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Mandombe script

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Mandombe in Mandombe.svg
Languages Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba, Swahili
Creator Wabeladio Payi
Time period
Parent systems
A Mandombe book.

Mandombe or Mandombé, is an Afrikan language script proposed in 1978 in Mbanza-Ngungu in the Bas-Congo province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by Wabeladio Payi, who explained that it was revealed to him by Simon Kimbangu, the prophet of the Kimbanguist Church, in a dream. The word Mandombe literally translates to "for blacks", "how black" or "that which belongs to the blacks." in Kikongo Language It is based on the sacred shapes 5 and ㄹ, and intended for writing Afrikan languages such as the four national languages of the Congo, Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba and Swahili. It is believed that research into the script will result in scientific discoveries.[1] It is taught in Kimbanguist church schools in Angola, the Republic of the Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also promoted by the Kimbanguist Centre de l’Écriture Négro-Africaine (CENA). The Mandombe Academy at CENA is currently working on transcribing other African languages in the script.[2]

A preliminary proposal has been made to include this script in the combined character encoding ISO 10646 /Unicode.[3]


Mandombe combines the function of the signs with vowel and consonant to form syllabic blocks. All characters are based on a fundamental graphic sign, called Mvuala Pakundungu, Mandombe groupe1.svg, Whose shape is similar to a "5" and its mirror image, Mandombe Mvuala Pelekete.png , Said Mvuala Pelekete, similar in shape to a "2". There are six vowels, which can be combined in different positions, consonant with the function of the graphic elements, distinct processes graphically by rotation and / or reflection, and classified to form 'groups', and for guidance in 'families'. A system of diacritical marks, prefixes or fixtures, allows you to note the sequence of vowels, nasal vowels, consonants and consonant clusters prenasalizzate.


Vowel letters are composed of two parts: the basic 5-shape of the Mandombe script plus a numeral, or—in the case of the French u vowel—by modifying the basic u vowel letter. Vowel 1 is i, vowel 2 u, vowel 3 e, vowel 4 o, and vowel 5 a.

A vowel can be written individually and form a syllable on its own. In a vowel sequence or diphthong, however, a diacritic is used for the second vowel or part of the vowel. That is, lio (two syllables) is written li plus the diacritic for o, while mwa (one syllable) is written mu plus the diacritic for a. Diacritics come at the end of the last stroke of the vowel. While there is a diacritic for u, sequences ending in u are instead generally written as two full syllables, the second being wu. This strategy is apparently also employed in some other cases rather than using diacritics.[citation needed]

Latin script Mandombe Composition Diacritic
i Mandombe i.svg Mandombe groupe1.svg Mandombe digit 1.svg Mandombe diac i.svg
u Mandombe u.svg Mandombe groupe1.svg Mandombe digit 2.svg ?
e Mandombe e.svg Mandombe groupe1.svg Mandombe digit 3.svg Mandombe diac e.svg
o Mandombe o.svg Mandombe groupe1.svg Mandombe digit 4.svg Mandombe diac o.svg
a Mandombe a.svg Mandombe groupe1.svg Mandombe digit 5.svg Mandombe diac a.svg

Ü (French u) is Mandombe IPA y.svg. It has no diacritic.

Consonants groups and families

There are four basic consonant shapes. Each shape (base character) can be reflected horizontally, vertically, or both to represent a different consonant; the four consonants thus formed are considered to be a group, and consonants reflected in the same way are considered to be a family. These consonants are combined with vowels, which are similarly reflected, to create syllables.

Family 1
The consonant with the basic orientation is attached to the lower left of the vowel
Family 2
The consonant-plus-vowel is reflected both horizontally and vertically (rotated 180°)
Family 3
The consonant-plus-vowel is reflected horizontally
Family 4
The consonant-plus-vowel is reflected vertically

Vowel diacritics are reflected along with the main vowel.

The use of geometric transformation is also present in Pitman shorthand and Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics, though Mandombe consonants in the same group do not seem to have any phonological relationship (except the fifth group named mazita ma zindinga, in which all consonants are affricates and fricatives).


Consonant Family 1 Family 2 Family 3 Family 4
Mandombe groupe1.svg
Group 1
Mandombe na connect.svg
Mandombe va connect.svg
Mandombe sa connect.svg
Mandombe ta connect.svg
Mandombe groupe2.svg
Group 2
Mandombe be connect.svg
Mandombe de connect.svg
Mandombe fe connect.svg
Mandombe ge connect.svg
Mandombe groupe3.svg
Group 3
Mandombe ko connect.svg
Mandombe mo connect.svg
Mandombe lo connect.svg
Mandombe po connect.svg
Mandombe groupe4.svg
Group 4
Mandombe groupe4fam1i connect.svg
Mandombe groupe4fam2i connect.svg
Mandombe zi connect.svg
Mandombe yi connect.svg
Mazita ma zindinga Mandombe shu.svg
Mandombe dju.svg
Mandombe tshu.svg
Mandombe ju.svg

Complex Characters

  • Prenasalisation of consonants is indicated with a variation on Mandombe groupe1.svg (n) disconnected from the vowel. This always joins the consonant body, else certain signs could be read in more than one way.
  • Nasalisation of the vowel is marked by an attached diacritic: Mandombe diac nas.svg.
  • If Mandombe groupe1.svg is placed between the two separable parts of the vowel glyph, it represents an intervening /r/.

Examples of Complex Syllables

Modification Mandombe Latin script
Vowel sequence Mandombe bie connect.svg bie
Diphthong/semivowel Mandombe mwa connect.svg mwa
Nasal vowel or final nasal consonant Mandombe ken connect.svg ken
Prenasalized consonant Mandombe mbu connect.svg mbu
Consonant clusters Mandombe pro connect.svg pro
Mandombe plo connect.svg plo


The digit for 1 resembles the Hindu-Arabic 1, and 2–5 are based on this shape. 6 and 9 are square versions of Hindu-Arabic 6 and 9, and 7–8 are formed by reflecting them.

digit Mandombe
0 Mandombe digit 0.svg
1 Mandombe digit 1.svg
2 Mandombe digit 2.svg
3 Mandombe digit 3.svg
4 Mandombe digit 4.svg
5 Mandombe digit 5.svg
6 Mandombe digit 6.svg
7 Mandombe digit 7.svg
8 Mandombe digit 8.svg
9 Mandombe digit 9.svg


A period is used as a word divider to separate words.

The punctuation corresponds to that of the Roman alphabet. A comma has the form of a short line, ı, a period as a turned vee, ʌ, like the diacritic for o, and a colon and semicolon combinations of these (semicolon î, colon double ʌ). The exclamation mark is like a lambda, λ, and the question mark is

See also

External links


  1. The Definition: Mandombe, Negro-African script.
  2. Pasch, Helma. 2008. Competing scripts: the introduction of the Roman alphabet in Africa. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 191:65-109.
  3. [1] in French
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