Fabian Alvarez Lopez began to be develop the Nóläm or
Drihleön alphabet in about 1989, when he was still in High School.
It was inspired by the Devanagari alphabet, but unlike it, it’s a true
alphabet, not an abiguda. The language it’s mainly used for is also
called Nóläm (it’s unknown whether the language named the
alphabet, or the alphabet named the language), and it serves as the
lingua franca in a world called Eört, where Fabian set most of
the fantasy stories which he has written.
Internal history of the Nóläm alphabet
The Nóläm alphabet is thought to have been invented by
king Drïhl of Eërtál Nahíl, in the mists of memory.
It has suffered some changes and reforms over the centuries, and the modern
alphabet is quite different to the one used to write Imperial and
Ecclesiastical Nóläm, the older forms of modern Nóläm.
Nóläm means ‘the language of all people’, so the Nóläm
alphabet is also called the Nólkäb, ‘the script of all people’.
The Nóläm language is spoken from most peoples, across the world
of Eört. It’s also used to write other genetically related languages,
such as Aanaräm, Arthálam, or Barékam, and some unrelated
ones, such as Dänáräm.
- Stress is marked by a series of dashes on the vowels. Stress is
phonologically distinctive. The palatalized vowels ä, ë, ö,
ü are stressed by default. Words are not accented if they are
unambiguous (see ‘lia’, in the text below). The vowel /ɐ/ is always
unstressed, and has a dialectal allophone, [ə].
a /a/ á [á]
- The grapheme for [é] looks different to the grapheme for /e/
because it was once an additional half-open vowel, /ɛ/. This vowel carried
compulsory stress, so it began to be confused with the stressed form of the
- In some archaic words, the letter ‘y’ closes the final syllable, written
‘ý’. It has the sound [í].
- There were originally two glottal phonemes, [h] and [ɦ], written
with two different letters. Now, [ɦ] only appears as an allophone of
[h] at the beginning of words, when [h] precedes the non-palatalized open and
half-open vowels [a], [ɐ] [e] and [o], and when [h] appears in the middle
of words between vowels. The letter that had the sound [ɦ] has retained
its value at the beginning of words, but has acquired other uses: it marks
syllable boundaries between consonants, breaks diphthongs, and elides vowels
at the end of words if the following word begins with the same vowel. The letter
for the sound /h/ has also become a symbol for vowel length, so when the sound
[h] appears after a vowel, and there’s risk of ambiguity, the two letters appear
together, in the combination [V’h]
‘ /h/ [ɦ] h /h/
- The symbol for the comma was originally a letter for the glottal stop,
which was once a phoneme in Nóläm. When the phoneme was the lost,
the letter was kept. Punctuation is a work in progress; Nóläm has
punctuation for the period (the same symbol is used for the full stop), the
colon and the semi-colon. There are no question marks or exclamation marks.
Other symbols are still undeveloped.
- Nóläm consonants are phonemic, and they have always the same
value, except the three voiced consonants which appear at the end of the
alphabet [v], [z] and [ʒ]; at the end of a word, these consonants
are devoiced, so ‘gäv’ (boy) and ‘gäf’ (cloud) are both pronounced
Sample text in Nóläm
Maná lian, lia manänbar
“Art is beauty, and beauty is art” (John Keats)