N’Ko (draft)
N’Ko

Updated 21 December, 2021

This page brings together basic information about the N’Ko script and its use for the koiné called Kángbɛ. It aims to provide a brief, descriptive summary of the modern, printed orthography and typographic features, and to advise how to write N’Ko using Unicode.

This page is a work in progress. The information given here should be correct, but needs to be added to and refined further.

Phonological transcriptions on this page should be treated as an approximate guide, only. They are taken from the sources consulted, and may be narrow or broad, phonemic or phonetic, depending on what is available. However, given that individual speakers apply their own local pronunciations to the N’Ko written text, the transcriptions here are more like transliterations of the N’Ko, using Latin letters typically employed for the Manding languages.

More about using this page
Related pages.
Other script summaries.

Sample (Mandinka)

Select part of this sample text to show a list of characters, with links to more details. Source
Change size:   28px

ߞߏ ߡߍ߲ ߞߵߊ߬ ߞߍ߫ ߊ߲ ߛߋ߫ ߘߊ߫ ߞߊ߬ ߕߟߋ߬ߓߊ߰ߓߟߐߟߐ ߘߊߦߟߍ߬ ߒߞߏ ߦߋ߫ ߸ ߊ߲ ߧߴߊ߲ ߞߊߘߊ߲߫ ߏ߬ ߘߐ߫ ߞߙߊߕߊߕߊ߫ ߞߊ߬ ߒ߬ ߓߊߘߋ߲ ߕߐ߬ߡߊ ߟߎ߬ ߟߊߞߍ߫ ߊ߬ ߞߊ߬ߟߊߡߊ߬߸ ߞߵߊ߬ߟߎ߬ ߡߊߛߊ߬ߡߊ߲߫ ߞߵߊ߬ߟߎ߬ ߡߊߘߏ߲߬ ߒ߬ ߠߊ߫ ߒߞߏ ߛߘߊߟߊ߫ ߞߏߓߊ ߣߌ߲߬ ߞߊߡߊ߲ ߞߣߐ߫߸ ߏ߬ ߘߏ߲߬ ߕߴߛߋ߫ ߘߊߓߊ߲߫ ߠߊ߫ ߝߋߎ߫ ߝߏ߫ ߊ߬ߟߎ߬ ߦߋ߫ ߛߋ߫ ߞߊ߬ ߓߟߐߟߐ ߞߐߜߍ ߟߎ߬ ߡߊߝߟߍ߫ ߟߴߊ߬ߟߎ߫ ߖߘߍ߬ ߦߋ߫ ߊ߬ߟߎ߬ ߟߊ߫ ߕߟߋ߬ߓߊ߮ ߟߎ߬ ߟߊ߫ ߣߐ߰ߦߊ߫ ߘߐ߫ ߸ ߣߌ߲߬ ߘߏ߲߬ ߕߊ߬ߣߍ߲߫ ߒߞߏ ߟߊ߫ ߖߘߍ߬ߛߐߘߐ߲ ߛߌߟߊ߫ ߓߐߣߍ߲ ߠߎ߫ ߓߎ߭ ߟߋ߫ ߡߊ߬.

ߡߊ߲߬ߘߋ߲߬ ߛߊ߲ߘߊ ߘߏ߫ ߟߋ߬ ߞߊ߲߫ ߞߏ߫: ߌ ߓߊ߯ ߌ ߢߊ ߟߐ߬ ߕߋ߬ߟߋ ߘߐ߫ ߞߵߌ ߕߊ߯ ߦߙߐ ߡߊߝߟߍ߫߸ ߛߎ߫ ߕߍ߫ ߞߏ߬ ߌ ߡߊ߬. ߒ߬ߓߊ߬ ߊ߲ ߧߋ߫ ߒ߬ ߠߞߊߟߌߦߊ߫ ߛߊ߫ ߒ߬ ߘߌ߫ ߞߍ߫ ߒ߬ ߘߎߢߊߘߐߕߍ߯ ߢߐ߲߮ ߠߎ߬ ߘߐ߫ ߞߊ߬ ߞߍ߫ ߞߎߟߎ߲߫ ߞߋߟߋ߲߫ ߞߣߐ߫ ߏ߬ ߘߐ߫.

Usage & history

The script is used mainly in Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire (respectively by Maninka and Dyula speakers), and an active user community in Mali (by Bamanan speakers). Publications include a translation of the Quran, a variety of textbooks on subjects such as physics and geography, poetic, and philosophical works, descriptions of traditional medicine, a dictionary, and several local newspapers.

The name is also used for a literary (as opposed to spoken) language written in that script, which is intended as a koiné, blending elements of the principal Manding languages (which are mutually intelligible), but has a very strong Maninka flavour. The term N’Ko means I say in all Manding languages. The koiné language is understandable by all literate Manding speakers and is used in situations where speakers of different Manding languages need a neutral means of communication

ߒߞߏ ŋko

The script was devised by Sùlemáana Kántɛ in 1949, as a writing system for the Manding languages of West Africa.

In 1986 l’Association pour l’Impulsion et la Coordination des Recherches sur l’Alphabet N’ko (ICRA-N’KO) was established, and officially approved as an NGO for the promotion of N’Ko five years later.

Sources: Scriptsource, Wikipedia.

N’Ko and the Manding koiné

As mentioned above, N’Ko is a literary orthography that is tied to a standard or common Manding dialect which has arisen as a result of the contact, mixing, and often simplification of the various distinct, but mutually intelligible, varieties of Manding. This koiné may be referred to as Kangbe (kãɡ͡be).

“When Mandens from different sub-groups talk to each other, it is common practice for them to switch, consciously or sub-consciously, from one's own dialect to a conventional dialect known as N’Ko or Kangbe (the clear language). This is even true, sometimes, during conversations between the Bamanans of Mali, the Maninka-Moris of Guinea, and the Maninkos of Gambia or Senegal although pronunciations are practically the same. As an example, the word “Name” in Bamanan is “Toko” and in Maninka it is “Toh”. In written communications each will write it as Tô (ߕߐ߮) in N’Ko, and yet read and pronounce it differently.”nfb

Additionally, N’Ko reduces different phones into a single grapheme. For example, when writing Bamanan the following words are all spelled differently in the Latin orthography, reflecting the different pronunciations, but are spelled using the same letter in N’Ko:

N’KoBamanan
ߜߍ߫jɛ́
ߜߍ߬ߟߍ߲߬gɛ̀lɛn
ߜߏ߬ߟߏwoló

Basic features

The N’Ko script is an alphabet. Both consonants and vowels are indicated by letters. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features for modern Kangbe written in the N’Ko script.

N’Ko script is written right-to-left in horizontal lines. Unlike other RTL scripts, such as Arabic and Hebrew, numbers are also written right-to-left.

Words are separated by spaces.

The script is normally cursive, but in certain circumstances a non-joining font style may be used.

N’Ko has 19 native consonant letters. Use of 3 different diacritics results in letters for 22 more sounds used in foreign and loan words (mostly French or Arabic). There is also a nasal syllabic, and 2 abstract characters.

An unusual feature is that if two adjacent consonants are followed by the same vowel, the vowel is omitted after the first consonant.

N’Ko has 7 vowel letters. A diacritic is used to create 3 more letters for foreign sounds. Another diacritic produces nasalisation of the vowel sound.

N’Ko also has a letter to indicate the absence of a vowel, which is used regularly.

N’Ko has 7 combining tone marks and 2 tone letters. Several of these have more than one use.

N’Ko has it's own set of digits, which, as mentioned earlier, are (unusually) written right-to-left.

Character index

Letters

Show

Consonants

ߔ␣ߓ␣ߕ␣ߘ␣ߗ␣ߖ␣ߞ␣ߜ␣ߝ␣ߛ␣ߤ␣ߡ␣ߣ␣ߢ␣ߥ␣ߙ␣ߚ␣ߟ␣ߦ

Nasal syllabic

ߒ

Vowels

ߊ␣ߋ␣ߌ␣ߍ␣ߎ␣ߏ␣ߐ␣ߑ

Other

ߴ␣ߵ␣ߠ␣ߧ␣ߺ

Not used for N’Ko

ߨ␣ߩ␣ߪ

Combining marks

Show

Tones

߫␣߬␣߭␣߮␣߯␣߰␣߱

Other

߲␣߳␣߽

Numbers

Show
߀␣߁␣߂␣߃␣߄␣߅␣߆␣߇␣߈␣߉

Punctuation

Show
߸␣߹␣߷␣⸜␣⸝␣،␣؛␣؟␣﴾␣﴿␣«␣»

ASCII

(␣)␣[␣]␣.␣:

Symbols

Show
߶␣߾␣߿

Other

Show
‌␣‍␣⁧␣‫␣⁦␣‪␣⁨␣⁩␣‬␣‏␣‎
Character lists show:

Phonology

These are sounds covered by the N’Ko script. Because N’Ko provides a standardised written form, but allows speakers of different dialects to pronounce words differently, the application of these sounds to graphemes is not cut and dry.

Click on the sounds to reveal locations in this document where they are mentioned.

Phones in a lighter colour are non-native or allophones.

Vowel sounds

i u e o ɛ ɔ a

Consonant sounds

labial dental alveolar post-
alveolar
palatal velar glottal
stop p b t d       k  
affricate       t͡ʃ d͡ʒ      
fricative f   s       h
nasal m   n   ɲ ŋ
approximant w   l   j  
trill/flap     r  

Vowels

Click on the characters in the lists for detailed information. For a mapping of sounds to graphemes see vowel_mappings.

Vowel characters

N’Ko has 7 vowel letters.

ߌ␣ߎ␣ߋ␣ߏ␣ߍ␣ߐ␣ߊ

Each can carry a tone mark and a nasalisation mark. The choice of tone mark also indicates whether the vowel is long or short. See tone_marks.

Vowel repertoire extension

 ߳ [U+07F3 NKO COMBINING DOUBLE DOT ABOVE​] is used above N’Ko letters to represent foreign sounds (particularly French and Arabic).

ߎ߳␣ߋ߳␣ߊ߳

Nasalisation

The low diacritic  ߲ [U+07F2 NKO COMBINING NASALIZATION MARK​] is applied to a vowel to indicate nasalisation. This may produce multiple combining marks attached to a single character.

ߣߌ߲߬

A nasalisation mark attached to a letter that already has a combining character.

This mark should be typed and stored before any tone mark to preserve the canonical order.u

Vowel absence

ߑ

An absence of vowels between two consonants can be indicated using ߑ [U+07D1 NKO LETTER DAGBASINNA]u. However, this is not often needed, given that Manding words are normally composed of CV syllables, and is used in words from other languages, eg. ߍߛߑߞߌߡߏߞߊ ߛߑߔߌߣߏߖ߭ߊ߫

However, when writing N’Ko, when two adjacent consonants are followed by the same vowel the vowel is omitted after the first consonantu, eg. ߛߓߊ߬

There is no ambiguity here with regards to consonant clusters, since in the case of a cluster ߑ [U+07D1 NKO LETTER DAGBASINNA] would appear between the two letters.

This does not happen, however, if the two consonants are the samecd,xvii, eg. ߝߊߝߊ

Tones & vowel length

߫␣߯␣߬␣߰␣߭␣߱␣߮

In the N’Ko orthography, each of the above diacritics indicates both vowel length and tone. Manding languages have two basic tones, high and low. A low-high combination may also occur with short and long vowels, and a high-low combination with long vowels.ws

short long
ˊ high ߫ [U+07EB NKO COMBINING SHORT HIGH TONE] ߯ [U+07EF NKO COMBINING LONG HIGH TONE]
ˋ low ߬ [U+07EC NKO COMBINING SHORT LOW TONE]  ߰ [U+07F0 NKO COMBINING LONG LOW TONE] 
ˇ rising ߭ [U+07ED NKO COMBINING SHORT RISING TONE]  ߱ [U+07F1 NKO COMBINING LONG RISING TONE] 
ˆ falling   ߮ [U+07EE NKO COMBINING LONG DESCENDING TONE] 
Tone diacritics in N’Ko.

Tone marks should be typed and stored after any nasalisation marker.

Several of these diacritics are also used over consonants to extend the repertoire when translitering foreign sounds (see transliteration).

Although some of the N’Ko diacritics look like those in general use with the Latin script, the ones provided in this block are typically drawn higher and bolder, and have a wider range of glyph variation.u

Tonal apostrophes

ߴ␣ߵ

Mande languages commonly elide a word-final vowel that precedes another vowel. The elided vowel is replaced by an apostrophe, eg. í bɛ́ à fɔ́ → í bʼà fɔ́

N’Ko has two apostrophes, ߴ [U+07F4 NKO HIGH TONE APOSTROPHE] and ߵ [U+07F5 NKO LOW TONE APOSTROPHE], that are used to indicate elision, but which preserve information about the tone of the elided vowel, eg.cd,xvi ߌ ߓߴߊ߬ ߝߐ߫ ߌ ߞߵߊ߬ ߝߐ߫

The height relative to the baseline can vary.

Vowel sounds mapped to characters

This section maps N’Ko vowel sounds to common graphemes. Tone is not shown here. Click on the character names to see examples.

Plain vowels

Consonants

Click on the characters in the lists for detailed information. For a mapping of sounds to graphemes see consonant_mappings.

N’Ko has 19 regular consonants. There is also a nasal syllabic (ߒ), and two 'abstract' consonants (ߠ ߧ).

N’Ko doesn't have corresponding letters for g, ŋ, and z used in the Latin orthographies of Manding languages. Also, plurals that are written by appending a w to a word in Bamanan are generally written in N’Ko by adding a free-standing particle ߟߎ߬ .

Basic consonants

Stops

ߔ␣ߓ␣ߕ␣ߘ␣ߞ␣ߜ

Affricates

ߗ␣ߖ

Fricatives

ߝ␣ߛ␣ߤ

Nasals

ߡ␣ߣ␣ߢ

Other sonorants

ߥ␣ߙ␣ߚ␣ߟ␣ߦ

Nasal syllabic

ߒ

ߒ [U+07D2 NKO LETTER N] is considered to be neither a consonant nor a vowel. It represents an alveolar or velar syllabic nasal sound.u

This character may carry a tone diacritic, eg. ߒ߬.

Abstract consonants

ߠ␣ߧ

The 'abstract' consonants ߠ [U+07E0 NKO LETTER NA WOLOSO] and ߧ [U+07E7 NKO LETTER NYA WOLOSO] are used where allophonic variants of ߟ [U+07DF NKO LETTER LA] and ߦ [U+07E6 NKO LETTER YA] after a nasal or nasalisation produce the sounds n and ɲ, respectively, either word-internally or across word boundaries.u They are generally transcribed using n and y, respectivelycd,xviii.

Consonant repertoire extension

Three diacritics, two of them tone markers, are used to represent foreign sounds (particularly Arabic and French) in conjunction with existing N’Ko letters, eg. ߛ߳ sx̣ represents the θ sound of the Arabic letter ث.u

ߓ߭␣ߕ߭␣ߙ߳␣ߘ߭␣ߜ߳␣ߜ߭␣ߞ߫
ߝ߭␣ߛ߳␣ߗ߭␣ߛ߫␣ߖ߭␣ߖ߳␣ߛ߭␣ߜ߫␣ߞ߭␣ߤ߭
ߡ߭␣ߢ߭
ߟ߭␣ߦ߭␣ߙ߭

The diacritics used are  ߫ [U+07EB NKO COMBINING SHORT HIGH TONE​],  ߭ [U+07ED NKO COMBINING SHORT RISING TONE​], or  ߳ [U+07F3 NKO COMBINING DOUBLE DOT ABOVE​].

For example, ߓߐߗ߭ߎߙ. ߓߌߢߍ߲ ߝ߭ߋߣߎ߳.

Consonant clusters

Adjacent consonants with no intervening vowel sound are indicated using ߑ [U+07D1 NKO LETTER DAGBASINNA], eg. ߓߟߏ blo bolo is pronounced with the vowel after the first letter, even though none is present, because of the rule explained above. To show that this should be pronounced without the vowel you need uߓߑߟߏ bˣlo blo

See absence.

Archaic consonants

ߨ␣ߩ␣ߪ

The Unicode Standard lists 3 consonants that are archaic forms of other characters in the N’Ko block. The new shapes were only introduced in the latter writings of the inventor of the script, Solomana Kante. (Their inclusion in the block generated some controversy.yaec)

Archaic formModern form
ߨ [U+07E8 NKO LETTER JONA JA]ߖ [U+07D6 NKO LETTER JA]
ߩ [U+07E9 NKO LETTER JONA CHA] ߗ [U+07D7 NKO LETTER CHA]
ߪ [U+07EA NKO LETTER JONA RA] ߙ [U+07D9 NKO LETTER RA]

Consonant to script mapping

This section maps N’Ko consonant sounds to common graphemes. Click on the character names to see examples.

t͡ʃ
 
d͡ʒ
 

Symbols

߶

߶ [U+07F6 NKO SYMBOL OO DENNEN] is added to phrases to indicate remote future placement of the topic under discussion.u

Numbers

Digits

N’Ko uses native digits.

߀␣߁␣߂␣߃␣߄␣߅␣߆␣߇␣߈␣߉

However, unlike other right-to-left scripts such as Arabic, Hebrew, Thaana, the numbers are displayed right-to-left, with the most significant digit first.u This means that numbers don't produce bidirectional text in N’Ko.

ߞߐߜߍ ߣߌ߲߬ ߡߊߦߟߍ߬ߡߊ߲߬ ߟߊߓߊ߲ ߞߍ߫ ߘߊ߫ ߀߈:߁߄ ߟߋ߬ ߟߊ߫߸ ߁߇ ߕߎߟߊߝߌ߲ ߂߀߂߁ ߡߊ߬.

The highlighted characters represent the date 17 Sept. 2021 in N’Ko. All characters are read right to left, including numbers.
Click on the highlighted characters to see the sequencing.

Ordinal numbers

߭␣߲

Ordinal numbers are indicated using diacritics.

The first ordinal is produced using  ߭ [U+07ED NKO COMBINING SHORT RISING TONE]u, eg. ߁߭ first

Others use  ߲ [U+07F2 NKO COMBINING NASALIZATION MARK], eg. ߂߲ second

When there are multiple digits in a number, the diacritic appears only under the last in sequenceu, eg. ߁߂߃߲ 123rd

Currency

߾␣߿

Unicode 11 introduced 2 currency symbols to represent the dorome and taman.e4 The symbols precede the numeric amounts, eg. ߾߅،߿߉߅

Observation: It's not clear who uses these currency denominations.

Text direction

N’Ko text is written horizontally, with successive lines progressing down the page.

Inline text is right-to-left in the main but, as in most right-to-left scripts, embedded text in left-to-right scripts is written left-to-right (producing 'bidirectional' text). However, like Adlam but unlike Arabic, numbers are also written with digits in right-to-left order.

ߛߌ߲ߘߌߓߊ߮ ߣߊ߯ߣߌ߲ߣߊ߲߫: Karl Marks (߁߈߁߈-߁߈߈߁)
N’Ko-script words are read right-to-left, starting from the right of this line, but 'Karl Marx' is read left-to-right. The numbers (1818-1881) and the range, on the other hand are written right-to-left.

The Unicode Bidirectional Algorithm automatically takes care of the ordering for all the text in fig_bidi, as long as the 'base direction' is set to RTL. In HTML this can be set using the dir attribute, or in plain text using formatting controls.

If the base direction is not set appropriately, the directional runs will be ordered incorrectly as shown in fig_bidi_no_base_direction.

ߦߊ߬ߣߌ߬ ߒ ߧߋ߫ ߘߏ߫ ߝߐ߫ Marks ߡߙߌߦߊ ߞߊ߲߬ ߸ ߒ ߧߋ߫ ߛߐ߰ ߟߊ߫ ߎߖߊߓ ߞߎߡߊߘߋ ߢߌ߲߬ ߠߎ߫ ߝߊ߬ߛߊߙߌ ߟߋ߬ ߡߊ߬:

ߦߊ߬ߣߌ߬ ߒ ߧߋ߫ ߘߏ߫ ߝߐ߫ Marks ߡߙߌߦߊ ߞߊ߲߬ ߸ ߒ ߧߋ߫ ߛߐ߰ ߟߊ߫ ߎߖߊߓ ߞߎߡߊߘߋ ߢߌ߲߬ ߠߎ߫ ߝߊ߬ߛߊߙߌ ߟߋ߬ ߡߊ߬:

The exact same sequence of characters with the base direction set to RTL (top), and with no base direction set on this LTR page (bottom).

Show default bidi_class properties for characters in the N’Ko Kangbe orthography described here.

For other aspects of dealing with right-to-left writing systems see the following sections:

For more information about how directionality and base direction work, see Unicode Bidirectional Algorithm basics. For information about plain text formatting characters see How to use Unicode controls for bidi text. And for working with markup in HTML, see Creating HTML Pages in Arabic, Hebrew and Other Right-to-left Scripts.

Managing text direction

Unicode provides a set of 10 formatting characters that can be used to control the direction of text when displayed. These characters have no visual form in the rendered text, however text editing applications may have a way to show their location.

RLE [U+202B RIGHT-TO-LEFT EMBEDDING] (RLE), LRE [U+202A LEFT-TO-RIGHT EMBEDDING] (LRE), and PDF [U+202C POP DIRECTIONAL FORMATTING] (PDF) are in widespread use to set the base direction of a range of characters. RLE/LRE comes at the start, and PDF at the end of a range of characters for which the base direction is to be set.

In Unicode 6.1, the Unicode Standard added a set of characters which do the same thing but also isolate the content from surrounding characters, in order to avoid spillover effects. They are RLI [U+2067 RIGHT-TO-LEFT ISOLATE] (RLI), LRI [U+2066 LEFT-TO-RIGHT ISOLATE] (LRI), and PDI [U+2069 POP DIRECTIONAL ISOLATE] (PDI). The Unicode Standard recommends that these be used instead.

There is also PDI [U+2068 FIRST STRONG ISOLATE] (FSI), used initially to set the base direction according to the first recognised strongly-directional character.

RLM [U+200F RIGHT-TO-LEFT MARK] (RLM) and LRM [U+200E LEFT-TO-RIGHT MARK] (LRM) are invisible characters with strong directional properties that are also sometimes used to produce the correct ordering of text.

For more information about how to use these formatting characters see How to use Unicode controls for bidi text. Note, however, that when writing HTML you should generally use markup rather than these control codes. For information about that, see Creating HTML Pages in Arabic, Hebrew and Other Right-to-left Scripts.

Glyph shaping & positioning

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 N’Ko character app.

The orthography has no case distinction, and no special transforms are needed to convert between characters.

Writing styles

N’Ko is usually cursive, ie. letters in a word are joined up.

Non-cursive fonts are sometimes used, mainly as display fonts for book and article titles.u

Cursive text

When N’Ko is cursive (see writing_styles), letters in a word are joined up. Fonts need to produce the appropriate joining form for a letter, according to its visual context, but the code point remains the same. This results in four different glyphs for most letters (including an isolated glyph).

ߕߟߋ߬ߓߊ߰ߓߟߐߟߐ

Cursive connections in a word. Note that here is both a medial and final form of ߐ.

Unlike some other cursive scripts, the cursive treatment doesn't produce significant variations of the essential part of the glyph for a character.

All letters join on both sides.

Cursive joining forms

Unlike Arabic or Syriac, joining forms only differ by the addition of a small baseline extension. Also, whereas Arabic and Syriac re-use a number of basic shapes to create additional letters by adding diacritics, in N’Ko each letter shape is different. fig_joining_forms shows the basic shapes in N’Ko and what their joining forms look like.

Joining side:nonerightbothleft
ߔ [U+07D4 NKO LETTER PA] ߔ ߺߔ ߺߔߺ ߔߺ
ߓ [U+07D3 NKO LETTER BA] ߓ ߺߓ ߺߓߺ ߓߺ
ߕ [U+07D5 NKO LETTER TA] ߕ ߺߕ ߺߕߺ ߕߺ
ߘ [U+07D8 NKO LETTER DA] ߘ ߺߘ ߺߘߺ ߘߺ
ߗ [U+07D7 NKO LETTER CHA] ߗ ߺߗ ߺߗߺ ߗߺ
ߖ [U+07D6 NKO LETTER JA] ߖ ߺߖ ߺߖߺ ߖߺ
ߞ [U+07DE NKO LETTER KA] ߞ ߺߞ ߺߞߺ ߞߺ
ߜ [U+07DC NKO LETTER GBA] ߜ ߺߜ ߺߜߺ ߜߺ
ߝ [U+07DD NKO LETTER FA] ߝ ߺߝ ߺߝߺ ߝߺ
ߛ [U+07DB NKO LETTER SA] ߛ ߺߛ ߺߛߺ ߛߺ
ߤ [U+07E4 NKO LETTER HA] ߤ ߺߤ ߺߤߺ ߤߺ
ߡ [U+07E1 NKO LETTER MA] ߡ ߺߡ ߺߡߺ ߡߺ
ߣ [U+07E3 NKO LETTER NA] ߣ ߺߣ ߺߣߺ ߣߺ
ߢ [U+07E2 NKO LETTER NYA] ߢ ߺߢ ߺߢߺ ߢߺ
ߥ [U+07E5 NKO LETTER WA] ߥ ߺߥ ߺߥߺ ߥߺ
ߙ [U+07D9 NKO LETTER RA] ߙ ߺߙ ߺߙߺ ߙߺ
ߚ [U+07DA NKO LETTER RRA] ߚ ߺߚ ߺߚߺ ߚߺ
ߟ [U+07DF NKO LETTER LA] ߟ ߺߟ ߺߟߺ ߟߺ
ߦ [U+07E6 NKO LETTER YA] ߦ ߺߦ ߺߦߺ ߦߺ
ߒ [U+07D2 NKO LETTER N] ߒ ߺߒ ߺߒߺ ߒߺ
ߊ [U+07CA NKO LETTER A] ߊ ߺߊ ߺߊߺ ߊߺ
ߋ [U+07CB NKO LETTER EE] ߋ ߺߋ ߺߋߺ ߋߺ
ߌ [U+07CC NKO LETTER I] ߌ ߺߌ ߺߌߺ ߌߺ
ߍ [U+07CD NKO LETTER E] ߍ ߺߍ ߺߍߺ ߍߺ
ߎ [U+07CE NKO LETTER U] ߎ ߺߎ ߺߎߺ ߎߺ
ߏ [U+07CF NKO LETTER OO] ߏ ߺߏ ߺߏߺ ߏߺ
ߐ [U+07D0 NKO LETTER O] ߐ ߺߐ ߺߐߺ ߐߺ
Joining forms for shapes that join on both sides.

Managing glyph shaping

ZWJ [U+200D ZERO WIDTH JOINER] (ZWJ) and ZWNJ [U+200C ZERO WIDTH NON-JOINER] (ZWNJ) are used to control the visual joining behaviour of cursive glyphs. They are particularly useful in educational contexts. For example, the ZWJ was used to create the shapes in fig_joining_forms.

ZWJ permits a letter to form a cursive connection without a visible neighbour.

ZWNJ prevents two adjacent letters forming a cursive connection with each other when rendered.

Observation: The ZWJ only works on the left side of glyphs in fig_joining_forms if the table cell's base direction is set to RTL.

Context-based shaping & positioning

The Noto Sans Nko font changes the height of diacritics according to the height of the base character.

ߊ߬ߟߎ߬

The height of diacritics depends on the base consonant.

A base character may carry multiple combining characters.

ߓߊ߲߬

Multiple diacritics attached to the same base consonant.

Apart from that, no shaping is needed other than that described for cursive connections.

Font styles

N’Ko uses italicisation and bolding.

Left-leaning italics in N’Ko.

Italics may need to lean to the left, rather than to the right. Neil Patel writes:

Formalized typographic practices for both Adlam and N’Ko are still being developed. When [JamraPatel] reached out to both communities to see if an Italic typeface would be beneficial, both communities expressed a desire to have one. Over the past few years, as the ability to use both of these scripts more readily in computing has increased, the need to be able to set more complex copy has increased as well. Both communities see the benefit of having italic typefaces to add some semantic value to their copy. On-line N’Ko has historically used synthetic obliques for things like by-lines on articles. ...

Since neither script had any precedent for a drawn italic typeface, we asked each community on how they would like to see it drawn. This is how N’Ko ended up with the leftward lean and Adlam with a rightward lean in our typeface. ... To my knowledge our typeface has the first drawn italicized N’Ko and Adlam, so this is all still a bit new.g3,#issuecomment-512911833

Punctuation & inline features

Grapheme boundaries

No issues are evident with regard to grapheme selection.

Word boundaries

N’Ko has word units that are separated by spaces.

Observation: The te-kerende is a common way of linking compounds together. It sits on the baseline, and breaks cursive joining. It was proposed for inclusion into Unicode, but not adopted. However, I'm unable to find any rationale for the lack of adoption. In these examples, I am using ߺ [U+07FA NKO LAJANYALAN] surrounded by spaces to create an idea of how te-kerende should look:e4 ߡߐ߰ ߺ ߐ ߺ ߡߐ߰ ߛߌ ߺ ߌ ߺ ߛߌ

Line-breaks only occur after te-kerende, and not before.e4

Phrase & section boundaries

،␣߸␣؛␣:␣.␣؟␣߹␣߷

N’Ko uses punctuation marks from the ASCII, N’Ko, and and Arabic Unicode blocks.u

phrase

، [U+060C ARABIC COMMA]

߸ [U+07F8 NKO COMMA]

؛ [U+061B ARABIC SEMICOLON]

: [U+003A COLON]

sentence

. [U+002E FULL STOP]

؟ [U+061F ARABIC QUESTION MARK]

߹ [U+07F9 NKO EXCLAMATION MARK]

section

߷ [U+07F7 NKO SYMBOL GBAKURUNEN]

߸ [U+07F8 NKO COMMA] and ، [U+060C ARABIC COMMA] are sometimes used distinctively within the same textu, as in this example:

ߕߏ߲ߘߋ ߟߊ߫ ߊߙߊߓߎ ߞߐ߲ߛߐߣ ߊ ߛߌ߰ߙߊ߬ߕߊ ߊ ߘߏ߫ ߟߎ߫ ߞߊ߲߬ ߸ ߛߊ߫ ( ߜ ، ߔ ، ߗ ) ߟߎ߬ ߘߌ߫ ߛߋ߫ ߛߓߍ߫ ߟߊ߫ ߸ ߏ߬ ߟߎ߬ ߡߍ߲ ߠߎ߬ ߕߍ߫ ߊߙߊߓߎ߫ ߞߊ߲ ߘߐ߫ ߡߎ߰ߡߍ߫.

߸ [U+07F8 NKO COMMA] is normally separated from the previous word by a space, but in some texts is not,

߷ [U+07F7 NKO SYMBOL GBAKURUNEN] is used to end major sections of the text, and represents the three stones that hold a cooking pot over the fireu.

Parentheses & brackets

(␣)␣[␣]
  start end
standard

( [U+0028 LEFT PARENTHESIS]

) [U+0029 RIGHT PARENTHESIS]

other

[ [U+005B LEFT SQUARE BRACKET] 

] [U+005D RIGHT SQUARE BRACKET] 

Mirrored characters

The words 'left' and 'right' in Unicode names for parentheses, brackets, and other paired characters should be ignored. LEFT should be read as if it said START, and RIGHT as END. The direction in which the glyphs point will be automatically determined according to the base direction of the text.

a > b > c
ߊ > ߋ > ߌ
Both of these lines use > [U+003E GREATER-THAN SIGN], but the direction it faces depends on the base direction at the point of display.

The number of characters that are mirrored in this way is around 550, most of which are mathematical symbols. Some are single characters, rather than pairs. The following are some of the more common ones.

(␣)␣<␣>␣[␣]␣{␣}␣«␣»␣‹␣›

Quotations

«␣»␣⸜␣⸝␣﴾␣﴿
  start end
standard « [U+00AB LEFT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK]  » [U+00BB RIGHT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK] 
other

[U+2E1C LEFT LOW PARAPHRASE BRACKET]

[U+2E1D RIGHT LOW PARAPHRASE BRACKET]

other

﴿ [U+FD3F ORNATE RIGHT PARENTHESIS]

[U+FD3E ORNATE LEFT PARENTHESIS]

The quotation marks in the first two rows above are also mirrored as the directionality changes (see mirrored_characters). Those in the bottom row are not mirrored during display, which means that for them LEFT means use on the left, and RIGHT means use on the right.

[U+2E1C LEFT LOW PARAPHRASE BRACKET] and [U+2E1D RIGHT LOW PARAPHRASE BRACKET] are used as a pair to indicate indirect quotationsep, eg. ⸜ߒߞߏ⸝

Observation: [U+FD3E ORNATE LEFT PARENTHESIS] and ﴿ [U+FD3F ORNATE RIGHT PARENTHESIS] derive from Arabic, and appear to be used for quotations in Islamic texts. The appearance of these brackets can vary from the shapes used in Arabicu,774. Note also that they are encoded among presentation forms, but it is normal to use these code points as if they were normal characters. See examples here.

Example of ornate parentheses used for Quranic quotations.

Emphasis

tbd

Abbreviation, ellipsis & repetition

߽

 ߽   [U+07FD NKO DANTAYALAN] is used to abbreviate units of measure.e4 The table shows some examples from a long list at e4:

Full word Abbreviation
ߞߎߘߍ ߞ߽ [U+07DE NKO LETTER KA + U+07FD NKO DANTAYALAN] 
ߛߌߘߐ ߛ߽ [U+07DB NKO LETTER SA + U+07FD NKO DANTAYALAN] 
ߕߏ߲ߜߊ ߕ߽ [U+07D5 NKO LETTER TA + U+07FD NKO DANTAYALAN] 
ߜߟߊ߬ߥߊ߰ߘߋ߲ ߡߥ߽ [U+07E1 NKO LETTER MA + U+07E5 NKO LETTER WA + U+07FD NKO DANTAYALAN] 
ߜߟߊ߬ߗߡߍ߬ߝߘߎ߬ߓߍ߲ ߡߗ߽߂ [U+07E1 NKO LETTER MA + U+07D7 NKO LETTER CHA + U+07FD NKO DANTAYALAN + U+07C2 NKO DIGIT TWO] 

Inline notes & annotations

tbd

Other inline ranges

tbd

Other punctuation

tbd

Line & paragraph layout

Line breaking & hyphenation

Lines are mostly broken at inter-word spaces. As in almost all writing systems, certain punctuation characters should not appear at the end or the start of a line.

Show (default) line-breaking properties for characters in the modern N’Ko Kangbe orthography.

Breaking between Latin words.

When a line break occurs in the middle of an embedded left-to-right sequence, the items in that sequence need to be rearranged visually so that it isn't necessary to read lines from top to bottom.

latin-line-breaks shows how two Latin words are apparently reordered in the flow of text to accommodate this rule. Of course, the rearragement is only that of the visual glyphs: nothing affects the order of the characters in memory.

Text with no line break in Latin text.

Text with line break in Latin text.

The lower of these two images shows the result of decreasing the line width, so that text wraps between a sequence of Latin words.

Hyphenation/word-breaking

Hyphenation occurs in N’Ko. It uses - [U+002D HYPHEN-MINUS].e4

Text alignment & justification

The most common approach to justification relies on adjustment of spaces.u

Sometimes, however, ߺ [U+07FA NKO LAJANYALAN] is used like arabic tatweel to stretch the intra-word baseline.u

Observation: The N’Ko comma is separated from the preceding word by a space, which appears to stretch during justification in various samples. It's not clear whether that is expected, or simply because an ordinary space was used, rather than, say, a NNBSP.

Letter spacing

ߺ

Text may be stretched, like in Arabic, using ߺ [U+07FA NKO LAJANYALAN] to fit a given space or make a heading stand out, eg. fig_letter_spacing shows a streched version of the title, ߞߏ߲.

ߞߺߺߺߺߺߏ߲
A title that is stretched using baseline extension characters.

This corresponds to the Arabic ـ [U+0640 ARABIC TATWEEL].

Counters, lists, etc.

tbd

Styling initials

tbd

Page & book layout

This section is for any features that are specific to N’Ko and that relate to the following topics: general page layout & progression; grids & tables; notes, footnotes, etc; forms & user interaction; page numbering, running headers, etc.

General page layout & progression

N’Ko books, magazines, etc. are bound on the right-hand side, and pages progress from right to left.

عنوان كتاب

Binding configuration for N’Ko books, magazines, etc.

Columns are vertical but run right-to-left across the page.

Layout direction

The right-to-left orientation of the script affects the direction of page layout, and of the layout of items within the page.

An N’Ko web page should be the mirror-image of pages in, say, French. This includes the various navigation items on the page, and the placement of other panels on the page.

On the other hand, the video controls assume a LTR direction. This is mostly constrained by technology at the moment, and whether or not this is acceptable is still being debated.

Languages using the N’Ko script

According to ScriptSource, the N’Ko script is used for the following languages:

Online resources

  1. Kanjamadi dictionary
  2. An Ka Taa resources page
  3. N’Ko Wikipedia

References