A guide to Gevey pronunciation
There is no single, centralised body in any of the Gevey-speaking Lands that is capable of promoting a standardised form of the language. Because Gevey - as a language - includes a number of dialects that vary on the phonetic as well as the lexical and grammatical levels, it is difficult to offer a definitive guide to the sounds of the language, or consistently assign those sounds to either the native script or Cheidran alphabet letters.
Across the various Gevey dialects, consonant sounds tend to be more conservative than vowel sounds; the changes in the sounds assigned to particular vowels tends to be consistent within a particular dialect across the lexicon, though variations and exceptions can be found in different neighbourhoods and peer groups. Gevey speakers have a strong tendency to write the language as they speak it, which can lead to lexical (spelling) variation across dialects, though the spoken dialects remain (for the most part) mutually intelligible to all speakers, once they've tuned their ear to the local phonetic idiosyncracies.
The following phonology is accurate for the Valley dialect as spoken by the majority of the population in the city of Gevile, which linguists tend to use as the reference dialect for the language.
Assuming that current linguistic theories on the origins of the Balhan languages lineage, of which Gevey is a principal member, are accurate, we can say that the Gevey vowel system evolved from one of the Vreski languages dominant in the south eastern corner of Ewlah some 6-8 centuries ago. We know for a fact that Imperial Vreski, the official language of the Empire, used a six vowel system [ æ e i ɔ u ɑ ], each of which appeared in short and long forms, and each of which was diphthongised (with [ ɪ ] and [ ɜ ]) to give an inventory of 24 distinct vowels.
While Gevey has retained the concept of the six vowels, each of which can be amended or augmented in particular ways - and indeed demonstrates the concept in the native script - the phonetic relationships of the vowels to their variations has been almost entirely lost. Today speakers of the Valley dialect distinguish between 22 vowel sounds composed of:
- 11 monophthongs [ æ ɑ e i: ɜ ɪ ɒ ɔ ʌ u ʊ ] < a aa e ee ei i o ao ue uu u >
- 3 of which distinguish between short and long forms [ ɑ ɑ: ɔ ɔ: u u: ] < aa ua ao au uu oo >
- and a further 8 diphthongs [ eɪ eə aɪ ɪə əʊ ʊə aʊ ɔɪ ] < ae ai ie ii oe ui ou oi >.
As mentioned earlier, variation in the vowel phonemes is quite widespread across the Gevey dialects, with a number of mergers occurring in various regions in a non-predictable pattern. The Egos dialect is the most different to Valley; a recent development there has been the demerger of a number of diphthongs into separate vowels. A few linguists have argued that speakers of the Coastal dialect are beginning to differentiate some vowels by tone to compensate for excessive consonant loss - a possible influence of the tonal Ve Jasa language spoken to the south of those areas.
The Valley dialect has the largest inventory of consonants of any Gevey dialect - 30 in total:
- 4 voiced plosives [ b d dʲ g ] < b d dj g >
- 5 voiceless plosives [ p t tʲ k q ] < p t tj k q >
- 4 voiced fricative [ v z ʒ h ] < v z x h >
- 5 voiceless fricatives [ f s ʃ x χ ] < f s c gj qj >
- 2 rhotics [ r ɹ ] < r rj >
- 4 nasals [ m n ɲ ] < m n nj >
- 1 approximant [ j ] < y >
- 2 lateral approximants [ l ɫ ] < l lj >
- and 2 glides [ ʍ w ] < w wj >
The typical syllable structure for the Valley dialect of Gevey is (C)(C)(C)V(C)(C)(C), where between 0 and 3 consonants form the onset, an obligatory vowel forms the nucleus and between 0 and 3 consonants will form the coda. It is a feature of most dialects that consecutive vowels are not permitted to act as the nucleus of a syllable.
An onset consonant is not mandatory in the spoken language, but when a word starting with a vowel follows a word ending in a vowel the word will take an epithentic consonant - one of <h w y> - to keep the two vowels separate; the choice of consonant is a lexical rather than a phonological consideration, and is indicated in both the native script and the Cheidran alphabet (through an accent above the vowel: acute for <h>; circumflex for <y>; umlaut for <w>).
Gevey syllables follow the sonority sequence; onset consonants move from stops to liquids, with a few exceptions:
- stops: <p t tj k q b d dj g>
- stop-stops - are not permitted
- stop-fricatives (affricates): <tf ts tc ks kc dv dz dx gz gx>
- stop-nasals - are not permitted
- stop-liquids: <pl pw py tl tr tw trj twj tjl tjw kl kr ky ql qr bl blj bwj by dl dlj drj dwj djlj djwj gl glj grj gy>
- fricatives: <f s c gj qj v z x h>
- fricative-stops: <st ct zd xd>
- fricative-fricatives - are not permitted
- fricative-nasals: <fm sm sn snj cn cnj qnj vm zm zn znj xn xnj qjnj>
- fricative-liquids: <fl fr fy sr sw sy cl cr cw vlj vrj vy zrj zwj zy xlj xrj xwj qjlj qjrj hr hrj hy>
- nasals: <m n nj>
- nasal-stops - are not permitted
- nasal-fricatives - are not permitted
- nasal-nasals - are not permitted
- nasal-liquids: <ml mrj mwj my nwj>
- glides and liquids: <l lj rj r wj w y>
- liquid-stops - are not permitted
- liquid-fricatives - are not permitted
- liquid-nasals - are not permitted
- liquid-liquids - are not permitted
- additional combinations: <str stw ctr ctw tsm tsn tsr tsw tsy tcm tcn tcl tcr tcw zdrj zdwj xdrj xdwj dzm dzn dzrj dzwj dzy dxm dxn dxlj dxrj dxwj>
Coda consonants tend to travel in the opposite direction down the sonority scale:
- liquids: <l lj rj r wj y>
- liquid-liquids: - are not permitted
- liquid-nasals: <rjm rjn>
- liquid-fricatives: <ls lz ljs ljz>
- liquid-stops: <lp lt lb ld rp rt wk wg ljt ljd rjb rjd wjk wjg>
- nasals: <m n>
- nasal-liquids: - are not permitted
- nasal-nasals: - are not permitted
- nasal-fricatives: - are not permitted
- nasal-stops: <mp mb nt nd>
- fricatives: <f s c gj qj v z x h>
- fricative-liquids: - are not permitted
- fricative-nasals: - are not permitted
- fricative-fricatives: - are not permitted
- fricative-stops: <ft tjt tjk st sk ct ck qt vd djd djg zd zg zdj xg gjk gjg qjd>
- stops: <p t tj k q b d dj g>
- stop-liquids: - are not permitted
- stop-nasals: - are not permitted
- stop-fricatives: <ts tc ks kc dz dx gz gx>
- stop-stops: <pt bd>
- additional combinations: <nts ntc lts ltc rjts rjtc wjts wjtc ljts ltc yts ytc ndz ndx ldz ldx rjdz rjdx wjdz wjdx ljdz ldx ydz ydx>
The syllable boundary will fall between the coda of the first syllable and the onset of the second. Where it is possible for a consonant (or consonant cluster) to act as both coda and onset, it will almost always act as the onset, with the syllable boundary falling before it. Final consonants at the end of a coda consonant cluster which could also form the initial consonant of the following onset will almost always migrate across the boundary, so long as the resulting coda is permitted.
Consonant sandhi rules
Gevey does not permit voiced and voiceless consonants to mix within the syllable onset or coda, nor across syllable boundaries. The constraint also applies across word boundaries within a clause, but not across clause boundaries.
- a voiced consonant before a voiceless consonant will change to its voiceless counterpart
- a voiceless consinant before a voiced consonant will change to its voiced counterpart
The consonantal voiced-voiceless pairs are:
|b <-> p||d <-> t||g <-> k|
|z <-> s||dj <-> tj||v <-> f|
|x <-> c|
The following sandhi changes across word boundaries have also been recorded in various dialects:
- in all dialects, <q> affricates to <qj> before any voiced consonant.
- similarly, <qj> deaffricates to <q> before any unvoiced consonant.
- <l> can change to <lj> before <g h y> in certain dialects
- likewise, <lj> can change to <l> before any consonant except for <g h y>
- <n> before <g k q> will sometimes change to <nj>
- <n> before <y> will change to <nj> in most dialects, and always changes in the future paucal
- <n> before <b p> will usually change to <m>
- <d> before <y> will change to <dx> in some dialects - this often happens in preposition concatenations; <dj>, on the other hand, never changes
- <t> before <y> will usually change to <tc>, and always changes in the past paucal; <tj> rarely changes
- <r rj w wj> before <y> will change to <lj> in some dialects