What does Ezenii sound like?

Modern Ezenii is the language of the small nation-state of Ezekaa on the continent of Umãka to the north of Aheku. It has a total of twenty-nine phonemes. For the most part, these do not vary according to their phonetic environment. They are arranged in moderately complex syllables.

Vowels

The language has five points of vowel articulation. A long and a short vowel may be made at each point, rounded alternatives may also be formed in two places. This gives fourteen vowels in all. Long vowels are written double. Some vowels are the fronted version of back vowels. They are indicated here by an umlaut.

Front
Unrounded
Front
Rounded
Back
Closei, ii
/i, i:/
ü, üü
/y, y:/
u, uu
/u, u:/
Mid-Opene, ee
/ɛ, ɛ:/
ö,öö
/œ, œ:/
o, oo
/ɔ, ɔ: /
Opena, aa
/ɑ, ɑ:/
Ezenii vowels

Where two monophthongs meet, a diphthong is formed. These may be falling or rising. The former are the more common. A hiatus is sounded between two identical vowels across word boundaries.


Consonants

The language has fifteen consonants. There are two series of stops (voiced and voiceless), along with voiced and voiceless fricatives plus a small set of sonorants.

LabAlvPalVelGlot
Nasm
/m/
n
/n/
Stopb, p
/b, p/
d, t
/d, t/
g, k
/g, k/
Fricz, s
/z, s/
x
/ç/
h
/h/
Liql, r
/l, r/
Gldy
/j/
Ezenii consonants

The following types of consonant clusters are permitted:

  • Stop OR nasal + liquid OR glide: bl-, mr-, ky-, etc.
  • s + voiceless stop, nasal, OR liquid: st-, sm-, sl-, etc.
  • z + voiced stop, nasal, OR liquid: zd-, zm-, zl-, etc.

Suprasegmental Features

Ezenii is a mora-timed language. Only the following syllable types are allowed:

(CC)V(V)

Stress is quite pronounced and falls invariably on the first syllable. A secondary stress falls on alternative syllables thereafter. Diphthongs, long vowels and consonant clusters are normally confined to syllables with primary or secondary stress.


Dialects

Thanks to the levelling effects of modern media and education, regional and class-based differences in the modern language are not as strong as they once were. Notable differences remain however, as the language was late to standardise. The speech of Ezekaa’s two main islands is particularly divergent.

The standard language, as described above, is not based upon the speech of the capital Üskili, but on that of Brehaza, the former capital. (We may note in passing that the word Üskili contains a consonant cluster in an unstressed syllable in an exception to the rule just above).


Writing System

The Ezenii alphabet is written from left to right in simple, geometric characters. It is a unicase script without separate upper and lower case forms. It is largely phonetic. The alphabet is strongly based on that of Öklane which in turn is loosely based on several scripts of North Aheku.

By David Johnson

Conlanger, writer and activist.

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