Classical Kasshian phonology

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Classical Kasshian phonology was fairly simple, with 19 consonant phonemes, 3 vowel phonemes, and fairly simple syllable structure.


Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveopalatal Palatal Velar
Stops Voiced b d g
Voiceless p t k
Nasals m n ng'
Affricates Voiced j
Voiceless ch
Fricatives Voiced v z zh
Voiceless f s sh ç
Liquids l
Glides w y

Italics represent allophones.

Consonant classes

Consonants are traditionally divided into three classes:

  • Soft consonants: L, w, and y
  • Hard consonants: The remainder, further subdivided into:
    • Simple hard consonants: Everything that doesn't fall into the other two classes
    • Complex consonants: ch, j, ç, ng'

These classes have certain grammatical and phonological consequences, as described below.


There are only three vowel phonemes - /i a u/, which may be long or short. Long vowels are indicated in romanization by either doubling or the use of a macron (e.g., both ii and ī are used). Macron cannot be used if the two vowels belong to different morphemes, e.g., the plural suffix -i added to a noun ending in -i will be written -ii and never -ī. There are two diphthongs, /aj/ and /aw/.


L is pronounced [r] after dental consonants, while /s/ and /z/ are pronounced [ʃ] and [ʒ] before /i/ or /j/ (with the /j/ being absorbed into the preceding consonant). The vowels /i/ and /u/ are pronounced [e] and [o] in closed syllables. The standard romanization indicates these allophones.

In addition, /a/ has several allophones which are not indicated by the orthography. In open syllables, it is pronounced [a] after coronal consonants and [ɑ] after other consonants, frequently [ɒ] after labials. In closed syllables, it is typically pronounced [ɛ] before coronal consonants, otherwise [ʌ] or sometimes [ɔ] if preceded or followed by a labial


Legal onsets in Kasshian are null, consonant, and consonant followed by a glide or liquid. Legal codas are fricative, N (assimilates in place), L, or gemination of the following consonant. Glides may not be geminated, and geminate stops may not be followed by /l/ or glides. Where inflectional morphology would otherwise create a geminated stop followed by l, y, or w, no gemination occurs.

The complex consonants must be followed by vowels while ng' can only occur ungeminated between vowels, and is always treated as a coda, while the other complex consonants can only be geminated if an /i/ follows. W and Y must be followed by vowels, and may not be geminated.

Ç is an odd phoneme in Kasshian. Historically, it was derived from /kj/ and /ki/ (although later sound-changes have created new /kj/ and /ki/). In the classical language, /çi/, when unstressed, preceded by a vowel, and either word-final or followed by a voiceless consonant, becomes /ç/, which is pronounced as a single mora, treated as a coda. When word-initial and followed by a voiceless consonant, it also often simply /ç/. Thus, çitauçi may be pronounced /çtawç/


Stress is regularly on the penultimate mora. Long vowels count as two morae, and, as mentioned above, word-final ç counts as a single mora.

Phonetic alternations

In addition to the allophones above, there are several other alternations found in inflections and compounding, mostly based on earlier sound changes.

  • Obligatory alternations
    • S and Z become sh and zh before i/e/y (y is then dropped)
    • Fw, vw, pw, bw, and mw drop the w
    • -sç- and -sch- become -ssh-
    • -lç- becomes -lsh-
    • -nç- becomes -nsh-
    • -zç- and -zj- become -zzh-
    • -tch- and -dj- become -cch- and -jj-
    • A fricative or stop preceded by a fricative assimilates to the voicing of the preceding consonant, the exception being that inflectional prefixes always assimilate to the root (e.g., laf- becomes lav- before voiced obstruents)
    • W is dropped before u/o
    • Y is dropped before i/e
    • Kw is written qu
    • U and I become W and Y before other vowels
    • Long vowels do not exist in closed syllables. If, in compounding or inflection, a long vowel ends up in a closed syllable, it becomes short
  • Common alternations
    • Tw, dw, and nw usually become p, b, and m
    • T, D, and K usually become ch, j, and ç before i/e/y (y is then dropped)