1. INTRODUCING TAFI: A NEW NIGERIAN WRITING

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            Engr.  Musa D. Abdullahi, FNSE, FAEng., MFR

                                                             12 Bujumbura Street, Off Libreville Street,

Off Aminu Kano Crescent

Wuse 2, Abuja, Nigeria

E-mail: musadab@outlook.com             Tel.: +234 803 408 0399

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DEVELOPMENT OF  WRITINGS

Writing has been defined as a symbolic representation of speech. A writing can be logographic, where a sign or symbol stands for a word of the language. It can be syllabic, where a sign stands for a syllable of the language. It  can be logo-syllabic. A writing can be alphabetic, where a sign stands for a letter, consonant or vowel. The latest development is the digital  writing (digitography), where the letters of the alphabet are constructed from a few number of signs called digits.

The oldest known system of writing was the Sumerian Cuneiform (3,500 BC). It was a logo-syllabic script which originated in Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers of modern Iraq. It was taken over and simplified  by the Persians (ancestors of the modern Iranians) in the first millennium BC.    

The Egyptian Hieroglyphics (3,000BC), a logo-syllabic writing, was the progenitor of the Middle Eastern, North African and European scripts.  The Latin (Roman) Alphabet (600 BC), which has so conquered the world, was evolved from the Egyptian Hieroglyphics through the Phoenician Alphabet (1,200 BC) and by way of the Greek Alphabet (900 BC). The Hebrew Alphabet (500 BC) and the Arabic Alphabet (500 AD) were evolved from the Phoenician Alphabet through the Aramaic Alphabet (800 BC). The Ethiopic Alphabet (300 AD) was evolved from the Phoenician Alphabet through the Sabaen Alphabet (400 BC). The Russian Alphabet (1710 AD) was evolved from the Greek Alphabet through the Cyrillic Alphabet (900 AD).

The Chinese logography (1,500 BC) is an important branch of writing which gave birth to many Asian scripts. It is the only one of the ancient writings still in use. The Japanese syllabary (500 AD) was an extreme simplification of the Chinese logography.

Many writings exist in the Indian Subcontinent. One of them is the Devanagari Alphabet (700 AD), which was developed from the Brahmi script (100 BC ). The origin of the Brahmi script is still being debated, whether indigenous or through Aramaic.

There have been several recent attempts to develop new writings in Africa, mainly West Africa. Examples are the Vai Syllabary (1830 AD), created by Umaru Bukele in Sierraleone;  the Bamun Syllabary  (1918 AD), created by Sultan Njoya, King of the Bamun in Southern Cameroon; the Bassa Alphabet (1920 AD), created by Dr. Thomas Gbiandavoodeh Lewis in Liberia; the Osmaniya Alphabet (1922 AD), created  by Osman Yusuf in Somalia; the Ositelu Alphabet (1927 AD), ‘holy writing’ revealed to Josiah O. Ositelu, founder of the Aladura Church of the Lord in Nigeria; the Toma Logo-syllabic Writing (1930 AD), ‘revealed by God’ to Wido Zobo in Liberia; the Gadabuursi Alphabet (1933 AD), created by Sheikh Nuur in Somalia; the Oberi-Okaime Alphabet (1934 AD) ‘revealed by the Holy Spirit’ to Michael Ukpan and Akpan Udofia of Itu in Nigeria; the Manenka Alphabet (1949 AD), created by Suleiman Kante of Kankan, Guinea; the Fula Alphabet (1958 AD) created by Umar Dambele of Bamako, Mali; the Wolof Alphabet (1961 AD), created by Hassan Faye of Dakar, Senegal, and the Tafi Digital Alphabet (1970 AD) developed in Nigeria.  

The Hausa language of Nigeria is now written in the Ajami and Boko scripts. The Ajami Alphabet (1750 AD) was developed from the Arabic Alphabet. The Boko Alphabet (1910 AD) was developed from the Latin Alphabet. The Tafi Digital Alphabet was developed from the Latin (Boko) Alphabet and the Arabic (Ajami) Alphabet. Tafi (from the last two syllables of the Hausa word ‘littafi‘ -book-), which also means ‘palm of  the hand’, is a virile and more efficient cross-breed of Ajami and Boko. It is presented here as a new Nigerian writing, starting with Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and English.

 DEVELOPMENT OF A DIGITAL WRITING

Since the evolution of the Greek Alphabet, with its consonants and vowels, nothing significant has happened in the development of alphabetic writing (alphabetography), until the advent of Tafi. Tafi is a digital (of the fingers) writing (digitography) where the 36 letters of the alphabet are built from only 6 signs called digits. Tafi is a veritable advancement over the well-known alphabetic writings.

 Tafi is an alphabetic digital writing (digitography) consisting of 36 Consonants formed by joining 6 digits in twos, bottom to top. The digits, representing fingers of the hand, stand as the vowels: a, e, i, o, u and x. Tafi includes signs for tones and lengths of vowels, punctuation marks and mathematical symbols, adequate for the Nigerian and other languages. Tafi writing is well suited to modern information and communication technology. Tafi alphabets have been produced for English, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. Extra vowels, consonants and signs are provided, in a Universal Tafi Alphabet, to cater for the other languages of the World. Tafi is an integrated system of writing for normal and challenged peoples. It is easy to learn by children and adults, with the objective of home teaching. It is adaptable for the blind to ‘read’ by touching, for the deaf and dumb to ‘feel’ through tapping and for sign-language, signal codes or musical beats.

TAFI: A NEW WRITING FOR THE NIGERIAN AND OTHER LANGUAGES

STARTING WITH HAUSA, IGBO, YORUBA AND ENGLISH

CONTENT

1.  TAFI DIGITS……………………………………………………………………………………………………

2.  TAFI VOWELS………………………………………………………………………………………………….

3.  FORMING TAFI CONSONANTS……………………………………………………………………….

4.  CONSONANTS OF THE TAFI ALPHABET…………………………………………………………

5.  THE NUMERALS……………………………………………………………………………………………….

6.  TAFI FONTS……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

7.  TAFI WRITING……………………………………………………………………………………………………

8.  PAN-NIGERIAN TAFI ALPHABET………………………………………………………………………..

9.  ENGLISH TAFI ALPHABET…………………………………………………………………………………..

10.  HAUSA TAFI ALPHABET……………………………………………………………………………………..

11. IGBO TAFI ALPHABET………………………………………………………………………………………….

12. YORUBA TAFI ALPHABET…………………………………………………………………………………….

13.  LEARNING TAFI……………………………………………………………………………………………………

14. NUMBER OF TAFI DIGITS………………………………………………………………………………………

15. PUNCTUATION MARKS AND OTHER SYMBOLS……………………………………………………

16. SOME CHARACTERS USED AS PUNCTUATION MARKS AND OTHER SYMBOLS………

17. MATHEMATICAL SYMBOLS……………………………………………………………………………………

18. TAFI CUBOID (TEACHING AID)………………………………………………………………………………

19.  TAFI HAND AND FINGER SIGN LANGUAGE…………………………………………………………

20. TAFI WRITING FOR THE BLIND…………………………………………………………………………….

21.  TAFI HARMONY CODE………………………………………………………………………………………….

22.  TAFI ARM SIGNALING………………………………………………………………………………………….

23.  BINARY CODE FOR TAFI………………………………………………………………………………………

24. AN IMPRESSION OF TAFI TYPEWRITER………………………………………………………………..

25. UNIVERSAL TAFI CHARACTERS……………………………………………………………………………..

26. UNIVERSAL TAFI ALPHABET…………………………………………………………………………………

27. TONE AND LENGTH OF A VOWEL………………………………………………………………………….

28.  HAUSA, IGBO AND YORUBA IN THE AJAMI (ARABIC) WRITING……………………………….

29. TAFI QUICK WRITING (SHORTHAND)………………………………………………………………………..

30.  EVOLUTION OF TAFI………………………………………………………………………………………………

31. FURTHER READINGS……………………………………………………………………………………………….

(i) A Study of Writing & Development of Tafi: A New Nigerian Writing.

(ii) Introducing Tafi: A New Nigerian Writing.

(iii) English-Tafi Keyboard

(iv) English Songs in Tafi

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1.  TAFI DIGITS 

Tafi is a new alphabetic writing created for the Nigerian languages, starting with Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. The basic building blocks of the Tafi alphabet are six (6) symbols called digits. The six digits are formed by vertical and horizontal strokes (parts of a square), written like this: Dgits 1

The 6 digits represent the fingers of the left and right hands, the thumb being the first finger. There may be a sixth finger at the base of the small finger.

2.  TAFI VOWELS

The 6 digits also stand for vowels (a, e, i, o, u, x) as shown below. Vowels are very important and significant in the Nigerian/African languages. Digits 2

The 6 digits stand as the primary vowels: a, e, i, o, u and x. As a vowel the first digit   is written with a ‘tail’ as   = a, to show that writing is from left to right. Each vowel is sounded by its name. Knowing the shape and sound value assigned to each vowel is the first stage for a child in learning to write and read.

3.  FORMING THE TAFI CONSONANTS

The digits are designed such that they can be joined together, in twos, bottom to top, to form 36 letters as consonants. The first set of consonants is formed by joining the first digit underneath each of the 6 digits or vowels to form 6 consonants as  shown below: The first digit may be attached under at the beginning, middle or end of the other digits. 1st set4 The second set of consonants is formed by joining the second digit  Second Digit underneath each of the 6 digits to form 6 consonants as  shown below: 2nd set Similarly, the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th set of  6 consonants are formed by attaching the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th digit, which are: 3-6 digits, respectively beneath each of the 6 digits. So the Tafi alphabet consists of 6 vowels and 36 consonants, sufficient for putting most of the Nigerian and other African languages into Tafi writing.

4.   CONSONANTS OF THE  TAFI ALPHABET

The Tafi alphabet, of 36 consonants, is shown below with the respective Latin equivalents for English, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.

Consonants The sixth vowel and the last five consonants are reserved as extras to be used for other languages, including English. The name of each Tafi consonant is as it takes the first vowel Vowel a = ‘a’. So each letter will be called simply as spelt out in the first five consonants below: Name of consonantsThe first three consonants and the first vowel  Vowel a  = ‘a’ spell out the name of the alphabet: Abaca or ‘abaca. Knowing the shapes and reciting the names of the consonants and their variations as they respectively carry different vowels, to form open syllables, is the second stage for a child learning to read and write.

An example of Tafi Writing, which can be executed with pencil and ruler, is given below, with some words in Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and English.

Hausa Igbo Yoruba English

This is just for the reader to see how Square Tefi Writing looks. The corners may be rounded to produce Rounded Tafi Writing. For Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, note the space above a vowel, left for indication of tone and length of the vowel.

5.  THE NUMERALS

The Tafi numerals, 1 – 9 and 0, combinations of two digits, as contained in the sets of consonants, are shown below. The Numerals The Tafi consonants with closest resemblance to the Latin numerals are chosen as the Tafi numerals. Zero is a combination of two digits, fifth digit  and9th digit to make  Zero =  0.

6.  TAFI FONTS

Tafi, with its regular geometric signs, is amenable to font creation with FontStruct, a free online font-building tool. Tafi square fonts have been created and provided here (see top post) for downloading.

7.  TAFI WRITING

A writing or script where the letters of the alphabet themselves are formed from a few number of symbols or signs is called digitography. A digitographic writing is a definite advancement over the well known alphabetic writings such as Latin and Arabic. In Tafi writing for Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba there is a separation of vowels from consonants. A vowel follows a consonant to form a syllable. All the letters are of the same width. A consonant is twice the height of a vowel, thereby giving a space above a vowel for indication of tone and length of the vowel. Intonation is very important in the Nigerian and other African languages. For English there is no need for showing the tone of a vowel and the letters of the alphabet are of the same width and height.

The vowels may be regarded as the lowercase and the consonants as the uppercase (capital letters). Where there is no need for intonation of a vowel all the letters may be printed as uppercase of the same height. If required, further capitalization may be shown by a circumflex over a letter.

8.  PAN-NIGERIAN TAFI ALPHABETPAN Nigerian

This is a common alphabet of ten vowels (six primary vowels and four secondary vowels) and thirty six consonants from which all the Nigerian languages can draw. Note the first consonant: ‘glottal stop, denoted by ‘A’ or the apostrophe (‘). 

The numerals (1 – 9) are contained in the letters (cons0nants) of the alphabet.

There is need for the Nigerian languages to co-opt Alif  the first letter of the alphabet, into their orthography. This lanky visitor from the East would consummate the marriage between the North and the South.

9.  ENGLISH TAFI ALPHABET

Figure below shows the English alphabet of 26 letters in Tafi, with the respective Latin equivalents. English alphabet English orthography shows no difference between consonants and vowels as the English language does not bother about tone and length of a vowel.

An example of Tafi Writing (red), in English, is given below with the numerals (1 – 10) and three sentences each one containing the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet.

English S

10.  HAUSA TAFI ALPHABET

Figure below shows the Hausa  Tafi alphabet of 5 vowels and 25 consonants, as taken from the Pan-Nigerian Tafi alphabet, with the respective Boko equivalents. Note the first consonant: glottal stop often represented by apostrophe .

Hausa Alphabet

Note that in Boko writing the Hausa consonants: sh, dt, bh and ts are represented by digraphs of the English letters. This is done in order to take advantage of the English typewriter keyboard. It is recommended that the Hausa language and orthography should adopt the lettres ‘p’ distinct from ‘f’ and ‘v’ distinct from ‘b’, which exist in some of the other languages, if only to improve English pronunciation and speaking by Hausa speakers.

An example of Tafi Writing (red), in Hausa, is given below with the numerals (1 – 10)

Hausa numerals

Hausa should differentiate between the sounds of consonants ‘f’ from ‘p’ and ‘b’ from ‘v’, if only to improve English pronunciation.

11.  IGBO TAFI ALPHABET

The Igbo Tafi alphabet has 8 vowels and 25 consonants including ‘alif’ (glottal stop ), taken from the Pan-Nigeria Tafi alphabet, as shown below: In Boko writing the consonants ch, gb, gh, kp and sh are represented by digraphs.

Igbo A.

An example of Tafi Writing (red), in Igbo, is given below with the numerals (1 – 10)Igbo numerals

12.  YORUBA TAFI ALPHABET

The Yoruba Tafi alphabet has 7 vowels and 19 consonants, taken from the Pan-Nigerian Tafi alphabet, as shown below: Yoruba A.

An example of Tafi Writing (red), in Yoruba, is given below with the numerals (1 – 10)

Yoruba

It is also recommended that Yoruba should adopt the consonants ‘c’ or.”ch’ and ‘z’ to enrich the language and improve English pronunciation..

13.  LEARNING TAFI

Tafi, with its few number of regular and geometic signs will prove easy for a child, who can speak, to learn. As it  is a phonemic writing – read as written, what the child needs to know is the sound assigned to each vowel and the sound given to each consonant. He or she can then compose syllables,  words and sentences. It would be like playing with building blocks, whereby the child could virtually teach himself or herself to write and read, under any roof or shade. Tafi, being a phonemic and consistent writing, is easy to learn by any speaker of Hausa, Igbo and/or Yoruba. The aim is to achieve 100% literacy, in Nigeria, in the shortest possible time. The English sentence written below:  “We will go to school to learn farming, writing and reading”. is translated into Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba (green) and transcribed in the Tafi script (red). It shows the beauty and simplicity of Tafi writing.

Go to school

The author cannot vouch for the correctness of the Igbo and Yoruba translations. It is left for informed speakers of these languages to make the necessary corrections.

We the older generation cannot be called upon to learn a new writing, unless we wish to. Tafi is for the younger generation of Nigeria. The younger Nigerians are in a better position to overcome inferiority complex, jettison prejudice, become creative  and break new grounds for the unity, peace and development of our country, languages and cultures.

14.  NUMBER OF DIGITS

There is a total of 16 digits, numbered 1 – 16, as shown below in the ‘analogue’ and ‘digital’ forms. The 15th digit is the mark for ‘full-stop’ and for forming the other punctuation marks and for indication of high tone of a short vowel. The low tone of a short vowel is left blank.

The 16th digit is for forming extra marks and symbols (not shown here) as may be required. 16 Digits of Tafi

A vowel has one (right-hand) number and a consonant has two numbers, a top (left-hand) number and a bottom (right-hand) number. Zero (0) indicates ‘no digit’.

Note that if a stroke (-) appears over another stroke, in forming a letter or symbol, only one stroke is shown.  Where a dot (.) appears in a stroke, the dot is not shown. Where a dot appears over another dot, only one dot is shown.

15.  PUNCTUATION MARKS AND OTHER SYMBOLS Tafi Symbols

*Each mark or symbol has two numbers, top and bottom number. For the tone of a vowel, it is a number (0,  7, 8, or 15) above ‘x’ for the tone.

16. SOME TAFI CHARACTERS USED AS PUNCTUATION MARKS AND OTHER SYMBOLS

Some Tafi Symbols

Note that marks for colon and semicolon are the same in Tafi. Marks used as new symbols for ‘smile‘, ‘pause’, ‘open’, ‘close’ , ’emphasis’ and ‘help‘ should be noted.

17.  MATHEMATICAL SYMBOLS

Mathematical symbols

Again, each symbol or mark has a number (1 – 16), top (left-hand) and bottom (right-hand) number.

18.  TAFI CUBOID

The Tafi cuboid is a handy device made to facilitate learning the Tafi alphabet and writing by children. It is a hollow or solid body with 6 square faces, each one carrying a different symbol, as shown below:

Tafi cuboid2

If the squares containing the digits are folded (backwards) at the borders a hollow cuboid is formed with a digit on each face. The bottom cuboid, held with the right hand, is used by an operator to project the 6 vowels. Two cuboids are needed, top cuboid held with left hand and the bottom cuboid in the right hand, for the operator to project a consonant towards a reader, observer or receiver.

A dot on top of a vowel, for indication of high tone of a short vowel, is indicated by covering a face symbol with the left fingers or left thumb. Two dots under a vowel, for punctuation marks, are indicated by covering a face symbol with the right fingers or right thumb. The reverse solidus in the top cuboid is used to indicate tones and lengths of long vowels.

19.  THE TAFI HAND AND THE FINGER SIGN-LANGUAGE

The digits/vowels are represented by the fingers of the hands as shown below: Fingers 3

The thumb is the first finger and the sixth finger is at the base of the small (5th) finger. A right hand finger indicates one of the primary vowels. Junction of the left-hand finger on top of a right-hand finger indicates a hand-consonant. Another finger of the right hand under a hand-consonant give an open syllable. This may be followed by another hand-consonant to form a close syllable. In this way a finger-sign language is created for communication with the deaf and dumb.

Tafi sign language or finger language is called Yatsunci in Hausa. The Yatsunci vowels, consonants and numerals are shown below. Two numbers, top and bottom (1 – 6), signal a consonant or numeral and one bottom number (1 – 6) signals a vowel.

Sign Language

20.  TAFI WRITING FOR THE BLIND

The Tafi vowels and consonants can be constructed from an arrangement of 7 horizontal and vertical bars (segments), a combination of 13 dots or a combination of 6 dots and 7 horizontal and vertical strokes, thus:

Tafi display

The bars (segments), dots or strokes or dashes are raised in relief to become palpable. This gives a system of writing and printing, similar to Moon, which the blind can read by touch with the fingers. The strokes or dots are embossed in paper or raised over a surface to give a system of writing and printing similar to Braille for the blind to ‘read’ by touch with the fingers. Tafi Moon and Tafi Braille are readable by the sighted and the blind. This, with the finger sign-language, make Tafi an integrated system of writing for the physically fit as well as the physically challenged members of the society.

Tafi writing for the blind is called Shafta or Tabhanci in Hausa. The Shafta vowels, consonants and numerals are shown below as embossed or cut on paper to form a kind of ‘Moon’.

Tafi Writing for the Blind

The ‘Braille’ form consists of letters (vowels, consonants and numerals) in the form of dots as shown below:

Tafi Braille

A person who knows how to read Tafi with the eyes would find it easy read “Tafi Moon” and “Tafi Braille” with the fingers. This should enhance the teaching of these special methods of communication.

Another style of ‘Moon’ or ‘Braille’ consisting of dots and strokes or dashes, for the blind to ‘read’ by touch and the sighted to read by seeing, is shown below:

dot and stroke

A stroke or dash is two or three times the length or width of a dot. A letter or numeral is identified by the combination or orientation of the 7 horizontal and vertical strokes, with the dots standing as guiding points.

21. TAFI HARMONY CODE

Tafi can be composed in a code of dots and dashes (like telegraphy), called Harmony Code. The Harmony Code, for the digits/vowels and mathematical symbols, is shown below:

Harmony Code

A dot ( . ) has a time duration of one ‘tap’ or ‘dit’, short a.  A short line or stroke ( ), da or dash,  called half-note has a duration of two dots or two dits plus a separation, long a. A note has a time duration of four dots plus separations. A rest as the absence of a touch, tap or sound is indicated by two short lines ( = ) a long o. 

The Harmony Code, also called ‘Life Code’,  for the consonants and the numerals of Tafi writing is shown below:, with the codes put vertically.

Tafi Harmony Code

One great advantage of the Harmony Code  (called Bugutu in Hausa) is that the signals can be rendered for seeing, hearing and feeling by touch. So the Code can be used for communicating with the blind deaf-mute through the sense of touch.

The Harmony Code gives out the ‘sound’ of writing, for a call to life.

A rhythmic rendition of the Harmony Codes makes music.

22.  TAFI ARM SIGNALING

In Tafi arm signalling the transmitter stands facing the receiver. Each of the six different positions of the stretched arm, alone or holding a flag or bat, in relation to the vertically erect human body, represents a digit or vowel, The five directions of the stretched arm at angles of 0o, 45o, 90o, 135o and 180o (in a vertical plane) with respect to the upward vertical, stand for the 5 digits. The stretched arm pointing directly in front (in a horizontal plane) indicates the 6th digit. The blank or neutral position is indicated with the left arm across the chest.

The Figure below shows the positions of the stretched arms depicting the 6 digits or vowels. The stretched left and right arms, in six different (radial) positions, indicate the consonants. The top digit is indicated by the left arm and the bottom digit by the right arm. The vowels are indicated by the positions of the right arm. Letters and words are signalled with the receiver in sight.

Arm Signaling

Conversion of the Tafi letters into arm signalling, like semaphore (visual telegraphy) provides a good exercise for the brain and the body. Tafi arm signalling can be used, like finger language or harmony code, to communicate with the deaf and/or dumb. Tafi arm signalling may even be employed to communicate with domestic animals and birds.

23.  BINARY CODE FOR TAFI

Five-unit binary numbers are required to represent the 16 digits of Tafi writing.  These can then be combined in twos to give the 36 consonants as ten-unit binary numbers.  The five-unit binary numbers representing the vowels and the ten-unit numbers representing the consonants of Tafi writing are shown below;.

Binary Code for Tafi

 Tafi writing can be executed as a sequence of ten-unit binary numbers. So, Tafi writing is amenable to processing by digital computers. It is difficult but not impossible for humans to communicate in writing with binary numbers greater than five digits, but computers can easily and quickly deal with binary numbers of hundreds of digits. Binary numbers afford a means for umans to communicate with machines.

24.  AN IMPRESSION OF TAFI TYPEWRITER

The symmetrical keyboard of proposed Tafi typewriter is shown below: Tafi typewriter 2

The typewriter consists of 4 rows of 17 keys operated by the left hand and another 4 rows of 17 keys operated by the right hand. Depressing a key with the left-hand finger, types the apostrophe, quotation mark or mark to indicate tone and length of a vowel. Depressing a key with the right-hand finger types a vowel, mathematical symbol, a comma or full stop.  Depressing two keys with a left-hand finger and a right-hand finger simultaneously, types a consonantal letter, a numeral or a vowel with its tone mark. The space bar is in the middle and the shift keys are for some other functions. Typing will involve only slight up and down movements of the hands. The challenge now is for the mechanical, electrical and electronics engineers, technologists, technicians and craftsmen to re-design and fabricate a practical Tafi typewriter.

25. UNIVERSAL TAFI CHARACTERS

With the 16 digits of Tafi Writing a total of 256 (not all unique) characters can be formed as shown below..

UTC

This gives the Universal Tafi Characters (UTC). The Universal Tafi Alphabet (UTA) of 64 letters is contained in the box. Characters with one or two dots below a digit are used as punctuation marks and other symbols. One dot above a digit indicates the high tone of a short vowel.

26. UNIVERSAL TAFI ALPHABET

The UNiversal Tafi Alphabet (UTA) of 64 characters is shown below with the tentative Latin and Ajami (Arabic) equivalents.

UNIVERSAL.JPG

The UTA is sufficient for the languages of the world to be put into Tafi writing. The Universal Tafi Alphabet (UTA) of 64 (not all unique) letters, is shown above. The 25 consonants of the Hausa Tafi Alphabet are shown in the red box. The Pan Nigerian Tafi Alphabet of 36 consonants is shown in the black box. There are sufficient extra (18) letters to cater for the other languages of the world.

27. TONE AND LENGTH OF A VOWEL

Nigerian languages, like most of the other African languages, are vocalic and tonal in nature. This is what makes them musical .They need vowels and indication of tone and length of a vowel. The space above a vowel, after a consonant, is left for indication of tone or length of the vowel. The Figure below shows the signs used above a vowel to indicate the tone (low or high) and length (short or long) of the vowel. The low/short vowel is left blank, the high/short vowel is indicated by a dot, the low/long tone is indicated by a reverse solidus and the high/long vowel by a solidus.

Tone & length of vowel

The Figure below gives a sentence in Hausa (translation: We will go to school to learn writing and reading), written in Tafi with the tones and lengths of vowels indicated.It is not always necessary to indicate the tones and lengths of vowel as the context usually give away the respective tones and and lengths of the vowels. Tone

With the addition of tones and lengths of vowels, a written passage could be raad with the same intonation by all readers. So there would be fuli correlation between writing and reading, which is the aim of phonologists.

28. HAUSA, IGBO AND YORUBA IN THE AJAMI (ARABIC) SCRIPT

The Universal Tafi Alphabet contains the Arabic Characters for the 36 consonants of the Pan-Nigerian Tafi Alphabet. What remains is to create additional vowels so that Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba can be written phonemically in the Arabic letters.

The Hausa language has been written in the Arabic script, called Ajami, for over 300 years. This may also be the case for Fulfulde and Kanuri. It is possible, with additional (primary and secondary) vowels to put Igbo and Yoruba in the Ajami writing. Hausa needs two additional primary vowels (e and o). Igbo and Yoruba require the additional primary vowels and four secondary (dotted) vowels. The complete set of 6 primary vowels and 4 secondary vowels, for Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, is shown below:

Ajami vowels

It would be a worthwhile exercise to have the Nigerian languages in three writings, Ajami (Arabic), Boko (Latin) and Tafi. For the foreseeable future, the fittest should survive in a progressive, peaceful and united Nigeria.

29. TAFI QUICK WRITING (SHORTHAND)

The vowel following a consonant may be joined under the consonant, to give the two-joint method of writing, as shown below. This may be further simplified and developed iino Tafi quick writing or shorthand.as (printed and handwritten) below.

Tafi Shorthand

30. EVOLUTION OF TAFI

Tafi was evolved, intermittently, over a long time spanning many years. It has taken the best from the existing systems of alphabetic writings, particularly Latin and Arabic and many writings, developed during the 20th century,  in West Africa. The effort culminated in the publication of a book titled: A STUDY OF WRITING AND DEVELOPMENT OF TAFI – A New Nigerian Writing – in 1978. The front cover of the book is reproduced below:

FRONT COVER

All glory is to the Almighty God for sparing our lives to this day and giving us the power to evolve the Tafi Writing. May Tafi be the instrument for revitalising education and invigorating and uniting the people for peaceful coexistence and development not only in Nigeria and Africa but throughout the World.

31.  FURTHER READINGS

The following documents are available, from ‘Dropbox’ in the Internet or on request, from:

THE AUTHOR

Engr. Musa D. Abdullahi, FNSE, FAEng., MFR

12 Bujumbura Street

Off Libreville Street

Off Aminu Kano Crescent

Wuse 2, Abuja, Nigeria

E-mail:   musadab@outlook.com         Tel.: +234 803 408 0399

1. A STUDY OF WRITING AND DEVELOPMENT OF TAFI: A NEW NIGERIAN WRITING

2. PRESENTING TAFI: A NEW NIGERIAN WRITING

3. ENGLISH-TAFI KEYBOARD

4. ENGLISH SONGS IN TAFI.

PLEASE CONNECT. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS.

6 thoughts on “1. INTRODUCING TAFI: A NEW NIGERIAN WRITING

  1. Pingback: 1. INTRODUCING TAFI: A NEW NIGERIAN WRITING | musadab

  2. I personally think our government is not ready for any real development and right now there is no hope. We the people have to take matter of change in our own hands. We need to begin to incorporate these things by ourselves the government can catch up, when the masses are deeply into it the government will be forced to adopt it. For example we in the north can begin to learn these and teach it in schools, the Hausa teachers should mobilize themselves and abandon the English modification and, recognize and adopt this.

    • Dear Abdullah Dalhatu
      I agree with you totally.
      I hope to open a school soon, in Katsina, to teach Tafi Writing.
      You are one of the few Nigerians who commented on Tafi. Most of the responses I got were from overseas, particularly USA.
      Thanks

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