Updated 25 January, 2024
This page brings together basic information about the Hanunó’o script and its use for the Hanunó’o language. It aims to provide a brief, descriptive summary of the modern, printed orthography and typographic features, and to advise how to write Hanunó’o using Unicode.
Richard Ishida, Hanunó’o Orthography Notes, 25-Jan-2024, https://r12a.github.io/scripts/hano/hnn
Note: Given the difficulty in finding term lists in written in the Hanunó’o orthography, the Hanunó’o script examples cited here were derived by manually applying the rules of the orthography to Latin transcriptions. Hanunó’o is a simple enough script that these should be reliable.
ᜰᜲ ᜠᜬ᜴ᜩᜳᜧ᜴ ᜪᜬ᜴ ᜢ ᜥ ᜧᜨ᜴
ᜨᜳ ᜣᜥ᜴ ᜦᜲ ᜨ ᜤᜲᜨ᜴ᜧᜳ ᜫᜨ᜴
ᜫᜬ᜴ ᜦ ᜣᜲᜩ᜴ ᜫ ᜧᜲ ᜣᜬ᜴ ᜯᜨ᜴
ᜫᜳ ᜣᜥ᜴ ᜦᜲ ᜨ ᜤᜲᜨ᜴ ᜧᜳ ᜫᜨ᜴
ᜤ ᜰᜲ ᜬᜳᜨ᜴ ᜧᜲ ᜰ ᜠᜧ᜴ ᜥᜨ᜴
ᜤ ᜩᜤ᜴ ᜦᜥ᜴ᜧ ᜬᜳᜨ᜴ ᜧᜲ ᜫᜨ᜴᜶
Source: Ambahan in Wikipedia, Hanunoo Script.
The Hanunó’o language is spoken by around 25,000e Mangyans in the island of Mindoro, Philippines.
The Hanunó’o script is currently endangered, and authorities in the area where it is spoken are trying to encourage its use by the younger generation. One particularly common former use was for writing ambahan, traditional poetry.
When the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines in the 1500s they were surprised to find that the inhabitants were largely literate in scripts of which Hanunó’o is one survivor. The scripts have the characteristics of Brahmi-derived scripts, but the pathway that led to this orthography is not clear. It is thought that it may lead via Java and have arrived in the Philippines between the 10th and 14th centuries.me
For more detailed historical information see Lorenzo Catapang.
The Hanunó’o script is an abugida. Consonants carry an inherent vowel which can be modified by appending vowel signs to the consonant. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features for the modern Hanunó’o orthography.
Hanunó’o text runs left-to-right in horizontal lines, and is unicameral.
Hanunó’o has 15 consonant letters. Onsets are a simple consonant, no clusters. Syllable codas are written in modern texts, followed by 1734, which was added to the orthography in the 1950s.
The Hanunó’o orthography is an abugida with one inherent vowel, generally pronounced a. Other vowels are written using one of only 2 vowel signs (for 4 sounds).
Hanunó’o has 3 independent vowels, used for vowels that are preceded by a glottal stop. These may occur word-initially or word-medially.
The following represents the repertoire of the Hanunó’o language.
Click on the sounds to reveal locations in this document where they are mentioned.
Phones in a lighter colour are non-native or allophones. Source Barham.
Hanunó’o is not a tonal language.
Hanunoo syllable types include:
CV | CVC
ⓘ represents the inherent vowel. The left column shows dependent vowels, and the right independent.
For additional details see vowel_mappings.
ᜣ ka U+1723 LETTER KA
a following a consonant is not written, but is seen as an inherent part of the consonant letter, so ka is written by simply using the consonant letter.
ᜣᜲ ki U+1723 LETTER KA + U+1732 VOWEL SIGN I
Hanunó’o uses only two combining marks for vowels when it is necessary to override the inherent vowel.
Each vowel sign represents one of 2 sounds. 1732 represents either the sound i or the sound e; 1733 represents either o or u.
In principle, the glyphs look the same, and the distinction is made by position: i ~ e goes above the base, and o ~ u goes below. However, in practise, although the relative height distinction is always preserved, the way the vowel sign connects with the base varies from consonant to consonant. The differences are significant enough to make it worthwhile to show all possible combinations in the table below.
|No vowel sign
ᜠ a U+1720 LETTER A
Vowels at the beginning of a word or following another vowel are actually transcribed in IPA with a preceding glottal stop (ʔ), but they are written using one of 3 independent vowel letters.
As with the vowel signs, these letters each represent one of two possible sounds. (See the box above.)
In the 1950s a Dutch anthropologist introduced 1734 as a way to indicate consonants without a following vowel. This was taken up by the users of this orthography, and is now in general use.
It is used to indicate syllable codas both at the end of a word and within a word.
This section maps Hanunó’o vowel sounds to common graphemes in the Hanunó’o orthography.
The left column shows dependent vowels; the right column shows independent vowel letters.
Sounds listed as 'infrequent' are allophones, or sounds used for foreign words, etc.
Hanunó’o consonants are few and simple. There is no repertoire extension mechanism.
Hanunó’o syllable onsets are straightforward. They don't involve consonant clusters.
Like some other neighouring scripts, the syllable codas were not written in the Hanunó’o orthography until the 1950s (which, of course, can lead to a certain amount of ambiguity). Dutch anthropologist Antoon Postma introduced the pamudpod sign ( 1734 ) to indicate a syllable final consonantwl.
The modern Hanunó’o orthography is able to mark word-medial consonant clusters using 1734. There are no conjuncts or special interactions between glyphs in such cases.
This section maps Hanunó’o consonant sounds to common graphemes in the Hanunó’o orthography.
Syllable-final consonants are never written. The right-hand column shows the shape alone, combined with vowel sign I, and combined with vowel sign U, respectively.
Click on a grapheme to find other mentions on this page (links appear at the bottom of the page). Click on the character name to see examples and for detailed descriptions of the character(s) shown.
Sounds listed as 'infrequent' are allophones, or sounds used for foreign words, etc.
ᜩ ᜩᜲ ᜩᜳ
ᜪ ᜪᜲ ᜪᜳ
ᜦ ᜦᜲ ᜦᜳ
ᜧ ᜧᜲ ᜧᜳ
ᜣ ᜣᜲ ᜣᜳ
ᜤ ᜤᜲ ᜤᜳ
ᜰ ᜰᜲ ᜰᜳ
ᜱ ᜱᜲ ᜱᜳ
ᜫ ᜫᜲ ᜫᜳ
ᜨ ᜨᜲ ᜨᜳ
ᜥ ᜥᜲ ᜥᜳ
ᜯ ᜯᜲ ᜯᜳ
ᜭ ᜭᜲ ᜭᜳ
ᜮ ᜮᜲ ᜮᜳ
ᜬ ᜬᜲ ᜬᜳ
The Hanunó’o Unicode block doesn't have a set of native digits.
Hanunó’o text runs left to right in horizontal lines.
Eversonme reports that the writing often runs bottom to top on lines that progress from left to right. However, the letter glyphs are rotated in this case, so this is simply a rotation of the medium, rather than a different writing direction. It makes it easier to fit the writing on bamboo strips.
bidi_class properties for characters in the Hanunó’o orthography described here.
This section brings together information about the following topics: writing styles; cursive text; context-based shaping; context-based positioning; baselines, line height, etc.; font styles; case & other character transforms.
You can experiment with examples using the Hanunó’o character app.
The majority of the Hanunó’o 18 letters are variants of a small number of basic shapes, as shown in fig_basic_shapes.
Hanunó’o letters don't interact with each other, but the placement of the vowel signs requires context-sensitive placement, and in some cases reshaping of the letter. The various combinations are shown in dependent_vowel_table.
Hanunó’o has no multiple combining marks, or other shaping to consider.
Since it is hard to find any printed examples of Hanunó’o text, it is likely that there is no standard approach to the use of oblique and bold forms, if they are used at all. The Noto Hanunoo font has only a regular face.
Hanunó’o is a simple orthography and typographic units can be easily segmented using grapheme clusters.
Phrase, sentence, and section delimiters are described in phrase.
Hanunó’o typographic units consist of a letter or a letter with a single combining mark (one of two vowel signs). Both of these units fit the definition of a grapheme cluster.
As previously noted, syllable codas are not written in Hanunó’o text, and so the segmentation only captures onsets and the syllable nucleus.
Words are separated by spaces.
Hanunó’o uses ᜵ for a short pause, and ᜶ for a longer or sentence-like pause. It may also be used at the end of a poem.
The primary line-break opportunity occurs at word boundaries.
As in almost all writing systems, certain punctuation characters should not appear at the end or the start of a line. The Unicode line-break properties help applications decide whether a character should appear at the start or end of a line.
Show line-breaking properties for characters in the Hanunó’o orthography.
Hanunó’o uses the so-called 'alphabetic' baseline, which is the same as for Latin and many other scripts.
Hanunó’o letters vary slightly in height but are mostly around the same, with no ascenders and only tiny descenders. Vowel signs may appear above or below some letters, but these are horizontal dashes. Vowel signs for u~o tend to be attached to most letters above the base line.
To give an approximate idea, fig_baselines compares Latin and Hanunó’o glyphs from the Noto Sans font. The basic height of Hanunó’o letters is typically very slightly above the Latin x-height, however some punctuation marks and combining marks can reach just beyond the Latin ascenders (but not the descenders), creating a need for very slightly larger line spacing.