We cannot understand if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols in which it is written.
Toaq’s writing system is an abugida. It groups syllables together as units composed of a primary consonant glyph and secondary vowel glyphs and a tone mark. The arrangement is closely linked to Toaq’s syllable structure, so to understand the script, one should first have a basic understanding of Toaq’s syllables in general.
In the following diagram, C is any consonant phoneme other than /ŋ/, V is any individual vowel, VD is any diphthong from among /ai/, /ao/, /oi/, /ei/ or any individual vowel. Items surrounded by brackets are optional.
This structure is mirrored in the script.
The consonant-vowel unit
Each syllable is arranged as follows:
At the center of the syllable is the onset consonant C. It is surrounded by the vowels and the tone mark. Vowel1 is placed on the right and Vowel2 is placed on the left.
Vowel1 is any individual vowel from among /a/, /u/, /i/, /o/, /e/.
Vowel2 is either one of the diphthongs /ai/, /ao/, /oi/, /ei/, or one of the vowels of Vowel1.
Important: At least one of the vowel positions must be occupied. If the nucleus contains one of the four diphthongs mentioned above, then Vowel1 can be empty, otherwise it must be occupied. In that case, Vowel2 can be empty.
We will first look at the consonant glyphs, then the vowels, and finally the tone marks.
These are the 17 initial consonants of Toaq:
* This glyph marks the empty onset. An empty onset is generally realized as /ʔ/ (glottal stop).
The phoneme /ŋ/ cannot appear in onset position and is therefore listed in a later section.
Each vowel has two forms: one as the first vowel of a syllable (Vowel1), and one as the second vowel of a syllable (Vowel2). The four diphthongs (VD) can only appear in Vowel2 and therefore only have one form. Vowel1 is placed to the right of the consonant, while Vowel2 is placed on the left.
* /a/ is implied in Vowel1 if no explicit vowels are present. Because of this, the Vowel1 character for /a/ is not required and usually omitted.
** An underdot can be placed under a consonant to indicate the lack of any vowel. This is most commonly used for Toaq’s m-interjections, but can also be used to transcribe foreign words.
We can now create our first simple syllables. Here are some examples:
In order, these read: na ke laı nuo tıao
Tone and Coda
The third and final component (green) marks the tone of the syllable and indicates whether the syllable is open or closed, i.e., whether its coda is occupied by /ŋ/ or not.
Tone + Coda is encoded by a single compound diacritic. Since every Toaq syllable carries one of 7 tones or is toneless, and is either open or closed, there are 16 possible combinations for the Tone + Coda slot. They are as follows:
|Open (empty coda)||Closed (coda /ŋ/)|
|Rising glottal tone|
|Low glottal tone|
These read: bũ mẻo kảqsī níchāq kùı
These read: m̉ arānē ào élū
And that’s all there is to know.
The most recent version of the font can be downloaded from toaq.org/font/TS_current.ttf.