[RNLD] Names for letters of the alphabet

Stephen Morey S.Morey at latrobe.edu.au
Sun Jul 2 21:33:01 EDT 2017

Dear Hilary,

In Thai the letters are named after objects and animals - you can see the list of them on the Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thai_alphabet, for example.

So there are in fact five letters that have the sound of aspirated kh, and these are named kʰɔ. but there is bottle kʰɔ, egg kʰɔ, buffalo kʰɔ and so on. The words for 'bottle, buffalo and egg' all begin with kʰ.

The Meitei alphabet, used for Meitei or Manipuri, names the letters after body parts, and the alphabetical order follows the order of body parts

k kok 'head'

s səm 'hair'

l lai 'forehead'

m mit 'eye'

and so on.

This is one way of naming letters.


Stephen Morey
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics
Department of Languages and Linguistics
La Trobe University
Website: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/humanities/about/staff/profile?uname=SMorey<http://www.latrobe.edu.au/rclt/StaffPages/morey.htm>

From: Hilary Smith <hilary_smith at xtra.co.nz>
Sent: Monday, 3 July 2017 10:23:47 AM
To: r-n-l-d at lists.unimelb.edu.au
Subject: [RNLD] Names for letters of the alphabet

Hello all

We are working on developing names for the sounds of Gamilaraay language, i.e. a sort of alphabet with the equivalent of ‘ay’, ‘bee’, ‘see’, ‘(h)aitch’, etc.,  but also including names for phonemes written as aa, ng, nh, etc.

I am basing the approach on one developed for the Maori language in NZ, and I wonder if anyone has developed something similar for any other languages? And any teaching songs (or other materials) to go with it? Any lessons learned would be very welcome!


Dr Hilary Smith
Honorary Affiliate, College of Arts and Social Sciences
Affiliate, ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (COEDL)
Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Telephone: +61 4 5050-2088

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