What does Ezenik sound like?

Modern Ezenik is the language of the small nation-state of Ezen on the continent of Umãga to the north of Aheku. It has a total of twenty-two 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 seven points of vowel articulation. Some vowels are viewed as the centralised versions of front vowels. They are indicated here by an umlaut.

FrontCentralBack
Closei
/i/
ï
/ɨ/
u
/u/
Mide
/ɛ̝/
ë
/ə/
o
/ɔ̝/
Opena
/ɑ/
Ezenik 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/
Ezenik consonants

Suprasegmental Features

Ezenik is a stress-timed language. Only the following syllable types are allowed:

(C)V(VC)

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

The language exhibits vowel harmony. Vowels are divided into two groups:

Front Group: Core: a, e, i ; Permitted: o, u

Back Group: Core: ë, ï, o, u ; Permitted: a

If the stressed vowel of a word belongs to the core front group, then all other vowels in the word must belong to the front core or permitted groups. Conversely, if the stressed vowel belongs to the core back group then all other vowels in the word must belong to the back core or permitted groups.


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 Ezen’s two main islands is particularly divergent.

The standard language, as described above, is not based upon the speech of the capital Ëskulu, but on that of Beharaz, the former capital.


Writing System

The Ezenik 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 Ölanek which in turn is loosely based on several scripts of North Aheku.

By David Johnson

Conlanger, writer and activist.

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