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Orthography development in Ashéninka Perené (Arawak): a case study

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Abstract:

This paper proposes a practical orthography for Ashéninka Perené (Arawak) by looking at the existing orthographies of the language. Focusing on the SIL-recommended linguistic orthography, native language consultants' ad hoc writing samples, and the alphabet approved by the Ashéninka Perené community of Bajo Marankiari, the study analyzes a few seemingly problematic issues of the representation of palatalization, aspiration, and vowel length, as well as the spelling of the bilabial approximant and the underspecified archiphoneme N. Special attention is given to loans of graphemes from the language of wider communication (Spanish) as well as to orthography depth and consistency in the existing orthographies. My analysis shows that the native orthographies largely converge on a set of writing conventions which ignore contrast in aspiration and vowel length, tendentially mark the archiphoneme N as before oral stops, use a sequence of Ci to mark palatalization of consonants (with a few exceptions), and borrow extensively Spanish characters for native sounds.

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