Nitherian Phonology


The consonant inventory is:













/tɬ/ <tl>

/tɕ/ <ch>

Unvoiced Fricative


/ɬ/ <sl>

/ɕ/ <sh>

Voiced Fricative


/ð/ <th>


/ɮ/ <zl>

/ʑ/ <zh>








/j/ <y>

The vowels are /a/, /e/, /i/, and /o/; long vowels can occur when two identical vowels go into hiatus. The syllable structure can be (C)(L)V, where L is /w/ or /j/, or (C)N, with a syllabic nasal.

For most speakers, all words are weakly stressed on the second-last syllable. Educated speakers may retain the stress of the source language in loanwords, though the more suffixes are added, the more likely the speaker is to revert to stressing the second-last syllable.


The vowels can have a wide range of pronunciations, which are largely in free variation with each other:

  • /a/ can be realized anywhere from [æ] to [ʌ].

  • /e/ can be closer to [ɛ] or even [ə].

  • /o/ can be anywhere from [ɔ] to [u].

The syllabic nasals can be pronounced as schwa + nasal sequences. This is most common if the syllable onset is an approximant, and rare if the syllable onset is a fricative. If the next syllable has no onset (it starts with a vowel), the schwa + nasal pronunciation is the norm, with the nasal becoming the onset of the next syllable.

While syllables can’t end in a non-syllabic consonant phoneme, sequences of a vowel immediately followed by a syllabic nasal can occur, and these are often pronounced as one syllable with a nasal coda. If the syllabic nasal is the last syllable, the stress still falls on the previous vowel, meaning the word is stressed on the last syllable in the surface form.

The rhotic /r/ can be [ɾ] between vowels.

Phonological Processes


Some word elements cause the following element to undergo lenition when the elements are affixed together. Lenition turns the sounds /p/, /t/, /ts/, /tɬ/ into /v/, /ð/, /z/, /ɮ/, and causes /k/ to drop entirely.

Elements ending in a syllabic nasal never cause lenition.

Sibilant Harmony

Nitherian’s three sibilant series — the alveolars, laterals, and palatals — undergo left-to-right harmony, from prefixes to the stem to suffixes. The alveolars don’t trigger harmony, but react to it.

Bridging S

When a word element ending in a vowel has to be connected to a following element starting with a vowel, an /s/ intrudes between them to break up the hiatus. This /s/ accepts sibilant harmony like any /s/, but it defaults to /s/ (or /ɕ/ if followed by /i/) when there are no sibilants before it.

The bridging /s/ doesn’t apply when the following element starts with lenited /k/, even though lenited /k/ is silent and so brings vowels into hiatus.