Zhyler Phonology

Now, Zhyler phonology is not that easy to get the hang of. It's actually rather difficult. But, to put it another way, it's really very easy. Anyway, I have an orthography problem I'd like to discuss first. You see, Zhyler has its own alphabet and font, but it can't be displayed here, so I have to resort to other means. I could use IPA, but things'd get really hairy. What I'd like to do is used a modified Turkish orthography, but that won't work, because I can't find a dotless "i" anywhere in the unicode available to me. Or can I...! Yes, I can! Huzzah! For those of you who viewed this page in days prior, it probably looked very different from the way it does now. Well, fear not, 'cause I've figured unicode out, and this world is a happy place once again! The romanization has now completely changed, so get ready for mayhem!


  Bilabial Labio-Dental Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labio-Velar
Stops p, b   t, d   tʃ, dʒ* k, g  
Fricatives   f, v** θ, ð** s, z ʃ, ʒ x, ɣ†  
Nasals*** m   n n ɲ ŋ  
Approximants     l r j   w

* Both /tʃ/ and /dʒ/ are treated like stops, not affricates.
** Both [f] and [v], and [θ] and [ð] are allophones of the phonemes /v/ and /ð/, respectively.
*** There are only two nasal phonemes: /n/ and /m/. The other sounds are allophones of /n/.
† The sounds [x] and [ɣ] are allophones of the phonemes /k/ and /g/, respectively.


  Front Back
Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded
High i y ɯ u
Low e ø a o


All right, we're now going to deal with the sticky romanization issue. So, here goes:

  • The following letters are equivalent in both the phonetic transcription and in the romanization: a, e, i, o, u, b, p, t, d, k, g, f, v, s, z, x, m, n, l, r, and w.

  • Formerly, Zhyler made rather liberal use of digraphs. That, fortunately, has come to an end. These are the characters that formerly were represented by digraphs that now are not: /ʃ/ is now represented by š; /ʒ/ is now represented by ž; /ɣ/ is now represented by ğ; /tʃ/ is now represented by č; /ð/ is now represented by ð (capitalized: Ð); and /θ/ is now represented by þ.

  • The letters that remain are written as follows: /dʒ/ > j, /j/ > y, /y/ > ü, /ø/ > ö, and /ɯ/ > ÿ. (I realize this changes "Zhyler" to "Žüler", but I'm just too old to change! As for the umlauted y, it's a tribute to one of my favorite bands, Queensrÿche. For those who know Turkish, or at least its orthography, I've elected not to go with the dotless i in representing the [ɯ] sound, because, well, /i/ and /ı/ just look way too similar.)

  • Since the phoneme /n/ only changes when it occurs before certain consonants, there will be no alternate romanizational characters for it.

Consonantal Allophonic Rules

There are quite a few allophonic rules for consonants, so I'll do it this way: I'll list the rule, then go on to the next one. Sound good? Eeeeexcellent...!

  1. Voiced obstruents (non-strident) devoice word finally, which means, the letters v, ð, b, d, j and g become f, þ, p, t, č and k word-finally (respectively).

  2. Velar stops fricativize intervocallically, which means that k and g become x and ğ between vowels, respectively.

  3. The phoneme /n/ assimilates to the consonant next to it. This means that /n/ > [ŋ] before k, g and w; /n/ > [m] before p, b, m and v; /n/ > [ɲ] before y, č, j, š, and ž; and /n/ > [n] elsewhere. The only time when n takes on a different shape is when it changes to [m], in which case, it's written (you guessed it) m.

  4. The phonemes s and z become š and ž, respectively, when they occur before š and ž, respectively. (This can be confusing, so here's an example: šomos + -šu becomes šomoššu.)

  5. The phonemes l and r become n and z, respectively, when the onset consonant closest to it on the left is identical (e.g., combinations of *lal, or *rar.) Two examples: vol + -al becomes volan; žüler + -er becomes žülerez.

  6. A word may begin or end with no more than one consonant, and there may be a string of no more than two consonants in a row in the middle of a word. When this happens, an epenthetic vowel identical in quality to the vowel directly to the left of the consonant cluster is inserted. Example: *end becomes ened (which in turn becomes enet, via rule 1 above). Also, consonant clusters are broken up from left to right, so that if you had the string *endwi becomes enedwi, and not endewi (the string itself is possible, but it cannot have come from the string *endwi).

  7. Now, the most difficult rule of all: The devoicing rule. When two consonants come together whose voicings are not identical, a series of rules fixes it so that they become identical. Before we begin, though, this deals only with stops and fricatives. Approximants and nasals never change the voicing of another consonant. So, here goes:

    1. If two stops occur next to each other, the first stop determines the voicing of the second. Examples: pet + -di becomes petti; kad + -kÿz becomes kadgÿz.

    2. If two fricatives come together, the second fricative determines the voicing of the first. Examples: löž + -šo becomes löššo; yes + -žel becomes yežžel.

    3. If a stop and a fricative come next to each other, boy, you're in a world of hurt. If the second phoneme is a fricative, it determines the voicing of the cluster. Example: ved + -ša becomes vetša. Now, if the first phoneme is a fricative, there's even more trouble. In this scenario, the consonant cluster as a whole devoices. Here are two examples: veš + -böl becomes vešpöl; ez + -ka becomes eska.

    4. This rule applies to all the rest, so it's pretty important: Above all things, if either of the "weak" fricative phonemes v or ð occur next to a voiceless segment, they devoice. It doesn't matter if its the second fricative of two fricatives, or the second in a fricative/stop cluster: It always devoices when given the chance.

Word-Internal Phonotactics

The consonantal phonotactics are explained above, but I thought it might be handy to see it in tabular form. If you look at the column on the left (or the right) and the header and footer, you'll see all the consonantal phonemes of Zhyler. If you follow each consonant down its path to a particular cell, that will be the result if those two consonants occur next to each other within a word, the first consonant being the one listed in the columns on the left and right, and the second consonant being the one listed in the table headers and footers. This will tell you exactly what the rules above tell you, but directly. Take a gander:

      p b t d č j k g v ð s z š ž m n l r y w      
p pp pt pk pf ps bz pm pn pl pr py pw p
b bb bd bj bg bv bm bn bl br by bw b
t tp tt tk tf ts dz tm tn tl tr ty tw t
d db dd dj dg dv dm dn dl dr dy dw d
č čp čt čč čk čf čþ čs jz čš čm čn čl čr čy čw č
j jb jd jj jg jv jm jn jl jr jy jw j
k kp kt kk kf ks gz km kn kl kr ky kw k
g gb gd gj gg gv gm gn gl gr gy gw g
v fp vb ft vd vj fk vg vv fs vz vm vn vl vr vy vw v
ð þp ðb þt ðd þč ðj þk ðg ðv ðð þs ðz þš ðž ðm ðn ðl ðr ðy ðw ð
s sp st sk sf ss zz šš žž sm sn sl sr sy sw s
z zb zd zj zg zv zm zn zl zr zy zw z
š šp št šč šk šf šþ šs žz šm šn šl šr šy šw š
ž žb žd žj žg žv žð žm žn žl žr žy žw ž
m mp mb mt md mj mk mg mv ms mz mm mn ml mr my mw m
n nt nd nj nk ng ns nz nn nl nr ny nw n
l lp lb lt ld lj lk lg lv ls lz lm ln ll lr ly lw l
r rp rb rt rd rj rk rg rv rs rz rm rn rl rr ry rw r
y yp yb yt yd yj yk yg yv ys yz ym yn yl yr yy yw y
w wp wb wt wd wj wk wg wv ws wz wm wn wl wr wy ww w
      p b t d č j k g v ð s z š ž m n l r y w      

Vowel Allophonic Rules

Say, what's the adjective form of "vowel"? Vocal? Vowelular? Vowelish? Vowelly? The world may never know... But, thankfully, now I do! The adjectival form of "vowel" is—are you ready?—: vocalic. How about that! I even used it a bunch on this page already, but I didn't realize that that was the form until my good friend Doug Ball informed me. Good guy, that Doug. Thanks a million!

At any rate, there are two ways of looking at this section: Either its very simple, or incomplete. I choose incomplete. Why? Well, because there's vowel harmony in Zhyler, but it takes up so much room to explain the whole system that I've devoted an entire page to it. So, what's left is one allophonic rule; that's it. What is that one rule, you might ask? Well, stress in Zhyler is on the last syllable, pretty much always (adjectives are the exception). Additionally, each vowel has a lax and tense variant. The rule, then, is that the tense variant occurs when stressed; the lax variant when not. That's it. Not too complicated.

And that, in turn, ends the Zhyler phonology section. Yay! Now onto other things.

Back to Zhyler Main

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