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Uncoded Ethiopic Characters

Some number of letters without code assignments may be found in Ethiopic manuscripts that occur with varying frequency depending on the language and time period of the written script. This section presents a list of all known unassigned characters by the proposal committee. Some tentative address are offered. Failing to find supporting materials for many of the character classes their permanent assignment will have to be delayed until they are better understood. The primary complication surrounding permanent address assignment now is the lack of information to determine if two classes similar in appearance are uniquely different phoneme groups or merely glyph alternatives. The correct phonetic values of the unknown character must be determined as well for use in assignment to a Unicode name standard.

The committee is making a continuing effort to retrieve information on the unassigned characters. Please contact any member of the work group if the reader has additional information to provide. Characters will be removed from this list as permanent code assignments are made.

Image and text formatting in this section may be of differing quality for different font selections.

Ethiopic Rules Stylized Punctuation

Ethiopic text is often published with ASCII punctuation having typeface differences from the equivalent punctuation found in non-Ethiopic blocks of text. Since the punctuation has no functional difference in either Ethiopic or non-Ethiopic blocks of texts, the Ethiopic typefaces are not eligible for unique encoding under Unicode.

Market realities will force vendors to provide the Ethiopic typefaces to customers in some manner. It will not be desirable to vendors to provide separate Unicode fonts with the typeface changes in the Latin ranges. Nor will it be convenient for users or programmers to have to change fonts for these punctuation key strikes. It expected then that vendors would attempt to supply the typeface changes in unassigned space within a Unicode font table. The Unicode standard provides vendor use space in the Private Use Area U+E300->U+FDFF. It is recommended then, for cross application compatibility, that vendors assign Ethiopic stylized punctuation beginning from the end of the private use zone. Encoding for the most common stylized punctuations are given in the following:

, , , , , ,



The GLA series has been found in Italian references from the 17th century and early 20th century. Colloquially the first or fourth order character may be used for an alternate of LWA (120F). The modern and historical use of the character Eritrea and Ethiopia is not understood at the time of this proposal. The Ge'ez (first order) form is shown:

The character was described in 1661 by Ludolf as:

``L. liquidum, Italis gl. in egli. Gallis ill. in fille. Hifpanis ll. Quæ hoc punctis vocalibus notantur''

The English translation is being prepared.


What appears to be a 13th series for the consonant classes of MAE, RAE, & FAE, appear in prominent works on Amharic by Cohen and Dawkins and were adapted in the transcription systems of the Library of Congress and Board of Geographic Names. Word examples or dialects of Amharic where these sounds are used are not known by the present proposal committee.

Given the evidence by Ludolf that a complete MYA series at one time existed, a complete FA with overbar series from another proposal, the MYA and the RYA variants, and the observation of the addition of overbar to NA and GA series to form -Y- like classes in Amharic (NYA) and Agew and Bilin (GYA) languages; it is plausible that three characters below representing MYA, RYA, and FYA are the surviving members of complete series of 7 consonant classes. Whereby they should not be treated as the 13th syllabic form of their base consonants. The Ge'ez (first order) forms are shown below and were proposed in UTF 95-055A at the end of the letters region. The necessity to code the entire series of each of extensions is being studied vs coding of only the values known to be used [ 4, 5, 8, 9, 11] :

, ,

A description of the MYA -> MYO series is again given by Ludolf :

``M. liquidum, cui ineft jod Germanicum, quafi diceres Mjæ. Poloni id habent, & accentu fuperno notant hoc modo (m'.)

The English translation is being prepared.

Leslau Extensions For Chaha

In Wolf Leslau's Ethiopians Speak: Studies in Cultural Background. ``New symbols had to be introduced into Ethiopic script for sounds of Chaha not existing in Amharic.'' The four consonant classes introduced were palatized velars given the transcription values; q', k', x' and g'. Unicode name equivalents are offered as QQA, KKA, XKA, and GGA respectively, that follow the list below :

, , ,

NOTES Though the overbar is usually drawn as detached, the series QQA may be identical to QHA->QHO (U+1250->U+1256) which has an attached overbar. The phonetic values need be compared to determine this. The GGA series is employed in written Bilin for a sound similar to ñ but not the same as the NYA series beginning at U+1298. The syllable series of GGA was proposed in UTC 95-055A and occupies the code range U+1318 - U+131E. Finally, with the exception of GGA, it is not known if any of the series introduced by Leslau have been adapted into the writing systems of Chaha or other written languages in either Eritrea or Ethiopia.

Lesser Known Consonant Classes

Information on the consonant classes represented by the characters below is being sought by the proposal committee. Tentative names are assigned to serve purposes of communication. The characters are known to be provided in the font packages and software by ModEth and Jerdina World Trade. It is hightly plausible that the characters are well formed glyph alternates of the consonants series introduced by Leslau (see above) [15] :

, , ,

The exception may be for the final character, a variant of GA, labeled now as GYA. The glyphs presented for GGA and GYA series may be employed for unique and distinct phonemes in written Chaha, Bilin, (and even Agew) where ejective and sinal forms of GA are found (though not known if existing in the same language). It remains also to uncover which glyph is preferred for the ejective form, and which for the sinal.

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