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Metelko alphabet (Slovene: metelčica) was a Slovene writing system developed by Franc Serafin Metelko. It was used by a small group of authors from 1825 to 1833 but it was never generally accepted.

Example of metelčica - poem Cesar in opat (The emperor and the abbot)

Metelko introduced his alphabet in the book Lehrgebäude der slowenischen Sprache (a book for learning Slovene; written in German). He invented his alphabet in order to replace the formerly used Bohorič alphabet (bohoričica), which was problematic in certain situations. Metelko was influenced by the ideas of Jernej Kopitar, a well-known linguist who also participated in the development of the modern Serbian alphabet (created by Vuk Karadžić, following Kopitar's ideas).

Metelko's alphabet has 32 letters in following alphabetical order:

A B D E Metelko E.gif F G H Metelko H.gif I Metelko EE.gif J K L Metelko LJ.gif M N Metelko NJ.gif O Metelko O.gif P R S Metelko Š.gif Metelko ŠČ.gif Metelko Z.gif Metelko Ž.gif T U V Metelko C.gif Metelko Č.gif

Special letters are explained in following table (other letters have the same meaning as in modern Slovene):

Metelko's alphabet
majuscule minuscule IPA modern Slovene
Metelko C.gif Metelko c.gif /ts/ c
Metelko Č.gif Metelko č.gif /tʃ/ č
S s /s/ s
Metelko Š.gif Metelko š.gif /ʃ/ š
Metelko ŠČ.gif Metelko šč.gif /ʃtʃ/ šč
Metelko Z.gif Metelko z.gif /z/ z
Metelko Ž.gif Metelko ž.gif /ʒ/ ž
H h /h/ h
Metelko H.gif Metelko h.gif /x/ h
Metelko LJ.gif Metelko lj.gif /lj/ lj
Metelko NJ.gif Metelko nj.gif /nj/ nj
E e /ɛ/ e (open e; also ê)
Metelko E.gif Metelko e.gif /e/ e (close e; also é)
Metelko EE.gif Metelko ee.gif /ə/ e (schwae; also ə)
O o /o/ o (close o; also ó)
Metelko O.gif Metelko o.gif /ɔ/ o (open o; also ô)

Metelko wanted to solve the problem of the formerly used digraphs ZH (for /tʃ/) and SH (for /ʃ/ and /ʒ/) by replacing them with special letters Metelko Č.gif, Metelko Š.gif and Metelko Ž.gif, designed after the Cyrillic letters Ч, Ш, Ж.

Metelko also added special letters for common groups Metelko ŠČ.gif, Metelko LJ.gif and Metelko NJ.gif.

The difference between glottal and velar H (/h/, /x/) is in fact not important for Slovene speakers, therefore the letter Metelko H.gif was omitted by some authors.

In the formerly used Bohorič alphabet, certain words with different pronunciation had the same spelling. Metelko wanted to solve this problem by splitting E into three and O into two variants. Metelko's letters E, Metelko E.gif and Metelko EE.gif represent the vowels /ɛ/, /e/ and /ə/, which were formerly written with E. Metelko's letters O and Metelko O.gif represent the vowels /o/ and /ɔ/, which were formerly written with O.

The main problem of Metelko's alphabet was its graphic design. Metelko's letters appeared strange to the average Slovene writer and the alphabet itself was soon nicknamed krevljica - the twisted alphabet. Some letters were in fact difficult to write in handwriting. Besides Metelko was strongly influenced by his own dialect, certain solutions were not accepted by speakers of other dialects. Soon strong opposition rose against Metelko's alphabet.

After the "Slovene alphabet war" Metelko's alphabet was forbidden in 1833. A few years later Slovenes accepted Gaj's Latin alphabet (Slovene: gajica), which is easier to write. In this alphabet variants in pronunciation are written using accents (é, ê, ó, ô, etc.) but only in cases when it is necessary in order to distinguish two words (eg. klóp = bench; klôp = tick).

See also


  • Enciklopedija Slovenije, 7. zvezek, Metelčica. Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1993.

External links



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