Dalmatian used the Schwabacher typeface in official documents and books until 1948, along with a form of Kurrentschrift as a cursive.
Dalmatian writing, along with Croatian and Slovene, underwent an official change following the establishment of the CSDS. As the then-existing writing systems were viewed as "bourgeois", laws were brought into force establishing the official use of a more modern typeface for all purposes; even so, in middle schools the older typefaces were still taught for secondary knowledge. Handwriting was reformed as well, with the new script being based on the older Kurrentschrift variants; the new scripts are very similar to the German Suetterlin-Schrift.
Following the collapse of the CSDS, the CSDS-era laws fell into disregard in Dalmatia and Croatia.
In Dalmatia, a new law specified the use of the Schwabacher typeface for all official documents and government publications; the law does not require the use of this typeface elsewhere, but several newspapers have begun to use the pre-1948 typeface as well. Usually the political angle of a newspaper can be deduced at a glance by their choice of typeface. The post-1948 cursive script is still taught in schools, howver.
Throughout Dalmatophone Africa, the official language is, in some cases amongst others, Standard Dalmatian (SD). Though even SD as spoken in Africa has felt some influence from local languages, over the many decades a local patois in almost every region has evolved based on a fusion of Dalmatian and whatever the local lingua franca happened to be. These are almost never acknowledged individually by governments, who instead lump them together with Standard Dalmatian, meaning that census results are generally misleading, as they do not distinguish between speakers of Standard Dalmatian, and those who only speak an Afrodalm Patois. None are standardised, and therefore none have an official orthography; indeed, they are seldom written down.
An example of one such "Afrodalm Patois", as they are generally referred to by Dalmatian linguists, is the one spoken in southern Togo, based on a fusion of Dalmatian and Ewe.
Two notable features that the Ewe-Dalm Patois (EDP) took from Ewe are the lack of gender and invariable verb roots; plurals can be formed by either reduplication or -(j)i. The phonology of EDP is essentially Ewe; Dalmatian phones not present in Ewe are reinterpreted. The EDP definite article is la, from Ewe; it replaces the clitic -ul or -a found in Standard Dalmatian.
Verbs are invariant roots. Tense/aspect is indicated by particles that usually precede the verb.
The present tense is formed with the particle nye:
- Go nye merg gboa Lome.
- I PRES go to Lome
- I go to Lome.
The imperfect is formed with the particle yi: Go yi merg gboa Lome. The past perfect is formed with the particle vo: Go vo merg gboa Lome. The future, with a - go a merg gboa Lome - and the future perfect, with wo: Go wo merg gboa Lome. Negation happens with the structure ne+V ... o: Go nye nemerg gboa Lome o. (I do not go to Lome). The progressive uses the particle no prefixed to the tense-marking particle: Go nonye merg gboa Lome, Tu noyi manx la poana (You were eating the bread). Habituality is indicated with the particle nwa: Go nwanye merg gboa Lome (I regularly go to Lome). The ingressive, expressing desire, is indicated with the suffix -le attached to the subject and the reduplication of the verb: Gole nye mergmerg gboa Lome (I want to go to Lome). The imperative is formed with the prefix na- attached to the verb: namerg!, and the negative imperative, with nega-: negamerg!.
Comparison of adjectives is as follows:
- La kastel le grand. (The castle is big/the big castle)
- La kastel wu grand. (The castle is bigger/the bigger castle)
- La kastel wuwo grand kata. (The castle is the biggest/the biggest castle)
- La kastel wu grand la libru (The castle is bigger than the book)
For comparative purposes, here are a few simple texts presented in both Standard Dalmatian and Ewe-Dalm Patois:
SD: Gloria a Patrul e a Fiyul e a Spretul Santu, sku aira in ineciul, ye nunk e szampru, e in seklu da sekluri.
EDP: Glojya a la Pat e a la Fiyu e a la Spetu Sant, sku yi le in ineci, nye le nunk eye a le in seklu da seklu.
SD: Patrul da nos, ke yes in kelul, santa ye nomnaya da tai. Benia riamnul da tai; faszemea bolunta da tai sku in kelul e af tiaraya. Duan a nos auxie poanul da nos kotixul e ximet a nos daitele da nos, sku e nos ximetme daitoruri da nos.
E ne inducz nos in-a tentoacaya, se liaroat nos da malu. Amen.
EDP: Pat da nos, tu nye le in la kel, la nomna-da-tu nye le sant. Jyamna-da-tule nye benyabenya; bolunta-da-tu wo fasz af la tyara sku e nye le fasz in la kel. Naduan a nos axye la poan ke nos jecep la xixi kata (give to us today the bread we get every day), eye naximet a nos la daiteji da nos, sku nos noa ximet a wos ke nye le daitori a nos. Eye negainduc nos gboa la tentwaca, se naliarwat nos da la mal. Amen.
3. The Dalmatian National Anthem (here, the EDP "translation" is literal and for meaning, not an attempt to maintain the poetic structure of the SD original)
SD: Af Adria biala stoa Dalmatia, szampru liara. Vo tuati vraguri daviandamerme tai, O mamna Patria, Dalmatia!
EDP: Af la Adria byala nye sto Dalmacya, tyaja ke nye le szampru lyaj. O, Pat-tyaja da nos, Dalmacya, me a davianda tu vo vejagvejag kata.
There is one tantalising trace of a now extinct Dalmatian dialect recorded by a travelling Kemrese monk who was on his way to Constantinople in the fall of 1866. He records only this comparison between the standard Dalmatian numbers 1 through 10 and this other dialect: "Dalmatian numbers ... unu/una, du/dua, trai, katru, czencza, szake, szapte, optu, nua, xiacze and in the dialect of this region, they say oin, doi, tra, kátru, káinku, si, shat, yoit, nóiva, dik." The scrap of paper was discovered in the library of the monastery near Dui in northern Kemr in 1925 during some renovation work.
Phonology and Orthography
The standard alphabet of Dalmatian is Latin. It is as follows:
a - a
e - e
i - i
o - o
u - u
b - b
c - ts
cz - tS
d - d
f - f
g - g
h - x
j - Z
k - k
l - l
m - m
n - n
p - p
r - r
s - s
sz - S
t - t
v - v
x - dz
xh - dZ
y - j
z - z
In New Dalmatia, a modified Cyrillic alphabet is used. In addition to the letters below, Dalmatian Cyrillic also had е for ye, ё for yo, ю for yu, and я for ya. Other Cyrillic letters from Russian, mostly loanwords, are also used.
a - a
e - э
i - и
o - o
u - у
b - б
c - ч
cz - ц
d - д
f - ф
g - г
h - x
j - ђ
k - к
l - л
m - м
n - н
p - п
r - р
s - с
sz - ш
t - т
v - в
x - ѕ
xh - џ
y - й
z - з
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