C phonology

From Pin Eight
Revision as of 21:19, 9 August 2015 by Tepples (talk | contribs) (Vowels: Hurry, hurry, get yer vowels)
Jump to: navigation, search

The Noeneg language is called "C" by scouts because it tends toward a more consonant-heavy mix of sounds than "V". In some ways, it resembles Netherlandish (aka Dutch).


Like Arabic, C has three vowels, but one would be fooled by the diphthongs. Most C roots have closed syllables with a C?CVCC? structure, but inflections can turn the V into VV. For example, one plural pattern adds /i/ before the last vowel.

Translit Phonemic Phonetic Notes
a /a/ [ɐ]
aa /aa/ [ɑ:]
ee /ai/ [eɪ]
ou /au/ [ʌʊ]
i /i/ [ɪ]
ia /ia/ [iə]
ij /ii/ [æɪ ~ ɛi] Appears to be the result of a shift not unlike one in English, German, and Dutch
ieuw /iu/ [ɪʏ ~ iu̯]
u /u/ [ʊ]
ua /ua/ [uə]
ui /ui/ [œʏ] Probably same shift that affected ij
oe /uu/ [u:]
e 0 [◌̩] Used as an aid to reading strings of consonants. Usually splits digraphs or indicates that the following consonant is a syllabic nucleus, as with English and Danish schwa assimilation and Slavic assimilation of yer vowels.

The transliteration used here is based on Dutch orthography, much as the orthography of Indonesian was before its independence.

Because C is far more tolerant of clusters, words in C tend to have more of their vowels reduced to null compared to their V cognates. Compare the English doublet anxiety/angst.

One of our scouts has presented a convincing analysis that gives each word only one phonemic vowel or diphthong. Suffixes thus form long strings of consonants with no phonemic vowels. The phonetic realization of these clusters depends on the dialect.

A speaker of the standard dialect who learns a five-vowel language as a second language often ends up speaking with an accent full of diphthongs: /e/ is pronounced as [eɪ] and /o/ as [ʌʊ]. This is apparently the cultural equivalent of the "gringo" accent that some American English speakers use when first learning Spanish as a second language.


The phonemic vowel of the root gets the accent. The overall effect is much like German, where accent tends toward the first syllable of a word.


This is so obviously incomplete. It will be filled in from Wikipedia's table as the corpus expands.
Manner\Place Bilabial Lab-dent Dental Alveolar Postalv. Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyn. Epiglot. Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive p b t d k ʔ
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ (x ~ χ)* h
Approximant (ɸ˕)* ɻ ʁ ʢ
Trill ʙ r ʀ
Flap or tap
Lateral Fric. ɬ
Lateral Appr. l
Lateral flap

* The standard dialect has merged /x/ to /f/, but more conservative dialects still preserve the distinction, either as original [x] or as a wikipedia:voiceless bilabial approximant [ɸ˕].

Some sounds result from sandhi:

  • [ɬ] /fl/
  • [ʙ] /br/
  • [χʷ] /hw/

Some sounds we don't know if they're dialectal or in regular allophonic distribution:

  • [l ɫ ʕ ʢ]
  • [r ʀ ɻ ʁ]

C words must start with a consonant, even if it is a glottal stop. An initial voiceless stop consonant other than a glottal stop is pronounced with aspiration, but /tj/ sulcalizes to [tsɪ] in dialects with epenthetic vowels. A voiceless consonant followed by a glottal stop is pronounced ejective: /tʔii/ => [tʼɛi]. A final obstruent consonant (or cluster thereof) in a word devoices.

  • /taud/ => [tʰʌot]
  • /uatj/ => ['uətsɪ]

Dialect differences

The /g/ sound merged with /x/ a long time ago. The standard dialect has further merged /x/ to /f/ on pressure from second language learners, but more conservative dialects still preserve the distinction. Others have changed /x/ into something closer to [ɸ], the sound that in Japanese is romanized as f. Still other dialects transform /x/ into different sounds largely predictable from context. (Sound changes between [f] and [x] have also been seen in real world languages such as Taiwanese and in the soft grade form of Finnish -uku and -yky, which changes k to v between low rounded vowels before a closed syllable and does other things with soft k in other contexts. Compare German Stiftung vs. Dutch stichting and Afrikaans stigting, which mean a charitable foundation. In fact, stiften means "to endow" in German but "to fuck" in Dutch; "to endow" in Dutch is stichten. Or consider the sounds that Middle English ȝ (yogh) and its Modern English reflex gh represent.)

After the vowel in the root word, syllable nuclei end up on whatever halfway sonorant nasals or fricatives are in the way. In some areas, clusters like those of the Salishan languages are commonplace. But as one heads south toward the border between V- and C-speaking areas, surface vowels begin to show up, such as voiced fricatives becoming [i] and [u] and epenthetic schwa showing up in various places. This can be seen in the name of C itself: phonemically /nu:nf/ (or /nu:nx/ in languages without the /x/ merger) but realized as ['nu:nə̆f]. Speakers of the cluster-type dialects characterize these vowels as "baby talk".

Some dialects of both V and C have a tendency to drop unaccented vowels: for instance, unaccented C /tj/ often shows up as [ts] or [tʃ] instead of [tsɪ]. This produces, for example an abundance of what might be transliterated -tch and -dge in nicknames. Some dialects of C pronounce diphthongs differently, such as no contrast between /ai/ and /ii/.