Vowels

UNACCENTED ACCENTED OMITTED THE SCHWA

IPA symbols in green

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1. UNACCENTED

1.1. The following unaccented vowels can represent various sounds, as follows:

  • A: /æ/, eg. map; /ɑ:/, eg. śa (shah) and /ə/, eg. adrift
  • E: /e/, eg. leg and //, eg. gem (game)
  • I: /ɪ/, eg. tin, /i:/, eg. dfit (defeat), and //, eg. I
  • O: /ɔ/, eg. hot, //, eg. hom (home), /ɔ:/, eg. oltr (alter) and /ə/, eg. omit
  • U: /ʌ/, eg. fun, /ʊ/, eg. pur (poor), and /u:/, eg. muv (move)

1.2. Unaccented A represents:

  1. alone, the indefinite article, as in tradional spelling (TS).
  2. /ə/ in polysyllables when: unstressed initially, eg. alon (alone); finally or before a final Z, eg. India and pjamaz (pyjamas) respectively.
  3. /ɑ:/:
    1. finally and before a final Z in monosyllables, eg. bra and braz (bras) respectively. Exception: az (as).
    2. before a final R, R+consonant or , eg. star, start and starñ (starring) respectively.
  4. /æ/ in other cases, eg. apl (apple) and cap.

1.3. Unaccented E represents:

  1. //:
    1. finally, and before a final Z for the plural or 3rd person singular, eg. ple (play) and plez (plays).
    2. in derivatives of words comprising consonant(s)+ÊZ, eg. prezz (praises) – compare prêz (praise).
    3. where shown as such in homophones and (potential) homographs.
  2. in other cases, initially and medially, either /e/, eg. eb (ebb) and beg, or //, eg. ec (ache) and fem (fame) – the distinction being left to the intuition of the reader.

1.4. Unaccented I represents:

  1. alone, the 1st person pronoun, as in TS.
  2. /i:/
    1. finally, and before a final Z for the plural or 3rd person singular, eg. si (see) and siz (sees).
    2. in derivatives of words comprising consonant(s)+ĪZ, eg. ẃizñ (wheezing). Exception: when I is added to form an adjective, eg. ẃīzi (wheezy).
    3. in words comprising prefix+consonant(s)+stressed I+consonant, eg. rpit (repeat) and inṭvin (intervene). Compare incris (increase – v.) with incrīs (increase – n.). Exception: when the prefix is UN, eg. unsīt (unseat).
    4. in derivatives of 3., eg. rpitd (repeated).
    5. in words comprising consonant+I+/ð/, eg. briɖ (breathe); and in derivatives, eg. briɖñ (breathing)
  3. /ɪ/ initially and medially,in other cases, eg. in and win. Note: Where the vowel sound varies between /ɪ/ and /ə/, I is used if the next vowel is /ə/, eg. iminnt (imminent) – compare iṃnnt (immanent).

1.5. Unaccented O represents:

  1. //:
    1. alone, in o (owe).
    2. /ə/ initially, eg. omit
    3. in derivatives of words comprising consonant(s)+ ǑZ, eg. rozz (roses) – compare rǒz (rose).
    4. finally, and before a final Z for the plural or 3rd person singular, eg. gro (grow) and groz (grows).
    5. where shown as such in homographs and homophones.
  2. in other cases, initially and medially, either /ɔ/, eg. on and lot, or //, eg. oc (oak) and rop (rope) – the distinction being left to the intuition of the reader.
  3. /ɔ:/:
    1. initially before /ɫ/ (but not /ɫd/) and before /θ/, eg. ol (all) and oʈr (author).
    2. before R: (a) alone, in or, and finally, eg. ror (roar); (b) before R+consonant, eg. ordr (order); (c) in other cases where so suggested by the adjacent letters, eg. stori (story) and Victoria.

1.6. Unaccented U represents:

  1. /u:/:
    1. when stressed before another vowel, eg. ruin.
    2. finally, and before a final Z for the plural or 3rd person singular, eg. blu (blue) and bluz (blues).
    3. in derivatives of words comprising consonant(s)+ ŪZ, eg. čuzz (chooses). Exception: when I is added to form an adjective, eg. čūzi (choosy).
    4. in words comprising consonant+U+/ð/, eg. suɖ (soothe), and in derivatives, eg. suɖz (soothes).
    5. in words comprising consonant+U+/θ/, eg. truʈ (truth), and in derivatives, eg. truʈfl (truthful).
    6. in second syllables when followed by a voiced consonant, eg. dlud (delude).
    7. in syllables after the first two, eg. abṣlut (absolute).
    8. in the words muv (move), pruv (prove), pruf (proof), rcrut (recruit), and in derivatives, eg. rcrutñ (recruiting).
  2. /ʊ/ before a final R, R+consonant, or R+/ə/+consonant, eg. lur (lure), lurd (lured) and incongrụs (incongruous).
  3. /ʌ/ in other cases, eg. upr (upper), cup, abrupt, inṭrupt (interrupt).

1.7. When acting as a vowel, R represents /ɜ:/:

  1. initially, in the words rc (irk), rli (early), rn (earn), rst (erst) and (earth), and in derivatives, eg. rnñz (earnings).
  2. between consonants, eg. frm (firm) and Brmñm (Birmingham).

1.8. A W represents /ɔ:/ in final position, eg. sw (saw), and in derivatives, eg. swz (saws). Note: sw̃ (sawing) and sẇr (sawer).

1.9. As consonant+vowel, Y represents /ju:/:

  1. in the short form y (you).
  2. initially, eg. yńn (union).
  3. finally, eg. vy (view).
  4. between consonants, eg. vyd (viewed).

1.10. AI, AU, EI, OI and OU represent //, //, //, /ɔɪ/ and //, respectively, and are used as:

  1. indicators of the past tense in verbs where the infinitive ends in a vowel, or where vowel change is the only indicator of past tense; thus traid (tried) and waund (wound) respectively.
  2. alternatives in the case of homophones, eg. saiz (sighs) – compare sîz (size).

1.11. AIA and OIA represent the endings /aɪə/ and /ɔɪə/, respectively, eg. Gaia and Goia (Goya).

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2. ACCENTED

2.1. Single and (rarely) double acute:

Á and : /æ/, eg. cáś (cache) and a̋dz (adze)

É and : /e/, eg. sét (sett) and pe̋r (pare)

Í: /ɪ/, eg. nít (nit)

Ó and : /ɔ/, eg. blóc (bloc) and bős (boss = calf)

Ú: /ʌ/, eg. sún (sun)

Ŕ and : /ɜ:/, eg. rfŕ (refer) and fr̋ (fir)

2.1.1. Á, É, Í, Ó and Ú are used:

  1. as a first alternative in the case of homophones, eg. cáś (cache) compared with caś (cash).
  2. in monosyllables ending in Z, eg. fíz (fizz), and in derivatives other than before the ending ZI, eg. fízz (fizzes), but fizi (fizzy.
  3. as a way of avoiding homographs, eg. Cév (Kev) compared with cev (cave).

Note: In words of more than one syllable (not counting any prefix) É is used before a final L, N or T, and in derivatives, eg. caṛsél (carousel), caṛsélz (carousels), dôén (doyenne), dôénz (doyennes), siluét (silhouette), siluét (silhouetted). Compare rgret (regret).

2.1.2. Ŕ is used:

  1. on its own, for “err”, and in derivatives, eg. ŕñ (erring).
  2. initially in root words of one of two syllables to make distinctions in the case of homophones, eg. ŕn (urn) – compare rn (earn).
  3. initially in root words of three or more syllables, eg. ŕticaria (urticaria).
  4. medially to distinguish homophones, eg. brgr (burgher) and bŕgr (burger).
  5. finally in root words, eg. dfŕ (defer), and in derivatives, eg. dfŕl (deferral).

2.1.3., , are used as second alternatives for homophones, eg. a̋dz (adze) compared with ádz (ads = advertisements) and adz (adds).

2.1.4. is used solely for fr̋ (fir) – compare (fur).

2.2. Macron and grave:

Ā and À: /ɑ:/, eg. āmz (alms) and bàd (baaed).
Ī and Ì: /i:/, eg. sīn (scene) and sìn (seen).
Ō and Ò: /ɔ:/, eg. tōt (taut) and tòt (taught).
Ū and Ù: /u:/ eg. ćūz (choose) and ćùd (chewed).

2.2.1. The grave accent is used as:

  1. an indicator of the past tense in verbs where the infinitive ends in a vowel sound, or where vowel change is the main indicator of past tense; thus bàd (baaed), sìn (seen), tòt (taught), flù (flew) and còt (caught)
  2. an alternative in the case of homophones, eg. bàrc (barque), sìz (seas), fòn (faun) and rùd (rood), compared with: barc (bark – of a dog) and bārc (bark – of a tree); siz (sees) and sīz (seize); and rūd (rude).


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3. OMISSION OF VOWELS

The following sounds are indirectly indicated:

3.1. /ə/ medially:

  1. when self-evident in words of two or three syllables, e.g. sudn (sudden) and cnsistnt (consistent). Compare rec̣gnîz (recognise).
  2. in words of more than three syllables: (a) when self-evident, eg. incnsistnt (inconsitent); (b) between any one of the letters C, Ć, F, P, S, Ś, T, Ʈ or W and any one of the letters B, G, J, V, B, Z, Ź, D or Đ, eg. recgniśn (recognition) and xcvetd (excavated).

3.2. /e/ –

  1. in monosyllables, or a stressed first syllable, when preceded by a single consonant other than L or R and followed by two consecutive consonant sounds the first of which is L, M*, N or S, eg. hlʈ (health), hmp (hemp), sns (sense) and tst (test); śltr (shelter), Ćlsi (Chelsea), mnśn (mention), vnćrñ (venturing), snśr (censure) and jntli (gently) . Compare lent and rest; listlis (listless) and rendr (render). * Except following an M, thus membr (member).
  2. in the stressed syllables dnt and mnt, eg. axdntl (accidental) and supḷmntd (supplemented).
  3. in stressed final syllables of root words where following a prefix, not preceded by L or R, and not followed by NC or R, eg. cmnd (commend) and cnct (connect), and in derivatives, eg. cmnḍbl (commendable) and cnc (connecting). Compare ilect (elect), d’rect (direct); fḷmenco (flamenco) and cnćerto (concerto).
  4. when followed by /ks/ or /kʃ/, eg. xpt (except), sẋn (section) and sx (sex)

 

3.3. /ɪ/

  1. after , eg. lanḡj (language)
  2. before an initial Ñ (other than in the case of the prefix IN), eg. ñc (ink), or before Ñ following a consonant, eg. cñ (king)
  3. when preceded by a consonant other than L or R and followed by /g/ or /k/, eg. snc (sink). Compare linḡstc (linguistic) and rinc (rink).
  1. /ʊ/ after Ğ, eg. reğlr (regular)
  2. /u:/ or /ʊ/ after K, eg. krịs (curious)
  3. /ʊ/ between consonant letters in monosyllables or first syllables where there is no risk of confusion, eg. cd (could), pdñ
  4. /e/ or /ɪ/ before an initial X, eg. xit (exit) and xpct (expect)
  5. /e/ before a medial X following a consonant letter other than L or R, eg. txt (text). Compare lexicn (lexicon) and rīflex (reflex).

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4. THE SCHWA – /ə/

4.1. On its own the letter A represents the indefinite article – whether pronounced /ə/ or // – as in TS.

4. 2. The letter A represents /ə/ – tending towards /æ/ – initially, eg. alon (alone) – and finally or before a final Z, India and pjamaz (pyjamas).

4.3. The letter O represents /ə/ – tending towards /ɔ/ – initially, eg. omit.

4.4. It is not necessary to represent the schwa:

  1. when it is self-evident in words of two or three syllables, e.g. sudn (sudden) and cnsistnt (consistent). Compare rec̣gnîz (recognise).
  2. in words of more than three syllables: (a) when self-evident, eg. incnsistnt (inconsitent); (b) between any one of the letters C, Ć, F, P, S, Ś, T, Ʈ or W and any one of the letters B, G, J, V, B, Z, Ź, D or Đ, eg. recgniśn (recognition) and xcvetd (excavated).

4.5. The schwa is represented by an apostrophe:

  1. where necessary for clarity after an initial consonant, eg. c’lect (collect) – compare ptiklr (particular).
  2. where the second word in a compound noun begins with the schwa, eg. cǎntr’tac (counter-attack).

4.6. In cases other than at 4.5 where it is necessary to indicate the schwa following // medially, the J is shown with a stroke, eg. xaɉret (exaggerate).

4.6. In cases other than at 4.5 and 4.6 where it is necessary to indicate the schwa medially, a dot is placed above or below the preceding letter, eg. rec̣lect (recollect), fẹri (fairy) and aṗćr (aperture).

Notes:

  1. The dot is placed above letters with descenders, eg. gaɖ̇rñ (gathering), aġnîz (agonise), imṗtnt (impotent), oʈ̇rîz (authorise), and below other letters, eg. aṇtet (annotate), gliṭrñ (glittering) etc.
  2. The dot is not used in monosyllables, eg. ɖ (the) and ɖm (them)
  3. Medially, in words of two or three syllables, the dot is always used, eg. Roḅt (Robert) and enṭprîz (enterprise) – exceptions: in the case of certain prefixes and suffixes, eg. rflect (reflect); between the same consonant, eg. sspns (suspense).
  4. The dot is used medially in words of more than three syllables, eg. dscuṿri (discovery) – exceptions: (i) in certain prefixes and suffices, and between the same consonant, as at 3. above; (ii) between any one of the letters C, Ć, F, P, S, Ś, T, Ʈ or W and any one of the letters B, G, J, V, B, Z, Ź, D or Đ, eg. indcetd (indicated) and sveṛti (severity).
  5. The dot is aways used for /lə/ – eg. aḷji (allergy), reḷvnt (relevant) – except: (i) where the sound occurs initially and the L is uncapitalised, in which case the apostrophe is used, eg. l’boṛtri (laboratory) – compare LRETA (LORRETA); (ii) before a final R and in derivatives, eg. culr (colour), culrd (coloured).
  6. The dot is always used for // – eg. caṛt (carrot), inteṛget (interrogate) – except in the case of the prefix, eg. rpit (repeat), and of other cases where the sound occurs initially, in which case the apostrophe is used, eg. r’mantic (romantic).
  7. Where a shwa dot would otherwise be placed under two adjacent consonant letters, it is placed under just one, eg. litṛt (literate).
  8. Where the vowel sound varies between /ɪ/ and /ə/, the schwa is used if the next vowel is /ɪ/, eg. paṇcñ – compare panic.

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INTRODUCTION EXAMPLES ALPHABET CONSONANTS PREFIXES SUFFIXES SHORT FORMS VERBAL CONTRACTIONS COMPOUND WORDS HOMOGRAPHS HOMOPHONES