Ŝava alfabeto

The Ŝava alfabeto is an adaption of the Shavian alphabet (a phonetic alphabet invented in 1962 for English) to Esperanto. Not all the letters in the Ŝava alfabeto retain their phonetic value from Shavian for English, so in the table below, I’ve listed the English meaning alongside the Esperanto meaning for each letter. The table below only includes the Ŝava equivalents for the 28 Esperanto letters in the Latin alphabet.

Shavian letter Esperanto meaning English meaning
𐑨 a /a/ short A /æ/
𐑚 b /b/ B /b/
𐑔 c /ts/ voiceless “th” /ð/
𐑗 ĉ /tʃ/ CH /tʃ/
𐑛 d /d/ D /d/
𐑧 e /e/ short E /ɛ/
𐑓 f /f/ F /f/
𐑜 g /g/ hard G /g/
𐑡 ĝ /dʒ/ J or soft G /dʒ/
𐑣 h /h/ H /h/
𐑙 ĥ /x/ the sound in “loNG” /ŋ/
𐑦 i /i/ short I /ɪ/
𐑢 j /j/ W /w/
𐑠 ĵ /ʒ/ the sound in “miraGe” /ʒ/
𐑒 k /k/ K /k/
𐑤 l /l/ L /l/
𐑫 m /m/ the sound in “fOOt” /ʊ/
𐑵 n /n/ the sound in “flEW” /uː/
𐑩 o /o/ schwa /ə/
𐑐 p /p/ P /p/
𐑮 r /r/ R /ɹ/
𐑕 s /s/ S /s/
𐑖 ŝ /ʃ/ SH /ʃ/
𐑑 t /t/ T /t/
𐑪 u /u/ short O /ɒ/
𐑘 ŭ /w/ Y /j/
𐑝 v /v/ V /v/
𐑟 z /z/ Z /z/

The Ŝava alfabeto also added some additional letters to represent the common Esperanto words kaj (and), (or) and la (the), as well as the common word endings -as, -is, -os, -us (for verbs), -oj, -on, -ojn (for nouns) and -aj, -an, -ajn (for adjectives). -es also got a ligature even though I don’t think that ending is ever used in Esperanto. A couple of these letters (𐑲 for -an, originally for English’s face vowel, and 𐑳 for -on, originally for English’s strut vowel) are repurposed from the original Shavian; the rest are all new coin­ages for Esperanto. I don’t think the unique Ŝava letters exist in Uni­code, so I can’t reproduce them here, but they’re all in a graphic at the link below.

I am honestly unsure who chose to adapt Shavian for Esperanto, or why they did it; I doubt this system was ever used by more than like a handful of people, as a bit of a laugh. To me it makes little sense to convert a phonetic alphabet for English to a language that’s already written phonetically in the Latin alphabet. However, I’m guessing the motivation was really just having a bit of fun, in which case it doesn’t actually matter whether it makes sense, does it?

See Also / References