The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Article 1 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Kabena'o (©2004–5, eLf ideas)

My Love and Fascination for Languages and Writing Systems
I discovered the Web site Omniglot: A Guide to Writing Systems in 2002, when I was writing articles about the various writing systems of the world for the scholastic magazines I was handling as an editor back in the Philippines. Since then, I became a regular visitor of the site, delightedly studying and understanding the origins of as well as the rudiments in using the various writing systems of different cultures.

I developed this fascination for languages and writing systems in high school—an interest which waned in the ensuing years but rekindled after College when I began immersing again myself in Fantasy Fiction (where constructed languages and writing systems are commonplace) and in World Literature and Languages (my favorite among which are Chinese and Japanese, both of which, according to Steven Roger Fischer in A History of Writing (2003, Reaktion Books, Ltd.), happen to have the most complicated yet interesting writing systems in the world.

When I began to construct an original writing system (I named Kabena'o) for a book I'm finishing (Engkanto: A Bestiary of Philippine Mythical Beings [Book One: Bantay-Katubigan]), the Omniglot Web site had been one of the useful and inspiring references.

On the Omniglot Web site
Then, recently, while checking for updates on the Omniglot Web site, a new section caught my attention: YOUR WRITING SYSTEMS, which said:

"If you've invented a new alphabet and would like me to add it to this site, please read the relevant entry on the FAQs page before you write to me."

Trying My Luck
Albeit a bit hesitant, on November 28, 2004, I sent an e-mail to the site's owner, Mr. Simon Ager, submitting the Kabena'o writing system that I invented:

Dear Mr. Simon Ager,
I've been an avid reader and appreciator of your Omniglot: A Guide to Writing Systems Web site since 2002. In fact, I've used it as a reference to some articles about Languages and Culture which I wrote for scholastic magazines in 2003, when I was the magazine editor of the Philippines' Diwa Scholastic Press Inc.'s English Grammar & Literature magazines Magica (for High School) and Abracadabra (for Elementary).

And then, when I began writing a book about Philippine mythical beings, I decided to invent my own writing system for the sirena'o (Philippine merfolk), which I based on the Philippines' very own Pre-Hispanic alphasyllabary Alibata but using symbols which depict various kinds of fishes and other marine creatures—which, to my mind, is inevitable since merpeople would be the ones using it.

The alphasyllabary that I invented, which I named Kabena'o, is a writing system which can be used in writing Tagalog as well as most Filipino words. For, to avoid much complication, I decided that the sirena'o's language I called Kabenw'a is automatically translated into Filipino when written by the sirena'o people.

I can send you a definitive information concerning the rudiments in writing and features of Kabena'o. In the meantime, as you have emphasized on the FAQs page of your Web site, attached is Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Kabena'o; transliterated in Filipino, translated in English (below).

I'm aLfie vera mella, 33 years old, a nurse in profession but a writer in avocation. I was born and educated in the Philippines and had previously worked as an editor/writer at a publishing company specializing in elementary and high-school books and magazines.

I left my country in 2003 to migrate to Canada, to serve as my maternal grandfather's caregiver. Now, aside from my reason of being here in Canada, I've been devoting my extra time finishing my books delving in poetry and fantasy fiction.

Thank you. I'm looking forward to your considering my invented writing system.


Transliteration (Filipino):
Ang lahat ng tao ay isinilang na malaya at pantay-pantay sa karangalan at mga karapatan. Sila'y pinagkalooban ng katwiran at budhi at dapat magpalagayan ang isa't isa sa diwa ng pagkakapatiran.

Translation (English):
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of kinship.

A Great New Year's Gift
Then, after more than a month of waiting, with an inevitable fear of failing to meet the Web site's standards, I finally received a reply from Mr. Simon Ager.

Hi aLfie,
Thanks for your messages. It's great to hear that you find my site interesting and useful. Apologies for the delay in replying to you. I think some of your earlier messages may have gone astray when my email was malfunctioning.

Your script looks and sounds interesting. Could you send further details? Please save images in GIF rather than JPG format – this will produce better quality images without the fuzziness.


A Great Achievement
With this cover e-mail, the details I promptly submitted to Mr. Ager.

Dear Mr. Simon Ager,
Thank you very much for responding to my query. I want to let you know that your e-mail, expressing your interest in the writing system I invented, I regard as a great gift I received for the New Year. Anyway…

I am sending you the excerpts from the book I’m finishing—Engkanto: A Bestiary of Philippine Mythical Beings (Book One: Bantay-Katubigan)—in which I described the Kabena’o writing system of sirena’o. These may be lengthy, but I hope that you find it definitive and especially informative in your consideration of my writing system for Omniglot Web site.

Thank you,

A New Spark of Inspiration
Wish me luck, that my Kabena'o writing system eventually gets a page on the Omniglot Web site. This will certainly be a great achievement for me.

If you have time to spare, do visit the site, particularly the section, YOUR WRITING SYSTEMS, where a fellow Filipino named Frederick Victor Paredes Añana, a Fine Arts student studying at Far Eastern University, is featured because of the writing system called Banaag that he invented.


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