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CTX.Extra Lesson: Cirtunese Spelling on Computers
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How chaotic is it?
This public article was written by Cirton Historian, and last updated on 14 May 2020, 19:44.

This article is a work in progress! Check back later in case any changes have occurred.

Anyone who has searched the  Cirtunese dictionary might have noticed that the words there have a seemingly chaotic spelling...
And to be clear, the words in the CWS Cirtunese Dictionary do not use the standard romanisation.
Otherwise, they would not be written with the Cirtunese script.

So, for example, the word for "Learn" is hjeja2jhqmr /xɛ'aʁɐɾɐ̆/.
How do you think it's spelt in a latin keyboard?
Well... it's "hjeja2jhqmr".
The word for "Tree": njqjpjk /paka/ is spelt "njqjpjk".
The word for "Law": hjqjsq /'ʁaʒa/ is "hjqjsq".
...What about a basic word like "To exist"?
You remember it's cmr /saːɾɐ̆/ right?
Well, that's "cmr".

So, what is going on here...?

The Roots of the Problem

It turns out that Cirtunese has a very systematic spelling that doesn't really fit well with the latin script.
As you might know, the Cirtunese Script is basically an alphasyllabary that can be arranged in blocks... However, there are many ways to modify most letters, and if I were to make a more "latinised" version of this script, it would take me way too long, for I would have to make every single combination of letters as a separate glyph.
To illustrate this, let's take the letter c /sa/ as an example, disregarding translations for now.
Let's see in how many (valid) ways we can change this letter:
c ci ce co cu
ci0 ce0 ca0 co0 cu0
ci9 ce9 ca9 co9 cu9
ci1 ce1 ca1 co1 cu1
ci2 ce2 ca2 co2 cu2
ca1i ca1e ca1a ca1o ca1u
ca2i ca2e ca2a ca2o ca2u
ca2i0 ca2e0 ca2o0 ca2u0
ca2i9 ca2e9 ca2o9 ca2u9 ce2i9
.... it goes on...
cq cqi cqe cqo ...
cw ...
cqw ...
djc ...
cjd ...
Phew... Do that for every combination following that pattern, with every vowel and altered vowel, for every consonant, then for every altered consonant, mix those, then arrange the consonant combinations into blocks and repeat everything for every combination...

A Simple Solution

Instead of that, I tried something simpler in FontForge...
> I created the 11 basic consonants with no inherent spacing after them.
c t r l etc.

> Then, I created the letters to modify them separately, again, no spacing.
p q a0 a9 a1 a2 and so on...

> Then I basically write everything in the same space, and it works nigh perfectly.
cq ce cp cwqi etc.

> It was necessary to create the variations of the basic characters for arranging them into blocks:
c -> cj bc mc gc etc.
But that's still way better than making more than 500 glyphs just for one letter.

The Inherent Problem

Now, the result is the current script, in which one must write every single "piece" of the more complex words in order to build them. Sometimes this is quite straightforward, but in many cases it can produce some bizarre strings of characters (if you look at the classic romanisation).
So, let's go back to the word examples I gave you:

cmr /saːɾɐ̆/ is spelt "cmr".
"c" is the base consonant c- ,
"m" is m-
and "r" is r-
Remember that CTX is an alphasyllabary. So, the vowel "a" is seldom written.

hjqjsq /'ʁaʒa/ is spelt "hjqjsq".
"h" is h-.
"j" is a modifier for the preceding consonant, it elevates the h- into hj
"q" is the modifier q-, which you may remember that it turns /χ/ into /ʁ/.
"j" same as before, but elevating the "q". q -> qj
"s" is the s- at the bottom.
"q" modifying the "s" this time. /ʃ/ becomes /ʒ/.
And that's how we get hjqjsq = hjqjsq .

When reading, the "j"s can pretty much be ignored.
When writing, the use of "j"s is entirely opitional, since the complex words can be arranged in two ways:
hjqjsq (hjqjsq) or hq-sq (hq-sq)


I ... have mixed feelings towards this script.
I love it to death because it fits the current Cirtunese language perfectly, and I've already spent countless hours using it in my personal notes.
...But I also don't like it that I couldn't find a better way to use it here on CWS. I recognise that the script can feel ridiculously unintuitive if you're not used to it, especially when you look at the CTX dictionary and see stuff like "hjeja2jhqmr".

Anyways, that's it for this explanation.
Thanks so much for reading!

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