Bassa script

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Sign of the Bassa script

The Bassa script , its own name Bassa vah or simply Vah ('throw a sign' in Bassa ) is the alphabet of the Bassa people for their language Bassa , a Kru language .


The written language Bassa Vah

The script was developed before 1907 with the help of Liberian missionaries. The first primer was printed by the Lyman Brothers circa 1907. Thomas Narvin Lewis (c. 1880-) helped spread the word while studying at Syracuse University in the United States. Dr. Lewis returned to Liberia where he began teaching his writing to Bassa children.

A typography was developed for the typeface and in 1959 an association for the promotion of the typeface in Liberia was formed. Nowadays, however, it is no longer needed and is counted among the "extinct" writing systems .

The writing had a certain relation to the writing systems of the neighboring peoples and was also used in the past. It is described as a script which, like the system of the West African Vai script , consists of series of phonetic characters, each of which stands for syllables. Nevertheless, the Vah script is an alphabetical script: it consists of 30 consonants, seven vowels and five pitches, which are inserted from dots and lines in each vowel.

The IPA has largely replaced the Vah script in publications. Nowadays the Vah script is highly respected, but is only used by a few older Bassa for record keeping .

In June 2014, the font was included in the Unicode 7.0 standard as the Unicode block Bassa Vah (U + 16A70 – U + 16AFF).


  • Coulmas (1999) The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ "Son of African Chief to Take Degree," The Post-Standard, Syracuse NY, 6/5/1907
  2. Unseth, Peter. 2011. Invention of Scripts in West Africa for Ethnic Revitalization. In The Success-Failure Continuum in Language and Ethnic Identity Efforts , ed. By Joshua A. Fishman and Ofelia García, pages 23-32. New York: Oxford University Press.
  3. Starr, Frederick. Liberia: Description, history, problems. Chicago, 1913. page 246
  4. Unicode 7.0.0. Unicode Consortium, June 16, 2014, accessed June 17, 2014 .