We are pleased to feature the work of one of our community members, sugarbelly.. The Ndebe Project is an attempt to construct a writing scrip for an almost extinct Nigerian spoken language, Igbo. Be sure to visit the Ndebe Project Facebook page and blog for more information and for an opportunity to get involved. Here is a brief introduction.
Source: Ndebe Project
The Ndebe project is an ongoing development of a new writing system for the Igbo language. Igbo is a beautiful melodious language that is mostly oral although it can be written down using the existing English alphabet (with a few modifications of course). Unfortunately, increasing disinterest in Igbo of native Igbo speakers due to its general uselessness in the shadow of English is threatening the very survival of our language.
If Igbo dies out, one of the most beautiful languages in history will be lost to the world forever. For our language to survive it must be relevant. For our language to be relevant it must expand. For our language to expand it must be written down. And for our language to be written down, people must think it is worth writing down.
Many Igbo people have no use for Igbo outside their homes because the technology and circumstances in the world today have surpassed that which our language is able to describe. For those that do not know, that is what language is; description. Igbo cannot be relevant unless we can name every thing under the sun in our own language, not with words borrowed from English which grows ever bigger because it is not shy to make up new words as it needs them. The limited use of Igbo orally is compounded by the fact that written Igbo is so similar to English and so affected by its oral handicap that the modern Igbo speaker encounters nothing but frustration when trying to relay their daily activities in Igbo. Some people don’t even bother anymore.
We’re here to change their minds. We’re here to change YOUR mind.
The Ndebe script is a new writing system designed exclusively for Igbo with the needs of Igbo speakers and hopeful Igbo writers in mind.
- It is visually distinctive from English eliminating any possibility of confusion with sounds that have been previously associated with English letters.
- It’s interesting to look at. Pretty letters make a happy writer!
- It’s economical. It reduces the length of all words by the total number of vowels in each word! Shorter words mean faster, happier writers!
-It provides a single letter for each of the bilabial implosive sounds (gb, gw, etc) as is proper since these are individual sounds.
- It is mostly cursive which gives writers greater flexibility when exploring other uses for written Igbo such as calligraphy
- It accomodates all dialects of Igbo and promotes writing of YOUR own dialect.
- The Ndebe writing system is embracive of the Nsibidi script and the Ndebe project is developing the Nsibidi script into a full logographic shorthand that can be used to pass secret messages! (Love notes anyone?)
Igbo is a great language spoken by millions of people and for too long it has suffered under the limiting clutches of the Latin alphabet. Igbo deserves its very own writing system, and the Ndebe writing system is the first truly Igbo complete writing system in history.