The last few months I have been working with Aje on the publication of an Akha primer. Part of that work has meant that I have had the honor to listen in on the meetings of Akha leaders from Thailand, Myanmar, China and Laos as they discuss the newest Akha orthography.
The books that have just been published, and are shown here, use the historical Lewis Orthography, created by Dr. Paul Lewis - a dear friend and servant to the Akha for many years, and (perhaps) the most accomplished Akha linguist to date. Most Akha texts in Thailand currently use this writing system, and it will continue to be used for a number of years in the future until a more universal system can be incorporated, and existing texts (such as the Bible, Akha histories, medical texts, etc.) can be updated and republished. As you can see from the picture, the Lewis Orthography incorporates tone marks (such as ^ ^) in order to delineate Akha tones. However, since a unique font must be used for this writing system (making computer usage less universal) these Akha leaders from 4 countries are in the process of deciding upon a universal writing system which requires no additional font sets and instead uses ancillary Roman characters (such as q,v) to delineate tones.
OK, so it really is that dull. The exciting thing is that the Akha people are taking their language, their script, and their future into their own hands and making an effort to preserve it in a way that is relevant to the current world.
Because of those efforts, we are giving a lot of our time and energy in order to concurrently publish the primer of the unified script, and hope to see that work published and distributed by the end of May.
In other exciting news, we will also be working with Aje and Nancy on an English publication this year: the background story of Akha Outreach Foundation as it enters its tenth year of service to the Akha people.
So stay tuned!