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ReConLangMo 2: Phonology & Writing

Continuing from the last post, one of the next steps in this process is to outline the phonology and basic phonotactics of L’ewa. A language’s phonology is the set of sounds that are allowed to be in words. The phonotactics of a language help people understand where the boundaries between syllables are. I will then describe my plans for the L’ewa orthography and how L’ewa is romanized. This is a response to the prompt made here.

Phonology

I am taking inspiration from Lojban, Esperanto, Mandarin Chinese and English to design the phonology of L’ewa. All of the phonology will be defined using the International Phonetic Alphabet. If you want to figure out how to pronounce these sounds, a lazy trick is to google them. Wikipedia will have a perfectly good example to use as a reference. There are two kinds of sounds in L’ewa, consonants and vowels.

Consonants

Consonant inventory: /d f g h j k l m n p q s t w ʃ ʒ ʔ ʙ̥/

Manner/Place Bilabial Alveolar Palato-alveolar Palatal Velar Labio-velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n
Stop p t d k g q ʔ
Fricative f s ʃ ʒ h
Approximant j w
Trill ʙ̥ r
Lateral approximant l

The weirdest consonant is /ʙ̥/, which is a voiceless bilabial trill, or blowing air through your lips without making sound. This is intended to imitate a noise an orca would make.

Vowels

Vowel inventory: /a ɛ i o u/

Diphthongs: au, oi, ua, ue, uo, ai, ɛi

Front Back
High i u
High-mid o
Low-mid ɛ
Low a

Phonotactics

I plan to have two main kinds of words in L’ewa. I plan to have content and particle words. The content words will refer to things, properties, or actions (such as tool, red, run) and the particle words will change how the grammar of a sentence works (such as the or prepositions).

The main kind of content word is a root word, and they will be in the following forms:

Particles will mostly fall into the following forms:

Proper names should end with consonants, but there is no hard requirement.

L’ewa is a stressed language, with stress on the second-to-last (penultimate) syllable. For example, the word “[z]asko” would be pronounced “[Z]Asko”.

Syllables end on stop consonants if one is present in a consonant cluster. Two stop consonants cannot follow eachother in a row.

Writing

I haven’t completely fleshed this part out yet, but I want the writing system of L’ewa to be an abugida. This is a kind of written script that has the consonants make the larger shapes but the vowels are small diacritics over the consonants. If the word creation process is done right, you can actually omit the vowels entirely if they are not relevant.

I plan to have this script be written by hand with pencils/pen and typed into computers, just like English. This script will also be a left-to-right script like English.

Romanisation

L’ewa’s romanization is intentionally simple. Most of the IPA letters keep their letters, but the ones that do not match to Latin letters are listed below:

Pronunciation Spelling
/j/ y
/ɛ/ e
/ʃ/ x
/ʒ/ z
/ʔ/
/ʙ̥/ b

This is designed to make every letter typeable on a standard US keyboard, as well as mapping as many letters as possible on the home row of a QWERTY keyboard.


I am still working on the tooling for word creation and the like. I plan to use the Swaedish lists (this site is having certificate issues at the time of writing this post) to help guide the creation of a base vocabulary. I will go into more detail in the future.


This article was posted on 2020 M5 8. Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.

Series: reconlangmo

Tags: #conlang #lewa