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The following are phonemic transcriptions of Besanese consonants.

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ1
Plosive plain p b t d k g
Fricative s z2 h3
Affricate plain ts dz4
aspirated tsʰ
Liquid ɾ~l5
Approximant w j
  1. /ŋ/ appears only in the syllable coda.
  2. /s, z/ are palatalized [ɕ, ʑ] before /i, j/
  3. /h/ is palatalized [ç] before /i, j/; and is bi­la­bialized [ɸ] before /u, w/
  4. /ts, dz, tsʰ/ may be pronounced [tɕ, dʑ, tɕʰ] by some speakers before /i, j/
  5. /ɾ/ is an alveolar flap [ɾ] in the syllable onset; and is [l] in the syllable coda.



Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a


In the Besanese language, because semivowels /j/ and /w/ may follow consonants in initial position in a word, which no other consonant can do, and perhaps due also to Enmun orthography (諺文

or 언문

), which transcribes them as vowels, they are sometimes considered to be elements of diphthongs and triphthongs rather than separate consonant phonemes.

j- w- -i
ja wa
ju uɪ~wi1
  1. /uɪ/ is a falling diphthong [uɪ] after a consonant in an open syllable; and is a rising diphthong [wi] when it is a syllable of its own or in a closed syllable.


j- w-
jaɪ waɪ
jeɪ weɪ

Positional allophones

Besanese consonants have two principal positional allophones: initial and final. The initial form is found at the beginning of a syllable and the final form is found at the end of a syllable.

Phoneme p t k ɾ
Initial allophone p t k ɾ
Final allophone l

All plosives [p, t, k] are unreleased [p̚, t̚, k̚] at the end of a syllable. Final [ɾ] is a liquid [l].


Besanese syllable structure is maximally CgVC, where the first C is the initial consonant; g is a semivowel glide /j/ or /w/; V is a vowel; the second C is a coda. Any consonant but /ŋ/ may occur initially, whereas only /m, n, ŋ, p, t, k, l/ may occur finally.

Below is the table of all syllable finals (gVC) in Besanese.

Finals Codas
(null) m n ŋ p t k l
a a am an ap at ak al
ɛ ɛ ɛm ɛn ɛŋ ɛp ɛt ɛk ɛl
ɔ ɔ ɔm ɔn ɔŋ ɔp ɔt ɔk ɔl
u u um un up ut uk ul
ɨ ɨ ɨm ɨn ɨŋ ɨp ɨt ɨk ɨl
i i im in ip it ik il
ja ja jam jan jaŋ jap jat jak jal
jɛm jɛn jɛŋ jɛp jɛt jɛk jɛl
jɔm jɔn jɔŋ jɔp jɔt jɔk jɔl
ju ju jum jun juŋ jup jut juk jul
wa wa wam wan waŋ wap wat wak wal
wɛm wɛn wɛŋ wɛp wɛt wɛk wɛl
wi wi1 wim win wiŋ wip wit wik wil
ɔɪ ɔɪ
jaɪ jaɪ
jeɪ jeɪ
waɪ waɪ
weɪ weɪ
  1. pronounced [wi] when it is a syllable of its own.
  2. pronounced [uɪ] after an onset in an open syllable.

Vowel harmony

Traditionally, the Besanese language has had strong vowel harmony; that is, in pre-modern Besanese, not only did the inflectional and derivational affixes change in accordance to the main root vowel, but native words also adhered to vowel harmony. However, this rule is no longer observed strictly in modern Besanese. In modern Besanese, it is only applied in certain cases such as onomatopoeia and conjugation.

There are three classes of vowels in Besanese: positive, negative and neutral. The vowel classes loosely follow the front (positive) and back (negative) vowels; they also follow orthography. Exchanging positive vowels with negative vowels usually creates different nuances of meaning, with positive vowels sounding fast, hard, solid, hot, dry, focused or aggressive, and negative vowels sounding slow, soft, insubstantial, cold, wet, diffuse or tranquil.

Neutral Positive
Close i ɨ u
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a

For diphthongs, the positive vowels are: /ja/, /jɛ/, /wa/, /wɛ/, /aɪ/, /eɪ/; and the negative vowels are: /jɔ/, /ju/, /ɔɪ/, [uɪ]~[wɪ]. All triphthongs are positive: /jaɪ/, /jeɪ/, /waɪ/, /weɪ/.

Pitch accent