A Course in Rawàng Ata: 1.1



The Alphabet

Although Rawàng Ata has its own script, which will be dealt with in a later lesson, it will be more convenient for now to transcribe it into the Latin alphabet.  In doing so, we will use the following letters: a, b, d, e, f, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, ng, o, r, s, t, u, w and y. In general, the pronunciation of these should be clear from their English usage, with a few notes: the vowels are pronounced cleanly, with Continental values, as in Spanish, rather than either their long forms in English or their clipped short forms. Phonetically, that is, they are pronounced as the X-SAMPA vowels /a e i o u/. The letter j is pronounced as X-SAMPA /Z/ – that is, as the sound in English ‘illusion’, ‘measure’ or ‘mirage’. The couplet ng is treated as a single letter; when it is not followed by a vowel, it is pronounced as /N/, which is the final sound in ‘sing’, or ‘bang’;  when it is followed by a vowel, it is pronounced as that sound followed by a g-sound, as in English ‘finger’ or ‘linger’, never as in ‘singer’ or ‘flinger’ (in accents that pronounce the latter two words in a different way from the former).

These pronunciations are only approximate, and the details should vary depending on context, which will be discussed in a later lesson, but these values will do for now.

It should also be mentioned that the vowels may appear with gràvè àccènts above them. This affects the pitch and intonation of the word in ways that will be discussed in a later lesson, but does not affect the quality of the vowel. They may also be written with mācrōns written above them: these indicate that the vowel is to be pronounced with the same quality, but with greater length.

All written letters should be pronounced.



lutà = ball

A lutà is typically a man-made roughly spherical item. The larger it is, the less exactly spherical it must be. It includes any ornamental bead, and any small ornament that does not have a more precise word for it. Amongst other things, it also includes a child’s toy, slightly larger than a fist, formed of a plant gum and an aggregate (sand, dirt, sawdust), wrapped in fabric; the result is soft and pliable. It is heavy for its size, so young children are confined to rolling it, while older children play throwing games. It is able to bounce to some extent when hitting something with force, but this bounce is unpredictable and small.

datta = sailor

Rawàng Ata is an island language, and its speakers mostly cluster on the coastline, shunning the wild, confusing interior. Their culture revolves around the sea, and most men will serve on ships at some point in their life, from small fishing boats to the great trimarans that protect the nation’s interests. Some women also work on boats, but they are never considered sailors.

wohola = to strike, to collide with intentionally and forcefully

This verb can be used for most forceful comings together. It is not used for collisions between careening or wobbling objects, only those travelling in straight lines or intentionally, and it is not used when both objects are equally affected – there must be a clear striker and a struck.

kòma = a young woman

Originally this word applied to children, but as time has passed, and as marriage ages have risen, it has come to be applied to any woman who is an adult but not yet of marriageable age. Like men and children, they wear their hair extremely short (often shaven), as the hot, humid climate encourages those who labour physically (like men) or run around unnecessarily (like children) to do as much as possible to allow sweat to disperse.


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