There are three basic vowels /i a u/, diphthongs /ai au iə uə/, and syllabic consonants /m̩ n̩ r̩ l̩/. Neither of these last two sets have a length distinction, and have the same duration as a long vowel. Note that /u uː/ are substantially more central than /i iː/, and the initial place of /uə/ is further back than pure /uː/.
Long vowels, and syllabic consonants other than l, are spelt with a acute accent: í á ú ḿ ń ŕ. A syllabic l, because of its height, replaces the acute with a stroke: ł. The diphthongs are spelt ai au ia ua.
- After a velar consonant, including /ɫ w/, the vowels /a aː ai i iː iə u uː uə/ are backed and lowered to the forms labelled [ɑ ɑː ɑe ɛ eː eə ɔ oː ɔə], respectively, in the figures above.
- After /j/, /i iː iə/ become [e eː eə].
- After /tʃ dʒ ʃ j/, /u uː/ is fronted to [y ʉː].
- Before a syllabic consonant, a small schwa may be inserted if necessary to make pronunciation easier. This is most common between /ln̩ nl̩/ and two copies of a single sound. For example, kalń ‘cat’: /kaln̩/ → [kɐlᵊn].
- /r̩ l̩/ are pronounced as [ɻː ɫ̩ː].
- Syllabic /n̩/ assimilates to [ŋ̍] before a velar consonant; no other assimilation for syllabic nasals occurs, though. (It does for non-syllabic nasals, though; see below.)
- Unstressed short vowels are somewhat reduced, /a/ more than the others.
Where unspecified, consonants are spelt the same way as in IPA.
||/tʃ dʒ/ č ǧ
||/θ s/ ƶ, s
The phonemes /p t tʃ k s ʃ m n ɾ l x/ can be geminated. For the purposes of syllable structure, geminated consonants are counted the same as two separate ones. Geminate versions of most consonants are spelt by doubling the letter: pp, tt, kk, etc.
In places I have forgotten to update, /θ/ might be written þ or ð.
- Before /i iː iə/, /ɾ/ becomes [ʑ̞].
- A nasal followed by a plosive assimilates to the same place of articulation (but for compound words this is not reflected in the spelling), for example rabanpa [ravampa] ‘what book?’.
- The sequences /tʃs/ is pronounced as [tʃː], and /ʃs sʃ ʃj sj/ are all [ʃː].
- Nasals before /s x/ decay to a nasalisation of the previous vowel, or are dropped entirely if that vowel is a syllabic consonant.
- Voiced plosives /b d dʒ ɡ/ become fricatives [v ð ʒ ɣ] between proper vowels. The allophone [v] is pronounced [β] by some speakers.
- The velar fricative /x/ becomes [h] before /r̩/, and is palatalised to [ç] before /i iː iə/.
- Long /tʃː/ is pronounced as [ṯːʃ] (distinct from the [tʃː] coming from /tʃs tʃʃ/). Long /ɾ l/ become [ʐː ɫː].
- Non-final /l/ is velarized [ɫ] after a back vowel (including the allophones [ɑ ɑː]). After other vowels, it is palatalised.
- Non-syllabic /l/ is pronounced as [ɬʲ] at the end of words, even after a back vowel. After /t/ it is [ɬ]. The phoneme /ɾ/ is also devoiced [ɾ̥] word-finally. The sequence /lθ/ is realised as [ɬʲː].
- In many dialects, the long obstruents /pː tː tʃː kː sː ʃː/ are pronounced as ejectives [pʼ tʼ tʃʼ kʼ sʼ ʃʼ], and the long sonorants /mː nː lː/ as [bᵐ dⁿ ɮˠː].
The allowed shape of a syllable is usually CV(C), where V is any vowel and C any consonant. Clusters take one of the following forms:
- KC, where K can be any of /m n l r θ s ʃ t/ (coda consonants);
- FN, where F can be /f θ s ʃ x/ (fricatives) and N can be /m n/ (nasals);
- P/s/, where P can be /p t tʃ k/ (voiceless plosives);
- /pj bj lj rj/;
- geminate consonants.
The exceptions to the normal pattern are that a vowel or syllabic consonant can also occur at the start of a word, or after another syllabic consonant (but not a proper vowel). At the end of a word, the consonants from K are allowed. A syllabic consonant cannot be next to the non-syllabic form of the same consonant—for example, the sequences /ll̩/ and /l̩l/ are not possible.
Words are stressed on the first long vowel, if there is one. If there are no long vowels, or the only one is in the final syllable of a multi-syllabic word, then the stress is on the first syllable. For the purposes of deciding stress placement, neither diphthongs nor syllabic consonants are counted as long.