Consonants

As with the vowels, English isn’t always consistent about the pronunciation of consonants. For example, in the English word “lamb”, the letter b is silent, and in “hustle”, the letter t is silent. If those same words were Talossan words, every letter would be pronounced. This makes learning the Talossan consonants fairly simple.

First, note that if a consonant appears in one of Talossan’s consonant combinations, rather than alone, then the pronunciation given on this page does not apply. That is, just as the letter t in the English combination “th” is not pronounced as it is when it appears alone, the same can be said of the t in the Talossan consonant combination tx.

Most of the Talossan consonants sound just like an English speaker would expect. For example, there is nothing (much) to say about the consonants b, f, k, m, n, p, t, v, and z. If you say them just as you say them in English, you will be fairly safe. There are only a few little quirks to cover for the remaining consonants.

The Letter c

We have already covered the fact that c is always pronounced “hard”, like the English letter k except when it is followed by an e or an i. In those cases, the pronunciation of c becomes like the English “ch” sound. That is, a Talossan word cic would be pronounced like the English word “cheek”.

There are a couple more things to say here, though. First, if the ce or ci letter pair is followed immediately by another vowel, the e and i become silent (and do not form a diphthong with the following vowel). The only exceptions to this rule are cei and ceu, in which a diphthong forms. This can be clarified by a few examples:

  • felicia (= happy). The cia combnation is pronounced like the English “chah”, and not like the English “chee-ah”.
  • ricieu (= rich). This is pronounced like the English word “reach” then the Talossan diphthong eu.
  • aceint (= accent mark). In this case, the ei is the diphthong (pronounced as in English “say”), and the c is the “ch” sound from English “chain”.
  • ceora (= raven). Here the e is silent, but still has its effect on c. Therefore, the first syllable of this word is pronounced just like the English word “chore”.
  • saici (= popcorn). The final syllable this word is as the first sound in the English word “cheese”.
  • Zecemvar (= December). Another case where an English speaker may inadvertantly pronounce a c as English “s”, when properly it is as English “ch”.
  • caisch (= cheese). The initial c is hard, like the English letter k.
  • cinesch (= pale yellow, and also Chinese) begins like English “cheese”.
  • celestéu (= sky blue). This word begins with the English “ch” sound as in “chair”.
  • cäps (= head). This is a hard c, and the word sounds just like the English word “caps”.
  • vicamiral (= vice-admiral). Another hard c that an English speaker might be tempted to soften to “s”.

So…simply keep this rule in mind — that ci and ce are pronounced like English “chee” and “cheh”, and you will be in good shape. Sometimes, an English speaker who is first learning Talossan might find himself or herself forgetting this, especially in words like felicia (which is also an English proper name, in which the letter c is pronounced as s, and the letter i is pronounced as “ee”) and cervieþa (= beer, due to the pronunciation of the initial letter in the Spanish word cerveza being as English s).

The Letter ç

The letter ç (a c with a little curl underneath it, called a “cedilla”) is pronounced like the English letter s. For example, espoçeu (= husband), iraschença (= anger), and esperançù (= hope).

The Letter d

The letter d is fairly unsurprising. Pronouncing it as in English will be correct in all cases, although it is useful to note that a trained Talossan speaker will tend to allow the letter d to “degenerate” in some positions. When being spoken as the sole sound between two vowels, or when adjacent to (either preceding or following) the letter r, then a fluent Talossan would likely be heard to pronounce the d as the soft “th” sound as in the English words “this” and “that”.

The Letter ð

The letter ð is thought by some to be disappearing from Talossan, since it so often appears between vowels, where the letter d can be used to give the same pronunciation. Thus, it is not uncommon to see the letter ð being replaced by the letter d. The letter ð is pronounced as the soft “th” sound as in the English words “this” and “that” (the sound into which the letter d degenerates between vowels or adjacent to the letter r, as described above).

The letter ð appears today in barely 100 Talossan words, and in all these cases, it is now acceptable and proper to use d in place of the letter ð. For example, the word àð, which is the form of the word for “at” or “to” that is used when the next word begins with a vowel, is now often seen spelled àd. In both cases, the pronunciation ends with the soft “th” sound, according to the rules given above.

The Letter g

The letter g is pronounced as in the English word “ago” except in a few specific words . For example, gitara (= guitar), tevga (= flute), vinegrada (= pickle), plug (= taco), negreu (= black), and gamba (= leg).

The words in which the letter g is not pronounced as in “ago” are ageu (= age), regeu (= king), and legeu (= law). In these three words, and in words derived from those two words (such as regipäts = kingdom), the letter g is pronounced as the English letter j, as in the English words “rage” and “judge”.

[Notice, though, that not all of the words derived from regeu have retained the letter g. For example, rexhaint (= regent) and rexhital (= royal) have long ago seen the g respelled to xh, which explicitly indicates the sound of English j.]

The Letter h

The letter h is involved in a great many of the consonant combinations. When it is not involved in a consonant combination, however, the letter h is pronounced as an English speaker would expect, as in the words “hand” and “hair”, and is silent at the end of a word following a vowel (as in oh).

The Letter l

The letter l has perhaps the most varied pronunciation rules of all the Talossan letters. Although a beginning Talossan speaker can use the English sound as in “lip” and “loop” to pronounce all Talossan l‘s, once you get a “feel” for the language, you will find that some of your l‘s change sound or even disappear.

First of all, a fluent Talossan speaker will allow an l to degenerate in the same way that the letter d degenerates between vowels. That is, l‘s between vowels often are pronounced like the soft “th” sound as in the English words “this” and “that”.

Secondly, if a Talossan word ends with the (single) letter l, then it becomes pronounced as the English letter w (when it follows an “unrounded” vowel, like a or e), and can even become completely silent if it follows a “rounded” vowel (o or u).

For example, when pronouncing the words martel (= hammer) and nical (= nickel), the experienced Talossan speaker will pronounce the final l as an English “w”. In the word lúpul (= wolf), the initial letter l is given full value (and pronounced as in “loop”) but the final l undergoes the change described, and can even disappear entirely from speech.

Notice that this “change” is not universal, however. For example, the l‘s in the very common Talossan words el (= the) and àl (= to the) are usually given their full pronunciation. Essentially, the most that can be said is that the “degeneration” of l at the end of a word is a feature of Talossan to be aware of, but perhaps should not be considered a hard-and-fast rule of pronunciation.

The Letter q

When the Talossan letter q is followed by a diphthong beginning with the letter u, then it behaves exactly as it does in English, and qu sounds just as it does in the English words “queen” and “quilt”. For example, siquala (= chicken hawk), muqua (= badger), and bísquinc (= ten).

However, when it is not followed by the letter u, the Talossan letter q is pronounced in an unexpected way; unexpected not only for English speakers, but also for speakers of other Romance languages (in which the letter q usually behaves like the English k). In such cases, q is pronounced as the beginning of the English words “cue” and “cute”. That is, it is pronounced as an English “k” followed by an English “y” (as in “you”). [The only exception to this rule is the irregularly pronounced word qator (= four), and words ending with q, as in Iraq; in these cases the q is pronounced as an English “k”.]

An English speaker often finds it difficult to remember this unique pronunciation, and to “Q your Q’s” is the mark of a practiced Talossan speaker. Since this letter is prominent in many important Talossan words, such as qe (= that) and qi (= who, which) and qet (= what), the student would be well-served by practicing saying these words out loud using the sound of the Talossan q so that when they are encountered, they will be pronounced correctly. For example, músiqeu (= music) can almost be thought of as rhyming with “Susie-Q”.

The Letter r

The letter r is pronounced just as in other Romance languages (which means that it is pronounced essentially as in English, except shorter, perhaps just as a tap of the tongue against the palate). If that is unclear, pronouncing it as in English is acceptable.

The Letters s and ß

The letter s is always pronounced as in English, except when it appears in the combination osa, where it takes the English “z” sound, as it does in English words like “rose”.

Notice, however, that this change of pronunciation does not apply to the word Talossan. This is due to the fact that the s is a doubled consonant (which indicates that the default pronunciation of a consonant is forced onto it despite its surroundings).

In Talossan, the letter combination ss can be written as ß (this letter is called an eseta in Talossan). For this reason, ß is always pronounced as a full English letter “s” as in “sing” or “say”. Although ss and ß are 100% equivalent, writers of Talossan tend to use ss only in informal works, when it is not convenient to type an eseta. In anything other than casual written text, the letter ß is almost universally used in preference to ss. However, in the word Talossa and all words built from it, ß is never used; ss is always seen. The combination ss is also preferred in the common words qissen (= whose), qissensevol (= whosoever), and fossent (= we must, they must).

Note that no Talossan words begin with ß (or ss).

The Letter x

The letter x is pronounced as in English, except in the word endings -eux and -éux (which are the ways that Talossan words ending in -eu and -éu are pluralised), in which cases the letter x is pronounced like the English “sh” as in “ship” and “she” and “ash”. For example, in computex (= computer) and lüxüs (= luxury), the letter x is pronounced as in English “ax”, but in documenteux (= documents), it is pronounced as English “sh”.

The Letter þ

In Talossan, the letter þ (which is called a “thorn”) is the final letter of the alphabet, coming after z. This letter can be written as tg for convenience. In other words, the words glheþ and glhetg are one and the same, in just the same way that paßerat (= sparrow hawk) is equivalent to passerat.

The letter þ is pronounced like the hard “th” sound as in English “thick” and “thin”. For example, cervieþa (= beer), Liþognh (= Lithuania), and þistoria (= history).