The Mandombe script

Another script that merits further review is the Mandombe script developed by David Wabeladio Payi, a Congolese follower of Simon Kimbangu.  Here is a link to the most recent proposal for its inclusion into Unicode.  There are at least twenty or so books and one map that have been produced so far using the script, which is technically a little more complex than most in the way its characters combine.  All the characters are geometric compositions of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines.  It has a distinctive look, with fourteen combining diacritics and four acute accents that do not combine.

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Some favorites

Here’s a sample of a few of the more memorable records I’ve had the pleasure of cataloging.  Hope you’ll find them intriguing and maybe worth checking out:

Dictionnaire de poche : Français-Tamazight : Tamazight-Français.

Manuel de conjugaison de l’amazighe = Adlis n usfti n tmaziɣt.

Pátris Lúmunba kótíi fɔ́lɔfɔlɔ̀ fàa ɲá dɔ́sarì.

Winden jangen e hāla Pular : deftere tāli e tindi Pular.

Meqoqo ea phirimana.

Articles : publiés dans le bulletin de l’IFAN, Institut fondamental d’Afrique noire, 1962-1977.

YaBihon ʼālam.

YaRāsśélās masfena ʼItyoṗyā tārik.

Livre d’initiation au Garay.

Update #1 (4/14/16):  The first two records both use Tifinagh script, which at first wasn’t displaying natively in the Chrome browser; an extension was needed for Tifinagh display support.  Now that appears to be rectified; the Tifinagh script should be displaying well across most of the common browsers:  Chrome, Explorer and Firefox.  I haven’t tried viewing it on Safari yet though.

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The Bété alphabet of Frédéric Bruly Bouabré

One of the more interesting artists who I’ve had the pleasure to meet is Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, also known as Cheick Nadro.  He passed away in 2014 at the age of 89; his son Olivier called me with the sad news in January of that year.  I was fortunate to have met with him in 2009 with the assistance of Francis Tagro Gnoleba and Tombekai Sherman at Bouabré’s house in Yopougon.  A small sample of the iconic pictographic alphabet that he was inspired to invent can be found here.  A more extensive review of the entirety of his work can be found in this four-volume text, published in 2013.  The Yale copy is non-circulating, but scans of chapters may be requested.  Other libraries that hold this work in the U.S. include Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Northwestern University.  The text includes an extensive bibliography.

Update #1 (4/12/16):  I believe the text linked to below has not been published anywhere; it is apparently a continuation from three cahiers written about by Théodore Monod and Denis Escudier.  If I am mistaken and it has already been published, please contact me to let me know and I will comply with a request to take it down.  I just talked with Olivier Bouabré, who asked me to send him a link, and I believe this is what he is looking for.



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Links to texts drafted by El Hadj Assane Faye using the Garay script for the Wolof language

These texts by Assane Faye were digitized by me (Charles Riley) in Dakar in 2009 at Faye’s house.  They are all in Wolof, on a variety of subjects, from mathematics to social morals to animal tales.  I think number four is on political philosophy.  They merit further study and more attention than what I can give them at the moment.

FayeMS1 FayeMS2 FayeMS3 FayeMS4 FayeMS5

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From the Africana SACO Funnel coordinator–

As of July 10, 2015 the Africana Subject Authority Funnel Project has a description which links from the Library of Congress SACO Funnel Projects page.  The funnel provides a mechanism for proposing Africa-related subject headings and changes to existing headings.  The goal of the funnel is to improve access to Africana resources (including works on languages, ethnic groups, history and politics) by promoting and facilitating the creation (and revision) of relevant subject headings.  For more information, please visit:“–Margaret Hughes, a metadata librarian at Stanford, Co-chair of the Africana Librarians Council Cataloging Committee and head of the Africana SACO Funnel.

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Unicode script proposals up for active review: Loma, Garay, Adlam

Recently drafted script proposals for the Unicode Technical Committee and IS0 10646 standard have been posted and are ready for review.  These are for the Loma script of Liberia and Guinea, the Garay script invented by El Hadj Assane Faye, primarily intended for the Wolof language, and the Adlam script of Guinea and Nigeria, invented by Abdoulaye and Ibrahima Barry, primarily intended for the Fula language.  Enjoy!

Update #1 (4/6/16):  Here is a two-page sample of the Loma script as it exists in modern usage:  loma2 loma3

Update #2 (4/10/16):  More documentation of Loma usage:

Monod (1943)

Joffre (1945)

Lelong (1946)

Leopold (1986)

LomaBalla (2009)

LomaJustin (ca. 2009)

LomaToupouEtAl (2009)


And a link to some books in ADLaM:

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WHO FAQs on Ebola in N’ko and Vai; CDC radio spots in other languages

The ongoing outbreak of Ebola does not seem to be letting up anytime soon.  For those who are affected in the region, effective public communication about resources and preparedness appears to be one of the major challenges.  Although communicating a message can only go so far, there are efforts being made to serve populations that don’t readily understand English or French.  Examples of those can be found here:

Update (10/25/15):  Here is a copy of a more extensive article about Ebola, translated from Wikipedia material into Vai:

Ebola Article in Vai

As yet, there are not enough editors for a fully-fledged Vai Wikipedia to materialize (five are needed), but things are getting closer on that front.

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Introduction to Inputting Amharic

For those of you who missed the Spring Africana Librarians Council (ALC) meeting, or are curious about how to input Ethiopic script into MARC library records, this may help serve as an overview.  It would work best for a user who has had some preliminary exposure to Amharic, or for someone working alongside a native speaker.  Ethiopic (or Ge’ez) script is also used for the Tigre and Tigrinya languages, among others.

Amharic Lesson

Update #1 (4/12/16):  Some of the more difficult distinctions to make visually are between, for example, syllables like ሳ (sā) and ላ (lā); ሰ (sa), ስ (se) and ለ (la); or ጻ (ṣi) and ጾ (ṣo).  It is also important to keep in mind the distinction between transliterated glottal vowels like ʼa (አ) and pharyngeal ones like ʻa (ዐ).  Glottals are romanized using the alif, while pharyngeals are romanized using the ayn character.  It is also worth noting here that the Ethiopic calendar has thirteen months (one is very short), and is offset from the Gregorian calendar by seven to eight years.

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Preview of Unicode 7.0 ()

Scripts of the Bassa and Mende languages are on tap for the release of Unicode 7.0 next month: Early testing of Bassa Vah in OpenOffice has gone fairly well, and the user community is looking forward to being able to use it more widely. For more background on the Kikakui script of the Mende, see Tuchscherer (1995):

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Using ISO 639-2 / 639-3 language codes in name authority records

Working through the relationship between MARC, ISO 639-2, and ISO 639-3 language codes, MARC language names and their relationship (or not) to submitting LC subject heading proposals for language names, and how that all applies to using the optional MARC field 377, “Associated Language”, in the RDA context when creating or updating LC name authority records.  And then a little musing about “to what end.”  Examples of personal name authority files incorporating Associated Language are provided.

Associated Language codes

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