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The discovery of the phonemes of a language by phonemic analysis is the first step towards constructing an alphabet for a language. The alphabet of an unwritten language can be devised by giving the phonemes of the language one-to-one representation in writing. In other words, each phoneme is represented by a distinct symbol. Phenemics is a technique for reducing languages to writing. The alphabets of many recently written languages have been devised in this way.

Two writing systems are used to write Karbi. One is based on the Assamese alphabet and the other, on the Roman alphabet. No two languages have the same sound system and hence if the alphabet of a language is used to write another language, that alphabet has to be modified to suit the sound system of the latter. In the following, an attempt is made to adapt the Assamese alphabet to write Karbi. The Assamese alphabet cannot be sued as it is to write Karbi. It has to be modified in order to write Karbi in an efficient way. The modified form of the Assamese alphabet which is suggested here to write Karbi is called the Karbi alphabet. Though the Karbi alphabet is derived from the Assamese alphabet, the two are not identical. This will be clear from the difference between the two which are discussed later.
Difference exist between the two systems of writing which are in use now. The phonemes of a language can form the basis to establish a uniform tradition of writing in such contexts. Thus, the discovery of phonemes is not only useful in devising an alphabet for an unwritten language but it also helps in the standardization of the script. The phonemes of Karbi are listed first. The Karbi alphabet is presented then and it is followed by a brief discussion on the differences between the Karbi alphabet on the one h and and the Assamese alphabet and the existing Karbi alphabet which is based on the Assamese alphabet on the other.

Karbi Phonemes

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