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Alphabet and Phonology
Bukvadad ki Palbakrhot
The Rhean alphabet has 31 letters (a b c č d e f g ǧ h i j k ǩ l m n o ö p r s š t u ü v w y z ž). I've used Herman Miller's "Thryomanes" font for all Rhean words on this site because I'm too stubborn to replace g-hacek and k-hacek with something else. The letters č ǧ ǩ š ž should look like c g k s z with haceks; ö ü should look like o u with umlauts. If you do not see these letters properly, get the Thryomanes font here. There is also an "ASCII-friendly" orthography I've used for mailing lists and email clients that don't support haceks. A hacek is represented in that orthography by an apostrophe, so šiǧ is written s'ig'.
The names of all the letters are: Arep Bita Cedik Čečil Dalet Erze Fia Gemla Ǧal Hakeč Izin Jorgo Kofa Ǩar Lamud Mam Novun Onz Ökör Pip Reš Sumko Šen Taf Uur Üta Vaklav Wež Yud Zida Žel.
The consonants b f g h l m s v y and z are pronounced as in English. t and d and n are dental sounds, pronounced with the tip of the tongue touching the back of the teeth. The stops k p t are not aspirated. The other consonants are:
·c [ts] is pronounced "ts" as
lights or lets.
·č [tʃ] has the sound of "ch" in check.
·ǧ [ɣ] is the voiced version of ǩ [x] (see below).
·h [h] is pronounced as in English, but it never changes the sound of another letter except r (see below). The combinations ch, sh, zh are never pronounced like č, š, ž. Likewise kh and gh are never pronounced like ǩ and ǧ. These combinations should be pronounced fully, but in fast speech the h is dropped, for example in cumzhernok 'refrigerator' [tsum'zɛrnɔk].
·j [dʒ] is often pronounced as in English judge, but many speakers pronounce this like ž, especially between two vowels. In some dialects j has merged with ž completely. To sound like a native speaker from Mavrius, pronounce this as j at the beginning of a word and as ž everywhere else.
·ǩ [x] is the "kh" sound spelt ch in Bach.
·r [ɾ] is is a quickly flipped r and rh [r] (the only digraph in Rhean) is a longer rolled r. The difference is the same as between Spanish pero and perro. Most Rheans pronounce r and rh the same nowadays; the difference is preserved when delivering formal speeches or television news. Final or coda (before another consonant) r tends to sound more like rh.
·š [ʃ] is the "sh" sound in shore.
·w [β] is pronounced like v, but without the teeth touching the bottom lip. Pronounce a b without closing your lips all the way. In some dialects, this sound is exactly like English w. In the Mavrius dialect this is pronounced as v, but disappears after o and u.
·ž [ʒ] is the "zh" of the s in English treasure.
This chart shows the consonants with their X-SAMPA symbols:
|Plosive||p [p] b [b]||
|t [t̪] d [d̪]||k [k] g [g]|
|Nasal||m [m]||n [n̪]||(nk [ŋ]*)|
|Tap or Flap||r [ɾ]|
|Fricative||w [β]||f [f] v [v]||s [s] z [z]||š [ʃ] ž [ʒ]||ǩ [x] ǧ [ɣ]||h [h]|
|Affricate||c [ts]||č [tʃ]|
|l [l], [ʟ]|
* [ŋ], which occurs for n before all the velar sounds, is not recognised as a separate phoneme, but final nk tends to be pronounced as [ŋ].
When a consonant is written double, it is usually the result of a suffix or
compound bringing two of the same sound together. These are run together and
pronounced as one consonant: mitrenni
[mi't4ɛni] 'neutral', jennok
'prisoner', luddrinač [ludɾi'natʃ]
'modern'. A few words have a double consonant in the stem; these are also
pronounced as if the consonant were single: ǧömmek
The only true geminates are a few voiceless stops. These are written with an h before the stop: dahkek ['dakkɛk] 'laugh', vahtuc ['vattuts] 'work shift'.
English is not a very good language to use for describing vowel sounds, as its vowels vary so much from one part of the English-speaking world to another. Here, I'm using my local 'lect for the English equivalents. If you are not familiar with IPA, try to imagine the example English words as pronounced by someone from Vancouver (or, if you can't, Seattle).
·a IPA [a] is like the a of cat,
but with the mouth more open. Closer to French a.
·e IPA [ɛ] is between the e in set and the ay in day.
·i IPA [i] is like the i in machine.
·o IPA [ɔ] is a shorter, pure version of the vowel in more.
·ö IPA [ø] is like German ö.
·u IPA [u] is like the sound in soon, but shorter.
·ü IPA [y] is German ü or French u.
The sounds and grammar of the Rhean language vary a lot throughout Rhea, Ossica and the Colonies. The language presented here will be the "standardised" Rhean spoken in Mavrius. There is some variation of consonant sounds between the dialects: For example, c is commonly pronounced s in the west. Almost everywhere outside Mavrius, ǩ [x] and ǧ [ɣ] are pronounced as uvular [χ] (the sound of Spanish j) and [ʁ] (the voiced version of this sound). Further north towards Ossica, speakers preserve the difference between r and rh. There is even more variation in the vowels: e varies between [e] and [ɛ]; ö varies between [ø] and [œ]. It is increasingly common to hear an unrounded [ɘ] for ö. Variations of a include the further-back [ɑ] and [ʌ], and variations of o include [o] and even [ʊ] in the North.
Proper formal Rhean includes longer versions of its seven vowels: aa, ee, ii, oo, uu, öö, üü are pronounced as long versions of a,e,i,o,ö,u,ü. Modern speakers are losing this distinction. It is almost entirely absent in Mavrius. The long-short difference is most preserved in the western provinces.
Placement of the stress in Rhean words is unpredictable. Each word has a place where the accent sounds right, but there is no tidy rule that
governs them all. There seem to be patterns, but I haven't 'discovered' all
of them yet. Saying "stress falls where Mike thinks it sounds best"
isn't really fair. I will try and find the patterns and explain what I discover
Some consistent patterns:
- words that end in a vowel are almost never stressed on that final vowel. Exceptions include a few words like ekzí 'station' and urhú 'hill', a few suffixes like -ái, and all future participles in -ú or -í.
- nouns that end in n in the nominative are stressed on the final syllable: drayán 'husband', micén 'store'.
- verbs in the simple future tense always take the stress on the -ir- syllable: deštír, raizírmi.
- the adjective suffixes -yán and -táš take the stress accent.
(more patterns as they are uncovered)
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