Very preliminary drafts of romanization tables: Bamum, N’ko

For the west African scripts of Bamum and N’ko, full romanization guidelines for the use of library catalogers have been evolving for some time. Here are a couple of preliminary iterations toward what should become, after due review from the Library of Congress and the American Library Association, stable guidelines supportable in the context of American libraries.  The timeframe for review will likely take up most of the rest of this year, first internally at the Library of Congress, then with a period open for public comment.  The Coptic romanization table is up for a final vote in committee, and if approved at ALA Midwinter over the weekend, will find its place among tables currently in use.

Update #1 (10/25/15):  While the N’ko romanization table has been approved for use, work on the Bamum table is still ongoing.  In the meantime, please enjoy these five poems in the A-ka-u-ku script of the Bamum language, written by Abdoulaye Mbouombouo:

Mère de Jesus

Mon Amour


Petit Cameroun

Roi Njoya

Update #2 (04/01/16):  The Endangered Archives Program at the British Library has a collection of Bamum manuscripts here.  The Musée du quai Branly recently hosted an exhibit of some of its Bamum material as well; there remain more manuscripts in their collection to be digitized.

Update #3 (05/17/16):  A beta tool for inputting Bamum script can be found here.  It works best in the Mozilla Firefox browser.  Display for Bamum in Unicode is starting to improve, slowly, across browsers but you will often still find only empty boxes (ꚠ).


Categories: Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Very preliminary drafts of romanization tables: Bamum, N’ko

  1. Update: The Coptic table has been approved at ALA Midwinter! With this vote, it becomes official and ready for use.

  2. The N’ko table has been approved now too, as of February 2015:'ko.pdf. Still more work to be done on Bamum, and on ‘Ajami as well.

  3. A sample of free online books in N’ko can be found here: A fuller catalog of print books is here:'ko-librerie01.html

  4. There are links to issues of an N’ko newspaper, ‘Dalukende’, that can be accessed for free online from here:

  5. abdoulaye

    c vraiment génial Dragon Charles !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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