr/ or the shape of Air "𐑺". --Thnidu (talk) 03:43, 4 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm ignorant both of Shavian spelling and the accents in question, but I wonder whether this supposed reversal is related to the reversal of certain sounds in some English accents, e.g. the Scouse page mentions that ‘square’ (and presumably ‘air’) was previously pronounced [ɜ:] (as I pronounce ‘err’) in Scouse. Pjrm (talk) 10:47, 6 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The ligature Err "𐑻" is pronounced as the sound effect (errrr) and not the word (err). It is used in the words earth and urge (according to Androcles and the Lion). It thus makes sense to me that it is the combination of "𐑳" and "𐑮". This section claims that Air "𐑺" is the ligature of Egg "𐑧" and Roar "𐑮", but these two letters appear together unlinked "𐑧𐑮" throughout Androcles and the Lion. It is more logical to me that Air "𐑺" is the ligature of Age "𐑱" and Roar "𐑮", and this interpretation explains the shape of the ligature better as well. --Anon — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:06, 24 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Looking at the IPA pronunciation guides, Egg "𐑧" is more similar to the vowel sound of Air than Age "𐑱" is. Combining Air and Roar, should yield a shape with no gaps at the top or bottom. I just took a look at Androcles and it looks to me like some words receive Egg+Roar and that is what their IPA pronunciation is (example: very), but others such as square get AIR. According to the IPA pronunciation for square, it corresponds to Egg+Ado+Roar in Shavian. As to evidence for Err and Air being ligatures between specific sounds, I'm not sure that any such evidence exists. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:23, 21 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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This article is written in an idiotic way and should be edited by sensible people.--Jack Upland (talk) 07:52, 14 March 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Such as... yourself? Opencooper (talk) 17:19, 14 March 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Splitting Names and Examples[edit]

I've just edited some changes that were made in good intention; a few people had made changes of the names egg, ice, out and err, to etch, ride, loud and fur. I understand the reason why—Pacific Northwesterners pronouncing /ɛ/ differently before /ɡ/, Canadian Raising, and the variant pronunciation of err in different dialects—but currently the older words also function as the name.

I propose that we split the name and example rows for a clearer classification. R.I.McGhee (talk) 00:44, 2 February 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Should we include the IPA of "Shavian"?[edit]

I ask because his name was "George Bernard Shaw" but the adjectival form of "Shaw" is, as I have recently learned, pronounced /ʃeɪvi.ən/ and not /ʃɑːvi.ən/ — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ilotoki (talkcontribs) 18:59, 12 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

 Done. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 19:57, 12 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ductal logic?[edit]

How is this intended to be written does it have any logic in terms of written script?

Is this a Conscript?[edit]

Is it appropriate to include a description of the “Revised” Shaw Alphabet here if our only source of its existence is Omniglot? That site features conscripts submitted by its visitors as well as official ones, and I have been unable to find mention of it anywhere else. Seeing as it has a very high likelihood of being a conscript, should we remove that subsection or make mention of its unofficial status? 2600:8802:E07:1B00:708C:76AE:36FE:961D (talk) 22:28, 24 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]