Since there are no closed syllables and no consonant clusters in the Rapanui language (Du Feu 1996:186), there is no necessity for glyphs that represent single consonants or combinations of consonants. In the first row of the syllabary below, the plain vowels /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/ and /u/ are represented by a group of glyphs that are very common in the inscriptions and are of a relatively simple structure. These signs are also used for syllables starting with consonant /h/ or the glottal stop – alternatively it could be said that /h/ and the glottal stop were not written. As the latter has been omitted or dealt with very confusingly in the vocabularies, I have opted to leave it out of the transliterations as well (at least for the time being). Stress patterns and vowel length which have sometimes been noted, are also left out as they are not essential for the presentation of the transliteration either.
Apart from these diversions and the use of /ng/ for /ŋ/ and /v/ for /b/, the text of the transliterations will follow Fuentes' spelling (1960), as his is the most comprehensive vocabulary at the moment. The spelling of words that are missing in Fuentes will be taken from Churchill (1912) and Englert (1978), respectively.
A number of syllables lack a corresponding glyph which means that these have not been identified with a minimum degree of certainty. For relatively rare syllables such as /ngo/, /vi/, and /vo/, this is something to be expected, but more frequently used ones such as /mu/, /ni/, and /nu/ require further investigation. A solution may possibly be found in certain defective writing strategies, for example, the use of the no-
The majority of the glyphs of the rongorongo inscriptions are monosyllabic. i.e., they represent vowels or consonant-
As can be seen, some glyphs deviate from the CVV pattern. The most important of these is negator ina (VCV) (fig. 3.3). Other exceptions are ao (VV), "power", "authority" (fig. 3.1), which is also used for haho, "outside", hare (CVCV) (fig. 3.2), a sign which is very rare in the inscriptions on wood, and riva (CVCV) (fig. 3.3). Possibly, the latter is not an elementary sign but a composite of syllabic signs for /ri/ and /va/, perhaps combined into a laughing mouth as illustration of its meaning "good".
The "birdhead" signs tou and tua (figs. 3.10-