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Totally Voiceless Conlang Phonology

From:Donald Boozer <donaldboozer@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 6, 2007, 1:55
External history: The following is a proposed
phonology for a completely voiceless language for
beings known as the Drushek, one of the three sentient
races of my conworld Kryslan. The Drushek and Kryslan
have been with me for over 20 years, but it's only
been recently that I've considered a totally voiceless
conlang for the Drushek. The phonology below is the
first draft of that system. The readily-pronounceable
versions (like "Drushek," "Shekstan," and "Kyugat")
came first; the voiceless versions (trw:ck, ckstx:n,
and kHwkt) came recently. Therefore, I'm still working
out the system for moving from one to the other. I
posted this elsewhere and got some helpful critiques.
I've incorporated those ideas and would now like to
let my fellow Conlangers give their thoughts.

Internal history: The Drushek originally inhabited an
island off the coast of the mainland until their home
was invaded and overran by the Varalsans. Many of
Drushek escaped the island and now wander the
mainland, teaching Shekstan (their esoteric, mystical
philosophy) to anyone who comes to them with an
interest. The voiceless language evolved in the
earliest times of Drushek prehistory due to their
often becoming prey. The voiceless dialect is the
"orthodox" pronunciation, although some younger
Drushek do speak the voiced (and voiceless) languages
of other races. These Drushek are looked down upon,
and often shunned, by the older Drushek.

p = [p] as in English <cap>, unaspirated labial stop.
This sound is realized with a "popping" sound (from
the physical action of the lips, held loosely, coming
together) followed by a release of excess air from the
mouth (NOT aspiration, which would be spelled <ph>).
To approximate this, one can hold his or her breath
and try saying the word <pop> with loose lips. It
should come out as an initial bilabial click (i.e., a
"kiss") followed by the "popping" noise of the lips
coming together then the air release.
t = [t] as in English <cat>, unaspirated postalveolar
stop. This sound is realized with a definite "tick"
sound (the tongue is forcefully applied to the
postalveolar ridge) and then a release of air from the
mouth (similar to <p>).
k = [k] as in English <pack> with no aspiration, i.e.,
unaspirated velar stop. [q], a uvular stop, is an
allophone of <k>, depending on the speaker.

b = [B_0] voiceless bilabial trill
r = [R_0] voiceless alveolar trill

f = [f] voiceless bilabial fricative
s = [s] voiceless alveolar fricative
n = [n_;] (Z-SAMPA notation) a nareal fricative (as if
trying to dislodge something from the nose).
C = [C] voiceless palatal fricative, as in German ich
c = [s'] voiceless retroflex fricative
x = [x] voiceless velar fricative, in German Bach
H = [X\] voiceless pharyngeal fricative, as in Arabic
h = [h] voiceless glottal fricative. h is often used
to denote aspiration. Note: p', t', and k' are  NOT
aspirated with air from the throat. ph, th, and kh are
aspirated in the "normal" way.

p* = [O\] bilabial click, sounds like a kiss
t* = [|\] dental click, realized approximately in
English as the interjection "tsk" as in "tsk, tsk"
C* = [!\] palatal click
k* = [N=\] (NOT a standard X-SAMPA notation) velar
nasal click.

Rounding associated with a particular sound is
expressed in transliteration by an added w. Some
examples would be <rw> "a voiceless alveolar trill
executed with the lips rounded," <t> "a dental click
executed with the lips rounded," etc. This rounding
produces a kind of "pseudo-vowel" when used with r, H,
and x. A distinction between an open (i.e., unrounded)
and rounded version of these sounds is quite apparent.

A lengthened sound is expressed by the addition of :.
This relative lengthening is idiosyncratic to the
particular speaker, but is easily recognized as a
prolonged sound. For example, the difference between
<r> and <r:> is easily recognized within the context
of a particular passage or conversation.

Affricates and double articulations:
The most common affricates are ks [k_s] and ps [p_s].
To distinguish between [k_s] and [k.s], the latter is
often written <khs> [k_h.s]

A period is used to offset segments, signifying a
breath can be taken at this point in the word.

Examples: is transcribed into English as "Drushek." The
lengthened trill with rounded lips is immediately by a
retroflex fricative, ending with a velar or uvular
unaspirated stop. The Drushek are the race of beings
that speak this speech.

ck.kstx:n is transcribed into English as "Shekstan."
The <ck> is pronounced, in reality, as a retroflex
fricative followed by a velar or uvular stop. This
stop is then immediately followed by an affricate
[k_s], then [t], then the fricative [x] is pronounced.
The final n is a nareal fricative, the stopping of air
with the tongue and a release of air through the nose.
Shekstan is the Drushek's mystic philosophy.

kHw.kt is transcribed into English as "Kyugat." The
<kHw> is a uvular plosive followed by a uvular
fricative, all pronounced with rounded lips. This is
followed by <kt>, a velar plosive [k] with a [t]
unaspirated stop. Kyugat is one of the masters of

Possible as-yet-untranslated phrase: ps.t.kH: rw:p
ck.kstx:n t*p*

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Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Wesley Parish <wes.parish@...>Totally Foiceless Conlang Phonolotshy