Ƙ and Ƴ: Who smuggles these characters into the Hausa writing?

I have recently seen the proliferation of the use of some letters which are clearly not part of the mainstream Hausa writing system. These letters are now getting ground and are even trying to push away the real and bonafide owners of the place. These are no other than the new Ƙ and Ƴ and some of their other dependants.

You see, in the field of Hausa orthography, we are already battling with various challenges that defy simple logic, reasoning and lack uniformity amongst the Hausa scholars. However, I find this recent one very shocking and disturbing. This is simply because, when you have a controversy about how to write a Hausa word, that may not be a big problem as perhaps each variant of the spellings may have some scholars backing it, and they may a cogent and academic reasons for that. But for these new entrants – Ƙ,Ƴ,ƴ - I don't know who backs them. I don't know who sent them. I don't know who among the scholars promotes and propagates them. I feel like they are sent by some hidden forces of technology.

I can guess from where these recalcitrant intruders are coming. They are from our (newly) electronic gadgets and some Hausa keyboard applications, which are just sent into the market without any regard to the experts and knowledgeable professors in the field. Someone who has a company of smartphones will just employ those who think they know Hausa or those who speak Hausa, or those who don't even care about Hausa to do the Hausa technical dealings for him. This is where the problem came from. If you check our smartphones and some computer symbols, you find these deviant Ƙ and ƴ hanging around without any reason and without knowing who brought them. They are just like gatecrashers who are trying to feast more than the invited VIPs.

The affected legitimate Hausa consonants which are the victims of this I-don't-care mischief are primarily, the К and 'Y. These are the correct ways in which these two are written /К/- /ƙ/ and /'Y/- /'y/ respectively and not as /Ƙ/ and /ƴ/, the main point of contention is the hook, and where the hook should be. For the sake of knowledge, these are the only primary hooked and twin letters we have in Hausa, both small and capital respectively /ɓ/,/ɗ/, /ƙ/,/'y/ and their capital Ɓ,Ɗ,К,'Y. The hooks you see on them, have their specific and fixed position. It is not hooked anyhow and anywhere.

Phonologically speaking, /К/ is the capital letter of that Hausa voiceless velar ejective sound, while the /ƙ/ is the small letter. Equally, /'Y/ is that Hausa palatalized-glottal stop sound, and /'y/ is the small letter, but we don't know of the newly emerged - /Ƙ/, /Ƴ/ and /ƴ/, from where are they and how are they phonologically represented? All we know is, that they are the illegitimate trying to push away the legitimate sons of the Hausa alphabet. And they are gradually gaining ground and getting momentum even among those who ought to have cared a lot and dismissed them for long. 

Hausa Orthography is one of the most important forms of knowledge which people don't give a damn to learn. Many writers don't know how to write Hausa properly, and don't even know that they don't know, so sad! But very few are trying to learn. Good and excellent.

Generally, in the Hausa language, the hooked letters suffer a lot of trouble and total neglect by those who don't care. But we are there for them as we surely care. I recently bought a smartphone and decided to return it when I realized it doesn't contain Hausa in its language entry setting. I took it to someone who did something to it and the Hausa is back. Later, I formatted the phone and lost the Hausa again, I feel like throwing the phone away because I always feel embarrassed when I have to type something or respond to someone while the hooks are not properly represented. This is something serious to us that many others see as nothing.

I don't have any problem with them if they are accepted, authorized, and certified by the respected members and our professors in the field, but I have every problem when they keep on, not only popping but occupying the legal orthographical space of others. 

Whatever someone will say about them, one thing is certain, they are not in the books or not from the books. Who can clear this for us? Please help and save me or save them. If we accept them, fine, they are welcome, if not, let them be jailed, please. They are real intruders and disrupters of peaceful and correct writing.

Dr. Muhammad Sulaiman Abdullahi
Department of Nigerian Languages,
Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria.

Hausa Orthography

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