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Lateral approximants

  • L/l (runic ) for [l]


  • M/m (runic ) for [m]
  • N/n (runic ) for [n]
  • [ŋ]?
  • some proposals also include [ŋ], what makes sense since this sound is quite common in Germanic languages
  • mostly the digraph ng is proposed as its written representation
  • another possibility would be to take an unused symbol, e.g. q (or in runes)
  • maybe only have it as an allophone of /n/ before /k, g/ thus only having [ŋk],[ŋg]? Some varieties of Germanic have it this way; others have multiple sources for [ŋ], such as Thuringian which has it for *nd ("finge(n)" 'find')


  • P/p (runic ) for [p]
  • B/b (runic ) for [b]
  • T/t (runic ) for [t]
  • D/d (runic ) for [d]
  • K/k (runic ) for [k]
  • G/g (runic ) for [g] (not totally clear, e.g. [[references:sko03|Reference: sko03]] proposes to speak this letter as [j] in words ending with -ig


  • H/h (runic ) for [h]
  • F/f (runic ) for [f]
  • S/s (runic ) for [s]?
  • Z/z (runic ) for [z]?
  • R/r (runic ) for [r], [ʁ], ...?
  • V/v for [v]?
  • [θ] and [ð]?
    • most proposals don't include these two as most Germanic languages eliminated them except of English and Icelandic
    • by the bigramms Th/th and Dh/dh (almost like in English)?
    • by the symbols Þ/þ (runic ) and Đ/ð (like in Icelandic)?
    • this poll resulted in replacing these sounds with [d] (written d) and/or [t] (written t)
  • [ʃ]? (and [ɕ]?)
    • most Germanic languages have that sound
    • but none has a certain symbol for it (except for Yiddish with Hebrew letters)
    • digraph sh like in English?
    • unused letter, e.g. c like in Lojban or x like in Catalan and Portuguese?
    • diacritic symbol on another letter, e.g. ŝ like in Esperanto?
    • sc, where additionally an isolated c is either not defined or represents the unused [x]?
    • sj? (would have the mildly adverse effect of blurring the distinction between [ʃ] and [sj]).
  • [x ~ χ] ([ç] as well???)?
    • digraph ch like in German and Scottish? (according to poll 1 and poll 2 most people prefer this)
    • h as in Old English and Old Saxon
    • unused letter, e.g. x like in some Slavic languages?
    • diacritic symbol on another letter, e.g. ĥ like in Esperanto?


  • J/j (runic ) for [j]
  • W/w (runic ) for [w] or [ʋ]?


  • I/i (runic or ) for [i] or [ɪ]
  • E/e (runic ) for [e], [ɛ] or [ə]
  • A/a (runic ) for [a], [ɑ], [æ] or [ʌ]
  • O/o (runic ) for [o] or [ʊ]
  • U/u (runic ) for [u] or [ʉ]
  • Ö/ö or Oy/oy (runic ᛟᛇ) for [ø]
  • Ü/ü or Uy/uy (runic ᚢᛇ) for [y] or [ʏ]


A controversial subject is the question about long and short vowels.

Remark: The vowel E has three values, i.e. long, short, and schwa. It must be decided whether, and how, the short value and the schwa are to be distinguished.

Variant 0a: No distinction


  • all vowels are spoken with equal length (e.g. all with moderate length)


  • „Vi hav utvikelt raskhed, dok ine vi sta stil.“


  • easy to learn
  • seems to be the most intuitive compromise
  • solves the minor problem of inconsist vowel-lengths (e.g. German spiel (long vowel) but Norwegian spill (short vowel))
  • (smooth text-appearance)


  • not common in Germanic languages
  • less possible word-roots

Variant 0b: No indication


  • distinct between long and short vowels but use the same writing for both


  • „Vi hav utvikelt raskhed, dok ine vi sta stil.“


  • (smooth text-appearance)


  • not common in Germanic languages
  • very unphonetic and thus hard to learn, since one has to memorize the pronunciation of every single word (which holds for the majority of the English vocabulary)

Variant 1a: Vowel doubling


  • single vowels are spoken short
  • double vowels are spoken long
  • like in Dutch, Afrikaans and some words in German and English


  • „Vii haav utvikelt raskheed, dok ine vii staa stil.“


  • common in Germanic languages
  • flexible


  • not consistent, since vowel doubling can also occur in composita, where one speaks the vowels separately (like in the German word beenden)
  • potentially words with triple or even quad vowels (like in the English word seaeagle, which would actually be something like siiiigəl if written more phonetically but with vowel doubling)
  • some words are harder to recognize (e.g. miin for the word my,mine)


  • the first two disadvantages can be circumvented by using a splitting symbol (e.g. be'enden, sii'iigəl)

Variant 1b: Lengthening-symbol


  • use a symbol (e.g. h like in the German Zahn (tooth) or a completely different symbol like : or ') to make a vowel spoken longer


  • „Vih hahv utvikelt raskhehd, dok ine vih stah stil.“


  • close to IPA
  • flexible
  • consistent if the symbol does not belong to the alphabet itself


  • not common in Germanic languages (except for German, which uses the inconsistent version with h)
  • quite a posteriori, so words are harder to recognize

Variant 1c: Distinct letters


  • every vowel has a long and a short form, that are written with different symbols, for example by adding a diacritic ornament (e.g. ā, ã or ȧ)


  • „Vī hāv utvikelt raskhēd, dok ine vī stā stil.“


  • flexible
  • consistent


  • not common in Germanic languages
  • not easy to write (especially in case of symbols that already have a diacritic ornament like å and ü (if existent in the alphabet))

Hybrid of variants 0b and 1b: Optional indication and no minimal pairs

  • like variant 1b in that an accent is used to denote long vowels (e.g. acute) but the lexicon is designed so there are no (or only a few) minimal pairs for the short-long distinction.
  • This means that if you don't put the accents on, there is no (or only a tiny amount of) ambiguity. This is just like variant 0b. If you can't (or are too lazy) to put the accents on, it's okay. Dictionaries would always include the accents.
  • advantages and disadvantages associated with 0b and 1b, including reduced ambiguity (adv.) but reduced lexicon size (disadv.)

Variant 2: Implicitly on consonant doubling/clustering


  • in front of single consonants vowels are long
  • in front of double consonants (or consonant-clusters) vowels are short
  • like in Norwegian, Swedish and some words in German and English


  • „Vi hav uttvikkelt raskhed, dokk inne vi sta still.“


  • common in Germanic languages


  • inflexible
  • not consistent, since consonant doubling/clustering can also occur in composita, so that it can become unclear, if the vowel before is a long or a short one
  • potentially words with triple consonants (like in the German word Schifffahrt)
  • doesn't work for vowels at the end of a word

Variant 3 (or "1.5"): Vowel AND consonant doubling


  • a hybrid of variants 1 and 2
  • every vowel is short by default, but long if it is in the first syllable of a multisyllabic word and there is only one consonant separating it from the next vowel.
  • final A and E are short by default; I, O, and U are long by default (?)
  • if an otherwise-short vowel needs to be made long, it is doubled.
  • if an otherwise-long vowel needs to be be made short, the consonant after it is doubled.


  • ?


  • quite intuitive


  • most of the disadvantages of vowel and consonant doubling
  • not common in Germanic languages
  • harder to learn

Of course these variants can be mixed or bound to conditions (like the stress or the position of the vowel in the word).

Non-standard vowels

Another question is the inclusion of non-standard vowels, which are present in most Germanic languages:

  • [ø]/[ö]
    • present in all major Germanic languages (except English)
    • several cases in which having such a sound is practically inevitable (e.g. the word for to hear, høra seems to be the only viable solution)
    • possibilities
      • representation by the symbol ö
      • representation by the symbol ø
      • representation by a yet unused symbol, e.g. c or q (e.g. hcra/hqra)
      • representation by the symbol group oe
      • representation by the symbol group oy
  • [y]/[ü]
    • present in many Germanic languages, but not in all
    • several cases in which having such a sound is practically inevitable (e.g. the word for south, syd seems to be the only viable solution)
    • possibilities
      • representation by the symbol ü
      • representation by a yet unused symbol, e.g. y (e.g. syd)
      • representation by the symbol group ui
      • representation by the symbol group ue
      • representation by the symbol group uy
  • [æ]
    • seems unnecessary since most cases can be covered by e or a
    • only sensible usage would be the explicit pronunciation as [ɛ] as opposed to [e] (since both pronunciations are in discussion for e)


Consonant-cluster-shortcuts like these are more common in Romanic and Slavic languages. The orthography becomes less phonetic when using them and as shown above it starts to get weird when having short and long vowels in the language. So i guess they are only relevant if using vowel-variant 0a or 0b, since except of #1 none of the options above is common in any Germanic language or any other language i know. I tend to use the explicit forms ks, ts, … --- [[|Fenris Wolf]] 2014/10/31 11:35

Open questions

  • diphthongs
  • stress (e.g. FOLKspraak or folkSPRAAK or either)
  • foreign and loanwords

What are the names of the letters of the alphabet? A simple approach would be to let the vowels be themselves, and the consonants be themselves plus A; thus a, ba, ca, etc. This way, the names are obvious, and conflict with other words is minimised (if the letter D was di instead of da, for example, there would be ambiguity between the pronoun and the letter).

Something else that people might like to think about is the possibility of enabling "invisible little schwas", such as exist in words like apl and spasm. NB, the only other popular auxlang that does this is Idiom Neutral.

See also

  • [[Guidelines for word formation]]


Just a note: there could theoretically be another variant, just using the most "common" spelling of each word, which would give a mix of variants. If the languages do not differ to much, or if one minimises the differences, this would give a not to complex orthography - interlingua is done in this way, keeping differences but minimizing them. If not, this would just be inconsequent and cluttery.

A way of deciding, on the other hand, would be to look in more detail on how common and widespread each system are, and chose the most common (or, as in the above, two very common).

The possible disadvantage with consequence is that it makes some words less recognizible. Depending on the individual, this may make it harder to understand. Likewise, some will probably feel like inconsequent spelling makes the language hard, and inconsequence may for others not be any bigger obstacle. I'm getting lost here, but I don't think that inconsistent spelling, nor a bit lessened recognizability is any larger problems. (And personally, inconsistent spelling hasn't been any big obstacle when learning a language.. As you probably even can see here though, I'm not sure about the English spelling in all cases. But practically, spelling errors is not that much of a flaw in the understanding and usage of a language, it shouldn't be over-estimated. One still understands the language, and can make yourself understood - the disadvantage is that it has a low status and risk making you look incompetent..).

Z and X

Are we going to use the letters Z and X to represent consonant pairs? If so, the first question is which values precisely they will take; Z will be /ts/ and/or /dz/, and X will be /ks/ and/or /gz/. A second and more esoteric question is how to double them, assuming a consonant-doubling system is chosen. The following options exist:

  • no doubling (Z and X) which is simple but either leaves the length of the preceding vowel unclear, or means that it must always be short;
  • simple doubling (ZZ and XX) which though simple, is misleading, because you'd think the pairs should be pronounced "tsts" and "ksks";
  • explicitness (TS and KS) which is simple but which is incongruous alongside the "implicit" originals;
  • first-half doubling (TZ and KX) which chimes nicely with German for TZ (e.g. Schnitzel, rather than Schnizel) but which is unfamiliar with KX;
  • second-half doubling (ZS and XS) which is functionally just like the previous option but visually more unfamiliar.

Decisions made so far

  • L/l for [l]
  • M/m for [m]
  • N/n for [n]
  • bigramm ng for [ŋ] since this representation is used in all Germanic languages and therefore it is the one that is most easily recognizable (according to goal #1)
  • P/p for [p]
  • B/b for [b]
  • K/k for [k]
  • G/g for [g]
  • T/t for [t]
  • D/d for [d]
  • [θ] and [ð] are not included and get replaced by [d] or sometimes [t] in the word-derivation from English and Icelandic (the only two Germanic languages that still have these sounds)
  • H/h for [h]
  • S/s for [s]
  • V/v for [v]
  • F/f for [f]
  • R/r for [ɾ]
  • J/j for [j]
  • [w] is not included
  • [x]/[χ] is not included
  • C/c for [ʃ] — whether this one is used in normal words will be decided later. [[User_Ob]] says: I believe it was me who proposed this, but maybe it's too weird/unusual. See my "sc" idea.
  • it is allowed to pronounce the letters a little different, for example v as [ʋ] or s as [z], where the sounds from above are the default

If you've got strong arguments against any of these decisions, feel free to add them here or visit the IRC-channel!

phonology_and_orthography.txt · Last modified: 2020/12/03 21:09 by fenris