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Fith Phonology


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Fith Phonology   Advanced
The vocal tract of the Fithians is similar to that of humans, but different enough to make it impossible for humans to exactly pronounce Fithian sounds. And then there is the matter of the hand signals, some of which require the use of two thumbs... As a result, all humans speak Fith with a marked speech impediment (an uncharitable Fithian considers human pronunciation to be a parody), but the following guidelines allow us to come as close to the original sounds and signals as humanly possible.

A word is formed from the following components:

(I) V (F) H

I = Initial consonant or consonant cluster (optional)

V = Vowel or diphthong

F = Final consonant or consonant cluster (optional)

H = mandatory hand signal or word representing a hand signal

Initial Consonants
Single Consonants - 25

p t k
b d g
f th s sh h
v dh z zh xh
m n ng
r y w

NOTE: \tsh\ and \dzh\ are counted as single consonants, since they combine with other consonants in the same manner as single consonants, but they are of course actually consonant clusters.

NOTE: 'h'=velar voiceless [x] and 'xh'=velar voiced [gh]

The "single consonants" can then be clustered with other consonants as follows:

add -r (20)

pr tr kr
br dr gr
fr thr sr shr hr
vr dhr zr zhr xhr
mr nr

add -l (20)

pl tl kl
bl dl gl
fl thl sl shl hl
vl dhl zl zhl xhl
ml nl

add -y (12)

py ty ky
by dy gy
fy sy
vy zy
my ny

add -w (12)

pw tw kw
bw dw gw
fw sw
vw zw
mw nw

add -th (2)

fth sth

prefix s- (5)

sp st sk
sf sth

prefix s-, add -r (5)

spr str skr
sfr sthr

prefix sh- (3)

shp sht shk

prefix sh-, add -r (3)

shpr shtr shkr

This totals 106 possible initial consonants or clusters (/sth/ occurs twice). It equals 107 possible word beginnings when you include the fact that you can omit a consonant altogether.

a - pat
ai - pay
e - pet
ee - bee
i - pit
ie - pie
o - pot
oe - toe
oi - noise
ou - out
u - cut
uu - boot

These vowels can be either nasalized or non-nasalized, but are almost always nasalized. The one exception is when no final consonant is indicated in the English transcription of a word (see next section).

Final Consonants And Consonant Clusters
The most common endings are the five nasals:

ng (as in sing)
mn (pronounced with no vowel between; try pronouncing human as one syllable as in dumn, "down")
nm (also pronounced with no vowel between; try pronouncing venom as one syllable, as in vainm, "red")

Any of these nasals may be aspirated (actually, the process creates a geminate of the final nasal, which is followed by a clearly audible puff of breath):


The last final "consonant" is -ñ, the vestige of the nasal ending -ñ /ny/. In English transliterations, it is written as a consonant but in fact it is not pronounced, instead having the effect of keeping the vowel nasalized, thereby distinguishing hoñ ("to talk") from ho ("to lie"). The vowel is only not nasalized when it is not followed by a transliterated consonant.

There are 107 x 12 x 12 (15,408) possible unique word forms.
Conlang Profiles at © 1996-2005 Jeffrey Henning.

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