Mandombe True Type Font

20 Mar

I’ve decided to begin development of a Mandombe true type font.

So for part of today I learned how to read and write this script and then I put all the most commonly used symbols into that true type font over in my Box.net widget.

Because of how the script works, in order for the symbols to show properly, you will have to type the vowels before the letters c (pronounced dj), d, f, l, m, q (pronounced tch), r, s, v, and z.

Oh, and I had to put the vowels in a weird place as well. The vowels are all along the top of the keyboard.

G, J (pronounced as in French), Y, P, and T use I, U, E, O, and A mapped to the keys 1 to 5 respectively. I, U, E, O, A is the vowel order in Mandombe because they correspond to the symbols for the numbers which aren’t in this font because I had no place to put them after I placed the vowels in their places.

D, C, R, V, and M use 6 to 0.

N, B, X (pronounced sh), W, and K use ! to %.

And F, Q, L, S, and Z use ^ to ).

There are also “no vowel” symbols that go on the consonants. The G group uses “=”, the D group uses “-“, the N group uses “+” and the F group uses “_”.

The space looks like a period and the period looks like a caret because I got the impression that is what spaces and periods look like in Mandombe.

Here is how it looks in my Open Office.

Lower case letters all have prenasalisation, so to write Nyota (Swahili for Star), you would type “y4T5”, and to write Mzuri (beautiful, said of a person), you would type “&z6R”. I’m sure it’s useful for writing other languages other than Swahili, but I would definitely need to keep adding symbols. So far this just has the most commonly used symbols to write a few East African languages.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “That looks crazy! This script is crazy! I could come up with a better script tomorrow at lunch.” And maybe you could. This script is not easy to write or to read, and my true type font was as easy as I could make it in one day, but it is still somewhat counter intuitive.

But if we judge this script on how much it looks like a crazy sci-fi alien writing, and on how it functions in a way that is totally unique, then you could definitely not come up with something this far out. Really, the only other writing that uses position (which way the symbol is facing) to change the way a character is pronounced is Canadian Syllabics (used to write Cree and Inuit and stuff like that), and in Canadian Syllabics the vastly simpler symbols change what vowel sound they have based on which direction the letter is facing. But in Mandombe the directions of these ornate symbols (inspired by patterns in a brick wall) change the consonant.

Further development will involve adding diacritics to express syllables with nasal endings and diphthongs. The problem is the diacritics will end up in different places based on the position of the symbol, so I will need to make 4 to 20 glyphs to add diacritics. I have no idea where I would put them. I could make a Mandombe diacritic font, or put the glyphs at the end where you can’t reach them except through the add a special character menu.

There are also a couple of infixes to represent common consonant clusters. There are infixes for consonant-r-vowel, and consonant-l-vowel. But to add them would mean adding another 40 vowel glyphs, or changing the way I do vowels. Changing the vowels seems more likely to me. I know it would mean starting over from scratch, but that seems like slightly less work at this point.

Once I finish a complete representation of Mandombe in one or more true type fonts, I think I’ll even make one that has slightly rounded corners.

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7 Responses to “Mandombe True Type Font”

  1. Misterecho 21 March 2011 at 4:14 am #

    wow, that is a totally unique script. Well done in creating a ttf!

  2. Ecriture Mandombe 25 June 2011 at 2:50 am #

    Nous sommes le centre de l’écriture Mandombe en France. Nous aimerions que vous puissiez nous donner la marche à suivre pour utiliser correctement la police que vous venez de faire. Le CENA ( centre d’écriture Négro Africaine ) est une association loi 1901 à but non lucratif installée en France. Pour nous contacter voici notre émail : mandombecenafrance@yahoo.fr. Nous avons aussi un facebook Ecriture Mandombe. Nous avons déjà signalé vos travaux. A la demande nous pouvons aussi vous fournir les livres publiés en Mandombe. Ces ouvrages sont affichés sur notre facebook Ecriture Mandombe.

  3. Byron Ledbetter 23 April 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    Love it – and I’d love to get my paws on it. I use that script in my Bantu campaign setting.

  4. liamwalls2 18 January 2015 at 8:29 am #

    I would love to get access to this font. Is there any way I can get my hands on it? =)

  5. liamwalls2 18 January 2015 at 8:29 am #

    (assuming you finished it… ) =P

    • Sheikh Jahbooty 2 February 2015 at 8:57 pm #

      Looks like my box widget stopped working a few weeks ago. Maybe I can post a link to the file directly.

      https://app.box.com/s/rbbh8q9ecbcsv4aumbm2m59zr5i8e7ls

      • Mandombe Cenafrance 3 February 2015 at 2:16 am #

        Thank you sir, keep working on your Mandombe police. I will forward it to the Mandombe academy to see if we can not validate your Mandombe police. But personnement me, I still can not operate your policy. We have another font that works very well and is validated by Mandombe academy. Watch our facebook https://www.facebook.com/script.mandombe

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