The TerraTopian tongue recognizes each letter as a year, each use of that letter, a season. Unlike our Roman alphabet which can use a letter several different ways—some sounding different with each use (how confusing!), in the TerraTopian tongue these uses are broken into four basic linguistic applications, or positions, called Ramas.
The first use of a letter in a word or sentence would be its Che position or Ramas, representing Spring. This is critical to remember. In TerraTopia you always start with Spring, with birth. Begin with the Beginning, as they say. The second Rama is Chi, representing Summer. Cho represents Fall, a letter’s third Ramas. Cha, reflecting Winter, becomes the fourth.
Each time a letter is used in a word or sentence, it needs to go through every season of its pronunci-ation, its every Ramas, before it sounds the same way again.
Take for example, the letter ‘I’. If repeated four times in a word, as in ‘Mississippi’, the ‘I’ would be pronounced four different ways. In this case, we’d say Re, then Ry, then Ru, then Ri. The next time ‘I’ would be heard, it would start over in its Che position, in Spring, sounding once more like Re.
If you’re curious about its complete translation, ‘Mississippi’ would sound like nere-hehy-ryhu-hiru-kako-ri. A mouthful, no? But don’t worry. There’s no Mississippi in TerraTopia, and for good reason.
You’ll also notice TerraTopian phonetics aren’t broken down into syllables, but into fours again—four gathered letter forms called Ramu. As was demonstrated with Ramas, Ramus reflect the seasons. In TerraTopia, everything is a base four system. Everything.
Once a Ramu, or year ‘ends’, the next letter will always be capitalized in order to signify a new beginning—another factor critical to Life. That’s why ‘Mississippi River’ would actually look like NereHehyRyhuHiruKakoRi ImreErveIn if it were ever written as spoken. Which is hardly ever. That’s why the Ticking created Echo Shells.
Another note, given TerraTopia is Earth’s spirit twin, its interior world, what we on Earth start with A and go to Z, TerraTopians start with Z and go to A. So, not only do you reflect the seasons in the TerraTopian alphabet, but you need to work backwards when assigning the proper phonetic application.
Simply put, you need to start from the inside and work out, the back and work forwards.
We understand it’s confusing, but don’t worry. Nothing is written as it sounds. It’s actually simpler than that. You see, TerraTopians view everything symbolically. Everything is an icon of sorts, a symbol of something. Typically, it’s something we as humans recognize..
For example, ‘A’ will be an antenna, ‘B’ will indicate balance, ‘C’ a cactus, ‘T’ a turtle, etc. So… not so hard, huh?
But we know what you’re thinking. If everything’s a symbol, how do we know what season the symbol is in? Again, that’s easy. The four Ramas, or usages of a letter are designated by a tiny dot that orbits each icon. Like the Earth orbiting the Sun, the dot orbits the symbol to tell its user how to pronounce it. It always starts in the upper left corner and goes clockwise around. Once it makes its orbit, and the letter has completed its Ramu, you simply start over again with its four phonetic seasons.
Make sense? Max, Danny, Li Fang, and I think so (but it took a while).
It turns out all you need to do is think like a tree.