Tzo-na was born from a need to create an alphabetic system which would allow me to express ideas and create vessels (words) for certain concepts. Each glyph is strategically developed to be visually reflective of the sounds which they represent. In creating this set of glyphs, I focused a great deal on phonetics and how the sounds are physically produced by the mouth. One important aspect of this system and its lexicon is breath – the flow of air – and the ways in which it is woven into the sounds we make, and the words we speak. The glyph’s forms are a reflection of this.
The Tzo-na glyphoneticon* currently consists of thirty core glyphs:
*Glyphoneticon is a word I use to refer to the set of glyphs which is not quite a syllabary, but serves as more than an alphabet.
Most of the sounds in English are easily represented, though there are a few exceptions. The letters that do not have their own glyph can be created using other glyphs (or a combination of glyphs) that represent that same sounds:
- G : Only represents a hard ‘G’ sound as in “glass”. For a soft ‘G’ sound, use the glyph for ‘J’.
- Q : Use glyphs for ‘K’ or ‘K+W’ to create a “Q” sound.
- X : Though X is one of my favorite letters, it does not have a glyph of its own. “Z” or “K+S” are used in it’s place.
- C : There is no glyph for the letter “C”. The glyphs for ‘S’ or ‘K’ should be used in place of most “C” sounds.
There is no glyph for ‘Ch’ (there are no constructed Tzo-na words that use the “ch” sound). When ‘CH’ creates a ‘K’ sound within words, use the glyph for ‘K’ instead.
Though much of the growing lexicon consists of newly-created words, nearly any word or name may be represented in Tzo-na by writing the words out phonetically. All words are written with the first glyph on top, and each glyph that follows is placed in order beneath it to create a totem-like structure, called a Kē’tah:
When writing several words in a series, the top glyph of each Kē’tah is aligned horizontally, and each is written with a uniform width.
With individual words, there is more poetic freedom in how each glyph is written. The size of the glyphs reflect how the sounds are emphasized, with larger glyphs being the strongest.
There are few rules as to how each Kē’tah “should” be written, allowing a person to construct it to reflect how they hear it in their mind. The same words may be written in slightly different ways depending on how each person chooses to write them. When each glyph is altered to reflect its emphasis within the word, the variations in the structure can sometimes produce a form similar to an abstracted waveform for the spoken word.
Some glyphs may be combined to create compound glyphs. Any glyphs that contain a vertical line extending from below (known as ‘extenders’) may be connected to almost any other glyphs that directly follow it. Below is a list of all possible consonant + vowel combinations that can be made.
The form of each glyph is a reflection of how it is created…
Vowels and a few other letters (phonemes) are thought of as “open” sounds, allowing for breath to flow freely with little or no manipulation or obstruction by other parts of the mouth. Each glyph within this category bears an open circle –
Shapers are phoneme that are created using various parts of the mouth to create or manipulate each sound, and each glyph within this category bears a closed circle . The first set (below) are the core shapers and are considered to be the strongest phonemes within a word. The second set consists the softened versions of the first set directly above it. Each pair (T/D, P/B) are created using the same parts of the mouth in different ways.
Complex phonemes consist of sounds that may require the use of more than one part of the mouth to create –
Extended group are the sounds which may be held for any length of time (such as “Sss…”). These glyphs all contain a vertical line, usually extending from the base of the glyph (with the exception of V/F/M). This line may be lengthened in words that require sounds to be held for a longer duration –