Modern Ölanek is the language of Ölan, the largest nation-state on the continent of Umãka to the north-west of Aheku. It has a total of twenty-three phonemes. Their sounds vary surprisingly little according to their phonetic environment. They are arranged in moderately complex syllables.
The language has six points of vowel articulation. Rounded alternative may be formed in two places. This gives eight vowels in all.
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.
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.
Notice that f and v represent bilabial sounds /β, ɸ/. As noted in an earlier post, the Ike cannot easily make labio-dental sounds. The presence of bilabial fricatives may account for the absence of w, as it would be difficult to distinguish /w/ from /β/.
Ölanek is a stress-timed language. Only the following syllable types are allowed:
(C)V ; (C)VC ; (C)VV ; (C)VVC
Stress is pronounced and falls invariably on the first syllable. Secondary stress falls on alternate syllables thereafter. Diphthongs occur mostly in syllables with primary or secondary stress.
The language exhibits vowel harmony. Vowels are divided into two groups:
Front Group: ä, ö, ü
Back Group: a, o, u
Neutral Group: e, i
If the stressed vowel of a word belongs to the front group, then all other vowels in the word must belong to the front or neutral groups. If the stressed vowel belongs to the back group then all other vowels in the word must belong to the back or neutral groups. If the stressed vowel is neutral, then the other vowels in the word must belong to the front or neutral groups.
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. Nonetheless, some notable differences remain.
Ölanek has three main dialects: Eastern, Western and Metropolitan. The Ölanek spoken overseas is also non-standard. The standard language, as described above, is the language of the upper and middle classes in the Metropolitan dialect zone, in and around the capital Kuonavari and the nearby second city of Bilkuha.
The Ölanek 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 of local origin but shows an influence from various writing systems of North Aheku.