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The New D'ni Transcription Standard

This is the official page to explain the so-called New D'ni Standard. It's aim is to create a transcription system for D'ni letters and words that serves all needs and avoids the disadvantages of former systems. Consider it as an "idea"- I tried to get opinions about it on the Riven Lyst but the response was very few (to my great surprise). So I decided simply to begin using it wherever possible, and this page will show you what I imagine. This standard has been developed in cooperation with Kamza Madfuun (Verbmaster).

Now, some words about why we think that a New Standard is helpful. When speaking about a D'ni word, let's take "behlehtsahrah" as an example, we are actually speaking of a word that has to be written in D'ni letters (8 letters in that example). Yes, 8 letters, although the word as I wrote it above has 13 letters. The problem is: I have to find a way to put "normal letters" for "D'ni letters". That is called transcription. Now, it is of course important what pattern we use to transcribe D'ni words. There are two possibilities in general:
a) Giving a phonetic equivalent. In that case, one D'ni letter can be represented by more than one normal letter.
b) Assigning one normal letter to every D'ni letter.

The first method has a great disadvantage. Many of the currently used standards write "eh" for example, or "oh" etc. It is not clear if that indicates one D'ni letter or two (eh or e-h). Okay, there are few words that are problematic in this respect but they exist! Or, the long ee sound is written with "ee", and again that leaves the doubt if that's one or two D'ni letters.
The second method is better in that point. The transcription list RAWA published a while ago works with that system. However, the D'ni alphabet has 35 letters, and ours has 26. So we have not enough symbols and we must introduce new symbols to have one for each D'ni letter. A common way is to use capital letters, and for example write "k" for the D'ni k, and "K" for the D'ni k with a dot. (The D'ni fonts are based on that too.) Well, that works fine, but in my opinion it doesn't look very nice. Examples of that system are: "d'nE" for D'ni; "belexara" for behlehtsahrah (there is no D'ni x so that letter is used to represent ts), "rEkU" for Reekoo etc. Capital letters destroy the typeface's good look.

Our idea is to use the second method, but use new special characters for the D'ni letters. Most of the representations remain the same though. RAWA has started this by using "°a" (a with a circle) for the short a sound. Most D'ni letters have a direct corresponding letter in English, e.g. v, b, n, o, etc. So we have no problems here. But there are some D'ni letters that are special. These are, in old standard: sh, kh, ih, ee, ay, th, dh, oy, ch, oo, ts, a.
You see, I have to use two normal letters to give the phonetic equivalent. But- there are ways to avoid this, after all, we want to create a one-letter-standard:
For vowels: Most vowels exist in a un-dotted and dotted version (o/oy, ah/i, ih/ee...) We shall write "o, a, i, ..." for these without dot and "ó, á, í,..." for these with a dot. That makes sense, doesn't it?
For the special consonants: we shall use symbols according to worldwide linguistic standards. For example: "th" is a th sound as in "thorn" and this sound is usually written as þ. (e.g. in the International Phonetic Alphabet, or in Lepsius' Standard Alphabet). This gives our system a grand disadvantage: there is the necessity to type symbols that are not directly available on the keyboard. However, it's not that difficult: þ is created by typing ALT-0254 on Windows computers, or by typing "þ" in HTML code. I believe that the point that we avoid misunedestandings and keep a nice typeface is worth that effort.

The actual standard

1) Transcription of D'ni letters



 01  v


 01' b


 02  t


 03  s


 03' sh


 04  j


 04' g




 05  y


 06 kh


 06' k


 07  ah


 07' i


 08  f


 08' p




 09  ih


 09' ee


 10  eh


 10' ay


 11 r


 12  m


 13  th




 14  dh


 14' d


 15  h


 16  o


 16' oy


 17  ch


 18  w




 19  u


 19' oo


 20  ts


 21  l


 22  a


 23  z


 24  n


 (about the numbers see here)

The newly introduced transcriptions are marked in yellow colour.
Following 5 symbols are a bit more difficult to type:
- š = ALT-0154, or š
- þ = ALT-0254, or þ
- ð = ALT-0240, or ð
- ç = ALT-0231, or ç
- æ = ALT-230, or æ

2) Punctuation marks

(the full stop) = .
(the dash-like symbol) = ~

3) Brackets [ ] to mark New Standard

To make clear that a word/text is given in this New D'ni Standard this word/text shall be put in brackets [ ].
Example: "The D'ni word [lómat] means 'although'. It is written with the D'ni letter [l] at the beginning. "

4) Transcription of numbers

If there appear numbers written in the D'ni number system, they shall be written as the D'ni digits, again in brackets, with the single digits separed by the | symbol.
Example: "[3|12] stands for 87."

Sample text

[.lómat lekenít ðénótí para trešíga reendétantí lešuféít úlbaó fesev [9][8] kodobíra retíju kag
.ril líam lekenen húsaté b'fasí ox een ox mištatavó met fam gæta çileš brevog woca ox r'aça te a sev mot]

What we want to achieve

We are convinced that this new standard is good enough to be used anywhere where it seems necessary to transcribe D'ni words. This is mainly in word lists, mail discussions, on linguistic websites. So, we hope that in the future, this standard actually may become a standard not only within the Guild of Linguists but for the whole fan community.
We do NOT want to change spelling of common phrases. I will not write "šora" or "çev šem" instead of "shorah" or "chev shem", because there we use the words in personal conversation and not for linguistic debates.
And we do NOT want to force anyone to do something. If nobody reacts to this, and it's the destiny of this standard that it remains unaccepted by the majority of the fans - well, forget it. Remember, this page only represents my personal opinion, and Kamza's, and some of you will agree with it. Some may not. That's just as good.

BUT I want one thing. I want your opinion. I want to hear if that system was a good idea and if you think it's as good as I think it is. So, here is my mail adress. Take the time and write me a comment, no matter if you agree or disagree.
And consider that as a kind of "vote" for or against that new standard! I will count the messages and find a result.


Responsible for the New Standard
Guild Master Josef
Kamza Madfuun

January 2000