International Hesperic Alphabet

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The International Hesperic Alphabet (IHA) is a standard for phonemic transcription of Hesperic languages which uses only 7-bit ASCII characters.

Origin (extrafictional)

The IHA was designed by Jörg Rhiemeier in 2019 and is an updated and extended version of his early universal transcription system.

Origin (intrafictional)

THe IHA was agreed upon by scholars studying Hesperic languages in 1988. In order to be usable on the time's computers and bulletin box system networks which did not deal with non-ASCII characters well, it was designed to use ASCII characters only, resorting to digraphs and to the usage of interpunctation characters as postposed diacritics.

The rules

  1. The 26 basic letters have their IPA values, except c which has the same value as k. (This is a concession to different traditions. The Albic languages use c exclusively while the Hercynian and Alpianic languages use k; the South Hesperic languages use k before front vowels and c otherwise.)
  2. The letter h is also used to form digraphs, with the following values: a) after a stop, the corresponding fricative (e.g., dh = /ð/); b) after a sibilant, postalveolar articulation (e.g., sh = /ʃ/); c) after a sonorant, voicelesslness (e.g., lh = /ɬ/). Furthermore, the digraph ng is used for /ŋ/.
  3. The apostrophe (') marks aspiration (after the letter, postaspiration; before the letter, preaspiration).
  4. The chevron (^) after a letter marks palatalization. It is also used for fronting vowels (e.g. o` = /ø/).
  5. The asterisk (*) after a letter marks labialization.
  6. The tilde (~) after a letter marks nasalization.
  7. The backquote (`) after a letter shifts the point of articulation backwards: after an alveolar, it marks retroflexion (e.g., s` = /ʂ/); after a velar, it marks uvular articulation (e.g., g` = /ɢ/). It is also used for backing vowels (e.g., i` = /ɨ/).
  8. The semicolon (;) before a vowel letter lowers the vowel (;o = /ɒ/), before r it marks a uvular rhotic where needed (;r = /ʀ/), and before l it marks a velarized lateral ([ɫ], the "dark l" of English).
  9. The period (.) can be used to break up letter sequences in order to suppress digraphs where needed (e.g., s.h = /sh/ instead of sh = /ʃ/).
  10. Long vowels are spelled double.
  11. Accent, where distinctive, is marked by a comma (,) before the syllable.



  Labial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Stops voiceless p t t` k^ k k`  
voiced b d d` g^ g g`  
aspirated p' t' t`' k^' k' k`'  
Fricatives voiceless f th s sh s` k^h kh k`h h
voiced v dh z zh z` g^h gh g`h  
Nasals voiced m n n` ng^ ng ng`  
voiceless mh nh n`h ng^h ngh ng`h  
Laterals voiced   l l` l^  ;l    
voiceless   lh l`h l^h  ;lh    
Rhotics voiced   r r` r^    ;r  
voiceless   rh r`h r^h    ;rh  
Semivowels voiced w     j      
voiceless wh     jh      


  Front Non-front
Unround Round Unround Round
Close i y/u^ i` u
Mid e o^ e` o
Open a^  ;o^ a  ;o

See also