Parthalan is the first place in the story that Trinka encounters writing. Although she feels left out because she can’t read, this unfortunate experience gives her a hunger for the written word, and later inspires her to master the art of reading.
Parthalan uses an alphabet, “Willow,” inspired by leaves and trees. All the vowels are leaf shapes:
A sense of direction
As you can see, the symbols are very minimalist, with only a slight difference in lines marking the difference between vowels. The same is true for the stick-shaped consonants–many symbols are an exact mirror image of other symbols. With the Brace alphabet (ath), the arrangement of letters is very fluid and depends on the object being written on. In Parthalan, having words written in a consistent direction (left-to-right) is essential to being able to read them.
Parthalan also uses punctuation marks:
Try it out…
See you if you can decode this Willow writing. (Remember, each character represents a speech sound, not a letter of the English/Latin alphabet.)
Parthalan is probably my favorite place (or at least the place I’d most like to live!) in Trinka’s world. Being from the Pacific Northwest, it’s easy for me to appreciate the incredible beauty found in trees. What shapes in nature would particularly inspire you to make a writing system?
Count on it…
Like some other writing systems (such as Hebrew, and Roman numerals), Parthalan also uses letter symbols as numbers. They either depend on context to differentiate them (for example, a ? from the number 100), or draw a ground line (underline) beneath numbers only.