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(Neo)Ithkuil has 9 vowels: a (a ɑ), ä (æ), e (e ɛ), ë (ɯ), i (i ɪ), o (o ɔ), ö (ø œ), u (u ʊ), and ü (ʉ u), with preference given to the first pronunciation at the start of vowel groups.
|dot||horizontal right downtick||vertical line||right descending hook||vertical right uptick|
|ë [stressed (ə ɤ)]||ö||ü|
|horizontal line||horizontal left uptick||left ascending hook||vertical left downtick|
Ithkuil has 30 consonants (plus the glottal stop). Because the scripts do not directly map phonemes to graphemes, a romanization system is used to help with pronunciation.
Ithkuil for the most part does not write out the pronunciation of words like an alphabet or an abugida does. You determine how to pronounce a word in a somewhat convoluted way, so let's familiarize ourselves with the vowels. Ithkuil has markers like : : to transcribe proper names such as Sam, as given by the International Phonetic Alphabet in the table.
|[ɯ][ɨ]||Briefly pronounced before glottal stop; used in transliteration.|
The following consonantal characters explicitly mark part of a word's pronunciation. Usually, they indicate the root or affix of a word or the consonantal pronunciation of a loan word. Note that the characters will be different in the official release.
For loan words, the diacritics below are used to transliterate non-default tone, stress, and whether the vowel comes before the consonant(s). By default, the vowel follows pronunciation of the consonant(s).
The diphthongs ai, au, ei, eu, ëi, ëu, iu, oi, ou, öi, öu and ui are monosyllabic. iu is pronounced like ewe and ui is pronounced like uh+y. All other vowel pairs are disyllabic. By default, Ithkuil words have penultimate stress. Otherwise the stressed vowel must be marked with an acute accent (´) or the diaeresis (¨) must be replaced with a circumflex (ˆ). Verbs typically take stress on on the last (ultimate) vowel/diphthong. Stress is pronounced as a tonal shift for the remaining part of a word.
Key words: Formative, Adjunct, Loanword, Root, Stem, Case
Ithkuil words come in two types: the more common Formative and various types of Adjuncts. Formatives give important morphological information like how roots are conjugated. Adjuncts give supplementary information, like telling us that the next word is a loanword. Let's look at these some characters in the Ithkuil sentence “I'm Sam”:
That's five characters and a pair of alphabetic markers. This is romanized as abailá ha :säm: (pronounced abaiˈla ha sæm /a~ɑ/ /i~ɪ/). The diagonal bar is a primary character indicating the basic form of stem one of the root that follows. The primary character has a dot on its bottom-left side, indicating that the formative it is part of a verb, so the first part is pronounced ai. The following secondary character is the root of the formative: B. Stem 1 of B means “I”, but if the diagonal bar had been modified to indicate stem 2 (au) or stem 3 (ua), the meaning of the root would change to “you” and “(s)he” respectfully. Gender is unspecified by default. Working together, the first two characters are pronounced abail, meaning “I am”. After the secondary character is usually a quaternary character, but because abailá ends with an a, which is the default value, the quaternary character has been omitted.
Between the pair of double-dotted markers indicating a loanword, there is a quaternary character, written and pronounced ha. The vertical line indicates the case of the loanword, which is at the default value. The horizontal superposed horizontal bar indicates that the remaining characters, S and M form a loanword. Neither consonant has superposed diacritics to indicate a vowel at the start of the syllables, but S has a horizontal bar, meaning ä in this context, underposed to indicate that the vowel is pronounced at the end of the syllable. Thus we get the loanword :säm:. Even though the ha adjunct given by a quaternary character is written within the markers, when romanized it is pushed outside of the markers to easier identify as an adjunct.
Let's look at another example featuring a different root and a different type of adjunct. A Personal Reference Adjunct (PRA) is an Adjunct which functions similarly to how a pronoun does in natural languages, with the added distinction of positive, negative, or neutral effect. For now we will use neutral effect.
That's seven characters and a pair of alphabetic markers. This is romanized as asaila :maria: la (pronounced asaiˈla marˈia la /a~ɑ/ /i~ɪ/).The diagonal bar with a dot in the bottom-left corner still represents a verb and stem 1 of the root, but the secondary character than follows is S. This root is unique because it introduces a loanword just like ha does, but it can be conjugated just like B. Stem 1 indicates that the referent of the loanword is animate, stem 2 indicates that it's inanimate, and stem 3 indicates that it's abstract.
We can say abailá ha :jon: for “I'm John”, abaulá ha :maria: for “You are Maria”, and abualá ha :skailër: for “(s)he is Skyler”.
The next sentence is asaulá :ánanas: za (pronounced asauˈla ˈananas za /a~ɑ/ /ʊ~u/). We can also use the word axxxailekca and save two syllables. The Ithkuilic form of :ananas: is written with a secondary character for the -ekc affix, but first let's go over quaternary characters for cases.
Try using the consonants and vowels to write out your nameǃ
[The following material will be moved to the
roots and stems verbs and cases lesson.]
We see the words abala (from the verb abailá) and asala (from the verb asailá) use stem one of their roots, whereas abäla (from the verb abaulá) and asäla (from the verb asaulá) use stem two of their roots. The stem three forms are abiala (from the verb abualá) and asiala (from the verb asualá). These Stative and Dynamic stems both have alternate forms öa and aö in case the roots end in y or w, making an invalid combination like yi or wu (or yü).
Below is a table of the most frequently used PRA consonants.
|I / me / speaker||l|
|You / audience||s||n|
|He / she / they / 3rd person||m||ň|
If you want to say "you and them" or "she and y'all" or "me, you, and them", then you can combine the respective basic PRA consonants. We will dive into Personal Reference Adjuncts more in-depth later on.
Let's work with the root -tx- meaning 'to eat'. atxaulá abälo adale (pronounced atxauˈla abæˈlo adale /a~ɑ/ /u/ /o~ɔ/ /e~ɛ/) uses two cases for the nouns.
Consonantal characters oftentimes represent roots, the basis of an Ithkuil formative. The formative conveys the root meaning, conjugated into three stems under three patterns and two designations (informal and formal). Stem 1 usually refers to the general concept, stem 2 usually refers to a specific or tangible instance, and stem 3 usually refers to another reference or related concept. There are also Functions and Specifications, but for the moment use a for stem 1, ä for for stem 2, ia for stem 3, followed by the root, followed by al, followed by Case.
|Root: -B-||Stem 1||Stem 2||Stem 3|
|Root: -X-||Stem 1||Stem 2||Stem 3|
|too small||small||just the right size||large||too large|
|Root: -TR-||Stem 1||Stem 2||Stem 3|
|BSC Basic||translative motion (i.e., changing location through spacetime) from one place to another;
to move (i.e., change location through spacetime) from one place to another
|the perspective is on motion toward the topical referent of the sentence or clause, i.e., “come; approach”||the perspective is on motion away from the topical referent of the sentence or clause, i.e., “go; move away”|
|IFL stems refer to a circumstantial, context-of-the-moment movement;
FML stems refer to planned travel, a formal traversal, a dedicated journey, a pre-planned route, etc.
-PR- movement up/down
-KR- movement ascending/descending at an angle/slant
-DR- movement along a line/path on a horizontal plane between the topical referent and a second location
-BR- movement right/left relative to the topical referent.
-GR- movement laterally at an oblique angle on same horizontal plane as the topical referent
-FR- movement along same path/trajectory as the topical referent
-GL- random directed movement within/throughout a 2D horizontal plane.
-DL- random directed movement within/throughout a 2D vertical plane.
-KL- random directed movement within/throughout a 2D vertical plane across one’s visual field or directional path, analogous to a painting or flat screen held up in front of a person.
-PL- parabolic/arc-like trajectory relative to gravity
-BL- motion in a curve
-TL- random directed movement within/throughout a 3D space
|Root: -T-||Stem 1||Stem 2||Stem 3|
The theme of a sentence semantically serves as the content. This means it is marked with the Thematic case (formerly Oblique case), but it can be omitted so long as you can stress the penultimate syllable. Note that the characters will be different in the official release.
- Write your name in Ithkuil.