The Hellesan language
is written with an alphabet named amansard
"alphabet". The name comes from the first three letters of the same: a, m, n
plus the element sard
– from sardenos
"Sarden", since the alphabet as we know it today was established in times of the Sarden Empire. The use of the Hellesan amansard is regulated by orthographic norms that also set the rules for the the different forms, serial and typological, that each letter can adopt, the diacritical marks that can accompany them, as well as the writing's punctuation marks. Regarding words' shape the use of the Hellesan alphabet is based on phonologica, etymological and graphic tradition criteria, making Hellesan orthography a not perfectly homogeneous and regular system.
Hellesan orthography has been regulated since the language was written, more than 1,000 years ago. The language's evolution made necessary a series of orthographic rules that were set in three different moments: the 22nd–23rd centuries, with the Dartesacres
' copious work, a group of intellectuals and humanists; the Great Reform, which put the rules of the language's standardization following based on the Royal Chancellery's language model; and the reform of 3139 which, based on Bedort Baidí's dialectological studies, set modern Hellesan's orthography with dialectal and etymological criteria settled on the classic orthographic tradition.
The evolution of letters from Sate
Hellesan Amansard is an alphabet of twenty four letters, the native variant of the Sardanyese alphabet for the Hellesan language. This alphabet was an adaptation of Archaic Amansard, the alphabet used by Ancient and Middle Peran, and in its turn it's derived from the alphasyllabaries known as Sateu 2 and Sateu 1
used by the Satic tongues.
From the Satic syllabograms that Archaic alphabet was derived, but around the 14th century the sentival
"formal" style appeared, being used in Middle Peran and Classic Sarden for monument inscriptions on stone and metal; it was complemented by a cursive variant used in informal texts on papyrus or waxy paper, based on the former. Shortly before the Sarden Empire's disappearance that cursive had evolved into the southern rustic writing, a variant widely used in the Empire's south-eastern territories; this rustic writing was the mother of a few alphabets and an impure abjad in Marnunt and Besarea. On the other hand Euredean scribes, in the Misty Years, developed a new style, sunchí1
"scrivener's pen", a formal cusive based on sentival
and with certain influence from Sarden's old cursive, then completely superseded. Amansard's modern styles, upper case and lower case, are derived from sunchí
Hellesan's base letters (sacres tatges
) are the twenty four symbols of Sardanyese Amansard.
The order of the alphabet is as shown above: a m n r l e s d t z i j y o f b p v u h g c q x
. It was established in the 2nd revision of the Hellesan language, base on the old Megadelanean tradition with a few changes, and represents an attempt to arrange the letters with phonologic criteria. The alphabet can be divided into five series, each one headed by a vowel. Each series groups consonants so they share a few common traits:
- Stuffed–fluent series Headed by a, groups nasals m /m/ and n /n/, the 'stuffed' (or 'full') consonants, and liquids r /ɾ/ and l /ɫ/, collected under the 'fluent' label. Allophone r [r] is labelled 'knelling'.
- Rubbing–stinging series Headed by e, groups the alveolar plosives t /t/ and d /d/, labelled 'stinging', with alveolar fricatives s /s/ and z /z/, named 'rubbing'.
- Chewing series Headed by i, groups palatal j /ʑ/, once used to represent a yod, as well as y, used in old times for intervocalic [j] and in combination with other consonants to represent some palatal sounds in Old Hellesan: dy [ʑ] (until it was substituted by j) and ly/yl [ɫʲ - ʲɫ] (later assimilated to ll [ʎ]), as well as ny /ɲ/ and sy/ys /ɕ/, still used today.
- Napping–pumping series Headed by o, groups labiodental fricatives f /f/ and v /v/, named 'napping', with bilabial plosives p /p/ and b /b/, labelled 'pumping'.
- Rough–bitter series Headed by u, groups glottal h /h/ and velar g /g/ and c /k/, collected under the name 'rough', as well as the labialized velar q(u) /kʷ/ (named 'bowing') and affricate x /k͜s - g͜z/ (named 'shredding'), both grouped under the name 'bitter'.
Letters have two names, one short and one long:
- Short names a, èm, èn, èr, èl, e, ès, de, te, zan, i, jant, y libant, ò, èf, be, pe, vau, u, haz, ge, ce, cu, èx.
- Long names arsa, mau, naz, ram, lamna, esca, sansa, drama, tau, zanzi, idi, jant, ylf, osca, fimfa, baida, paf, vau, ulva, hazzi, garma, casta, cuf, axa.
Base letters are not enough to represent all the sounds of the language in relation to both orthography and historical origins, thus some letters with diacritic marks, ligatures and variants of base letters are used.
Derivations of basic letters
Additional letters derived from base letters are ce/casta brescatze
"broken c" (romanized ‹Ç ç›), to represent /s/ in a casta
that was palatalized in the evolution towards Hellesan ([k] → [kʲ] → [t͜s] → /s/); and èl/lamna taŀlematze
"geminated l" (romanized ‹ĿL ŀl›) for when two l's represent [ɫ: - ɫɫ], not ‹ll› [ʎ].
Non-native letters used in loanwords
There are three non-native letters that can appear in Hellesan texts: u/ulva taŀlematze
"geminated u" (romanized ‹W w›), a Dwarvish letter used in some languages with a native /w/; ke
(romanized ‹K k›), also of Dwarvish origin and used by Bredezhanian languages that don't use the Amansard alphabet or any of its variants, as well as used by some language that have casta
for different sounds; and haula
"aleph" or terasme
"spirit" (romanized ‹’› or ‹h›, depending on the language of origin), a Dwarvish consonant for /ʔ/.
A series of ligatures used by foreign languages can be seen in Hellesan loanwords as well: ae
(romanized ‹Æ æ› or ‹AE ae›), used by some languages in northern Eurede for [æ]; oe
(romanized ‹Œ œ› or ‹OE oe›), which appears in loanwords from Eldanell for [œ / ə]; ou
(romanized ‹OU ou›), appearing in certain loanwords like those from Eldanell, representing [ʊ / oʊ]; dse
(romanized ‹DS ds›), and old ligature once used to write Peran [d͜z] and later used by other languages for the same or similar sounds, as well as [θ]; gnaf
(romanized ‹GN gn›), for [ŋ]; and ès/sansa taŀlematze
"geminated s" (romanized ‹SS ss›), used in certain languages for /s/ when double s stands for /s:/, and also for /ɕ/ or /ç/ in other languages.
The shape of letters
Box, body and writing lines
The shape and size of upper case, lower case and small caps letters are determined by common rules to all the languages using Sardanyese Amansard. All letters have a body (estor
), the core from which other elements like heads (tucs
), arms (ràms
) and feet (madans
) are put to give a letter its final shape. Osca (‹O o›), since it is a perfect circle, represents the ideal basis from which to develop all the other letters of the alphabet; its height and width draws an imaginary box (talme
) that determines the maximum height and width of any other letter's body.
For upper case letters the body has the same height as the box, being allowed to have arms and feet but no heads. Lower case letters can have heads, arms and feet, with the first ones never surpassing upper case's superior limit, the only exception being lower case lamna, whose upper part (its head) surpasses the limit in many typographic founts and, so often, in hand-written texts. The ideal height of a lower case body is of about 2/3 that of its upper case counterpart, at least in typography.
Upper and lower case osca in their respective boxes, which determine superior and inferior lines for the rest of letters.
The accompanying letters are a sample of how heads, arms and feet (blue) relate to bodies (orange) and lines (magenta).
Small caps (sentivelles
) are a version of upper case letters where the body's height is limited by lower case's superior line, all resulting letters being inscribed within their box, this is, that all arms and feet they may have cannot stick out the limits of the box. That forces some letters to adopt slightly different shapes. In written works small caps are always used within the text, never on titles, to represent the text of inscriptions, placards, signs and posters. In some works it's also common to use them in the first words in a chapter, where the first letters appears in upper case and the rest in small caps, and can also be found in all or part of the information written in the frontispiece and title page, the half-title and the postface of a book. In footnotes small caps are used to highlight certain information, like surnames and names of aforementioned individuals or the author of a work, this practice comming from the ancient custom of writing people's names in small caps. In dictionaries and technical texts may be used in many abbreviations.
Numbers and other mathematical signs
The numeral system used in Hellesan is the one known as Megadelanean (megadelani
), decimal and with digits representing 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, in upper case and lower case versions. Upper case digits are inherited from the old sunchí
style, written with pen or calligraphic brush, symbols derived from the ancient Peran-Sarden numbers. Lower case digits are the cursive variant based on the sunchí
In the old system the use of upper and lower case numbers was not aleatory but represented certain functions. Thus, upper case forms were the preferred ones to write years, and monarchs' and other rulers' ordinals, and they also headed subdivisions of thousands in long numbers, as well as integers in decimal fractions, while lower case forms were the common ones in mathematic operations and equations, to express decimals numbers, and when a date or number was written as if it was another word in the text.
Nowadays thousands are separated with a floating incision, a kind of punctuation mark used as a comma, upper case forms being reserved for when numbers appear in titles of books and, within a text, to write dates in abbreviated format of the kind 00-aa
-0000, where zeros indicate, respectively, the day (left) and year (right). Lower case digits may be used when it is not desired to write a number, short or long, with letters.
The old system, above, with the modern
way in both upper and lower case.
Most common mathematical symbols (voises sunzenètides
) are addition (jampre, jampaure
), subtraction (mendre, menaure
), multiplication (darnoghezaure
), division (veslaudaure, veslaure
), and equals (idarn
"result"), plus-minus (dou dols
), percentage (massindatlle
), fraction (venfraughe
) and degree (esquell
"sexagesimal degree" and til
"temperature degree"). The first four are put, separated by one space, between both amounts of the operation, always written in numbers. In a similar fashion equals sign goes at the end of the operation, separated by a space from the surrounding numbers. Plus-minus goes before the number it determines without space between it and the number. Percentage sign appears flown, although in small caps numbers can appear on top of the number, as if it were a diacritic mark. Fraction sign, no matter which version, separates the parts of the operation without spaces. Degree sign, both the sexagesimal and the temperature ones, appear flown, although in small caps numbers can be put on top.
Punctuation marks (pessegeus
"markers" or pessegeus na tarvescarea
"writing markers") include a variety of marks, diacritics and logograms habitually used in the written language. While diacritics are put above or below the consonants and vowels they modify, other symbols use to go after words and phrases. Depending on their position from the herne tatge
"base line" (the imaginary line where letters rest) we speak of landed symbols (pessegeus enerdatzs
) when they're resting on the base line, of buried symbols (pessegeus foubrosatzs
) when they're under the base line, of floating symbols (pessegeus onyandhes
) when they are at half-height of a lower case body, and of flying symbols (pessegeus feulendhes
) when they're put between both superior limits. A symbol put on any of these positions is said to be landed, buried, floating or flying.
Left: upper case's superior limit, Lower case's superior limit, Base line.
Right: Flying area, Floating area, Landed area, Buried area.
Incision signs or, simply, incisions (immorsavets
) are thus named because they separate the text in parts delimited by concomitant pauses more or less subtle depending on the intonation given. Incisions affect the text at the morphological and syntactical levels, and are attached at the end of the last word before the pause, with a space resting between the sign and the next word if the text continues in the same line.
- Breath (avís) It indicates a subtle pause within a sentence, although it's also used to separate the constituent elements of a list or enumeration. Its functions are very similar to our comma.
- Closing (mauche) Clou oracions i paràgrafs amb una pausa menys subtil que la del punt volant. Les seves funcions bàsiques són les mateixes que les del nostre punt, ja sigui seguit, ja sigui a part. El símbol són tres punts formant un triangle que apunta a la dreta.
- Stick closing (mauche galç) Hybrid of comma and ending period, usually used to close different sections within a list or long enumeration. It also separates sentences that in a certain way make a single one when these already have inner commas. Another function is to separate a long or complex subordinated sentence from the main one. In essence it's very close to our semicolon. It is represented by three dots put on a vertical stick, hence its name.
- Entry (irzandh) It introduces an explanation, summary or list related to what has been said just before the sign. It is represented by two dots put vertically, never surpassing a lower case's body height. From this sign the long dots are derived, which are the same but with both dots so vertically elongate they look like two vertical hyphens, giving this sign a new meaning (look below, in ‘Other signs’).
- Bite (gassimatze) In ancient times it was a punctuation mark that marked the definitive end of a work or its main divisions (chapter, sections). Such use decayed and nowadays the sign is used as a mark to separate different parts within the same chapter when there's no way or no desire to mark them wih letters or numbers. It is put between the sections, never straight at the end of a line of text, and leaving some space between the text and the sign. It is represented by four dots shaping a square.
Omission signs or, simply, omissions (donrissants
), indicate imaginary lagoons of text that point to an interruption in the discourse that can be produced voluntarily by the narrator or, in a dialogue, when there's an interruption. If the interruption is voluntary, desired, or, on the contrary, is introduced by one of the dialogue agents, we speak of soft and abrupt omissions. The two signs used for such cases always go at the end of the affected sentence and have the width of an upper case màu (M).
- Soft omission (donrissant san) It always indicates a desired omission by the communicator, oftentimes representing a suspended sentence, not finished, due to oblivion, or when the communicator wants to imply something without mentioning it so the reader fills the void with an guessed or deduced meaning. It's represented by a floating ondulating long hyphen.
- Abrupt omission (donrissant taut) It indicates a sudden interruption of what is being said, sometimes by the communicator, although in a dialogue it can indicate an interruption made by another character whose message appears in the next line of dialogue. It is represented with a long straight hyphen just below the base line.
) are punctuation marks that encapsulate words or pieces of text. They always go in pairs, consisting of an opening and a closing sign that are reflections of one another.
- Parenthesis (patledag) They encapsulate comments about what has been said previously, and they also serve to insert clauses and intercalated sentences with an independent explicative sense, never subordinated. They're very similar to our parentheses: vertical thin lines, slightly curved outwards.
- Citation (mavranie) Used to delimit a citation or to transcribe a fragment of text or dialogue. They're also used to represent graphemes and, by extension, anything between them is considered to be a literal citation or an objective and faithful representation of what is shown.
- Clarification (afourença) It encapsulates clarifications about what has been previously said. In linguistics it is used to show the meaning of the preceding word.
- Square brackets (maduceus) They have various uses, among them to encapsulate proper nouns and parts of text that one wants to highlight. They're also used to write the full name of a dignitary or relevant person just after its name, if it's necessary with all its titles and honours.
Toner signs (endasyadeus
) are thus named because they indicate feelings or intentions in the written text that in the spoken language are habitually expressed with notable changes in the tone used. Like incision signs they're written just after the last word in the sentence; if this is followed by a subtle pause a breath (comma) or stick closing (semicolon) must be written, following the toner sign, but if a new sentence starts in the same or next line it's not necessary a closing dot.
- Signification toner (endasyadeu eslajateu) It indicates an ascending tone to represent joy, surprise or admiration as well as, in dialogues, high pitch and yelling. It's very similar to our exclamation sign.
- Interrogation toner (endasyadeu tissarangateu) It indicates the tone used in direct and rhetorical questions, inquisitions. It's, in essence, the same thing as an interrogation sign.
- Ambiguation toner (endasyadeu taŀlaiteu) It indicates that the sentence should be considered with a double entendre or an intrinsic vagueness in what it says. Usually used to indicate irony or sarcasm.
) are horizontal lines with various functions, essentially to tie and to separate. The only exception is the apostrophe, which it originally was a small vertical hyphen to mark an elision.
- Short hyphen (vineu taig) or little hyphen (vineuell) It ties two words to form a compound one. It's a floating sign and measures half the width of a lower case o.
- Low hyphen (vineu naig) Used to decompose constituent parts, like syllables. It's as wide as a lower case o and it's placed buried.
- Long hyphen (vineu saig) Used to indicate a range between two words or two numbers like, for example, in numbers that open and close a period of time (years, hours…), as well as proper names in itineraries or runs. Such function is also done by the broken bar. The sign is floating and has the width of an upper case O.
- Dialogue hyphens (vineus na màŀlie) They open and close a piece of dialogue. They're floating signs.
- Apostrophe (vinegarn) It indicates an elision in word contractions, as in the combination of certain prepositions and in the combination of weak pronouns. They can be used to mark the spirit or aleph, a glottal sound typical of some languages, in loanwords. It's a flying sign.
) are signs consisting in vertical thin lines with different functions, but always with a separating or differentiating nature.
- Double stick (galç nòbol) or geminated stick (galç taŀlematz) It indicates beginning of a section in a text, list, dictionary entry… when subsections are separated among them with lone sticks.
- Lone stick (galç nell), or just stick (galç) It separates sections or subsections in a text or list, as well as in dictionary entries.
- Truncated stick (galç rostuig) It separates two numbers or words indicating that there's a range between them, being the same function as the long hyphen.
- Truncated double stick (galç talrostuig) It indicates equality while separating two elements of a list or parts of a text. The sign is the equals sign put vertically. In some cultures it's the equals sign in mathematics and, in general, is the preferred form of the sign in equations.
- Bar (milhau) It indicates contrast between the words or pieces of text that lie on both sides. In fast and informal hand-writing it's a convenient sign to represent fraction; in typography is the preferred symbol to represent fractions in superindex.
The diacritical marks (noeprames
) used in Hellesan use to go on top of vowels and consonants and, in a few cases, below them. They're symbols smaller than a lower case letter, generally between one third and one fourth of a lower case's body height. Some of the diacritical marks shown are not native nor traditional in Hellesan yet can appear in some non-harmonized loanwords.
- Open accent (carès adratz) It marks stress in open timbre vowels ([a ɛ ɔ]). If doubled it indicates that the vowel is alos long. Always on top of a vowel.
- Closed accent (carès taulatz) It marks stress in closed timbre vowels ([e i o u]). If double it indicates that the vowel is also long. Always on top of a vowel.
- Màcron (àfon, artinsol) Used in historical linguistics to indicate long vowel, and in some modern langages too. Always on top of a vowel.
- Breve (marg, cambressol) Us in historical linguistics to indicate short vowel. Always on top of a vowel.
- Diaeresis (noetarve) It indicates that the vowel must be pronounced as such, not as a semivowel. It serves, therefore, to mark a hiatus where we would see a diphthong. Always on top of the vowel.
- Diavocalic (noessaule) Used in certain foreign languages to derive a new vowel with a similar sound as the one represented by the bare vowel. Not used in Hellesan.
- Bending (penzatge) It modifies a vowel or consonant to indicate, in most cases, a palatal, affricate or retroflex sound, depending on the language. Not used in Hellesan.
- Breaking (brescatge) Used to modify a consonant to represent a similar sound, in most cases approximant, voiced or fricative. Hellesan uses it to derive casta brescatze /s/ from casta /k/.
- Nasality (perarnadmé) It indicates that the vowel is nasal. Since no nasal vowels exist in Hellesan the language does not use it, although it can be seen in old Hellesan texts to indicate a naz /n/ that follows the marked vowel in order to save some space.
- Emphasis (tènauron) It indicates that the consonant is emphatic.
- Caron (quan) A mark to derive new vowels with different sounds, allophones. Not used in Hellesan.
- Roundness (adovellatge) Used to indicate that the vowel is rounded, usually to derive a new vowel, an allophone. Not used in Hellesan.
These are Hellesan's accentuation rules:
- Words can have no more than one accentuated syllable and vowel.
- Monosyllabs are not accentuated except those who have a diacritical accent to differentiate homographs.
- All words with stress on the last syllable are accentuated if they end in à, è, é, í, ò, ó, ú, às, ès, és, ís, òs, ós, ús. Words ending in i, is, u, us are not accentuated if they're part of a decreasing diphthong.
- Paroxytone words are not accentuated except those not ending in any of the aforementioned endings.
- All proparoxytone words are accentuated.
Amansard's most common abbreviations (amargatges
) in Hellesan include a series of symbols consisting of old scribal abbreviation marks, ligatures and logograms.
- Little star (sedevell) or little fly (fruselle) Thus named because they're tiny symbols that remind of flies, some of which are star-shaped. It has a few uses: if put flying after a word or sentence it indicates that there's a note tied to that word or piece of text, such note being put at the feet of the page or in the margins. If it's put flying and surrounding a piece of text it means that these words' veracity is put on doubt, and if put flying before a word it indicates that the word's orthography is dubious. In certain traditions one or a few floating little stars indicate a censored piece of text, especially when there are vulgar words, swearwords or curses.
- Et (ec) Ligature of e and c representing Sarden ec "and", word that evolved into Hellesan è. The symbol has the same function as the word, but to unite in copula two proper names in book titles, names of enterprises, brands, etc.
- Iteration (laratança) It indicates iteration, repetition, and is used vertical lists to not repeat what has already been written above.
- Arrow (senghe) Abbreviation of "therefore", "consequently", "as a consequence", "the result being". It appears as an arrow pointing to the right, towards the text's orientation, and is an abundant sign in mathematical and logical works.
- Ergo (estra) Similar to the preceding sign because it introduces the consequence of an argument. The symbol is an evolution of the arrow.
- That is (dà èu, dèu) It means "that is to say", "that is", "namely". It's an evolution of the 'entry' sign.
- For example (tir oscandi) It introduces a piece of text that exemplifies what has been said previously. The symbol is a logogram inherited from scribes' notation marks, from t•o 'tir oscandi'. It's ususally placed between breaths (commas), or after a breath and followed by an entry (colon).
- Etcetera (evolc) Used to avoid mentioning a full series or list, like our 'etc'. Inherited from the scribal abbreviation e•u•a, for Sarden ec ulquos áphones "and (even) longer", from which the Hellesan name is derived.
- Dixit (làmet) Placed after a citation it indicates that the words were said that way, literally, in order to reinforce the objectivity with which these words have been reproduced. The symbol is a logogram and seems to be a stylization of a tongue outside a mouth.
- I have said (ansyetz, ansyet) Used by the communicator to end a conversation or exposition, indicating that (s)he does not want to say more or has nothing more to add, being read as "I have said" (thus the name), "I have nothing more to say", "and enough", "period" and similar. It's an evolution of the 'bite' sign.
- Seen (oidatz) Used to indicate confirmation, verification or fact. In essence it's a check mark.
- Royalties (llírie) Logogram mostly used in legal texts to indicate reserved rights to the propietary or author. The symbol is an stylized labris (a double-head axe) within a circle, an ancient Satic symbol of sacred royalty. Its use is very old, since it appears in amphorae and jars found in Satic palatine temples, indicating special rights reserved to the princely priests.
- Coin (tilisse) The common symbol for any coin. Many national coins use it together with another symbol, like a letter or abbreviation, to differentiate them from others.
- Colophon (asyevre) It indicates the definitive end of a work, being the evolution and modern version of a 'bite' sign. It's usually placed a few lines below the very last line of text, centered on the page.
Some abbreviations are done with letters. Here we present the most common, romanized (a bullet represents a breath, or comma):
- Therefore / Hence / Thus tdà (for tir adà "by this"); tzà (for tir atzà "by this"); tnyà (for tir anyà "for that").
- Because tter (for tirter "because"); dte (for dui te "now that" and don te "well that", both used for "because").
- Street (in addresses) t/ (for tarde "street, way").
- Numberless (in addresses) s•m (for sarse mànere "without number").
- Number (of door) mn (for mànere, mandre "number").
- Before (in dates) a•n (for aimeny naçard "having in front").
- After (in dates) a•t (for aimeny tursatz "having passed").
- In/of the present year (in dates) j•m (for jan marís "present year").
Ordinal indicators are the abbreviations of ordinal numbers, written with the number followed by the last letter of its ordinal noun. Therefore, mintar
"first" give '1r' and '1e', noscar
"second" give '2r' and '2e', and the rest of ordinals, all ending in –ar
(redar, sartar, brenar, gisar
, etc.) give '3r', '4r', '5r', '6r', etc.