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Elefen uses the most widely known alphabet in the world: Roman or Latin.
K (k), Q (q), W (w) and Y (y) do not appear in ordinary words. In about a hundred international words of non-Romance origin, W can be written for U, and Y for I, to make the spelling easier to recognise: ioga/yoga, piniin/pinyin, sueter/sweter, ueb/web. Other than that, K, Q, W and Y are only used to preserve the original forms of proper nouns and non-Elefen words.
H is also not common, but it is found in some technical and cultural terms.
A capital letter is used at the start of the first word in a sentence.
Capital letters are also used at the start of proper nouns. When a proper noun consists of several words, each word is capitalized – apart from minor words like la and de:
But with titles of works of art and literature, only the first word of the title is capitalized (along with any proper nouns that appear):
Sometimes, as in warnings, capitals are used to EMPHASIZE entire words or phrases.
Elefen uses small letters in places where some languages use capitals:
The following syllables are used to name letters in speech, e.g. when spelling a word:
These are nouns and can be pluralized: as, bes, efes.
In writing, one can simply present the letter itself, capitalized, adding -s for the plural:
The letters A, E, I, O, and U are pronounced as in Spanish or Italian:
|A||[a]||as in Spanish or French “papa”; similar to the vowel in “palm”||open front unrounded||ambasada|
|E||[e]||as in Spanish “peso” or French “été”; similar to the vowels in “get” or “gate”||close-mid front unrounded||estende|
|I||[i]||the vowel in “feet”||close front unrounded||ibridi|
|O||[o]||as in Spanish “poso” or French “beau”; similar to the vowels in “caught” or “coat”||close-mid back rounded||odorosa|
|U||[u]||the vowel in “moon”||close back rounded||cultur|
The vowel sounds allow a degree of variation. For example, A can be pronounced as [ɑ] (as in “car”), E as [ɛ] (“get”) or [eɪ] (“gate”), and O as [ɔ] (“caught”) or [oʊ/əʊ] (“coat”) without causing misunderstanding.
When one vowel follows another, they are normally pronounced separately. But in four cases, when the second vowel is I or U, the two vowels form a diphthong:
|AI||[aj]||the sound in “aisle”||pais|
|AU||[aw]||the sound in “mouth”||auto|
|EU||[ew]||no corresponding English diphthong; similar to the “ay w” in “bay watch”||euro|
|OI||[oj]||similar to the sound in “coin”||seluloide|
Adding a prefix does not create a diphthong: reuni [re-uni], supraindise [supra-indise]. For similar reasons, two separate syllables are normal in a few other words too: egoiste [ego-iste], proibi [pro-ibi]. Such words are indicated in the dictionary, e.g. “proibi (o-i)”.
The sequence EI is rare. It is normally pronounced as two separate vowels: ateiste [ate-iste], feida [fe-ida], reinventa [re-inventa]. But speakers who find this pronunciation difficult can say [ej] or even [e] instead.
When I or U precedes another vowel, it is reduced to a semivowel – like the English Y or W – in the following cases:
In other cases – e.g. emosia, abitual, plia – the I or U remains a full vowel.
While these rules define the normal pronunciation for diphthongs, they can be ignored without confusion.
The following letters are consonants:
|B||[b]||as in “big”||voiced bilabial plosive||bebe|
|C||[k]||as in “cat”||voiceless velar plosive||clica|
|D||[d]||as in “dog”||voiced dental/alveolar plosive||donada|
|F||[f]||as in “fat”||voiceless labiodental fricative||fotografi|
|G||[g]||as in “get”||voiced velar plosive||garga|
|H||[h]||as in “hot”, or silent||voiceless glottal fricative||haicu|
|J||[ʒ]||as in “treasure”||voiced postalveolar fricative||jeolojia|
|L||[l]||as in “let”||voiced dental/alveolar lateral approximant||lingual|
|M||[m]||as in “man”||voiced bilabial nasal||mesma|
|N||[n]||as in “not”||voiced dental/alveolar nasal||negante|
|P||[p]||as in “pot”||voiceless bilabial plosive||paper|
|R||[r]||as in “roll”||voiced dental/alveolar trill||rubarbo|
|S||[s]||as in “set”||voiceless dental/alveolar fricative||sistemes|
|T||[t]||as in “ten”||voiceless dental/alveolar plosive||tota|
|V||[v]||as in “vat”||voiced labiodental fricative||vivosa|
|X||[ʃ]||as in “shop”||voiceless postalveolar fricative||xuxa|
|Z||[z]||as in “zoo”||voiced dental/alveolar fricative||zezea|
Note the following points:
As some speakers have difficulty with consonants in certain combinations or positions, Elefen allows the following variations:
When the non-Elefen letters appear in a word, they are normally pronounced as follows:
|W||[u] or [w]||like U|
|Y||[i] or [j]||like I|
If a word has more than one vowel, one of the vowels is stressed (pronounced more strongly). The stressed vowels below are underlined.
The basic rule is to stress the vowel that precedes the last consonant of a word:
Adding a suffix can move the stress:
But adding the plural -s does not move the stress:
The I or U of a diphthong behaves like a consonant in this regard:
If no vowel precedes the last consonant, the first vowel is stressed:
Some words have multiple vowels after their last consonant. If the vowels are IA, IE, IO, UA, UE, or UO, the stress still goes on the vowel before the consonant:
However, when the final vowels are AE, AO, EA, EO, OA, OE, or UI, the stress goes on the first vowel of the pair:
(But in estingui and vacui, the U is a semivowel because of another rule.)
Ala, asi, agu, ami, enemi, perce, alo, and ura are often pronounced with the stress on the final vowel rather than on the previous one. Either pronunciation is acceptable.
Compound words such as parario and mediadia retain the original stress of the second component.
Elefen is not a tonal language: words are not distinguished by changes in the pitch of the voice. However, one way to indicate that a sentence is a question is to end on a rise:
The forms of ordinary words in Elefen are constrained by certain rules.
Two examples of the same vowel (such as aa) cannot be adjacent, except where this is the result of adding a prefix: “reenvia”, “coopera”. In these cases, both vowels are pronounced.
The sequence ou is not normally acceptable.
Where a suffix would create an invalid vowel sequence, the second vowel of the sequence is dropped:
Only the following 23 consonant clusters are allowed at the start of a syllable:
Only the following consonants are allowed at the end of a syllable, and they must be directly preceded by a vowel:
A consonant cluster in the middle of a word is valid if it can be split over two valid syllables:
Proper nouns, along with technical, international, or culture-specific words, are free to break these rules.