Siye Orthography

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The indigenous Siye orthography, "Keno Siye", is an abugida with ninety basic characters (the superimposed nasal coda is not counted), the Modern Basic Syllabary, in which all series (except the w-series and the s-series) distinguish initial and medial (non-initial) characters. The Archaic Syllabary was not originally organized, but later the antecedents of the Guild of Scholars organized the characters in a matrix and modified some homographs. The change from Tide to Tiye to Siye required a reorganization of the matrix, which is now known as the Modern Basic Syllabary. There are no spaces in the script. Initial characters are transcribed in with a Roman capital letter, while medial characters are transcribed with a Roman lower case letter. The w- and s-series, which lack this distinction, are transcribed as lower case.

A character is composed of a "mother", the principal skeleton, and a "daughter", the smaller detached parts. Exceptions are < To > and < no >, which only have "daughters". The medial characters derive from prenasalized characters in earlier stages of the language, for which reason so many of them have the nasal dash. < Ta > and <na> differ only in the presence of the nasal dash. The mother is shared wit < Ta >, < na >, < ti >, and < Li >. The daughter is shared with < Ta >, < na >, < Te >, < ne >, < Ti >, < ni >, < To >, and < no >. This daughter is a mother in < Tu > and < nu >, while < na > uses this mother and the nasal dash. As stated above, the nasal dash occurs only in medial syllables, 35 of the total 90. The orphan daughters < To > and < no > have daughters of their own. Some half-size characters, such as < ya > and < Tu >, expand to full height, but < Yo > and < Ma > remain at half-height.

There are additional characters modified from the basic characters to indicate grammatical suffixes, distinguish cases hidden by vowel dominance, adjectival derivation, and providing scribal shortcuts, as well as an "alphabet" that allows for corrections, foreign pronunciations, and coda consonants. In these cases, the "daughter" is orthographically expressed in parentheses. It is permissible to only use characters from the Basic Syllabary, but the use of the additional characters makes Keno Siye text easier to parse and makes the writer appear better morally and grammatically.

The positional suffix < na > is a basic character, but the perfective positive realis suffix < ne (a) >, which is often adjacent to the positional suffix < na >, is the basic character < ne > modified by a "daughter" < a >. A noun such as < wino > is pronounced identically in the absolutive and vocative, but the second character of the vocative, < no (i) >, is the absolutive < no > modified by a "daughter" < i >. The orthography's ability to represent foreign pronunciation is important to missionary work. Superscript consonants and vowels indicate a correction. Subscript consonants indicate codas. Subscript vowels indicate the second part of diphthongs. The subscript coda consonants, in particular, are important for accurate transcription of Ulok in Keno Siye.

The very name of the writing system is < Ke(i).no >.

Many homophonous names are distinguished by additional characters. For example, the masculine name Uku is written < U.ku >, but the feminine name Uku is written < >. A girl named Tu after the arranger of the Keno Siye would spell her name < Ta(u) > because the original name was Tadibu, which collapsed to < Ta(i).wu > and thence to < Ta(u) >.

Due to the complexities of Keno Siye, each affix in the main text of the grammar will have an indication of the character(s) used.

There are various Romanization schemes. The principal one (Standard), the one used in this document, hews close to the phonemic scheme of the native orthography. A Practical Orthography uses phonetics as its guiding principle. This system is rarer but still common. Cyrillic and Hebrew orthographies also exist.