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Phonology of Old Solar

Contents

Sounds

Consonants
  ploshive aspirate fricative
labial p b ph bh f v
dental - - - - th -
alveolar t d - - s -
alveolar-velar - - - - - -
palatal c - - - - -
velar k g - - - -
glottal - - - - h -
Consonants
(continued)
  affricate approximate nasal
labial - - wh w - m
dental - - - - - -
alveolar ts - - r - n
alveolar-velar - j - l - -
palatal - - - y - -
velar - - - - - -
glottal - - - - - -
Vowels
  front central back
high i - û
lax high - - u
closed â - o
open e - -
low - - a
i diphthongs - - oi, ai
u diphthongs - - au

Consonants

A great number of Old Solar’s consonants are probably pronounced as they are in English, namely: the ploshives p, b, t, d, k and g, the fricatives f, v, th (as in thin, not the), s and h (as in hot), the approximates w, wh (as in whale, as pronounced by those people who [properly] pronounced it differantly from wail), r, l and y, the nasals m and n and the affricate ts.

The letters ph and bh are probably not pronounced f and v, but are instead aspirated p and b. The letter j is probably dzh, as in judge.

This leaves only the letter c. Since the character, Elwin Ransom, who “discovered” Old Solar was a philologist, a studier of languages, we can guess that he, at least, would not follow insane English spelling conventions, but would, instead, assign one Latin letter to each sound. Since the letter k already exists, we can thus suppose that c is not an unvoiced velar stop; the most likely alternative is an unvoiced palatal stop (as in Bach or Scottish loch), and that is the method adopted on this site.

Vowels

The pronunciation of the vowels of Old Solar is much less certain, but the most likely system is a as in father, â as in may, e as in men, i as in me, o as in no, u as in sun and û as in moon.

The diphthongs au, ai and oi are probably pronounced as in now, my and joy, respectively

The vowel combination oo also occurs in the personal name Hnoo, but, since a letter already exists for the vowel sound of moon (û), it is probable that this combination actually represents two o’s pronounced seperately.

Hypothetical sounds

There is at least one sound in Old Solar that is not attested in the corpus, since Ransom reported that certain Old Solar words “contain consonants unrepro­ducible by a human mouth.”1 and yet no such sound exists in the corpus. It is possible that this sound is related to what appears to be a consonant cluster in the language of the pfifltriggi, but which may be, as we speculatd on that page, such an unusual consonant.

There are also several “holes” in some of the points of articulation on the consonant table; it is possible that some of these, the most obvious of which is the voiced palatal ploshive, also exist.

Stress

The placement of the primary stress in Old Solar is a difficult issue to resolve. It is not usually the second syllable, since it must be marked in hnéraki and oyéresu. The stress seems to “naturally” fall on the first syllable on most words; although we have no assurances that this makes it correct (what is natural for a human, after all, is not necessarily natural to a hross, much less an eldil), we have tenatively adopted it in the Old Solar corpus.

Word Structure

The structure of words in Old Solar appears to be, like English, fairly loose. A word can begin and end in a consonant. Many consonant clusters occur, although few of them are very unusual or unnatural to an English-speaker.

However, since many of the ‘types’ of clusters are only attested once or twice, it is difficult, if not impossible, to discover the rules governing them.

1osp, ch. 9, para. 20

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