Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Sketch of Germanech 1/4: Phonology

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg.rhiemeier@...>
Date:Tuesday, December 4, 2001, 23:00

Consonants (_consonantzes_)

The consonant phonemes of Germanech are the following (in CPA):

   /p/   /t/         /k/
   /b/   /d/         /g/
   /pf/  /ts/  /tS/
   /f/   /s/   /S/   /x/  (/h/)
   /v/         /Z/
   /m/   /n/         /N/

The most important change from the Latin system was the consonant
shift, which occured in the 5th to 6th century AD, spreading from
south to north:

/p/ -> /f/  /V_    /p/ -> /pf/  /{#,m}_
/t/ -> /s/  /V_    /t/ -> /ts/  /{#,n,l,r}_
/k/ -> /x/  /V_

Before liquids, /p/, /t/ and /k/ are not affected by these changes.

The northern dialects lack the /p/ -> /pf/ shift; the southernmost
dialects have also shifted /p/ to /pf/ after liquids and /k/ to /kx/
in initial position as well as after nasals and liquids.

/k/  is spelled <qu> before <e>, <i> and <y>; and <c>  otherwise;
/g/  is spelled <gu> before <e>, <i> and <y>; and <g>  otherwise;
/S/  is spelled <c>  before <e>, <i> and <y>; and <cj> otherwise;
/Z/  is spelled <g>  before <e>, <i> and <y>; and <gj> otherwise.

The phoneme /h/ has gone mute in the standard language (though it is
still written), but some dialects retain it.

Keep in mind that the letters <c> and <g> have their velar values
before <ä>, <ö>, <ü> as well.

/tS/ is spelled <tj>, /dZ/ is spelled <dj>;

/s/  is spelled <z> where it reflects Vulgar Latin /t/ or Greek zeta,
                <x> where it reflects Greek xi, otherwise <s>;
/ts/ is spelled <tz>;

/x/  is spelled <ch> and has two allophones:
     velar [x] after back vowels, palatal [C] otherwise;

/N/  is spelled <n> before k and <ng> otherwise.

/f/  is spelled <ph> in words of Greek origin;
/t/  is spelled <th> where it reflects Greek theta.

The digraphs <sp>, <st>, <sc> represent /Sp/, /St/, /Sk/ respectively
if both consonants belong to the same syllable.

The letter <h> is mute, though some dialects pronounce it as [h].

All other spellings are as the IPA/CPA symbols indicate.

Some (but not all) dialects devoice final obstruents,
i.e. final /b d g dZ v Z/ are prounced /p t k tS f S/.

Vowels (_vochals_)

Germanech has 8 vowel phonemes (again, in CPA):

   /i/   /y/         /u/
   /e/  /"o/         /o/
   /E/         /a/

/y/ is spelled <y> in words of Greek origin (e.g. _xylophon_)
and <ü> otherwise; /"o/ is spelled <ö> and /E/ is spelled <ä>.

In addition, there are three diphthongs:

  /aI/ <ei>, /AU/ <au>, /OY/ <äu>.

All three are falling diphthongs.

The vowel system, too, has undergone substantial changes from the
Vulgar Latin one.  Old Germanech diphthongized VL /E,O/ to /ie,uo/ and
fronted back vowels before an /i/ or /j/ in the following syllable,
yielding the new phonemes /E,"o,y/; Middle Germanech reduced many
unstressed vowels; Modern Germanech diphthongized /i,y,u/ in open
stressed syllables to /aI,OY,AU/ and monophthongized /ie,y"o,uo/ to

Length is not phonemic, but vowels in stressed open syllables are
pronounced somewhat longer and more tense, as follows:

Phoneme  Tense  Lax  Spelling

  /i/    [i;]   [I]  <i>
  /y/    [y;]   [Y]  <ü>
  /u/    [u;]   [U]  <u>
  /e/    [e;]   [E]  <e>
 /"o/   ["o;]  ["O]  <ö>
  /o/    [o;]   [O]  <o>
  /E/    [E;]   [E]  <ä>
  /a/    [A;]   [A]  <a>

The pronounciation of /E/ <ä> varies somewhat by dialect; in some, it
is lower ([&;]/[&]), in others, it has merged with /e/.
An unstressed /e/ is often pronounced [@], especially in word-initial
or word-final position, and sometimes elided when the neighbouring
word ends (begins) with a vowel.

Names of the letters

a [A;], ä [E;], be [be;], ce [Se;], de [de;], e [e;],
é accentzaz [e; akSen'tsAs], ef [ef], ge [Ze;], hach [Ax], i [i;], jot
[jOt], ka [kA;], el [El], em [Em], en [En], o [o;], ö ["o;], pe [pe;],
qu [ku;], er [Er], es [Es], te [te;], u [u;], ü [y;], ve [ve;], we
daufel [ve;'dAUfEl] ("double v"), ex cruch [Es'krUx] ("cross-s"), y
grech [y;'greEC] ("Greek ü"), zet [sEt].

Stress (_accéntz_)

Most words are stressed on the last syllable.  Exceptions are most
words with an <e> in the last syllable, which is not stressed.
Those words are stressed on the penultimate.  If the <e> in
the last syllable is stressed, it bears an acute accent.


amor      [a'mOr]
Germanech [ZEr'mA;nEC]
compléz  [kOm'plEs]

...brought to you by the Weeping Elf and the letter "ö"