Saturday, 15 May 2010

Phonology and Writing

Tulvan is customarily written in roman characters with some diacritics to aid where some tulvan characters don't have a complete equivalent. For example, there are three kinds of k's, k, c and q, the first one is our normal [k] what we would expect in such English words as kill, kiss, keep, etc. On the other hand, the [c] represents a k without a breath, very much alike the distinction between Mandarin k and g. And finally the q is a guttural k, pronounced deeper within the throat. So we have k = [k'], c = [k], q = [kh, x]. However the distinction between kw and qu is that of breath. So kw = [kw'] and qu [kw].

Another difference is about the palatalized vowels, for instance some vowels are preceded by a soft [i] very much alike to Russian я and ю. So we have in Tulvan ë [ye], ä [ya] and ü [yu]. In fact maybe the cyrillic alphabet would be more appropriate most of the times.

All the rest are pronounced as spected in standard european. Let me elaborate, pretty much in a similar way to latin consonants and vowels, but without their exceptions.

so p, t, k, like people, totum, keeper
b, d, g like ball, dominus, goal
th like "thin" always
v, kw/qu, just as they would in very, quick

n, m, s don't need explanation. But when s precedes p or t, it sounds like sh, as in German.
l, r are pronounced as in latin or spanish, las, r never retroflex.

The only diphthongs are aw, ew, and ay, ey, uy, oy
Other combinations such as ai, ei, oi, au, eu, can exist but are not considered diphthongs but two syllables.

Well, this is all for phonology, I think this will give you a great grasp of how words are pronounced.


  1. Is Tulvan spoken in a place where there has been contact with language groups which use the Roman alphabet?

  2. Well, actually no. But the first person to make contact and learn about their language spoke a european language which used the Roman alphabet. Therefore this transcription was created.