Ithkuil/Roots and Stems

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Pronunciation & Character Representation[edit]

Ithkuil has 45 consonants and 15 vowels. Because the script does not directly map phonemes to graphemes, a romanization system is used to help with pronounciation.

Consonantal Characters[edit]

The following consonantal characters explicitly mark part of a word's pronunciation. Usually, they indicate the root of a word or the consonantal pronunciation of a loan word. They are also used in word suffixes and mathematical expressions. Note that the digraphs dh and xh are individual consonants.

Symbol IPA Character Audio Description
b [b] Ithkuil-cons-b.jpg
c [ts] Ithkuil-cons-c.jpg
As in bits
c’ [ts’] Ithkuil-cons-c-ejct.jpg
Ejective c
[tsʰ] Ithkuil-cons-c-asp.jpg Aspirated c
ç [ç] Ithkuil-cons-c-cedilla.jpg
As in human
č [tʃ] Ithkuil-cons-c-hacek.jpg
As in chin; not aspirated or rounded
č’ [tʃ’] Ithkuil-cons-c-hacek-ejct.jpg Ejective č
čʰ [tʃʰ] Ithkuil-cons-c-haceck-asp.jpg Aspirated č
d [d̪] Ithkuil-cons-d.jpg
Tongue pressed against back of upper teeth
dh [ð] Ithkuil-cons-dh.jpg
As in the
f [f] Ithkuil-cons-f.jpg
g [g] Ithkuil-cons-g.jpg
h [h] Ithkuil-cons-h.jpg
As in hair; when doubled, the upper and lower teeth come closer together. Alternatively pronounced double as Arabic ح
j [dʒ] Ithkuil-cons-j.jpg
Not rounded
k [k] Ithkuil-cons-k.jpg
Not aspirated
k’ [k’] Ithkuil-cons-k-ejct.jpg
Ejective k
[kʰ] Ithkuil-cons-k-asp.jpg Aspirated k
l [l] Ithkuil-cons-l.jpg
Lighter sound of Romance languages
ļ [ɬ] Ithkuil-cons-l-cedilla.jpg
Similar to l with forceful breathing of h
m [m] Ithkuil-cons-m.jpg
n [n̪] Ithkuil-cons-n.jpg
Tongue pressed against back of upper teeth
ň [ŋ] Ithkuil-cons-n-hacek.jpg
As in ringer, not as in finger
p [p] Ithkuil-cons-p.jpg
As in top; not aspirated
p’ [p’] Ithkuil-cons-p-ejct.jpg
Ejective p
[pʰ] Ithkuil-cons-p-asp.jpg
Aspirated p as in stop
q [q] Ithkuil-cons-q.jpg
Tongue pressed against uvula
q’ [q’] Ithkuil-cons-q-ejct.jpg
Ejective q
[qʰ] Ithkuil-cons-q-asp.jpg Aspirated q
r [ɾ], [r] Ithkuil-cons-r.jpg
Short and long (doubled) pronounciations given
ř [ʁ] Ithkuil-cons-r-hacek.jpg
As in French or German.
s [s] Ithkuil-cons-s.jpg
š [ʃ] Ithkuil-cons-s-hacek.jpg
As in shore; not rounded
t [t̪] Ithkuil-cons-t.jpg
Not aspirated; tongue pressed against back of upper teeth
t’ [t̪’] Ithkuil-cons-t-ejct.jpg
Ejective t
[t̪ʰ] Ithkuil-cons-t-asp.jpg
Aspirated t
ţ [θ] Ithkuil-cons-t-cedilla.jpg
As in thought
v [v] Ithkuil-cons-v.jpg
w [w] Ithkuil-cons-w.jpg
x [x] Ithkuil-cons-x.jpg
Similar to k with breathing of h
xh [χ] Ithkuil-cons-xh.jpg
Similar to a gargle without chord vibration
y [j] Ithkuil-cons-y.jpg
z [z] Ithkuil-cons-z.jpg
ż [dz] Ithkuil-cons-z-dot.jpg
As in roads
ž [ʒ] Ithkuil-cons-z-hacek.jpg
As in measure; not rounded
[ʔ] Ithkuil-cons-glottalstop.jpg
Pause between uh-oh or fattening

Below is the first chart you should memorize, containing the handwritten consonants:

Handwritten consonants

Clusters[edit]

In addition, there are 29 extensions that can be placed on the bottom of consonantal characters as prefixes.

l+ Ithkuil-prefix-l.jpg m+ Ithkuil-prefix-m.jpg r+ Ithkuil-prefix-r.jpg ļ+ Ithkuil-prefix-l-cedille.jpg n+ Ithkuil-prefix-n.jpg
s+ Ithkuil-prefix-s.jpg š+ Ithkuil-prefix-s-hacek.jpg ň+ Ithkuil-prefix-n-hacek.jpg z+ Ithkuil-prefix-z.jpg ř+ Ithkuil-prefix-r-hacek.jpg
ç+ Ithkuil-prefix-c-cedille.jpg c+ Ithkuil-prefix-c.jpg č+ Ithkuil-prefix-c-hacek.jpg f+ Ithkuil-prefix-f.jpg k+ Ithkuil-prefix-k.jpg
p+ Ithkuil-prefix-p.jpg q+ Ithkuil-prefix-q.jpg t+ Ithkuil-prefix-t.jpg x+ Ithkuil-prefix-x.jpg ţ+ Ithkuil-prefix-t-cedille.jpg
b+ Ithkuil-prefix-b.jpg xh+ Ithkuil-prefix-xh.jpg d+ Ithkuil-prefix-d.jpg j+ Ithkuil-prefix-j.jpg ž+ Ithkuil-prefix-z-hacek.jpg
ż+ Ithkuil-prefix-z-dot.jpg g+ Ithkuil-prefix-g.jpg dh+Ithkuil-prefix-dh.jpg double (gemination) Ithkuil-germinate.jpg

Below is a chart of the handwritten prefix extensions applied to letters pointing down, right, and left (t, k, and g are shown).

Ithkuil-consonant-extensions.jpg

There are also 13 underposed diacritics that serve as suffixes or prefixes. In loan words, however, these diacritics indicate tone. By default, Ithkuil words have a falling tone and are stressed on the second-to-last (penultimate) syllable, both of which are unmarked.

Ithkuil-cpt-epi-low-w.jpg Ithkuil-prc-alt-high-y.jpg Ithkuil-cpt-alt-mid-l.jpg Ithkuil-inc-rise-r.jpg Ithkuil-ine-alg-fall-r-hacek.jpg Ithkuil-pst-exv-fall-rise-m.jpg Ithkuil-efc-axm-rise-fall-n.jpg
+w +y +l +r +m +n
Ithkuil-sub-s.jpg Ithkuil-inc-alt-rfu-z.jpg Ithkuil-sub-s-hacek.jpg Ithkuil-efc-alt-thr-z-hacek.jpg Ithkuil-pst-alt-reb-f-v.jpg Ithkuil-ine-alt-ipu-t-cedille.jpg
s+ z+ š+ ž+ f / v+ ţ / dh+

Note that applying two prefixes (a character extension and diacritic) gives ambiguous pronunciation. For example, the y base character with the f+ and s+ prefixes can be read as fsy or sfy (vsy and svy are phonologically invalid). In the case of roots, only fsy is used. In such cases it is preferable to write the s base character with the f+ and +y affixes.

Loan Words[edit]

The vowel extensions are used for explicit pronunciation of loan words. They can be used alone with a top bar or with one of the above consonantal characters.

Symbol IPA Character Audio Description
â [ɑ] Ithkuil-topextens04.jpg
As in all
a [a] Ithkuil-topextens02.jpg
As in Spanish or Italian la
ê [eː] Ithkuil-topextens08.jpg
As in Spanish este or Italian cadere or French dé
e [ɛ] Ithkuil-topextens07.jpg
As in bet; pronounced as a short ê when followed by a vowel other than u
ë [ə] Ithkuil-topextens11.jpg
As in nut
î [iː] Ithkuil-topextens10.jpg
As in Spanish or Italian libro or French litre
i [I] Ithkuil-topextens09.jpg
As in sit; pronounced as a short î at the end or a word or when followed by a vowel other than u
ô [oː] Ithkuil-topextens06.jpg
As in Spanish or Italian cosa
o [ɔ] Ithkuil-topextens05.jpg
As in short; pronounced as a short ô when followed by a vowel other than i
ö [ø] [œ] Ithkuil-topextens17.jpg Ithkuil-topextens16.jpg
As in French feu or neuf
û [uː] Ithkuil-topextens13.jpg
As in Spanish or Italian puta or crudo
u [ʊ] Ithkuil-topextens12.jpg
As in put or look; pronounced as a short û at the end of a word or when followed by a vowel other than i
ü [ʉ] [y] Ithkuil-topextens15.jpg Ithkuil-topextens14.jpg
As in a highland Scottish pronunciation of book or good; alternatively as in French du or German über
[ɯ]
[ɨ]
Ithkuil-topextens18.jpg
Briefly pronounced before glottal stop; used in transliteration.
- [æ] Ithkuil-topextens15.jpg
Used in transliteration.

Formatives and adjuncts are Ithkuil words which do not explicitly mark the pronunciation of vowels. Various grammatical values are indicated by the script, but the pronunciation of such words must be conjugated from charts written with the romanized transcript. So, for any Ithkuil word it is important to be able to distinguish between the main 13 vowels. For example, kö' and ku use different cases. The former means "you effectively", while the latter means you "you reflexively". Below is a table showing the vowels relative to their given pronunciations.

unrounded • rounded Front Central Back
High î • (ü) • ü • û
Mid-High i • • u
Mid ê • ö ë • • ô
Mid-Low e • ö • o
Low a • â •

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).

Ithkuil-cpt-epi-low-w.jpg Ithkuil-prc-alt-high-y.jpg Ithkuil-cpt-alt-mid-l.jpg Ithkuil-inc-rise-r.jpg Ithkuil-ine-alg-fall-r-hacek.jpg Ithkuil-pst-exv-fall-rise-m.jpg Ithkuil-efc-axm-rise-fall-n.jpg Ithkuil-1-dyn-exs-sub-punctual.jpg Ithkuil-9-mnf-exs.jpg Ithkuil-dsc-exs.jpg
low

(_)

high

(¯)

mid

(-)

rising

(/)

falling

(\)

fall-rise

(ˇ or ~)

rise-fall

(^)

vowel

first

stress

(´ or `)

vowel

first +

stress

Diphthongs & Stress Marks[edit]

The diphthongs written ai, au, ei, eu, ëi, ëu, iu, oi, ou, öi, öu and ui are monosyllabic. They are pronounced aî, aû, eî, eû, ëî, ëû, iû, oî, oû, öî, öû, and uî respectively. All other vowel pairs (e.g., ae, ia, eî, iû, ûi, ûî) are disyllabic. To mark disyllabic conjuncts that would be mistaken for a diphthong, a grave (`) is written over the second vowel unless it is stressed, in which case the accent becomes an acute (´). In the case of a diphthong, the first vowel indicates stress. If there are three vowels in the row, the last two must be a diphthong.

By default, Ithkuil words have penultimate stress. If a word is monosyllabic, stress is unmarked, but interpreted as penultimate. If non-default stress can be marked, the respective vowel carries an acute. If that vowel has a circumflex or umlaut, another vowel carries a grave to shift the stress to the otherwise marked vowel. If every vowel has a circumflex or umlaut, the stressed vowel is simply doubled.

Roots[edit]

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.

Root: -d- Root: -x- Root: -dh-
Pattern 1 Stem 1 (a)dal name and referent; being called Pattern 1 Stem 1 (a)xal sight Pattern 1 Stem 1 (a)dhal water
Pattern 1 Stem 2 edal designation and referent; being referred to as Pattern 1 Stem 2 exal eye Pattern 1 Stem 2 edhal water
Pattern 1 Stem 3 udal label and referent; going by a nickname Pattern 1 Stem 3 uxal visualize Pattern 1 Stem 3 udhal water

The three stems are complementary even if another pattern or format is used on the root. Note that the a can be omitted before the root if there are no preceding characters and the stress is penultimate. In analysis, this word's stress would still be considered penultimate. The al values following the root indicate default case and ca, which are discussed in the next few lessons.

Root: -q- Root: -q- Root: -q-
P1 S1 (a)qal higher-order being P2 S1 oqal male higher-order being P3 S1 âqal female higher-order being
P1 S2 eqal human P2 S2 öqal man P3 S2 êqal woman
P1 S3 uqal beast P2 S3 îqal /  ûqal male beast P3 S3 ôqal female beast
-mm- -t- (informal designation) -t- (formal designation)
P1 S1 (a)mmal nuclear family member P1 S1 (a)tal living thing P1 S1 atál civilized thing
P1 S2 emmal male family member P1 S2 etal animal P1 S2 etál domesticated animal
P1 S3 ummal female family member P1 S3 utal plant P1 S3 utál cultivated plant
P2 S1 ommal parent P2 S1 otal male being P2 S1 otál civilized male being
P2 S2 ömmal father P2 S2 ötal male animal P2 S2 ötál domesticated male animal
P2 S3 îmmal / ûmmal mother P2 S3 îtal / ûtal male plant P2 S3 îtál / ûtál cultivated male plant
P3 S1 âmmal child P3 S1 âtal female being P3 S1 âtál civilized female being
P3 S2 êmmal son P3 S2 êtal female animal P3 S2 êtál domesticated female animal
P3 S3 ômmal daughter P3 S3 ôtal female plant P3 S3 ôtál cultivated female plant

The pattern 2 stem 3 cell has two values î and û because it may sometimes be preceded by a w or y. This avoids illegal consonant-vowel pairs as found in yîqal and wûqal.

Formal designation is denoted by a dot diacritic alongside (usually) the primary case character.

Below is the second chart you should memorize, containing the pattern/stem conjugation for an example root -t- (life).

Pattern 1 Pattern 2 Pattern 3
Stem 1 Stem 2 Stem 3 Stem 1 Stem 2 Stem 3 Stem 1 Stem 2 Stem 3
(a)- e- u- o- ö- î- / û- â- ê- ô-
Ithkuil-topextens01.jpg Ithkuil-topextens02.jpg Ithkuil-topextens03.jpg Ithkuil-topextens04.jpg Ithkuil-topextens05.jpg Ithkuil-topextens06.jpg Ithkuil-topextens07.jpg Ithkuil-topextens08.jpg Ithkuil-topextens09.jpg

Ithkuil-pattern-stem-unframed.jpg

Exercises[edit]

  1. Write the following names in the handwritten script, including opal prior and surrounding the foreign name with 3-dot linear marks:
    1. Platôn
    2. /Qin ~Shi /Huang
    3. gaius juli.us kaesar
    4. Cicero
    5. Jesus
    6. Muhammad
    7. ~/zé tiān
    8. Genghis Khan
    9. Jeanne d'Arc
    10. Martin Luther
    11. Galileo Galileij
    12. John Smith
    13. Rene Descartes
    14. Issac Newton
    15. Johann Sebastian Bach
    16. Thomas Jefferson
    17. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    18. Friedrich Nietzsche
    19. Mahatma Gandhi
    20. Albert Einstein
    21. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
    22. Elvis Presley
    23. Al Gore
    24. John Quijada
  2. Write the following places, including îpal or ûpal prior and surrounding the foreign name with 3-dot linear marks:
    1. New York
    2. Detroit
    3. Chicago
    4. Washington
    5. Alexandria
    6. Istanbul
    7. Austin
    8. Prague
    9. Stockholm
    10. Pàřî
    11. Berlin
    12. Dubai
    13. Kinshasa
    14. Chernobyl
    15. Cincinnati
    16. Brasilia
    17. London
    18. Beijing
    19. San Francisco
    20. Fresno
    21. Madrid
    22. Singapore
    23. New Orleans
    24. Sidney
    25. Tokyo
    26. Las Vegas
    27. Vatican
    28. Moscow
    29. Portland
    30. Mesopotamia
  3. Write your name in the romanized and Ithkuil scriptǃ Add ta uipal prior and the surrounding 3-dot linear marks.
  4. Write and translate the following roots conjugated with their respective patterns and stems:
    1. tal
  5. Using the lexicon, translate the following words into the romanized script:
    1. dog
    2. domesticated cat
    3. potato
    4. wood
    5. woman
    6. male beast
    7. Challenge: higher-up business associate

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