Kalevakirjat

(Tegurala introduction: I have a D&D setting I have developed, which I call Tegurala. When I started working on it, I decided to use real world languages for the fantasy languages, for naming language consistency without having to create a bunch of new ConLangs. Giants use Uralic languages)

The Revelation of the Giants

Back in 2017, a world building question for Tegurala had been nagging at me for a few weeks: "What is the revelation of the Giants?". When I solved it, and followed the implications out, it ultimately meant that in Tegurala, I need cuneiform writing systems for Uralic languages!

The simplest of these is Finnish written in an adaptation of Old Persian Cuneiform. Old Persian Cuneiform is more or less alphabetic with only 40-50 symbols (unlike most cuneiform scripts, many of which have large logographic inventories).

There are other Giantish scripts that more resemble, e.g., Akkadian Cuneiform, complete with Sumerograms (Dracograms).

1: The Kalevakirjat (Finnish Cuneiform)

1.1 Vowels

Glyph Transliteration Neutral Value Front Value Back Value Old Persian transliteration
𐎒 u /i/ /y/ /u/ u
𐎑 o -- /ø/ (â) /o/ i
𐎠 a /e/ /Γ¦/ (Γ€) /Ι‘/ (a) a
𐎒𐎑 uo -- /yj/ (yi) /uj/ (ui)
πŽ’πŽ“πŽ‘ uΓ³ /iw/ (iu) /yΓΈΜ―/ (yΓΆ) /uoΜ―/ (uo)
𐎒𐎠 ua (ie) (Ài) --
𐎑𐎒 ou -- (âi) (oi)
πŽ‘πŽ“πŽ’ oΓΊ -- (ΓΆy) (ou)
𐎠𐎒 au /ej/ (ei) /æj/ (Ài) --
πŽ πŽ“πŽ’ aΓΊ (eu) (Γ€y) (au)

1.2: Consonants

Glyph Transliteration Value Following Vowel Class Old Persian transliteration
πŽ‡ β€ŠΝ” -- Front 2
𐏔 β€ŠΝ -- Back 20
𐎢 m /m/ Neutral m(a)
𐎷 mΝ” /m/ Front m(i)
𐎸 m͐ /m/ Back m(u)
𐎴 n /n/ Neutral n(a)
𐎦 nΝ” /n/ Front g(u)
𐎡 n͐ /n/ Back n(u)
𐎲 p /p/ Neutral b
𐎳 pΝ” /p/ Front f
𐎱 p͐ /p/ Back p
𐎫 t /t/ Neutral t(a)
𐎰 tΝ” /t/ Front ΞΈ
𐎬 t͐ /t/ Back t(u)
𐎣 k /k/ Neutral k(a)
𐎀 kΝ” /k/ Front k(u)
𐎨 k͐ /k/ Back c

Transliteration tool (Beta)

2. Development Story (External History)

In Old Persian Cuneiform a single consonant sound has up to three different glyphs, depending on which vowel the consonant is followed by. In Persian, it is not clear why this was interesting or useful, but adapting it to write Finnish, it's a great system to adapt to representing the Finnish vowel harmony system, in which vowels come in three harmony classes: Front (mostly front rounded), Back (back rounded) and Neutral (front unrounded).

In the Kalevakirjat, there are three glyphs for every consonant (which took some mixing and matching to fill in gaps where Old Persian had only one or two glyphs for a consonant), which provide the information of which harmony class the following vowel is in. The three vowel glyphs distinguish only between vowels within a harmony class. Effectively, they provide height information: low (𐎠), medium (𐎑), or high (𐎒), while the consonant before provides the frontness and roundness information. This is a little like the opposite of Irish orthography, where each consonant can represent two different sounds, which are disambiguated by the vowel letters around them.

By adapting this system, the Kalavakirjat writing system is not just a writing system for Finnish, but strongly rooted in Finnish phonology. (It also solves the problem of how to write Finnish, which has eight vowels, in an alphabet with only three vowel letters)

3. Example: Kalevala Intro, 1-8

Kalevakirjat

  1. 𐎢𐎒𐎠𐎾𐎠𐎴𐎒𐏐​𐎢𐎒𐎦𐎒𐎴𐏐​πŽ«πŽ πŽ£πŽ πŽ»πŽ’ππ’‘ ​πŽ“πŽ πŽ’πŽΊπŽ‘πŽ΄πŽ’π​πŽ“πŽ πŽ¦πŽ πŽ«πŽ«πŽ πŽΎπŽ πŽ»πŽ’
  2. πŽπŽ πŽ§πŽ«πŽ π’πŽ πŽ΄πŽ’π​πŽœπŽ πŽ“πŽ’πŽœπŽ πŽΈπŽ π‚πŽ πŽ΄ππ’‘ ​πŽΏπŽ πŽ πŽ“πŽ πŽ΄πŽ’π​π€πŽ πŽ΄πŽ πŽΎπŽ πŽΈπŽ π‚πŽ πŽ΄
  3. π€πŽ’πŽ¨πŽ’πŽ»πŽ’πŽΌπŽ°πŽ°πŽ π​π€πŽ’πŽ“πŽ‘πŽΎπŽ¬πŽ πŽΈπŽ π‚πŽ πŽ΄ππ’‘ ​𐎜𐎠𐎩𐎒𐎻𐎒𐎼𐎰𐎰𐎠𐏐​πŽœπŽ πŽ“πŽ’πŽœπŽ πŽΈπŽ π‚πŽ πŽ΄
  4. π€πŽ πŽ¦πŽ πŽ«π​πŽΏπŽ’πŽ’π€π€πŽ πŽ΄πŽ’π​π€πŽ’πŽœπŽ πŽΊπŽ πŽ«ππ’‘ ​𐎱𐎒𐎧𐎠𐎠𐎫𐏐​𐎱𐎒𐎬𐎑𐎠𐎾𐎠𐎺𐎠𐎫
  5. 𐎣𐎒𐎠𐎾𐎠𐎾𐎾𐎠𐎴𐎒𐏐​πŽ£πŽ πŽΌπŽ£πŽ’π’πŽ πŽΉπŽ πŽ«ππ’‘ ​π‚πŽ πŽΆπŽ±πŽ πŽ§πŽ’πŽΎπŽΎπŽ πŽ΄πŽ’π​π‚πŽ πŽ©πŽ‘πŽ‘πŽΊπŽ πŽ«
  6. 𐎻𐎠𐎾𐎒𐏐​𐎨𐎒𐎾𐎬𐎠𐏐​πŽ»πŽ πŽ’πŽ¨πŽ¨πŽ‘πŽΏπŽ πŽ΄πŽ’ππ’‘ ​πŽ¨πŽ πŽ“πŽ’πŽ΄πŽ’πŽΏπ​𐎨𐎠𐎿𐎻𐎒𐎴𐎨𐎒𐎢𐎱𐎱𐎠𐎾𐎒𐎴𐎒
  7. 𐎍𐎠𐎧𐎠𐏐​𐎡𐎒𐎫𐏐​πŽ¨πŽ πŽ΄π€π€πŽ π​πŽœπŽ πŽ“πŽ’πŽœπŽ πŽΈπŽ π‚πŽ πŽ΄ππ’‘ ​𐎿𐎠𐎠𐏐​𐎣𐎠πŽ₯𐎠𐏐​π€πŽ πŽ΄πŽ πŽΎπŽ πŽΈπŽ π‚πŽ πŽ΄
  8. π’πŽ’πŽ§πŽ«πŽ πŽ§πŽ πŽ΄π​π’πŽ’πƒπŽ’πŽ°πŽ°πŽ’π’πŽ πŽΆπŽΆπŽ ππ’‘ ​πŽ¨πŽ πŽ§πŽ¬πŽ πŽ“πŽ πŽΎπŽ¬πŽ π​πŽ€πŽ πŽ“πŽ’πŽ°πŽ’π’πŽ πŽΆπŽΆπŽ 

Direct transliteration

  1. mualanu mun͐un takawu β€ŠΝauw͐onu β€ŠΝay͐attalawu
  2. lΝ”ahtaβ€ŠΝ”anu l͐aΓΊl͐am͐ah͐an saaβ€ŠΝanu s͐analam͐ah͐an
  3. s͐uk͐uwurtΝ”tΝ”a s͐uΓ³lt͐am͐ah͐an l͐ajuwurtΝ”tΝ”a l͐aΓΊl͐am͐ah͐an
  4. s͐an͐at suus͐s͐anu s͐ul͐aw͐at p͐uhaat p͐ut͐oalaw͐at
  5. kualallanu karkuβ€ŠΝ”awΝ”at h͐amp͐ahullanu h͐ayoow͐at
  6. walu k͐ult͐a, wauk͐k͐osanu k͐aúnus k͐aswunk͐ump͐p͐alunu
  7. lΝ”aha nΝ”ut k͐ans͐s͐a l͐aΓΊl͐am͐ah͐an saa kar͐a s͐analam͐ah͐an
  8. β€ŠΝ”uhtahan β€ŠΝ”uhΝ”utΝ”tΝ”uβ€ŠΝ”amma k͐aht͐aβ€ŠΝalt͐a kΝ”aΓΊtΝ”uβ€ŠΝ”amma

Standard Finnish

  1. Mieleni minun tekevi, aivoni ajattelevi
  2. lΓ€hteΓ€ni laulamahan, saa'ani sanelemahan,
  3. sukuvirttΓ€ suoltamahan, lajivirttΓ€ laulamahan.
  4. Sanat suussani sulavat, puhe'et putoelevat,
  5. kielelleni kerkiΓ€vΓ€t, hampahilleni hajoovat.
  6. Veli kulta, veikkoseni, kaunis kasvinkumppalini!
  7. LΓ€he nyt kanssa laulamahan, saa kera sanelemahan
  8. yhtehen yhyttyΓ€mme, kahta'alta kΓ€ytyΓ€mme!

English Translation

  1. My mind wants, my brain thinks,
  2. To start singing, to utter words,
  3. To tell a story of my family, the song of our people.
  4. Words melt in my mouth, phrases are forming,
  5. They reach my tongue, they break from my teeth.
  6. My brother, my comrade, who grew up with me!
  7. Join me in singing, join me in word-making
  8. Now that we have come together, from far-off places!