Spelling and pronunciation of Slevan
The Slevan alphabet consists of the following letters:
|a á b c ch cz d dj dz dzs e é f g h i í j k l lj m n nj o ó p r s sz t tj u ú v y ý z zs|
The letters b d f h k m n p t z have approximately the same pronunciation as in English.
The pronunciation of the other letters is as follows:
In general the vowels have the same pronunciation as in Italian or Spanish. Native speakers of English should note the following:
|a||[a]||as in English father, but shorter.|
|e||[ɛ]||as in English dress.|
|i||[i]||as in English machine, but shorter.|
|o||[o]||as in English north, but shorter.|
|u||[u]||as in English brute, but shorter.|
|y||[ɨ]||is usually pronounced the same as i, but in some dialects y is pronounced similarly to English i in kit, though darker. Polish ryba or Russian рыба has the exact sound.|
Vowels with an acute accent above (á é í ó ú ý) are in general pronounced the same as the vowels without such a mark, but longer. The exceptions are é and ó, which for many speakers -- perhaps a majority, although this pronunciation is not considered part of the standard language -- are pronounced as rising diphthongs [iɛ] and [uo], similar to ye in English yes and wa in English want respectively. In the pronunciation of these speakers the spellings é and je are pronounced the same.
Slvanjec vowel length does usually not reflect Latin vowel length, which was lost in Vulgar Latin, but was caused by the loss of a short ĭ or ŭ in the following syllable, hence the long vowels in the final syllable of the nominative/accusative of most second declension nouns.
There is a number of loanwords that have long vowels adopted from the pronunciation of other languages, e.g. táler 'dollar' from German Taler, or skóla from the Renaissance pronunciation of Latin.
The word stress in Slevan always falls on the first syllable of the word. It should be carefully noted that the acute accent mark does not indicate stress, but vowel length.
The consonant letters and digraphs that differ from English are as follows:
|c||[ts]||is in all positions pronounced like the tz in English waltz. English speakers should take special care to preserve this pronunciation also at the beginning of words, e.g. in cék 'blind'.|
|ch||[χ] or [x]||is pronounced as in Scots loch or in German Bach, or in the English interjection yech. It is not a very frequent sound in Slevan.|
|cz||[tʃ]||is pronounced like the English ch in church.|
|dj||[ɟ]||is pronounced approximately like the di in English medium.|
|dz||[dz]||is pronounced like the ds in English beds. It is an infrequent sound in Slevan, having mostly been replaced by simple z. As with c English speakers should take care to preserve the correct pronunciation at the beginning of words.|
|dzs||[dʒ]||is pronounced like j or dg in English judge. It is an infrequent sound in Slevan, having mostly been replaced by simple zs.|
|g||[ɡ]||is always hard, like in English go or get, never soft like in English gem, e.g. gezél 'yourneyman'. The g sound isn't very frequent in Slevan, since it is found only in loan words.|
|j||[j]||has the sound of the English consonantal y in you, yet, yard. The English sound of j in judge is written dzs in Slevan, but this combination has in most cases been replaced by the simple zs.|
|l||[ɫ]||at the beginning of a word before the vowels a á o ó u ú y ý has the dark sound of l in English loll. Before the vowels e é i í or before dj nj tj the letter l is pronounced like the li in English million, i.e. the same as Slevan lj. Before other consonants or at the end of a word many speakers pronounce l like an English w, but this pronunciation is not considered part of the standard language.|
|lj||[ʎ]||is pronounced like the li in English million. Some speakers tend to pronounce lj as a simple (Slevan) j in some positions, but this is not considered part of the standard language.|
|nj||[ɲ]||is pronounced like the ny in English canyon, or more exactly like the ñ in Spanish cañón !|
|r||[r]||is a rolled sound like in Italian or Spanish carro. Note that Slevan r is never silent as in British English.|
|s||[s]||is always pronounced voiceless like in English sit, miss, never voiced, like z. When a voiced s occurs in loanwords it is replaced by z, e.g. in prezident.|
|sz||[ʃ]||is pronounced like the English sh in ship.|
|tj||[c]||is pronounced approximately like the te in the English word meteor.|
|v||[v] and [w]||is pronounced like in English, but before another consonant or at the end of a word many speakers pronounce v like an English w. Unlike the similar pronunciation of l this is accepted as part of the standard language.|
|zs||[ʒ]||has the sound of z in English azure or of j in French jour. Cf. j.|
The letters q and x are never used in Slevan. They are always replaced by k and ks respectively,
e.g. kvarc 'quartz' and tekst.
The letters l and r can in Slevan form a syllable of their own without a supporting vowel, e.g. slván 'Slevan man', blb 'onion', dzrn 'diurnal span, date', krce 'cross'.
A native Slevan speaker would never confuse tj with cz or dj with dzs, but Slevans are rather used to speakers of German or Romany confusing these pairs of sounds.