Nothing, just reading The Years of Rice and Salt.
The book mentions a poster written in the three international languages of “Chinese, Arabic, and Algonquin.” And I was like “what the hell does written Algonquin look like?”
In real life, Ojibwe (an Algic language) has been written in several interesting ways, but in the world of the Years of Rice and Salt, the “Algonquin” language must be an Algic language related to Ojibwe, with a writing system handed down from the Iroquoian-speaking “Hodenosaunee,” who got it from the Japanese Diaspora. The other possibility is that Algonquin is written in Arabic or with an entirely novel alphabet, but shut up.
The Iroquoian language spoken by the founders of the Hodenosaunee League was actually much harder for early Japanese scribes to fit to the katakana syllabary. Early forms used extensive diacritics to indicate labialized, affricated, and aspirated consonants, as well as nasalizated and null vowels. However, most of these innovations were scrapped (along with the use kanji) with the adaptation of katakana to Algonquin. Algonquin does use null-vowel kana (from the Japanese -u kana) and hiragana to represent the labial sounds missing in Iroquoian languages.