Kélen: Intro and Phonology
|From:||Sylvia Sotomayor <kelen@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, May 30, 2001, 1:10|
Kélen is spoken by the Kéleñi, a humanoid species of the planet
Térjemar. Adult Kéleñi are usually between 180 and 220 cm in height
and 70 to 110 kg in weight. Their skin color ranges from dark brown
through hazel to pale green. A few golden-yellow skinned individuals
appear from time to time. Hair color is usually black or dark green
or pale green, though again golden-yellow is occasionally seen. Eye
color is usually black, with green running through certain lineages,
and purple and yellow showing up occasionally.
The name Kélen comes from the root -kél-, which refers to crafts and
artistry. This could be taken as a reference to the guilds which
are such an important part of Kélen life. Or, it could refer to the
creation myth wherein the Kélen people are crafted by the local
deities or by jannárien into what they are today.
The Kélen people are organized into clans, and each clan purports to
have a different dialect. That said, the clans Xámorte and Ástaña
together with several other clans in the area known alternately as
Xámorte and ÁnneméTin, have more or less unified their dialects into
a common language, known as Xámorte-Kélen to outsiders who
differentiate it from their own Kélen.
This sketch is primarily about Xámorte-Kélen, but will cover other
dialects when they are of interest. Actual Kélen words will appear
italicized and green, while anglicized words will appear as regular
text. For those who are interested, a short pronunciation guide is
Short Pronunciation Guide
I never was very interested in the vagaries of phonology, so Kélen
is fairly simple in this regard. There are 17 consonants and 16
According to the Kéleñi, there are five stops (ansáoriki anpóhi).
These are /p/, /t/, /s/, /c/, /k/. These are all unaspirated and
voiceless. They become voiced between vowels and/or sonorants. /p/ is
pronounced like the Spanish /p/, /t/ like the Spanish /t/. /s/ is
nowadays pronounced like English /s/, but used to be like German /z/
or /ts/. This pronunciation is still found in some dialects. /c/ is a
palatal stop, and can be mispronounced as English /ch/ without any
misunderstanding. /k/ is like Spanish /c/ in /ca/ or /co/.
There are also five fricatives (ansáoriki ankórji). These are /w/,
/T/, /x/, /j/, /h/. These are all voiceless, and voiced between
vowels and/or sonorants. /w/ is a bilabial fricative, very much like
the Spanish /v/. /T/ is like the English /th/ in /thin/. /x/ is like
the English /sh/ in /shoe/. /j/ is like the German /ch/ in /ich/,
though mispronouncing it like English /hu/ in /human/ is fine. /h/ is
like the German /ch/ in /ach/. Mispronouncing it like the English /h/
in /house/ is fine. In some dialects these sounds are always voiced.
There are seven sonorants (ansáoriki antáni). These are /m/, /n/,
/ñ/, /N/, /l/, /L/, /r/. These are always voiced. /m/ is pronounced
like the Spanish /m/, /n/ like the Spanish /n/, and /ñ/ like the
Spanish /ñ/. /N/ is pronounced like the English /ng/ in /sing/. /l/
is pronounced like the Spanish /l/ in /la/, and /L/ like the English
/li/ in /million/. /r/ is pronounced like the Spanish /rr/, but any
mispronunciation will do.
Vowels (ansáoriki anúráni) come in two varieties, the long (anóma)
and the short (aníña). These are distinct and make minimal pairs, and
so are counted as separate vowels. The long vowels are /í/, /é/, /á/,
/ó/, /ú/ and the short ones are /i/, /e/, /a/, /o/, /u/. These are
pronounced like the Spanish /i/, /e/, /a/, /o/, /u/, with the long
vowels being lasting longer than the short ones. In addition, there
is one short vowel /y/ which only occurs in some dialects. This is
pronounced as a high mid vowel, halfway between /i/ and /u/. It is
fairly close in pronunciation to the American English short /i/ or to
the last vowel sound in the American English word /decided/.
There are also some diphthongs, again in long and short forms.
These are /áe/, /ae/, /áo/, /ao/, /ié/, /ie/. /áe/ and /ae/ are
pronounced like Spanish /ay/. /áo/ and /ao/ are pronounced like
German /au/. /ié/ and /ie/ are pronounced like American English /ye/
in /yet/. Any other vowel pairs are pronounced as separate vowels.
end of part 1
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