Re: About the Kikaku script for Mende, and an existing font for it

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Tue Mar 16 2004 - 14:39:16 EST

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    From: <>
    > Philippe Verdy wrote,
    > > So it seems that tone marks used in the latin transcription of Mendé ˇre not
    > > marked in the Kikaku script. It would be interesting to have some book
    > > available to see if there are punctuation signs or symbols to mark word
    > > separation, as well as digits or numbers (some syllables in the Kikaku
    > > closely ressemble to the European digits, and I wonder if an alternate
    > > was used to mark numbers, or dates, or simply commercial quantities for
    > > exchange and accounting or for marriage dotations, or for customary
    > > decisions, in countries where most of negocations were performed orally).
    > Does anyone have access to a copy of the following?:
    > Tuchscherer, K.T. 1996. The Kikakui (Mende) syllabary
    > and number writing system. Ph.D., London School of
    > Oriental and African Studies.
    > Based on the title, it seems that Kikakui might have additional symbols
    > for numbers.

    With the help of your suggestion (Tuchscherer) I found this reference in Google:

    * Konrad Tuchscherer concluded a Ph.D. dissertation on the 'Kikakui' tradition
    of writing among the mende of Sierra Leone. This is a phonographic scribt for
    writing the Mende language and a number writing system used to write Mende
    number words: "Like the dyllabic characters of the writing system, the numerals
    of the decimal based number writing system are written from right to left, from
    greater units to lesser units. Any number, other than zero, can be written in
    the system. Interestingly, while the numerals are decimal based, Mende number
    words are conceptualized largely on a vigesimal (base twenty) system of
    counting. The two systems overlap: numerals are written decimally and read aloud
    vigesimally" (African Languages and Cultures, Vol.8, No.2, 1995, p. 172). He is
    preparing a further study of the 'Kikakui' number system.

    So there may exist lots of references about African numeral systems at Buffalo
    University where they were studied... Looking at its online "BISON" catalog,
    there are many references for the "Kikaku" search keyword.

    The report above quotes other sources at the Department of Mathematics, in the
    University Paris-Sud at Orsay, France.

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