Kotanian has 11 vowel and 18 consonant phonemes.
Kotanian has the following vowel phonemes:
Kotanian has the following consonant phonemes:
Depending on taste, most non-latin IPA can be replaced in phonemic transcription:
Syllables have a (C)(C)V(C) structure. Of the possible combinations, CV and CVC are by far the most common, followed by CCVC, CCV, V and VC. Syllables starting with a vowel, especially VC, are rare, and have resulted from historic consonant erosion.
The vowel of closed syllables (i.e. those ending with a consonant: CCVC, CVC, VC) is always closed, the vowel of open syllables (i.e. those ending in a vowel: CCV, CV, V) is usually open, but may be closed as a result of historic consonant erosion, most notably the loss of geminates and /x/.
The initial consonant of syllables starting with a single consonant (CVC, CV) has no restrictions.
The final consonant of syllables ending in a consonant (CCVC, CVC, VC) has the following restrictions:
The consonant cluster CC (in CCVC and CCV) has the following restrictions:
1Note that /ts/ and /dz/ can be considered phonetic affricates. /ks/ is rare, historically only occuring in loans.
There are no constraints as to what syllable structures can be juxtaposed to form multisyllable words. However, words with three consonants in a row (resulting from a (C(C))VC + CCV(C) type syllable) other than as a result of a prefix are rare, as they occur mostly at the start of roots. Note that as a result of morphological rules, most Kotanian words end in a vowel, and thus with a CV or CCV type syllable.
Since Kotanian is spoken by people with a large variety of different mother tongues, occasionally words enter the language that do not follow the patterns above. Usually these are standardized by the Kotanian Language Institute so they adhere to the rules, but some words have been in such common use that they are accepted. Most notably initial tri-consonontal verb clusters are relatively common amongst these accepted exceptions, usually realized as bi- or even mono-consonontal using phonemes not present in standard Kotanian (especially affricates and/or palatized consonants).
Examples are /sjβ̞ase/ (sweetheart), realized as [ʃβ̥ase] and /tsje/ (world),realized as [tʃe].
With a few exceptions, Kotanian words have has penultimate stress, even if suffixed. In words of more than four syllables,
secondary stress may be applied [to be described how]. Clitics never receive stress (except the two-syllable quantifiers and
optionally count specifiers),
even if multiple clitics are attached to a word, while prefixes may receive secondary stress.
[to be extended]
Kotanian has both regular and irregular exceptions to the penultimate stress rule:
Irregular stress is always regularized when suffixes are applied to the stem (e.g. /ɽaleˈasta/, /kalaˈgɛːɽa/).
Note also the irregular stress of the name of the Kotanian language, /ˈkɔtane/, reflecting the name of the country, /ˈkɔta/.
Kotanian is written using an alphabet of 24 characters. The characters are written consecutively from left to right. Five of the characters represent vowels, combined with three diacritics to form twelve unique vowels (two of which are pronounced identically) and nineteen are consonant characters (one of which is ortographic only). Stress is unmarked.
Kotanian ortography is almost completely phonemic. The current spelling was established during the last spelling reform, removing all archaic spelling features no longer reflecting actual pronunciation, introducing accented vowels and using one character for /u/ instead of two.
The table below shows the Kotanian characters ('norm'), their corresponding IPA value ('IPA') and the latin transcription ('trn'). Note that, like latin characters, Kotanian characters have much variation, and various characters have two or more common forms.
Kotanian has a second set of characters called 'sign characters', traditionally used for building signs, bill boards etc. This set lacks vowel diacritics, and traditionally the words written with sign characters are written using old spelling, making more use of the 'u' and 'h' characters. The table below shows the sign character in the second column ('sign').
Note that 'û' is only used occasionally in names, otherwise being replaced by 'ô'.
'h' used to be pronounced /x/ (with allophones [ç], [x] and [χ] and voiced variants), but was already completely silent at time of the spelling reform except word initially, where it was pronounced /j/. Word initially it was replaced by <y>, and removed elsewhere except at the end of words ending in a closed vowel, where it remains today. The <ah> noun ending falls in this category, although the historical closed /ɑ/ has been replaced by the open /a/.
Kotanian has many punctuation marks, of which many are optional and not in common use (e.g. most 'pronunciation style' marks are mainly used in film and play scripts). The main punctuation marks in common use are:
|(capital letter)||the sentence start mark is used at the beginning of a sentence|
|.||the sentence end mark is used at the end of a sentence|
|,||the pause mark is used to indicate a pause in speech, at clause bounderies|
|-||the lose joint is used to combine clitics and their target|
The Kotanian alphabetical order is as presented above, with vowels first followed by consonants. Alphabetical sorting is a bit more complicated, as words are first sorted based on all the consonants, and secondly on vowels. Thus, ilye, lyota and layitze can be found in a dictionary under 'l', in that order (sorted on 'ly', 'lyt' and 'lytz' respecitively).