The Ngëh Language

Phonology and Sample Lexicon

Phonetic Inventory

Vowels

Front Central Back
Closed i   u
Mid e ə o
Open   a  

Consonants

  Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal   m   n   ɲ   ŋ
Plosive p b t d     k g
Affricate     t͡s        
Fricative f v s       x  
Approximant           j ʍ w
Tap       ɾ      

Romanization

Phoneme Romanization
m m
n n
ɲ ny
ŋ ng
p p
b b
t~d t
k k
g g
t͡s ts
j
f f
v v
s s
x h
j y
ʍ hw
w w
ɾ r
a a
e e
i i
o o
u u
ə ë

Phonotactics

Syllable structure is (C)(C)V(C₂) where C₂ is a voiced nasal [n, ɲ, ŋ, m] or velar fricative [x].

Within a syllable, consonant clusters occur only at the onset, and consist of a voiceless obstruent [p,t,k,f,s,x,t͡s] followed by either a tap [ɾ] or a voiced sonorant [n,ɲ,ŋ,j,w]. These restrictions do not apply to consonant sequences across syllable boundaries.

Consonant clusters where the second consonant is a nasal may occur word medially but do not occur at word boundaries.

Sound Change (Synchronic)

When the cluster of two nasals occur within a word, they will coalesce to the single consonant [ɲ]. In rapid speech, this may occur at word boundaries as well.

When two consecutive vowels occur in adjacent syllables, the sequences /ai/,/au/, and /oi/ are realized as diphthongs. In other sequences, consonant epenthesis occurs where [j] is inserted between front-to-back or central-to-back sequences, as well as between /uu/, and [w] is inserted between all other vowel sequences.

Vowels are optionally nasalized when preceding a nasal consonant.

In stressed syllables, voiceless plosives (p,t,k) are aspirated when directly preceding a vowel.

The voiceless plosives /p,t,k/ are realized as voiced [b,d,g] when preceded by a nasal consonant [n, ɲ, ŋ], unless directly preceding a vowel in a stressed syllable.

/w/ is realized as [ʍ] when preceded by [x].

Prosody

Rhythm

Ngëh is a syllable timed language. All syllables are given roughly the same duration.

Stress

Stress is irregular and phonemic. Stressed syllables are louder and higher in pitch than their unstressed counterparts, but not significantly longer. When written in the latin alphabet, stress is marked with an acute accent. Accent marking is always omitted for monosyllabic words and optional for multisyllabic words without heteronyms.

Intonation

Generally, sentences gradually fall in pitch, though speakers may end a sentence or clause on a rising intonation to indicate that they have more to say. A particular word may be pronounced with a sharp rise and fall in pitch to give it focus. In yes / no questions, pitch rises sharply on the stressed syllable of the focus word, and then gradually falls. In wh- questions, pitch rises sharply on the question word, and then gradually falls.

Ngëh does not have phonemic tones.

Lexicon

Phonetic realization of words are only listed below if they differ significantly from the phonemic.

Phonemic Phonetic Romanized Part of Speech English Translation
/ŋəx/   ngëh noun the Ngëh language
/ˈt͡swaxna/   tswáhna verb to drink
/ˈʍaŋe/   hwánge verb to eat
/ʍim/   hwim noun hair
/xoim/   hoim noun mouth
/pɾau/   prau adjective dark
/kjuˈɾoi/   kyurói adjective light
/wakiˈyosə/   wakiyósë verb to make a long, tiresome journey
/toŋ/ [tʰoŋ] tong adjective good
/nivə/   -niva affix (comparative)
/ˈtoŋniva/ [ˈtʰoɲiva] tóngniva adjective better
/ˈkovəx/ [ˈkʰovəx] kóvëh verb to cut
/kɾoˈkena/   krokéna noun smoke
/ˈkɾokena/   krókena verb to disperse
/foˈgə/   fogë́ adverb, exclamation certainly / of course
/ɾisoˈɲa/   risonyá noun star
/ˈkonto/ [ˈkʰondo] kónto noun moon
/dʒoˈmun/   jomún noun sun
/ˈbatna/   bátna noun problem
/egix/   -egih affix (diminuative)
/ˈbatnaegix/ [ˈbatnawegix] bátnaegih noun a small obstacle or everyday annoyance