Abugida

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An abugida (pronounced /ˌɑːbuːˈɡiːdə/, from Ge‘ez አቡጊዳ ’äbugida), also called an alphasyllabary, is a segmental writing system which is based on consonants, and in which vowel notation is obligatory but secondary. This contrasts with an alphabet proper, in which vowels have status equal to consonants, and with an abjad, in which vowel marking is absent or optional. (In less formal treatments, all three are commonly called alphabets.) Abugidas include the extensive Brahmic family of scripts used in South and Southeast Asia.

The term abugida was suggested by Peter T. Daniels in his 1990 typology of writing systems.[1] It is an Ethiopian name of the Ge‘ez script, ’ä bu gi da, taken from four letters of that script the way abecedary derives from Latin a be ce de. As Daniels used the word, an abugida contrasts with a syllabary, where letters with shared consonants or vowels show no particular resemblance to each another, and with an alphabet proper, where independent letters are used to denote both consonants and vowels. The term alphasyllabary was suggested for the Indic scripts in 1997 by William Bright, following South Asian linguistic usage, to convey the idea that "they share features of both alphabet and syllabary".[2][3] Abugidas were long considered to be syllabaries or intermediate between syllabaries and alphabets, and the term "syllabics" is retained in the name of Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics. Other terms that have been used include neosyllabary (Février 1959), pseudo-alphabet (Householder 1959), semisyllabary (Diringer 1968; a word which has other uses) and syllabic alphabet (Coulmas 1996; this term is also a synonym for syllabary).[3]

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