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IPA Sambahsa phonetics

Pronounciation:
Sambahsa uses the 26 letters of the Roman Alphabet and combines them to
produce a variety of sounds. The corresponding forms in IPA are
indicated in brackets [ ]. If there is no indication, the pronounciation is
nearly the same as in English.

Thanks to Jim Henry (http://bellsouthpwp.net/j/i/jimhenry1973/) for his valuable
advice.

“a” is [a].

“ae” and “ay” are pronounced [aj]

“au” is [aʊ], but “eau” is [o:]

“ai” is [ɛ].

“e” is pronounced [e] when it is stressed, at the beginning of a word, or
followed by the two same consonants. Otherwise, it is [ə]. At the end of a
word, it is unpronounced, except if it eases the pronounciation with the
following word (example: in case of consonantic clusters). As the last
vowel of a word and followed by a final “s” or “t”, it is likewise
unpronounced, except if it would then be impossible to distinguish the
“s” or “t” from the consonant before the “e” (the same rules apply in
English with the plural ending “-es” or the preterit ending “-ed”).
Nevertheless, it is always pronounced in the endings “-ques” [kəs] and “-
quet-“ [kət].

“ee” is thus [eə]. “ei” and “ey” are [ej]. “eu” is [ø]. In spoken language, [ə]
after another vowel is commnly dropped and the preceding vowel is
lengthened.

“i” is [i]. “ie” is pronounced [iə] at the end of a word, but [je] in other positions.

“o” is [o]. “oe” is [oj]. “ou” is [u:]

“u” is [u:]. But, if one of the two following letters is a “e”, then this “u” turns to
[y]. “ui” is [wi].

“y” is [y] except when it stands before or after a vowel [j], or at the end of a
word under the forms –y [i] or –ys [is].
“c” is [k] except before “e”, “i” or “y” where it turns to [ts]. “ch” is [tʃ]. If “ch”
is followed by a consonant, it is then pronounced [k]. For purposes of
accentuation, “ck” counts as a double “k”, or “k + k”. “sc” is always
pronounced [s] before “e”, “i” or “y”.

“g” is pronounced [g], except before “e”, “i” or “y”, where it is [dʒ]. “gh” is
always [g]. “gn” before a vowel is pronounced [nj].

“h” is aspired at the beginning of a word. Otherwise, after a vowel, it serves to
lengthen this one, and, after a consonant, it keeps this one from being
phonetically altered (see the paragraphs below).

“j” is always pronounced [ʒ].

“kh” is [x]

“n” is [n]. When [n] and [g] collide, they turn to [ŋ] at the end of a word, and to
[ŋg] within. Likewise, [n] + [k] will turn to [ŋk].

“ph” is [f]

“qu” is [k] except before “a” or “o”, where it turns to [kw].

“r” has a pronounciation which can vary from country to country.
Nevertheless, “rh” and “rr” must always be rolled. Some words of Asian
origin show the combination “rl”, which can be pronounced [ɹ].

“s” [s] turns to [z] between two vowels (w and y do not count as vowels if
they’re used as semi-vowels), except if it is a double “ss”. “sch” is always
pronounced [ʃ], while “sh” in Sambahsa corresponds to the “ich-laut” of
German [ç]. “sc” is always pronounced [s] before “e”, “i” or “y”.

“th” is pronounced [θ], except if there is [s], [ʃ], [ç], or [ʒ] just after or before it.
Then, it is pronounced like “t” [t].

“w” is pronounced as in English. Yet, in Sambahsa, it can work as an
unstressed vowel when it is between two consonants. It is then
pronounced like a short “u” sound.

“z” is pronounced [dz].

In difficult consonantic clusters, it is common that a “t” or a “d” be left
unpronounced. Likewise, an unstressed “e” [ə] is often unpronounced
when it stands besides another vowel.

Accentuation:
In Sambahsa, to determine where the stress falls, you must start from the last
syllable of the word and go backwards to the beginning. Prefixes are
never stressed and send back the accentuation on the stem of the word.
Likewise, a vocalic “w” can never be stressed. Otherwise, when the stress
cannot fall on the last syllable, consider that it is on the penultimate one.

A single vowel being the last letter of a word is never stressed (except in a few
international loanwords like “café”).

“a” or “o” in the last syllable of a word are stressed if it is followed by a
consonant (except “s”) or another vowel.

“e” is only stressed in the last syllable of a word if it is followed by another
vowel, “h”, or twice the same consonant (remember that “ck” counts as
“k + k”)

“i” is only stressed in the last sylable of a word if it is followed by “e”, twice the
same consonant, “h”, “i” or “n” (but not “ng”). It is always stressed if it
appears in the combination “ui”.

“u” is stressed in the last syllable of a word if it is followed by any consonant
(except “s”) or by “e” or “w” or “y”.

“y” is only stressed in the last syllable of a word it is followed by twice the
same consonant.

Exceptions to these rules are the –(i)um endings of things and –ule, which are
never stressed. On the contrary, -el as an ending is always stressed if one
of the two letters before is a “o”.

Ex:

territorium = [terri'torjum]
specule (mirror) = ['spekyl]
hotel = [ho'tel]

Compounds are stressed following the rules above; but if the stress falls on a
syllable that would not have been stressed in the isolated word, then the
stress falls on the first accentuable syllable before. Remember that the
suffix “-ment” is treated as a part of a compound.

Ex: sambàhsa from sam and bàhsa; mundiàlect from mundiàl and dialèct.

Nota: The pronounciation and accentuation rules do not necessarily apply to
proper names.

Exercises on Orthography and Accentuation in Sambahsa.
(Thanks to Dave MacLeod for his help: www.pageF30.com )
Sambahsa’s orthographical and accentuational system is quite elaborated; this is due
to the fact that it tries to respect the forms that loanwords have in the source
languages, especially West-European languages where orthography plays a key
role.
Nevertheless, those rules are entirely regular, and can be mastered through
repetition. This series of exercises, which can be redone several times, is here to
make you acquainted with them.

A [:] following a vowel indicates that this one has to be lengthened. Letters in italics
can be left unpronounced.
These exercises will consist each of series of ten “difficult” words. Your task will be to
determine their right pronounciation (including the place of the stress) and then to
compare with the solution given.

1st Series:

inkapiet : (he/she/it) would begin
alyo : another (one)
dwogimt : twentieth
secule : century
secret : secret
kjiawxieng : by chance
ghyien : opened (preterit)
sgillen : sealed (past participle)
salgih : took out
giowit : (he/she/it) remove

inkapiet : (he/she/it) would begin

[iŋkap'jet] : The orthography here is clear. “ie” is always stressed when it stands at
the end of a word. Under the stress, “e” is always pronounced as [e]. If no consonant
had followed “ie”, then it would have been pronounced [iə] (or even [i:]).
Be careful, “ye” does not trigger the same effects as “ie”, since “y” is only a semi-
vowel. In *inkapyet, the stress would not have fallen on *e, but on *a.

alyo : another (one)

['aljo] : quite easy; “alyo” is uncommon in Sambahsa insofar as it is declined.

dwogimt : twentieth

['dwodʒimt] : “I” as the last vowel of a word is only stressed if it is followed by “h”
(then it turns to [i:]) or “n” (but not “ng” !) or the same consonant twice.
“g” is pronounced [dʒ], as in English, before “e”, “i” or “y”.
In the spoken language, it is common that the final “t” is left unpronounced. As the
pronouns of sambahsa are declined, this does not give rise to misunderstandings.

secule : century

['sekyl] : Here, two important exceptions are featured. First of all “u” is normally
pronounced [u] except when there is a “e” in the two following letters. Then, this “u” is
pronounced [y].
Secondly, “e” as the last letter is left unpronounced and sends back, normally, the
stress on the first preceeding vowel. The only exception are words ending with “-ule”,
where the stress is sent back again on the vowel before this “-ule-“. This comes from
the fact that, in Latin, “ul-“ was already unstressed.

secret : secret

['səkret] : Here, the place of the stress is due to the fact that “se” is perceived as a
prefix; it is the contraction of “seni” = apart, separately. In Sambahsa, prefixes are
never stressed and the accentuation then comes back on the stem of the word.
Unstressed “e” is pronounced [ə] as “e” in English “the”, except when it is in
conjunction with another vowel, or when it is followed twice by the same consonant
(“ck” counting as “k” + “k”). Yet, in common speech, the difference between [e] and
[ə] might be hardly noticed; more important is to stress the right vowel.

kjiawxieng : by chance

[kʒjaw'ksjeŋ] : We’ve already explained that “ie”, as a double vowel, must be
stressed. “w”, when it is followed by a consonant, is pronounced like a very short [u]
and is never stressed. In Sambahsa, letters can interact between each other. Thus,
you may hear [kʃ] instead of [kʒ] at the beginning of the word.

ghyien : opened (preterit)

[gjen] : Remember that “gh” is always pronounced [g] (the h is here to “harden” the
“g”). The verb “ghyan” [gjan] turns to “ghyien” under ablaut; thus, the “y” is still
present in the simple past tense form only for purely grammatical reasons.

sgillen : sealed (past participle)

['sdʒillən] : Before e, I and y, “g” is pronounced [dʒ], as it is often the case in English.
You can pronounce “ll” as in the English word “well”, but be aware that most foreign
speakers will pronounce it as a simple “l”.
salgih : took out

[saldʒ'i:] : The final “h” is unpronounced but serves to lengthen the “i”. As the “I” is
lengthened, it thus bears the stress; while “i” alone at the end of the word wouldn’t
have been stressed.

giowit : (he/she/it) remove

['dʒjowit] : Here, the “y” may be left unpronounced by some people, the reason for
this being that the presence of the “y” is indicated by the softening of “g” before.

2nd Series:

encouragend : encouraging
stieures : powers
gwaukan : determined (adjective)
reduce : reduce
nuclear : nuclear
gnohsit : (he, she, it) knew
eet : (he, she, it) was
desert : desert
khiek : failed (preterit)
sprehge : talk to, ask

encouragend : encouraging

[eŋku:r'adʒənd] : “e”, standing alone as the last vowel of a word, is never stressed,
except if it’s followed twice by the same consonant or “ck”. Then, the stress falls on
the vowel before. “ou” is always as [u:] in Sambahsa (though it’s not a problem if you
forget to lengthen it). At the beginning of a word, “e” is always pronounced [e], even if
it’s unstressed.

stieures : powers

[styørs] : The final “e” is left unpronounced in Sambahsa, even if it’s followed by “t” or
“s”, insofar as this last sound can be distinguished from the preceding consonant. In
Sambahsa, “eu” is always pronounced [ø].

gwaukan : determined (adjective)

[gwaʊ'kan] : “a” as the last vowel of a word is always stressed if it is followed by
another letter (except “s”). The same system applies to “o” and “u”. In Sambahsa,
“au” is pronounced [`aʊ] like in German or Spanish.
reduce : reduce

[rə'duts] : First, we’ve already seen that “u” is pronounced [y] if one of the two
following letters is “e”. Secondly, “c” is pronounced [ts] before “e”, “i” or “y”.

nuclear : nuclear

[nuklə'ar] : The fact that “a” is followed by “r” makes it bear the stress. The [ə] is
nearly silent.

gnohsit : (he, she, it) knew

['njo:sit] : In Sambahsa, “gn” is pronounced [nj] as in French or Italian (ex:
“champagne”). The presence of “h” not only lengthens the “o”, but keeps the
following “s” from being pronounced [z] (a single “s” between two vowels is
pronounced [z]).

eet : (he, she, it) was

['eət] : “ee” is normally pronounced [Eə], but it will often turn to [E:].

desert : desert

[də'zert] : Between two vowels, a single “s” turns to [z]. The second “e” bears the
stress because “de”, in Sambahsa as in Latin, is a prefix.

khiek : failed (preterit)

[xjek] : In Sambahsa, “kh” is always the guttural sound [x].

sprehge : talk to, ask

[spre:dʒ] : “g” is pronounced [dʒ] before “e”, “i” and “y”.

3rd Series:

ihes : to go
aproposs : by the way
juce : juice
taiptro : until presently
bayghend : belonging (present participle)
lyt : a little
jawieb : replied (preterit)
lyekwrntvursta : liverwursts
moquettes : moquettes
lakin : however

ihes : to go

[i:s] : the “h” lengthens the preceding “h”. A single “e” as the last vowel of a word and
followed by “s” or “t” is not pronounced (unless this final “s” or “t” could not be
distinguished from the penultimate consonant).

aproposs : by the way

[aprop`os] : the stress falls on the last “o” because it is followed twice by the same
consonant.

juce : juice

[ʒyts] : “u” is pronounced [ü] if one of the two following letters is “e”. “c” is pronounced
[ts] before e, I and y.

taiptro : until presently

['tɛptro] : “ai” is always pronounced [ɛ], as in French.

bayghend : belonging (present participle)

['bajgənd] : the “h” hardens the “g” before “e”.

lyt : a little

[lyt] : “y”, when it does not accompany any vowel, is pronounced [y] except as “-y”
and “-ys” at the end of a word, when it turns to [-i] and [-is] respectively.

jawieb : replied (preterit)

[ʒawij'eb] : As the conjunction of two semi-vowels may be hard to pronounce, a [i]
can be added between [w] and [j].

lyekwrntvursta : liverwursts
[lyəkurnt'vursta] : “w”, between two consonants, is pronounced like a very short [u]. In
difficult consonantic clusters, the pronounciation of “t” can be omitted.

moquettes : moquettes

[mok'ets] : Remember here that the final “e” is left unpronounced. This final “e”, as
well as the double “tt”, indicates that the stress falls on the central “e”. “qu” is
pronounced [k] before e, i and y, and [kw] before a, u and o.

lakin : however

[la'kin] : Remember that, as an exception, a final “-in” takes the stress, but not a final
“-ing” !

4th Series:

exspectet : (you) expect
simple : simple
mathmoun : content (substantive)
vasya : all the (plural)
ghianshiek : rock, boulder
hamrahn : accompanied (past participle)
torche : torch
vanscho : I wish
muzlim : faint
lyusit : (he/she/it) undid

exspectet : (you) expect

[eks'pektət] : here, the last “e” has to be pronounced, since it helps to distinguish the
final “e” from the preceding one.

simple : simple

['simplə] : the pronounciation of the final “e” depends on whether the next word in the
sentence will begin with a consonant or not.

mathmoun : content (substantive)
[maθm'u:n] : In Sambahsa, “th” is pronounced as in English “thin”, except when it
stands close to a consonant (ex: s, sch, z…) incompatible with it. Then it turns to [t].

vasya : all the (plural)

['vasja] : “y” is a semi-vowel, not a vowel. Thus, “s” is not pronounced [z] when it
stands between it and a vowel.
ghianshiek : rock, boulder

[gjan'çjek] : “sh” is always pronounced [ç].

hamrahn : accompanied (past participle)

[ham'ra:n] : the last “h” lengthens the last “a”.

torche : torch

[tortʃ] : “ch” is pronounced as in English, except before a consonant, where it turns to
[k].

vanscho : I wish

['vanʃo] : “sch” is always pronounced [ʃ].

muzlim : faint

['mudzlim] : “z” is always pronounced [dz].

lyusit : (he/she/it) undid

['ljuzit] : “s” is pronounced [z] because it stands between two vowels.

5th Series :

saanskyur : umbrella rack
linoleium : linoleum
wahid : only (adjective)
scenes : scenes
botel : bottle
identifie : identify
aghyern : morning
silhouette : silhouette
argwrnten : silvern
bureau : bureau, office

saanskyur : umbrella rack

[sa.an'skjur] : Beware of pronouncing both “a” of “saan” distinctively.

linoleium : linoleum

[lino'lejum] : Endings in “-um” do not bear the stress, as those in “us”.

wahid : only (adjective)

['wahid] : Here, the “h” ought to be pronounced, since it stands between two vowels.

scenes : scenes

[sens] : “sc” is pronounced [sk], except before e, i or y where it turns to [s].

botel : bottle

[bo'tel] : The ending “el” of words is stressed if one of two preceding letters is a “o”.
Examples: forel, colonel, personel, pomel…

identifie : identify

[idənti'fi:] : as a long vowel, “ie” is stressed even at the end of a word. When followed
by another letter, it is pronounced [ye], before [i:] without.

aghyern : morning

['agjərn] : “y” is a semi-vowel, thus “e” alone cannot be stressed.

silhouette : silhouette

[silhu:'et] : « ou » is always pronounced [u :] and remains thus unaffected by the
following « e ».

argwrnten : silvern

['argurntən] : « w », even when it serves as a vowel, can never be stressed, thus the
stress goes on the beginning of the word.
bureau : bureau, office

[byr'o :] : « eau » is always pronounced [o :], and the « e » affects the preceding
« u », which turns to [y].

c. Dr. Olivier Simon