Phonology

topAlphabet

The writing system used is the latin script*, except for Q and X.
The alphabet has therefore 24 letters (only lower case letters are used, even at the beginning of sentences and proper nouns): a, e, o, i, u, y, w, k, c, s, t, f, p, g, j, z, d, v, b, h, l, n, r, m

The letters order is arranged into 3 groups:

  • 5 vowels (a, e, o, i, u)
  • 2 semivowels (y, w)
  • 17 consonants classified in voiceless (k, c, s, t, f, p), voiced (g, j, z, d, v, b) and those that don’t have a voiceless/voiced equivalence (h, l, n, r, m)

In each group, the consonants are classified by place of articulation, from laryngeals to labials. The letters have approximately the sound values of the IPA, with the exception of y [j], c [ʃ] and j [ʒ].

Letter IPA Pronunciation Name
Vowels
a /a ~ ɑ/ hat a
e /e ~ ɛ/ let e
o /o ~ ɔ/ for o
i /i ~ ɪ/ machine i
u /u ~ ʊ/ rude u
Semivowels
y /j/ yes ya
w /w/ we wa
Voiceless consonants
k /k/ kiss ka
c /ʃ ~ ʂ/ sheep ca
s /s/ sand sa
t /t/ tea ta
f /f ~ ɸ/ fat fa
p /p/ pit pa
Voiced consonants
g /g/ goal go
j /ʒ ~ ʐ/ vision jo
z /z/ zoo zo
d /d/ dance do
v /v ~ ʋ/ voice vo
b /b/ back bo
Consonants without allophone
h /x ~ h/ hope ha
l /l/ left la
n /n/ nice na
r /ɾ ~ r/ tap / trilled R
(better in American English)
ro
m /m/ map mo

* Mundeze has also its own alphabet, alfare. It is a proposal for a new “letterary” designed to make the writing much more consistent and intuitive.

topDigraphs

Strictly speaking, we can consider that there are 4 digraphs:

  • tc, to note the phoneme [t͡ʃ], as in the word cheap. Example: tcokolate (chocolate)
  • ts, to note the phoneme [t͡s], as in the word cats. Example: tsi (to know)
  • dj, to note the phoneme [d͡ʒ], as in the word jump. Example: rodja (red)
  • dz, to note the phoneme [d͡z], as in the word pounds. Example: zidzi (to saw)

topName of letters

In Mundeze, the letters name is obviously different than in English. For example, W is not pronounced “double U”, but “wa”. Here’s how the letters are named:

a, e, o, i, u
ya, wa
ka, ca, sa, ta, fa, pa
go, jo, zo, do, vo, bo
ha, la, na, ro, mo

Some of them are pronounced with an A, others with an O. This differentiation is used to distinguish the letters when they are spelled. It prevents the confusion between T and D, or N and M (with the consequence that we often must specify “T as in Tango” or “N as in November”).

topDiacritics

The only diacritics used in Mundeze are:

  • the acute accent, that marks the stressed syllable in verbs conjugated in the jussive mood

Example

peli = to speak
pelí = speak!

  • and the háček (caron), that mounts on the vowel of the syllable whose flow is ingressive (breathed in). It is therefore only used to transcribe onomatopoeias in documents, comic strips…

Examples

hǎǎ = element of surprise
pwě = kiss
= irritated sign
ǐho = cry of a donkey
hǒ fff = snoring

topPronunciation

In Mundeze, there is a nearly one-to-one correspondence of letter to sound. In this way it is impossible to make spelling mistakes. The sound of a letter is never altered by surrounding letters, except in some cases to facilitate the pronunciation:

  • If the N precedes K, G, M or another N, it can be pronounced /ŋ/ (velarized pronunciation, as in “sing”) or /n/, whether or not between two roots in a compounded word.
  • If a voiced consonant precedes a voiceless consonant, the first one can become voiceless. If a voiceless consonant precedes a voiced consonant, the first one can be voiced.
  • We can add an epenthetic (written) –O– or (unwritten) /ə/ – schwa –  in the case of we cannot pronounce a consonant cluster (in particular due to a word compound), but the stress can never be on it. Examples: demokrate (democracy), sub/ə/bode (underground)
  • If you can’t pronounce the W, you can pronounce it as an U.
  • If the C, S, J or Z are preceded by T or D, the pronunciation must be affricated.

Explanation: an affricate is a combination of an occlusive consonant (like T or D) with fricative consonant (like S or Z) produced in the same place of articulation. For example, in “White shoes” the T is at the end of one word, and the SH at the beginning of the next; but in “Why choose”, this two sounds occur together at the beginning of the second word. The place where the occlusive T is pronounced is not the same. So “Jackie Chan” should be transcribed djaki tcan.

topIntonation

Within a word, the stress is always on the syllable that precedes the grammatical suffix (the syllables created by an epenthetic vowel don’t count), except for the verbs conjugated in the jussive mood (and for which the stress is marked by an acute accent on the verbal suffix). The stress is therefore generally on the last syllable of the word root.

Examples (the stressed syllable is bolded/underlined)

  • atci (sneeze) = atc- + -i ➜ the grammatical suffix is -i, so the stress is on the previous syllable.
  • neyos (never) = the root is neyos- ➜ there is no grammatical suffix, so the stress is on the last syllable of the root.
  • biunti (twenty) = the root is biunti- ➜ there is no grammatical suffix, so the stress is on the last syllable of the root.
  • biuntia (twentieth) = biunti- + -a ➜ the grammatical suffix is -a, so the stress is on the previous syllable.
  • guli (to drink) = gul- + -i ➜ the grammatical suffix is -i, so the stress is on the previous syllable.
  • gu (drink!) ➜ the verb is conjugated in the jussive mood, so the stress is on the last syllable, the one of the verbal suffix.
  • gulia (drank) = gul- + -i + -a ➜ the grammatical suffix is -a, so the stress is on the previous syllable.
  • malo (she) = the root is malo- ➜ there is no grammatical suffix, so the stress is on the last syllable of the root.
  • maloa (her) = malo- + -a ➜ the grammatical suffix is -a, so the stress is on the previous syllable (on the last syllable of the root).

topPhonotactics

Syllables consist of: (onset)-nucleus-(coda).

The syllable structure in Mundeze is (C)(C)(S)V(S/C).

topOnset

​Syllables may or may not have an onset. In Mundeze, the onset can consist of any single consonant, or any of the following consonant clusters:

​ky-, cy-, sy-, ty-, tcy-, tsy-, fy-, py-, gy-, jy-, zy-, dy-, djy-, dzy-, vy-, by-, ly-, ny-, ry- , my-
kw-, cw-, sw-, tw-, tcw-, tsw-, fw-, pw-, gw-, jw-, zw-, dw-, djw-, dzw-, vw-, bw-, hw-, lw-, nw-, rw-, mw-
kl-, fl-, pl-, gl-, vl-, bl-
kr-, tr-, fr-, pr-, gr-, dr-, vr-, br-
tc-, ts-, dj-, dz-
sk-, sky-, skw-, st-, sp-, sl-, sn-, sm-

topNucleus

All syllables have a nucleus. In Mundeze, the nucleus consists of any single vowel (a, e, o, i, u) or one of the following 3 combinations: -ay-, -ey- and -oy-.
The combinations -aw-, -ew-, -iy-, -iw-, -ow-, -uw- and -uy- are not allowed.

topCoda

​Syllables may or may not have a coda. In Mundeze, the coda in word-final position consists of any of the following single consonants: -y, -w, -c, -s, -f, -l, -n, -r, -m
Within a word, the coda may consist of any single consonant. In practice, coda-onset consonant clusters consisting of two stops (-kt-, -pt-, etc.) or two fricatives (-sf-, -cv-, etc.) are avoided. However, proper names and culture-specific words may contain coda-onset double stops and other unusual consonant clusters (vodka, etc.), so long as there is only one consonant in the coda and the onset is limited to those listed above.

 

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