Reading Six: The Arabos Script of Glowgem
The Arabos Script
Glowgem, one of the Big Eight planets, has mostly adopted the Teivan script for both informal and formal writing. However, a native script called Arabos is still used for religious purposes, and especially for writing personal and place names associated with Glowgem. That the script is called "Arabos" is a bit misleading, since it did not hail from the great ruined city of Arabos in Lagash, but among the Impionic school in neighboring Glowgem. Anything from Lagash evokes nostalgia among the Glowgems, so the moniker might have originated as a form of advertising. Interestingly enough, the script is often more popular in Glowgem's colonies in the faraway Exotics, for example in Silvin and Parasai. Outside of the Glowgem cultural sphere, many know the script as Glowgem or Lagashi (Kriavardaia, Lagashden).
Despite hardly being gem-like in beauty or purity, the planet is worth its weight in gold due to its natural resources. It is hard to gauge how much wealthier old Lagash was, because Glowgems are obsessed with praising their old rival now that it's gone.
Each letter or glyph in Arabos stands for a complete syllable, and consists of 2 parts: the shul on the left, and the soma on the right. The soma can be broken down into the soma proper, and the opus below it. There is one final element: the letter's color, which has phonemic value. In short:
- The shul represents the initial consonant in the syllable.
- The soma proper conveys two facts: the syllable's vowel class, and the second member of an initial consonant cluster, if there is one. As to vowel classes, there are three: class I includes all simple vowels (a, e, i, o, u), class II includes all diphthongs except au and io, which two compose class III. With regard to the consonant clusters, Arabos analyzes the Horgothic language as having three: not only l- and r-clusters as are found in the word flekipraija, but also j-clusters [tj], [sj] and [nj], pronounced /tʃ/, /ʃ/ and /ɲ/ respectively, and corresponding to the letters c x N in Teivan.
- The opus represents the final consonant in the syllable, if any.
- The color of the glyph determines which "family" the vowel belongs to: the a family (a, ai, au), the e family (e, ei), etc.
We'll start by composing the word lagashden in Arabos. First, here is the glyph for la.
In order to make things clearer, in this picture the shul is black, the soma is red, and the opus is blue. A straight vertical soma proper indicates no consonant cluster with a simple vowel (which of the five simple vowels is something we can only know by the color of the glyph). A straight horizontal opus means there is no final consonant. It is common in rapid, not too formal writing, to omit this type of soma composed of two straight lines (the word suchita, for example, could be rendered with just the 3 shul, since each of its syllables has a single initial consonant and a single vowel.)
Below is our second glyph, for gash.
The only component that / and : have in common is the soma proper, because in both cases we have a simple vowel. Notice that without a color assigned these two glyphs could be read legash, lagosh, lugash, ligish, etc. The glyph absent of color is conventionally assigned by grammarians an a family name (thus the two glyphs presented so far are generically called la and gash). This brings to our next glyph, dan, which we will be using to make the particular syllable den.
The opus has changed because the final consonant here is n instead of sh. Now that we have all 3 glyphs, we need to figure out how to pin down those vowel sounds more precisely with colors. There are a variety of color modes in use, but dark writing surfaces predominate and for these the classic mode is that of the Black Temple in Tresi, which is as follows:
|Vowel family →||a-ai-au||e-ei||i-ia-io||o-oi||u-ui|
Using this mode, then, our word lagashden comes out as:
One sometimes comes across Arabos texts that are colorless, more or less resembling Hebrew or Aramaic in that the script acknowledges the existence of vowels to some extent (the matres lectionis in the Semitic tongues, the vowel classes built into Arabos), but doesn't spell them out fully. Far more common, however, is the so-called Plain Mode, which instead of colors uses diacritics to mark the vowel families. It's less glitzy, less monumental, but easier on the eye for regular use. This mode is standard in Sandalion's homeworld of Parasai. The five vowel families are represented by the following glyphs:
Arabos vowel points as used in Parasai.
The phrase "Sandalion of Parasai" (Sandalion nu Parasai), F2A O PDQ in the Black Temple Mode, would in Plain Mode be:
As could be expected, since the vowel a is so common in Horgothic, there is a tendency to ignore the a dots when writing in Plain Mode, so that an unpointed glyph is assumed to belong to the a vowel family.
The glyph na/nu above has a special n, equivalent to and directly motivated by the leggy teneva n in the Teivan script (the regular na glyph is C.) Arabos has developed teneva versions of its letters to correspond with the Teivan, though they still write the vowels out in words like nu and me, which are abbreviated in Teivan.
The typography of /h/ and /v/ deserves special mention. Their shul resemble each other, with the /h/ shul having the distinction of being the only original non-teneva shul that touches its soma (e.g. the top part of = = har.) Each has a teneva form, and /v/ has an additional third form used especially for the word Kriavarda, that is, Glowgem.
From left to right: shul for basic h, basic v, teneva h, kriavarda v, teneva v.
Kriavarda is spelled >?2 in Arabos, whereas "milk" (veta) is MI, and "fleet" (vadis) is JR.
Unlike the Teivan, but similarly to Zeburajan, the silent letter has two distinct forms in Arabos, depending on whether it putatively represents a consonant or a vowel sound. A consonantal silent shul can be paired with any soma as needed, and the same goes for a vocalic silent soma, the latter being a straight vertical all the way to the baseline. As an example, here is a double silent letter (consonantal paired with vocalic):
Arabos Sample Sentences (with the Teivan for comparison)
=8H 8/U V SDT 1 >?2.
horgoTU gilutuMtYr7arabos 7inKyvrda.
Horgotrui gilutum tior Arabos in Kriavarda.
Horgothic is written using Arabos in Glowgem.
(Full stops in a sentence often borrow its initial color, in this case orange. Notice how the spacing in Arabos is much closer to English than Teivan.)
69 < F3 < F2A
durgwn 3sindUn 3sndalYn
Durgaun he Sinduin he Sandalion
Durgaun, Sinduin and Sandalion
(The following is a trite phrase repeated by the acolytes of the Black Temple every morning in its vicinity and unfortunately elsewhere as well. I have heard it with my own ears in the streets of Harsh Gorgon on occasion if you can believe it.)
W /8 X YZ/8 O a^]Cb _ 8[E\.
ruklaga mrlbalaga 2xanwmenexeS pAgicw2seljiS.
Ruk laga mar albalaga nu shanaumeneshens pai gichaunseljins.
The Black Temple is the great temple of foamy waves and hissing flames.