Gweydr Phonology

The phonology of Gweydr is somdel complex. Complex like the word "somdel" might never be, or ben't. Be that as it may, here it is. Read on! Be read on!


  Labial Interdental Alveolar Palato-Alveolar Palatal (Labio-)Velar Glottal
Stops p, b   t, d tʃ, dʒ   k, g ʔ
Fricatives f, v θ, ð s, z, ɬ, r ̥ ʃ, ʒ ç x, ɣ, ʍ h
Nasals m n n n ɲ ŋ  
Approximants     l, r   j w  


  Front Back
Unround Round
Tense Lax Tense Lax Tense Lax
High i ɪ y ʏ u ʊ
Mid e ɛ ø œ o ɔ
Low æ a     ɑ ɐ


Because Gweydr has both fronted vowels and a tense/lax distinction, there's no easy way to represent it with the Roman alphabet. I've done my best, though, and it is, at very least, interesting.

  • The following consonants are equivalent in both the phonetic transcription and the romanization (well, aside from the fact that there can be capital letters in the romanization, but the idea is sound): p, b, t, d, k, g, f, v, ð, s, z, x, h, m, n, l, r, and w. (I'll be discussing the vowels in a separate section.)

  • The following sounds simply have different letters to represent them. They are as follows: (i) The sounds [tʃ] and [dʒ] will be represented by the letters č and j, respectively; (ii) the sound [ʔ] will be represented by an apostrophe, ' (note: there are actually some other issues that come into play here which I'll discuss below); (iii) the sound [θ] (of which the sound [ð] is an allophone) will be represented by the letter þ; (iv) the sounds [ɬ] and [r ̥] will be represented by the letters ł and ŕ, respectively; (v) the sounds [ʃ] and [ʒ] will be represented by the letters š and ž, respectively; (vi) the sound [ç] will be represented by the letter ŷ; (vii) the sound [ɣ] (an allophone of the phoneme x) will be represented by the letter ğ; (viii) the sound [ʍ] will be represented by the letter ŵ; and (ix) the sound [j] will be represented by the letter y.

  • The letter n is [ŋ] before velars. The sound [ɲ] will be represented by the sequence ny (in favor of ñ).

  • The vowels posed quite a problem. In the end, I've come up with a solution that works, but which I'm not completely satisfied with. I blame Hungarian. It'd be perfect if there were a character with two acutes above an a, but it doesn't seem to exist, so I had to do something else. Essentially, there are eight vowel characters, each with a tense and lax version. The tense version will be indicated with a macron; the lax without. Here's what they look like (you should be able to figure out which letter corresponds with which sound): Lax: a, e, i, o, u, ä, ö, ü; Tense: á, é, í, ó, ú, â, ô, û. (And, yes, this means that Gweydr should really be Gwéydr. I don't know how the way I spell my languages gets consistently misrepresented by the romanization I eventually come up with).

That's almost everything you'll need to know about the romanization of Gweydr. There is one small bit left over, though, but it's large enough to warrant a separate section.

Glottals and Declension Classes

There are a fair number of declension classes in Gweydr. Not as many as Estonian, but quite a few. Most of the time, there's no way to know what noun belongs to which declension class, based on the romanization. But, since I think it'd be neat, I'm going to use the romanization system to encode certain facts about certain declension classes. It'll be fun!

Inspired by Tundra Nenets and the number of h's available to me via Unicode, I've come up with a way to distinguish nouns that began with either a glottal stop or an h, with respect to their declension class. (For more information on how these declension classes work, go to the section on noun cases.)

Okay, below is a table of the various types of h's and glottal stops. While your browsing, though, it's important to remember that these do not represent different sounds. This is simply an orthographic way of marking declension classes.

  1. The most common declension class is the class which begins with "short" glottals. These are words that begin with either a glottal stop or an h, but which act as if they began with a vowel. This means that when attaching a prefix, the glottal consonant detaches, and a prefix that ends with a consonant is attached. Since this class is the most common, and since no word can begin with a vowel phonologically in Gweydr, this class will be marked in the romanization by nothing (for a word that begins with a glottal stop), or with an initial h. Two examples are: , "mouth", and hâzíf, "knife".

  2. Next come the "long" glottals. "Long" glottals are divided into "soft" and "hard", and "soft" is divided into "soft" glottal stops and "soft" glottal fricatives. I'll start here with "soft" glottal stops. A "soft" glottal stop changes a prefixed consonant by making it more like a glottal stop (to see how this vague description pans out, go here). A "soft" glottal stop is the glottal stop that's represented by an apostrophe, for example, with the word 'úr, "tail".

  3. Next come words which begin with "soft" glottal fricatives. "Soft" glottal fricatives basically spirantize a prefixed consonant (for more, go here). "Soft" glottal fricatives will be represented by the letter ĥ. An example of a word beginning with a "soft" glottal fricative is the word ĥaþl, "fog".

  4. The final class is the class for "hard" glottals. A word beginning with a "hard" glottal will get a prefix that would be attached to a word that begins with a consonant, only intervocalic glottal consonants are not preserved, resulting in hiatus. (Go here for more details.) A hard glottal stop will be represented by a quote mark, like so ", and a hard glottal fricative will be represented by the letter ħ (whose capital version is Ħ). Here are two words that begin with "hard" glottals: "óví, "door", and ħôlôs, "chin".

That should (finally) conclude the romanization section. The orthography is actually much simpler, though the stone script is probably more interesting. Now we can discuss the actual phonology of Gweydr.

Consonantal Allophonic Variation

Below is a list of the various phonemic rules that apply to the consonant phonemes of Gweydr. They might kind of spill over into the vowels in places. So be it.

  1. The fricatives f, þ, s, š and x voice to v, ð, z, ž and ğ intervocalically (respectively).

  2. The stops b, d, j and g devoice to p, t, č and k, respectively, in word-final position.

  3. All oral stops spirantize before nonidentical oral stops. That is, if a given stop appears next to the exact same stop, nothing will happen, and the result will be a geminate. If that same stop appears next to any other oral stop, though, it will become the corresponding fricative. Because of Gweydr's history, this sound change will only apply to p, t, k, and b, d and g. These sounds become (respectively): f, s, x, and v, z and ğ.

  4. The fricatives f, þ, s and x voice to v, ð, z and ğ, respectively, before a voiced oral stop.

  5. This is the basic nasal assimilation rule. The phoneme /n/ becomes [m] before labials; [ɲ] before palatals; and [ŋ] before velars. It also assimilates in place to whatever else is up there in the phoneme chart. [Note: A sequence of n and y is sometimes pronounced [ɲ]; sometimes [ni]. Similarly, a sequence of n and w is sometimes pronounced [ŋu]; sometimes [nu]. The language is in the process of changing, so both are judged as acceptable.]

  6. The glides y and w are pronounced like i and u, respectively, when they occur in word-final position. In the romanization, however, they will still be spelled as y and w.

  7. A word-initial glottal consonant is deleted when a prefix is added.

  8. A word-final glide is deleted when a suffix beginning with the corresponding vowel is added to a word. That is, a word-final y will be deleted when an i initial suffix is added, and a word-final w will be deleted when a u initial suffix is added.

  9. The sequences ty, dy, sy and zy are pronounced and spelled as č, j, š and ž.

  10. The liquids l and r become syllabic in word-final position when preceded by a consonant.

  11. The plural suffix -ks (or -iks) reduces to -s (or -is) when the last consonant of the final onset of the word to which it's been added is velar (this includes k, g, x, ğ, and w [only when it's an on-glide]).

  12. The stops b, d, j, and g are silent in word-final position following a nasal, though they reappear when a suffix is added. (This is analogous to the situation in English with "bomb" and "bombadier".)

Vocalic Allophonic Variation

It occurs to me that, rather than splitting up discussion of the vowels between two separate pages, it might be better to discuss the whole vowel situation on a single page. And that is, moreover, precisely what I've done. Go here for the answers to all vowel-related queries.


Gweydr's stress system is what can be called a default-to-left stress system. What that means is summarized below:

  1. In order to determine where stress falls is placed in a word, one first looks to the final syllable. If the final syllable is super-heavy (that is, if it ends in two or more consonants), then it gets the main stress. [Note: If a word ends in either š or č, then the final syllable counts as super-heavy. Also, even though word-final approximants are syllabic, and produce a new syllable, they still count as part of the coda of the previous syllable, when it comes to stress. Finally, a word final -ps, -ts or -ks cluster does not count as super-heavy.]

  2. If the final syllable is not super-heavy, you go to the penultimate syllable. If the penultimate syllabe is heavy (that is, if it ends in one or more consonants), it gets the main stress.

  3. If the penultimate syllable isn't heavy, then the main stress falls on the first syllable of the word.

  4. Secondary stresses are placed on every other syllable starting from the main stress and moving outward.

  5. Once stress is assigned, it should be noted that stressed vowels which precede a voiced coda consonant lengthen. (Note: This change will not be reflected in the orthography.)


And that's all there is to the phonology of Gweydr.

Well, not exactly. For explicatory purposes, I've left some of the discussion off of this page. For more information, go to the page on noun cases, the page on the vowel harmony system, and the page on Gweydr's orthography. That should (hopefully) fill in all the blanks.

Back to Gweydr Main

This page was last modified on Sunday, July 25, 2010.
This website was last modified on .
This page can be viewed normally, as a milk or dark chocolate bar, in sleek black and white, or in many other ways!
All languages, fonts, pictures, and other materials copyright © 2003- David J. Peterson.

free counters