We changed our name!

For almost 20 years, from 2000 to 2019, this alphabet was known as Shwa. Why did we change it?

Well, the name Shwa had several disadvantages:

  1. It has no standard spelling in the Roman alphabet. "Shwa" is good for English, "Choie" in French, "Schwa" in German, "Shuá" in Castellano, "Sciuà" in Italian, and so on.
  2. Phonetically, many languages lack medial semivowels like the w. The sh initial is not that common, either. If the result is people pronouncing it Suva, that's unfortunate.
  3. It's too close to Shaw, a name (and the ISO 15924 code) for the Shavian alphabet. It may also be too close to schwa, the name for the neutral vowel.
  4. It may be too short! Even in English, we have to lengthen the final vowel.

The new name, Musa , is easy to spell and pronounce in most languages, and it's not too short. It's the name for Moses in many languages, and that's a nice association. It may also make you think of muse museum music, which is fine, even though there's no y sound in Musa - it's pronounced like English moose-ah (IPA /musa/).

The name Musa also hides a personal reference, to a constructed language called Suma, which was invented by Dr. Bart Russell of Plainview, NY and self-published in 1966. It was a chance encounter with this Suma - now so obscure that there is a different constructed language with the same name, as well as a natural language - that started me on the path that led to Musa, many years later. So thank you, Dr. Russell!

The phrase The Musa Alphabet is sometimes shortened to the Musabet.


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