Øynduyska – II (Phonology/Orthography 1)

The continuing adventures of  Øynduyska. As always, feedback welcome!


Fonologi ay Ortografi


  Stops Affricates Fricatives Approximants Taps Nasals
Bilabial /p/ p

/b/ b

        /m/ m
Labiodental     /f/ f fh

/v/ v bh f

Dental     /þ/ th t

/ð/ ð d

Alveolar /t/ t

/d/ d

  /s/ s

/z/ s

/l/ l /ɹ/ r /n/ n
Anterior Post-Alveolar   /tɕ/ tch /ʃ/ sh s
/ʒ/ s
Posterior Post-Alveolar     /ɕ/ kj      
Palatal       /j/ y j    
Velar /k/ c k

/g/ g

  /x/ ch /w/ w    
Glottal     /h/ h      


The consonant inventory is largely unremarkable and self-explanatory, although it is worth noting that the labiodental fricatives often pronounced as labial fricatives when adjacent to rounded vowels. The most unusual phonemes are those listed here as “dental fricatives”, which may vary between interdental fricatives and dental stops – in general, they are fricatives intervocalically, post-nasally and finally, but they are often stops initially or following another consonant. The stop realisation is particularly common for the voiceless phoneme.

Regarding the orthography, there are a number of ambiguities; in particular, the grapheme s may stand for any of four fricatives: while generally indicating an alveolar, it indicates a postalveolar following u, w, eo, io, or sometimes (but not always) following ø, y or a; it indicates a voiced fricative when initial, when intervocalic, or when following a nasal, or when preceding a voiced consonant, but otherwise indicates a voiceless consonant. The voiced and voiceless alveolar fricatives are not otherwise distinguished in writing, though the distinction is only very rarely distinctive. The same is true of the postalveolar, except that the voiceless postalveolar may also be indicated by means of the digraph sh. So:

sitta /zɪtə/ “to sit”
gressa /gresə/ “to eat lightly; to graze”
más /mas/ “moss”
huss /hʊʃ/ “house”
fleos /fleʃ/ “fleece; rind; mould”
yøsa /jøːʒə/ “to vomit”
másh /maʃ/ “clapshot; colcannon”
shanka /ʃæŋkə/ “leg”


The “dental fricatives” may be indicated by th and ð, but may also be indicated simply by t and d when preceding a u, w, y, o or ó, or when morpheme-final following the same letters – or, sometimes but not always, following a, ø or y. Thus:

cweða /kweːðə/ “to declare”
beseod ech /bəzeɞð ex/ “I boil (sth.)”
bątha /bɑːþə/ “to beat”
besleot ech /bəzleɞþ ex/ “I close (sth.)”
duylom /ðʊɪlɞm/ “creator”


The velar stop /k/ may be indicated with either c or k; c is found as the first element of clusters within a root, and, within a morpheme, before any vowels other than i, í, or e; k is found morpheme-finally, as the final element of clusters, and before the vowels i, í and e. So:

cweða /kweːðə/ “to declare”
cnafa /knæːvə/ “child; boy; youth”
cutta /kʊtə/ “bodice; jacket”
kerm /kɛrəm/ “wail; shriek; lament”
yðank /ɪðænk/ “thought”
busk /bʊʃk/ “bush”


Regarding the labiodentals: in initial or final position, or adjacent to a voiceless stop or a fricative, f generally indicates /f/, but in intervocalic position f indicates /v/. Morpheme-final /v/ is typically shown by bh, while initial /v/ is shown by v; v is also found in many loanwords. Intervocalic /f/ may be shown by vh. Thus:

foto /foːtoː/ “photograph”
far? /fær/ “where?”
hröf /hrəf/ “stomach; fortitude”
vilsfin /vɪlsfɪn/ “wild boar”
wǫlf /wʌlf/ “wolf”
wylfer /wylvər/ “wolves”
cnafa /knæːvə/ “child; boy; youth”
cøbh /kev/ “jaw”
cøbhs /køːvz/ “of the jaw”
advocat /ædvɞkət/ “attorney”
sevha /seːfa/ “to see”


The palatal glide /j/ is shown with y when morpheme-initial or following a vowel, but with j when following a consonant within a morpheme. So:

yøsa /jøːʒə/ “to vomit”
bjóding /bjɔːðəŋg/ “social invitation”


A further complication of orthography is the practice of writing orthographic ‘geminates’ to indicate preceding short vowels. Sometimes, the ‘geminate’ is not merely a duplication of the letter or grapheme. In any case, other than across morpheme boundaries in compounds, ‘geminates’ do not indicate a phonetic doubling of the consonant, but merely a change in the preceding vowel.

The fricative geminates ff and ss only ever indicate voiceles consonants; voiced /v/ may be written in geminate form as bhf, but there is no geminate form available for /z/. The geminate form of ð is ðh.

The geminate form of c/k is written as ck, when morpheme-internal, but as kk when the gemination results from the addition of a suffix. The geminate form of kj is kkj.

The geminate forms of th and ch are tth and cch.

The polygraphs sh and tch are regarded as automatically ‘geminate’, in the sense of shortening preceding vowels.

In this way:

máshr /maʃr/ “colcannons”
flycker /flʏkər/ “flocks; groups”
ąka /ɑːkə/ “to make bigger”
akkar /ækar/ “increaser”
mikkjel /mɪɕəl/ “big”
yøbha /yøːvə/ “to give”
yøbhfað wi /yevað wi/ “we give”


Next Up: Phonology and Orthography 2: Vowels!
Nu ta vylga: Fonologi ay Ortografi 2: Vocala