Nitherian Phonology

Sounds

The consonant inventory is:

Labial

Dental

Alveolar

Lateral

Palatal

Velar

Stop

/p/

/t/

/k/

Affricate

/ts/

/tɬ/ <tl>

/tɕ/ <ch>

Unvoiced Fricative

/s/

/ɬ/ <sl>

/ɕ/ <sh>

Voiced Fricative

/v/

/ð/ <th>

/z/

/ɮ/ <zl>

/ʑ/ <zh>

Nasal

/m/

/n/

Approximant

/w/

/r/

/l/

/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.

All words are weakly stressed on the second-last syllable.

Allophones

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.

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.

Phonological Processes

Lenition

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/ 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.