The Pages of The Gray Wizard



phonetics and phonotactics (londaith na londvenar)

ámman îar morphemes are derived from vulánayal roots. These roots are expressed using the phonemes of the protolanguage, which are always represented with capital letters in the charts below to avoid confusion. Pronunciation is specified using the Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet (SAMPA).

This section describes the the sound system of ámman îar, including:

the individual sounds used in ámman îar and their articulations (phonetics).
the phonotactic restrictions or tactical behavior of ámman îar phonemes (phonotactics). These constraints are presented in terms of phonotactic rules.
some morphophonetic transformations that occur in various environments (morphophonetics)

2.2 phonetics

ámman îar has 26 phonemes, 20 consonants and 6 vowels.

2.2.1 consonants

The consonantal system of ámman îar derived from the much simpler vulánayal consonants in which voice was not a distinguishing phonological feature.

2.2.2 stops

Among the stops, the following specifics should be noted:

b,d g are normally pronounced implosively except when preceded by a nasal when they are pronounced explosively.
p,t,c are normally pronounced explosively; but with little aspiration except when preceded by a nasal when they are pronounced with strong aspiration.
t,d are normally alveolar, but in some regions (particularly near the mountains) may be pronounced as dentals..
g always has the value /g/, never /dZ/ even when followed by i, or e.
c always has the value /k/, never /s/, even when followed by i, or e.


ámman îar vulánayal SAMPA articulation
b B /b/ voiced bilabial stop
p B /p/ voiceless bilabial stop
g G /g/ voiced velar stop
c G /k/ voiceless velar stop
d D /d/ voiced alveolar stop
t D /t/ voiceless alveolar stop


Note that in northern dialects, the unvoiced stops are not well distinguished from the voiced stops



2.2.3 fricatives

Among the fricatives, the following specifics should be noted:

th and dh : are often accompanied by velarization
f : has the value /f/ except at the end of words where it becomes /v/.
s : is always voiceless; the voiced alveolar fricative /z/ does not exist in the modern language.


ámman îar vulánayal SAMPA articulation
v V /v/ voiced labiodental fricative
f V /f/, /v/ voiceless labiodental fricative
dh DH /D/ voiced dental fricative
th DH /T/ voiceless dental fricative
s Z /s/ voiced alveolar fricative
sh ZH /S/ voiceless palato-alveolar fricative
ch KH /tS/ voiceless dental/palato-alveolar fricative


Note that in the eastern dialects, near the mountains, ch is often pronounced /t/ while in the northern dialects, ch is often voiced.



2.2.4 nasals

Among the nasals, the following specifics should be noted:

n : is normally pronounced /n/ except when followed by g when it becomes a velar nasal /N/.
m : is normally pronounced with greater nasal resonance than the English equivalent causing nasalization of adjacent sounds.


ámman îar vulánayal SAMPA articulation
m N /m/ bilabial nasal
n N /n/, /N/ alveolar nasal

2.2.5 approximants

Among the approximants, the following specifics should be noted:

r : is trilled in all positions
l : is normally pronounced as a lateral alveolar except between e or i and a consonant, or e or i at the end of a word where it is palatalized.
h : follows the same distribution as other consonants, but is articulated as the voiceless counterpart of the following vowel. In some dialects it is sometimes heard as a voiceless fricative /x/ near the mountains this may be heard as a glottal fricative.


ámman îar vulánayal SAMPA articulation
û W /w/ bilabial/velar approximant
î Y /j/ voiced palatal approximant
r R /r/ central alveolar approximant
l R /l/ lateral alveolar approximant
h KH /h/ never silent

2.2.6 vowels monophthongs

ámman îar has six vowel monophthongs, i, e, æ a, o, and u.

e : is never silent even in final position;


ámman îar vulánayal SAMPA articulation
i IE,I /i:/ high front vowel
e I,EA,E /eI/ mid front vowel
æ æ /r/ low front vowel
a A /l/ low middle vowel
o O,OU /@U/ mid back vowel
u U,OU /U@/ high back vowel

Front vowels tend to be unlabialized while back vowels tend to be labialized. The vowel in a stressed syllable is usually more tense and is pronounced longer in duration than those in unstressed syllables, but do not represent a different sound. Stressed vowels are written í, é, æ,á, ó, ú. Unfortunately, I have no convenient method of representing stressed æ.


The decision to represent stressed vowels in this fashion was made late in the development of this text and I have, therefore not done so with any consistency. A fault I hope to correct in future. diphthongs

The ámman îar diphthongs are not directly traceable to the protolanguage but seem to have developed early in the development of the modern language.

ámman îar SAMPA articulation
ai /aI/ as in rise
au /aU/ as in rouse

2.3 phonotactics

Well-formed lexemes in ámman îar are constrained by phonotactic and morphological rules. Phonotactics constrain the arrangements (or 'tactic behavior') of the phonemes that occur in the language. These sequential constraints can be stated in terms of phonotactic rules.

2.3.1 roots

ámman îar roots have the following structure:

R ::= SS [US] | SS [UCS] | SCS [US]


R  Root bardhor/brandor
SS  Stressed Syllable bar-
SCS  Stressed Clustered Syllable bran-
US  Unstressed Syllable -dor
UCS  Unstressed Clustered Syllable -dras


Note: These rules prohibit two sets of consonant clusters in the same root, i.e. *SCS-UCS e.g. *brandras would not be a well formed root.



2.3.2 syllable structure and stress

The following description of syllable structure and stress patterns is based on an analysis done by two eminent conlinguists Dirk Elzinga and Matt Pearson and is known as the Elzinga-Pearson Syllabification/Stress Analysis (EPSSA). Prior to this analysis, syllabification in ámman îar was little studied and even less understood and stress rules required complex descriptions and exceptions. The elegance of this analysis allowed for a much simpler description of these phenomena in ámman îar. This grammar is indebted to these scholars for their pioneering work in this area.

Syllable structure in ámman îar is unusual in that it violates certain universal well-formedness constraints which enforce an unmarked syllable structure in favor of constraints that enforce a congruence between morpheme and syllable boundaries. In particular, this congruence constraint violates both the onset requirement (syllables must have onsets) and the NoCoda constraint (syllables must not have codas). For example: The word erinis would traditionally be syllabified as e.ri.nis according to well-formedness constraints, whereas the actually articulated syllabification is in which all three syllables violate either the onset requirement and/or the NoCoda constraint and would be considered traditionally ill-formed.

This syllabification constraint interacts with the application of stress patterns in complex ways. In order to understand this interaction, one must distinguish between underlying syllabification and surface realizations. Stress assignment operates on the former, while articulated syllabification operates on the latter. Underlying syllabification adheres to the universal well-formedness constraints that are violated in surface realization in favor of morpheme/syllable congruence.

In determining stress in ámman îar, words must initially be syllabified according to underlying syllabification constraints. Stress assignment then operates on that underlying representation according to the following stress rule:

Two-syllable words take stress on the penult.
Three or more syllable words take the stress on the penult if that syllable is heavy (i.e. those ending in a consonant or diphthong) or the antepenult otherwise.

Once stress has been so assigned, the syllables are readjusted in surface realizations to conform to the morpheme/syllable congruence constraint. For example:

1. Underlying syllabification - applying universal syllabification constraints :

niran  > ni.ran
orathvar  > o.rath.var
erainin  > e.rai.nin
tarnarin  >

2. Applying the stress rule :

ni.ran  > ní.ran  (two syllable, penult stressed)
o.rath.var  > o.ráth.var  (heavy penult stressed)
e.rai.nin  > e.raí.nin  (heavy penult stressed)  > tá  (light penult, antepenult stressed)

3.Surface realization - readjusting for morpheme/syllable congruence:

ní.ran  > ní
o.ráth.var  > or.áth.var
e.raí.nin  > er.aí
tá  > tá

Stress is further complicated in that case inflections cause the stress to shift to the final syllable of the root word. When this causes stress to be located on a light penult in underlying representation, the onset of the final syllable is geminated causing the penult to become heavy. Thus,

1. Underlying syllabification - applying universal syllabification constraints :

adhan  > a.dhan

2. Applying the stress rule :

a.dhan  > á.dhan

3. Applying a case suffix -en.

á.dhan+en  > á.dha.nen
á.dha.nen  > a.dhá.nen  (stress shift)
a.dhá.nen  > a.dhán.nen  (gemination)

4.Surface realization - readjusting for morpheme/syllable congruence:

a.dhán.nen  > adh.án.nen

Stress in ámman îar is basically quantitative, i.e. syllables are distinguished by vowel length.  Nevertheless, the stressed syllable also has an emphatic character.

2.4 morphophonetics

Morphophonetic change in ámman îar takes several forms including Palatization, Labialization, Nazalization, Assimilation, and Lenition.

2.4.1 palatization

Palatalization of consonants arises where the high front vowel i is present. In a variety of suffixes the root consonant is accommodated to the following front vowel and softened thereby so that it loses its identity and is replaced by another consonant (stop d replaced by fricative dh), thus:

ærhad + -is > ærhadhis

2.4.2 labialization

Under the influence of the high labial vowel u, the following changes take place:

p>f nap+ur > nafur
l>v tal+ur > tavur
û>v caû+ur > cavur

2.4.3 nasal assimilation 

Nasals become labialized before bilabial stops.

nb>mb an+bar > ambar
np>mp en+pran > empran

2.4.4 nasal mutation

In a variety of prefixes the root consonant is accommodated to the preceding nasal through nasal mutation

an+p>aph an+parma > apharma
an+t>ath an+tais > athais
an+b>amb an+barad > ambarad
an+m>av an+megren > avegren
an+s>ash an+sadad > ashadad
an+r>ann an+randir > annandir

2.4.5 lenition

In a variety of prefixes the root consonant is accommodated to the preceding approximant through lenition. The unvoiced stops p, t, c become voiced. The voiced stops b and d become the fricatives v and dh, while g becomes h. m, like b, is lenited to v.

ar+p>arb ar+parma > arbarma
ar+t>ard ar+tais > ardais
arb>arv ar+barad > arvarad
ar+m>arv ar+megil > arvegil
ar+c>arg ar+caras > argaras
ar+g>arh ar+galadh > arhaladh
ar+d>ardh ar+dagor > ardhagor

2.4.6 assimilation 

In a variety of prefixes the root consonant is accommodated to the preceding sibilant through assimilation.

as+b>asp as+boren > asporen
as+d>ast as+darad > astarad
as+g>asc as+galen > ascalen
as+v>asph as+vilas > asphilas
as+r>ass as+rivir > assivir

2.4.7 consonant cluster shifts

When both the syllable final consonant of the stressed syllable and the initial consonant of the unstressed syllable are selected, consonant clusters are possible, but not all such clusters are well formed. The following shifts occur:

lh>ll mel+had > mellad
nm>mm tan+mal > tammal
nr>nn tan+ron > tannon

vowel deletion

Unstressed vowels have a tendency to be deleted when followed by another syllable

badir+is > badris