Lesson 5

The characters /a/, /ha/ and /ka/: ᯀ and ᯂ

Today we will be learning two new characters: ᯀ /a/ and ᯂ, which represents both /ha/ and /ka/.

Aksara ᯀ (a)

The phoneme [a] is inherent in every consonantal character. But when you want to write a word (or a syllable) with initial [a], then you have to use ᯀ.

In Mandailing, Simalungun, and Toba the value of ᯀ is always /a/, for example in the word asa: ᯁᯘ or in the word siala ᯘᯪᯀᯞ or hais ᯂᯀᯘᯪ᯲

However, in Karo and Pakpak, the value of ᯀ can be either [a] or [ha], for example in anak ᯀᯉᯂ᯳ (child) or in meherga ᯔᯧᯀᯒᯧ᯳ᯞ (expensive). Note that the sign for [ə] goes behind the /ra/ not the /ha/ – more about that later.

Characters ᯂ, ᯄ, ᯃ (ha/ka)

The shape of this character is either ᯂ or ᯄ – but it can also lay somewhere in between. The shape ᯄ is more common in Mandailing whereas Toba, Karo, and Pakpak use ᯂ. In Simalungun, as usual, the strokes are unconnected which results in ᯃ – notice that the two lower strokes also turned horizontal resembling a dash.

In Mandailing, Simalungun, and Toba the value of ᯂ and ᯄ is /ha/ in syllable initial position, for example in the word hata ‘word’ ᯂᯗ, or in aha ‘what’ ᯀᯂ.

It only becomes /ka/ in word- or syllable-final position: ᯄᯞᯄ᯲ (halak – man, human being), ᯞᯂ᯲ᯞᯂ᯲ (laklak – tree bark paper).

In Karo and Pakpak the value of this character is ᯂ /ka/, never /ha/: ᯂᯞᯂ᯳ (kalak – man, human being), ᯂᯗ (kata – word).

That the value of the characters ᯂ and ᯄ is /ha/ in Mandailing, Simalungun, and Toba (“Southern Group”), but /ka/ in Karo and Pakpak (“Northern Group”) makes sense. Mandailing, Simalungun and Toba do not have syllable initial [k]. Karo [k] at the beginning of a word or a syllable always becomes [h] in the southern group of Batak languages as can be seen in the following table.

Northern Group Southern Group Indonesian
kabang habang terbang
kaka haha abang, kakak
kala hala kala
kalang halang galang, penyangga
kapal hapal tebal
keleng holong cinta
kundul hundul duduk
kuta huta kampung, kota


[qdeck] [q]ᯗ[a]ta

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