What’s orthography? It is basically a spelling system, defined as:
- The art or study of correct spelling according to established usage.
- The aspect of language study concerned with letters and their sequences in words.
- A method of representing a language or the sounds of language by written symbols; spelling.
Organizations such as the IPA (International Phonetic Association) and CLAD (Center of Applied Linguistics of Dakar) have developed Latin based spelling systems for historically non-written languages such as Wolof. The IPA uses a system with the same acronym as their association called the International Phonetic Alphabet. Although there is no universal standardized system for the spelling of Wolof words, the system devised by CLAD is probably the most widely used (or at least very close variations of it) and is possibly the easiest to follow for English speakers. Below are some examples of the same Wolof word for ‘thank you’ using different orthographies:
jëre-jëf (Standardized CLAD spelling)
djeredieuf (Common Francophone spelling)
jayraijayf (Used by Nyima Kantorek in her dictionary)
Other sources have spelled it; jai-rruh-jef, jere-jeff & je-re-jef among a variety of other renditions.
There is also a writing system that was developed for Wolof using the Arabic alphabet. This system is called Wolofal.