Akagu [NEW]

Joseph Valoren writes:

Akagu is a deliberately simplified version of Nsibidi. However, Nsibidi is pictographic and ideographic, often requiring multiple complex symbols that cannot be parsed individually — one’s use of the Nsibidi script is confined to one’s knowledge of the Nsibidi dictionary of terms, basically. Akagu is meant to address that by fashioning Nsibidi into an alphabet, one which the team advocating for Akagu hopes will make it easier for children to learn concurrent to the language of their home nation.

The Nsibidi proposal is currently with the Unicode Consortium; the Akagu alphabet is still under development. One member of their team, Uchechukwu Muonago, has volunteered for the Dictionary Project for many years, is a translator, and seems to be the one formalizing the character forms, while Ijemma Onwuzulike, my contact, is the one handling the translation into Unicode. Udochi Okeke, who runs the web site where the YT video was sourced from, is doing the marketing and outreach. I was invited to a Slack channel made up of volunteers and mailing list members with approximately 300 members.

The subject of last night’s discussion focused on the need to simplify Akagu to better focus on ease of learning. One strategy they’re using is submitting the fonts to the /neography subreddit, which is a community dedicated to the critique and development of constructed scripts. Another strategy reviewed was a form going out to the mailing list asking community members to propose characters for a handful of specific vowel uses, with the criteria being that the invented character be derived from an Nsibidi word that begins with that vowel and vowel sound. A sort of ‘Apple is for A’ approach to reverse-engineering an ideographic script into an alphabetic one, no?

Another subject of discussion was the decolonization of the Nsibidi and Akagu dictionary, a reflection of the fact that current Nsibidi dictionaries still use Western definitions for the terms within, rather than definitions in line with how native Igbo speakers would conceptualize them.

All this to say, it appears that Akagu is currently a sort of conlang invented for the purpose of cultural preservation and accommodation which at the current time has an enthusiastic community around it, but since it isn’t even technically complete, it’s still being worked on, and in part sourced from the community who intends to use it.


Akagu alphabet courtesy Nairaland Forum.

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