Epiq Phonology

Epiq doesn't have an incredibly difficult phonology. It has some tough-to-pronounce sounds, for those that aren't used to them, but other than that, it's not very intricate. Well, except for maybe the vowels. Anyway, Epiq has its own script, but it wouldn't be too terribly helpful to try to duplicate that script in the romanization, so I've devised a unique romanization system for Epiq that...well, it does the job. It, and the rest of the phonology, will be described below.


  Bilabial Interdental Alveolar Palato-Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular
Stops p t     k q
Fricatives ɸ θ s, ɬ ʃ     χ
Nasals m n n n ɲ ŋ ɴ
Approximants     l   j, ʎ w*  

* This is technically a labio-velar, but in Epiq, it's treated like a velar.


  Front Central Back
High i, y   ɯ, u
Mid e, ø ə ɤ, o
Low   a  

Consonantal Allophonic Variation

Below is a list of the various phonemic rules that apply to the consonantal inventory of Epiq. There aren't that many, but those that are there, I assure you, are quality. Quality!

  1. The phonemes /u/ and /i/ become [w] and [j], respectively, before non-high vowels.

  2. Palatalization applies to a large number of consonants. The phonemes /t/ and /s/ become [tʃ] and [ʃ], respectively, before both the consonant [j] and the vowels [i] and [y]. The rest of these consonants change only before [j]: /l/ becomes [ʎ]; /n/ becomes [ɲ]; /q/ becomes [tʃ]; and /χ/ becomes [ʃ].

  3. This is the basic nasal assimilation rule. The phoneme /n/ becomes [m] before bilabials; [ɲ] before [j]; [ŋ] before velars; and [ɴ] before uvulars. The phoneme /n/, however, also participates in dissimilation. It becomes [ŋ] before the phoneme /l/ (even when it's phonetically realized as [ʎ]).

  4. Alveolar consonants that are [-continuant, -nasal] become [+continuant] word-finally. That's a fancy way of saying that the phonemes /t/ and /l/ become [θ] and [ɬ], respectively, when they occur at the end of a word. An independent sound change, however, caused all word-final [ɬ]'s to disappear, so really, this rule affects only one segment, synchronically.

  5. Another rule that affects a single segment is a rule that changes /l/ to [w] before [w], producing a geminate [w]: [ww]. A final change that involves /l/ is that it changes to [ɬ] when it occurs either directly before, or directly after, a voiceless consonant.

  6. Allow me to discuss syllables for a moment. Consonant clusters are disallowed in Epiq, save /Cj/ or /Cw/. The only consonants that can end a syllable are /s/, /n/, /l/, /w/ and /j/. Everything save labials can end a word, though (modulo the rules stipulated above).

That does it for the consonants. Now onto the vowels.

Vocalic Allophonic Variation

Epiq has a four vowel system. These vowels are: /i/, /u/, /a/ and /ə/. Nevertheless, these vowels are combined in various ways in Epiq such that they produce what turns out to be a ten vowel system. This is how it's done:

  1. Epiq allows diphthongs and (under certain conditions) triphthongs. Leaving the triphthongs aside for now, when diphthongs occur, they vary, causing new phonemes to arise. As mentioned above, sequences of a high vowel followed by a non-high vowel produced the phonemes [w] and [j]. This is a list of the rest: /ui/ > [y]; /iu/ > [ɯ]; /əi/ > [e]; /əu/ > [o]; /ai/ > [aj]; /au/ > [aw].

  2. When a high vowel follows a uvular, it lowers. This causes the following changes: /i/ > [e]; /y/ > [ø]; /ɯ/ > [ɤ]; and /u/ > [o].

  3. When the phoneme /a/ occurs word-finally, it lengthens either to [aˑ] or [aː] (depending on the speaker and/or situation, I'd imagine).

  4. Now for some stress rules. The basic rule is: (a) If the last syllable ends on a consonant (including approximants), it's stressed, otherwise (b) the penultimate syllable is stressed. Words that used to end in /l/, but which now end in a vowel, are also, however, stressed on the last syllable. [Note: For my convenience, such words will end in orthographic ł, but the letter will be silent.] Aditionally, words that end in a diphthong (this includes [y], [ɯ], [ø], [ɤ], and some instances of [e] and [o]) are also stressed on the last syllable. Words, however, that end in a diphthong that begins with either the consonant [j] or [w] are not stressed on the last syllable, unless it's a sequence of, for example, [waj].

That does it for the vowels. Now let me describe the romanization I'll be using on this site.

The Epiq Romanization System

What an odd thing making this romanization system was. Why? Because there just is no roman letter that the human mind can associate with the sound [ɤ]. Maybe a picture of Jerry Seinfeld's face... But that's not a commonly used roman letter. Anyway, this romanization system pretty much adheres to "one sound=one letter", as opposed to "one phoneme=one letter". I figure that's what a romanization system should do, for some reason.

  • The following letters are equivalent in both the phonetic transcription and in the romanization: i, u, p, t, k, q, s, m, n, l, and w.

  • The following are just switching a letter for a letter (with no diacritics): [ɸ] will be written f; [θ] will be written þ; [ɬ] will be written ł (in keeping with other Eskimo orthographies); [χ] will be written x; [j] will be written y; [ə] will be written a; and any version of the phoneme /n/ (save [m] which will be written m) will be written n, since the assimilation will happen automatically, right in your very own mouth, as if by magic!

  • Here are some sounds which will be represented by sequences: [ɲ] will be written ny; and [ʎ] will be written ly.

  • Now here are some characters that are written with diacritics: [ʃ] will be written š; [tʃ] will be written č (these two changes will produce an ambiguity between words that originally had uvulars and words that originally had alveolars. I considered this option to be the lesser of two evils); [y] will be written ü; [ø] will be written ö; [ɯ] will be written ÿ (in keeping with Zhyler); [a] will be written â; and [ɤ], to make the romanization system fairly symmetrical (I still like ÿ better than ï), will be written ë.

  • Since there's no way to tell whether a word-final o or e will be the kind that's stressed, the stressed versions of these letters will be written ó and é, respectively. They will only be written as such when they are truly word-final (i.e., a consonant will never follow either ó or é).

That about does it. I entreat you to check out the orthography section, so you can see how it's all really written, as well as the Swadesh list, where you can see some Epiq words in the romanization. That said, I hope your day is a happy one.

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