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I respond from more experience with Fulfulde than Hausa (which I cannot in fact claim to speak, but whose written form I have encountered in various ways). In general, the reason for such characters is that they convey meaningful differences in pronunciation. On the other hand, it is apparently possible (at least in many cases?) to disambiguate meaning when the special characters are not used in print. I think it would be more problematic to pronounce the implosive b and d and ejective k as the ordinary b, d, and k in Hausa (similarly for similar characters in Fulfulde and other languages). My impression is that the reason the hooked characters are sometimes omitted in favor of their simple character analogs goes back to the problems with pre-Unicode computer fonts (and to a degree back to typewriters that with rare exceptions did not take these into consideration). A similar situation existed briefly for languages like French when the ASCII encoding did not permit typing accents. That does not mean that hooked characters are "optional" in Hausa, any more than accents were unimportant in French - and in fact I believe the hooked characters are standard, at least in Nigeria and Niger. Another issue mitigating for omission of hooked characters and other modified characters is lack of standard input methods (i.e., keyboard layouts). The input methods exist, but while fonts are available in new computers for display of the characters, no one is yet making it easy by providing a standard input method for them on those same machines. Even if the hooked characters were optional, I would use them in whatever you are considering producing, so as not to omit that data from the text - it's useful for learners, searching, eventual text-to-speech, and perhaps other applications. Given the almost universal adoption of Unicode, and the increasing availability and dissemination of (Unicode encoded) fonts with the hooked characters, there is no excuse now to "ASCIIfy" Hausa or other African language text by omitting them. Hope this helps. Don Osborn Wannan wasik'ar i-mel ce daga H-Hausa, inda za'a cigaba da hira game da harshe da al'adu da tarihi da sauran lamura na Hausawa da mak'wabtansu.