Turkish runes, an ancient writing system first testified in memorial inscriptions from the eigth century CE, bare a striking resemblence to the Germanic futhark runes. Both have shapes composed of mostly straight components that are easy to carve on wood or stone, and both share several parallel shapes. This similarity is only at the surface, however. Turkish runes drew their inspiration from the old cursive Sogdian script, itself a particularly version of the wider Aramaic lingua franca in the Middle East.

Upon closer examination, the runes are rather sophisticated in their suiting to Turkish. The alphabet possesses fourty characters to represent only twenty-six phonemes. The reason for this redundancy relates to the status of Turkish as an Altaic language. Altaic languages as a whole rely on something called vowel harmony, a property that there are two sets of vowels which cannot be intermixed in a single word. For example, one could have a word with the back articulated vowels e, i, or u, but if so it could not under any circumstance contain the front articulated vowels a, ï, or ö. For each front-back pairing Turkish used only one rune. To make sure the contrast was known, however, a majority of consonant characters have paired forms: one form used in words with front-articulated vowels and one used in words with back-articulated vowels. Thus the word 'sesu' would use different 's' characters than the word 'sasö'. One result of this efficiency was that vowels were sometimes left out altogether, as a mere indication of whether the word was front or back articulated would suffice.

The Turkish runes were written from right to left, read from bottom to top (the exact opposite of Latin characters). Word divisions were indicated with a pair of dots similar to a colon (an incidental parallel with futhark). It is also referred to as the Orkhon script in deference to the valley in which the runes were first discovered in the 19th century.


Daniels, Peter T., Bright, William. The World's Writing Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996
The Uighurs / Script, http://the_uighurs.tripod.com/Scrpt.htm

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