Un Mosièl de se Chinzie rRyetaniezi – I. pPhonologia et ‘Orthographia

Ryetaniezi, known colloquially simply as Chiba pPuebli, or just sa Chiba, has a complicated, though generally regular, official orthography. Each ‘letter’ has three forms – plain, strong and weak, and this alters how the letter is pronounced. The following table shows the plain, strong and weak (respectively) forms of each letter, along with the phoneme it represents when word-initial.

A /a/ ‘A A
Au /o/ before labials, /u/ when otherwise unstressed or closed; elsewhere /au/ ‘Au Au
B /b/ bP /p/ Bh /v/
C /T/ cCh /tS/ Ch /T/
C /T/ /ts/ Ch /T/
Ç /s/ cÇh /tS/ Çh /s/
Ć /ts/ cC /kk/ Ćh /ts/
Ch /S/ cCh /tS/ Ch /S/
D /d/ dT /t/ Dh /d/
Dz /dz/ dC /T/ Dzh /z/
E /e/ ‘E E
È /E/ ‘È È
Eu /2/ ‘Eu Eu
F /f/ fF /f/ Fh /hw/
Fh /h/ fFh /f/ Fh /hw/
G /g/ gK /k/ Gh /G/
H /h/ hP /p/ Ph /f/
I /i/ ‘I I
J /Z/ jJh nil Jh /Z/
K /k/ kK /kk/ Kh /k/
L /l/ lL or Ch (before /i/) /K/ (or /S/ before /i/) Lh /l/
Ł /T/ /T/ Łh /T/
Ly /l_j/ Chy /Sy/ Ly /l_j/
M /m/ mM /m/ Mh /m/
Mh /v/ M /m/ Mh /m/
N /n/ nN /n/ N /n/
O /o/ ‘O O
Ò /O/
Ou /y/
P /p/ pP /pp/ Ph /f/
Ph /f/ pPh /pf/ Ph /f/
R /r/ rR /r/ Rh /r/
Ř /r’/ /r’/ Řh /r’/
S /s/ or /S/ sS /s/ or /S/ Sh /z/
Ş /s/ /s/ Şh /s/
T /t/ tT /tt/ Th /t/
U /u/ ‘U U
V /v/ Ü /w/ Vh /v/
Z /z/ zS /s/ Zh /z/

It can be seen that for a handful of letters, the same symbol represents a different sound depending on its form – Fh may be either /h/ or /hw/, Mh may be /v/ or /m/, and so on. The three forms are only distinguished initially, and within a word only one pronunciation of each occurs:

Ch – /S/

Fh – /hw/

Mh – /v/

The letter G only denotes /g/ initially; elsewhere, it denotes /G/.

The letter S denotes /S/ before /i/ or /ji/, but otherwise /s/.

A number of further letters are not shown on the table above, as they are never word-initial:

Y palatalises preceding or following consonants;

Î represents /i/, but also palatalises following consonants;

Relatedly, G, when before a consonant (except in certain loanwords), is not pronounced, but palatalises a following n or l.

The letters W, Qu and X occur only in names, and certain loanwords, and are typically pronounced /v/, /kw/ and /s/ or /ks/, though the spelling of names is highly irregular.

The digraphs im and em represent the nasal vowel /{~/; am and om, /Q~/. Before a nasal, they lose their nasality, but retain their quality.

A number of allophonic distinctions should also be mentioned:

/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, and /u/ are long when stressed and open, and have the allophones [{], [E], [I], [Q] and [U] when closed.

/E/ and /O/ are always stressed and open, and hence are always long.

/G/ is [g], save that it is /h/ before [Q], [O:] or [Q~], and [G] before [a]

/Z/ may be strengthened to /dZ/, particularly before high vowels and when stressed

/u/ is reduced to [w] when the first vowel of a diphthong

/G_j/ and /g_j/ are both realised as [dZ]

/T_j/ is realised as [h_j]

/z/ is realised as [Z] before a consonant

The phoneme /r’/ has a variable realisation; it is usually a combination of retroflex, rhotic, fricative, and tapped or trilled.

Stress is on the penult, unless another vowel is marked with either acute or grave accent.

NB. The word et, “and”, is pronounced with the second letter silent when before a word beginning in a consonant, or with v.

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Un Mosièl de so Vokabolarye

Chiba has five significant words for ‘language’:

Liba ( [li:b{] ) is used primarily in the name of the language, and of dialects, but can also poetically be used for any particular language or mode of speech. It is also used in idiomatic constructions denoting the manner of speech, where it may be considered to stand for the more common word libiela, meaning ‘tongue’ in the literal sense. Liba also means an ability or propensity to speak.

Lyebaikyu ( [l_je”baIk_j}] ) is used in the sense of a form of speech – a dialect or idiolect. It is a formal word.

Praularya ( [praU”la:r_j{] ) is used in the sense of language or speech as an abstract or universal, and refers not only to symbolism but also to the mechanisms of speech. It refers almost solely to spoken (or signed) language, not to writing or to any other representation of speech. It can colloquially mean a dialect, where the emphasis is on accent and mannerisms rather than vocabulary.

Gokaularya ( [goku”la:r_j{] ) is used to refer to an argot, jargon or cant. In formal context, it can mean a set of concepts. It can also mean a particularly opaque dialect. It is the native cognate of the later borrowing vokabolarya, ‘vocabulary’.

Linga ( [liNG{] ) is a scholarly term from the Latin, which means specifically a formal, national speech.

Relatedly, there are three words for ‘word’:

Gokaula ( [gokaUl{] ) refers to a word as a unit of speech, and by extension to words not found in writing

Gyerúl ( [dZe”rul] ) refers to a word as a symbolic unit

Nomie ( [“no.miE] ), literally ‘name’, refers to words as arbitrary entities, with the implication of a ‘namer’

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