Alefbit

Ian James
© December 2017

script name

This is another easily hand-written, phonetically constructed alphabet, like others in my Phonological Cypher series. But Alefbit was designed with an extra function in mind – obfuscation of data. While not being in any way a cryptographic system (it’s a very simple one-to-one cypher of ASCII characters), it removes a level of familiarity from printed alphanumeric information, and adds a degree of privacy and uniqueness to such things as addresses and bank account numbers on paper. One thing which makes this script/font interesting is that each letter can be deduced from phonetic information, in the manner of a mnemonic system. With its rather geometric appearance, it may remind one of Thomas More’s Utopia cypher.

Consonants and Vowels

Because of the mnemonic nature of this script, analysis of the structure is shown here in full for each letter. The letters A to Z have no intrinsic phonetic properties (in common usage at least), but it is easy enough to assign some. Those with * asterisk have assignments perhaps a little unusual for English readers, with Q in particular given an arbitrary sound to pair with X. Below, we shall encode these sounds into glyphs (new letter forms).


Consonants
Letter -- Name of sound -- Phoneme -- Description
B buh b voiced labial plosive
C chuh* ʧ unvoiced alveolar plosive + post-alveolar fricative
D duh d voiced alveolar plosive
F fuh f unvoiced labial fricative
G guh g voiced back plosive
H huh h unvoiced back fricative
J juh ʤ voiced alveolar plosive + post-alveolar fricative
K kuh k unvoiced back plosive
L luh l alveolar semivowel
M muh m labial nasal
N nuh n alveolar nasal
P puh p unvoiced labial plosive
Q zhuh* ʒ voiced post-alveolar fricative
R ruh r post-alveolar semivowel
S suh s unvoiced alveolar fricative
T tuh t unvoiced alveolar plosive
V vuh v voiced labial fricative
W wuh w labial semivowel
X shuh* ʃ unvoiced post-alveolar fricative
Y yuh j alveolar semivowel
Z zuh z voiced alveolar fricative
Vowels
Letter -- Name of sound -- Phoneme -- Description
A ah a open back vowel
E eh e mid-open front vowel
I ee* i close front vowel
O oh o mid-open back vowel
U oo u close back vowel

The consonants are regularly formed with a base shape (representing location) plus zero or more strokes showing manner of articulation and voicing. The sibilants are derived from the alveolar/dental base.

consonant bases

Voiced plosives have no extra strokes. Unvoiced consonants have a mid-horizontal “damping” bar. Fricatives have a “slide” bar underneath. Nasals have a vertical “holding” stroke at the right. Post-alveolars have the central vertical stroke shifted to the left. Affricates (plosive+fricative) have the central vertical stroke of [d,t] added back in. Semivowels are made from a corresponding continuant plus an accent above. With these things in mind, we can see how the consonant glyphs are constructed.

consonants

The vowels have crescent-moon shapes, with front vowels opening on the left, back vowels opening on the right. The most open vowel [a] has no closing stroke, close vowels have a horizontal “closure” bar.

vowels

To print a capital letter we add a dot after the letter, as can be seen in the script name at the top of the page. This will appear more confusing for the casual reader.

Numerals and Symbols

Numerals are constructed in a similar way to those in my script Slinseng-Fi, where the count of endpoints and intersections adds up to the numeric value. Except for zero, which is an upturned and thus empty cup. In this way the numerals of Alefbit are not arbitrary shapes, making them very easy to use (if you know the background to their design).

numerals

A few obfuscated symbols are available, their mnemonic shape based more on puns than phonology. Dash uses a “deer” glyph (derived from the L shape, using the acute for horns). Point uses a stylized arrow or loaded bow. At uses the “pointing” glyph with a “wall”, location being the target of pointing. Space becomes a printed glyph, a round area with a ring around it, again confusing for the casual reader. This is a minimal set; other ASCII symbols are unchanged for fear of over-extending the mnemonics, and for making the font look more like a natural script. Just remember that symbols like $%+= will suggest that numeric values are being used nearby. For an actual “space” value, use the font’s Underscore character.

symbols

Examples

A few pieces of data “hidden” from the casual observer.


15RK6AQ13YNZ3GS4JyLY5LSELw77e33egB


respond@skyknowledge.com


chq 0089-09876-53-1


867 Sunnyside St Newmarket 19370


DISCLAIMER: This simple obfuscation font should not be used for sensitive data, such as private keys for bitcoin or high-security passwords. Keep in mind that a change of font does not in any way hide underlying data stored on a computer. I shall not be responsible for loss of data due to over-confident or inappropriate use of this font.

 
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