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date: 01 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter begins with a brief introduction to the history of writing in Africa. It goes on to describe the indigenous African scripts: the Tifinagh family of scripts; West African syllabaries, which include Vai, Mende, Kpelle, Loma, and Bambara scripts; West African alphabets, which include Bassa, Nko, Wolof, and some Hausa scripts; Bamum and Bagam scripts; East African scripts, including Somali alphabets (Osmanya, Gadabuursi, and Kaddariya), Oromo script, Beria alphabet, and some Nubian scripts. A separate section is devoted to the invention of writing within religious communities (Obɛri Ɔkaimɛ, Yoruba “holy” script, and Mandombe). Then, several recent attempts at orthography development from the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century are analyzed: Fula alphabets, Bété syllabary, Nwagu Aneke Igbo syllabary, Aka Umuagbara script, Mwangwego script, and some others. A description of writing systems among African diasporas conclude the chapter.

Keywords: writing system, syllabary, alphabet, Vai syllabary, Bamum script, Nko, Somali alphabet, Mandombe, orthography development

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