Mmuock is a tonal language. This means: in addition to the letters (from A to Z), you must also indicate the tone of the sound. For example: Ngōng means “world”, while Ngóng means “farming”. The difference between the two words, lies on the tone on the letter ⟨o⟩. Another notable example is Njiè (clothing) and Njíé (smoke).
There are sixteen (16) tones in our Mmuock alphabet, and they are numbered from 0 to 15. The tones are summarised on the alphabet page . Fifteen of the tones are each represented by a particular symbol, giving a total of 15 tone symbols. (The second tone needs no symbol.)
Fifteen symbols seems like quite a lot. Secondly, not all the symbols might be found on the standard keyboard.
Fortunately, in the simplified alphabet, one needs just 4 symbols in order to indicate all 15 tones. That is because 10 tones can alternatively be represented by combining the first 5 tone symbols (tone 0 to tone 4). Therefore, when a symbol is not found on the keyboard, one may use other symbols as indicated in the summary of tones. For example, Mǔ (female parent), which uses tone 5 on ⟨u⟩, may be written as Muù, using tones 2 and 4.
In the remainder of this post, we describe how to produce those first 5 tone symbols on a standard Android keyboard. We consider only the tone on vowel sounds.
Tones zero to four
The first five tones— from 0 to 4 respectively— are, by letter of the alphabet, indicated as follows:
- on letter ⟨a⟩: â, ā, a, á, à
- on letter ⟨e⟩: ê, ē, e, é, è
- on letter ⟨i⟩: î, ī, i, í, ì
- on letter ⟨o⟩: ô, ō, o, ó, ò
- on letter ⟨u⟩: û, ū, u, ú, ù.
These symbols can be produced on nearly all keyboards.
[Note: Tones are required also on other vowel letters such as ⟨ø⟩, ⟨æ⟩, ⟨ɛ⟩, ⟨ǝ⟩, etc. Those letters may be absent from your phone. However, they can be written using ⟨a⟩, ⟨e⟩, ⟨i⟩, ⟨o⟩, and ⟨u⟩, as mentioned on the alphabet page.)
Producing the first 5 tones
- Tap on the letter and hold. For example, tap on “o”. Result: The letter is displayed with different tone marks. See Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: Tone marks on tap-and-hold
- Choose the accent mark that represents the tone.
Question: What if the 4 symbols (ô, ō, ó, ò) are not there?
If the symbols are not present after performing step (1) above, you may have to activate the following keyboards:
- English keyboard (this might already be active if your device is set to use English)
- French keyboard (this might already be activated if your device is set to use French).
Activation is easy if your device is already using Google’s Gboard app. The process is described on their website.
For help with particular phones or tablets, ask.