Gwethe has some unusual consonant sounds for English speakers. The letters t, k, kw, z, r, w and l are all pronounced very similarly to their English counterparts. The letter s is pronounced as in the ts of English kits, and the letter d is pronounced as the th in there. These sounds should pose no problems from English speakers.
The letter y is pronounced harsher than is normal in English, and the letter g is pronounced similar to its Spanish pronunciation. The letters th are pronounced as an English t immediately followed by the th sound from thin.
The combination lw is pronounced as the ll in English fell, but a little further back in the mouth. The combinations lv and lu are pronounced a lot like the li in Italian foglia, but also with more rounded lips.
The letter u is pronounced as in French, such as in huit or huile.
The most difficult letters are probably v, gw and cu. v is pronounced as a harsh u, while gw is pronounced as a harsh w. The combination cu is pronounced similarly to kw, but further forward in the mouth, similar to the difference in positions between u and w.
The letters v, g, y, and gw all have nasal pronunciations when they are preceded by n. This means that air should be released through the nose when pronouncing these combinations, and the n itself should not be pronounced.
Where n falls between two vowels, it is only partially pronounced and is a bit like r.
The affricates /tθ/ and /ʦ/ are descended from plosives: /tθ/ from a dental /t̪/, and /ʦ/ from palatal /c/.
The nasal apprixmant [ɹ̃] is only found between vowels and does not form a minimal pair with [n].
The fricatives each have allophonic approximants which occur before plosives or affricates. /ð/ becomes [ð̞], /z/ becomes [ɹ], /ʝ/ becomes [j], /ɣ/ becomes [ɰ], /ʝβ/ becomes [ɥ] and /ɣβ/ becomes [w].
Because /z/ becomes [ɹ] before consonants, making z indistinguishable from r in this position, these two letters are interchangeable before a plosive or an affricate. Thus, azte and arte are equally acceptable spellings.
Because /ɣβ/ becomes [w] before consonants, making gw indistinguishable from w in this position, these two letters are also interchangeable: nagwthe, nawthe
Because /ʝβ/ becomes [ɥ] before consonants, making v indistinguishable from u in this position, these two letters are interchangeable: levra, leura.
ɛ, ɛː, œː, œ̃ː
ɑ, ɑː, ɑ̃, ɑ̃ː
aen, aën, in
Nasal vowels occur where n falls at the coda of a syllable. Note that the n in nasal fricatives is considered to be part of the fricative, which begins the next syllable. As a result, there are no nasal vowels that fall before nasal fricatives. Dialectically, a nasal fricative can nasalise the preceding vowel as a nasal allophone of the corresponding oral vowel, so that lingwe /liːɣ̃β/ is pronounced [lĩːɣ̃β].
Words in Gwethe can only begin and end in 'simple' consonants or in vowels. The 'simple' consonants are those that, archaically, were single consonants, while 'complex' consonants were composed of two or more consonants. However, in Gwethe many of these simple consonants now contain two distinct sounds, such as /ɣβ/ or /tθ/, which were once [w͋] (or [βˠ]) and [t̪]. Also, some of the consonant clusters, such as [lɣ] have become single articulations, such as /ɫʷ/. Because of this, it is no longer the rule that single consonants may begin a word and complex consonants cannot.
The consonants that may begin or end a word are:
t, th, s, k, cu, kw, d, z, y, g, v, gw, l, r, n, w, u
In the middle of a word the letter l may precede any plosive or affricate. It may also precede the fricative d, but it may not precede any other fricative. Previously it could precede other fricatives, but these clusters became simplified over time. lg and lgw became lw, and ly and lv [lʝβ] became lu/lv [ʎʷ]. The cluster lz became z.
In the middle of a word the letter r can precede any plosive, affricate, or fricative except gw, which formed into the cluster rw.
Fricatives can precede t, th and s. In these positions, they are pronounced as approximants (see Consonants, above), which means that there can be some orthographic variance in this position. d, z and y can also precede k, cu and kw, with the same fricative to approximant change.
Stress is placed on the first syllable of two syllable words, or on the last strong syllable of three-or-more syllable words, excluding the final syllable. A 'strong' syllable contains either a long vowel, a nasal vowel or precedes a consonant cluster or a 'complex' sound such as lw or lv/lu.
Examples of strong syllables are:
nagaere is stressed as na-gae-re - long vowel
tangure is stressed as tan-ngu-re - nasal vowel
silagther is stressed as si-lag-ther - precedes a cluster
cualwide is stressed as cua-lwi-de - precedes a complex consonant
Nouns in Gwethe are declined for number and case. There are three declinable numbers and three cases.
The nominative case is the "dictionary" form of the noun, and is used in every circumstance where the accusative and genitive cases are not used. The nominative case can therefore be used as the subject or a sentence, the indirect object or a verb, or after any preposition. The nominative case usually does not have any special marker, but the final e of many nouns that would otherwise end in a 'complex' sound (such as in the word cuaelwe) or if the preceding syllable has a long vowel, can be treated as a nominative marker.
The genitive case of the noun is used to describe if the noun is possessing or has a relationship to another noun. There are very few words that decline for the genitive case in the singular, and these are all irregular declensions. Examples are daw, which becomes law in the genitive case, and goen, which becomes ilwoen.
The accusative case of the noun is used only when a noun is the direct object of the verb. The accusative case of the noun is only marked for nouns that end in a nominative e, where the e changes to ar.
Nouns in Gwethe can have extra emphasis indicated with the suffix -ae /ɛː/. If the noun ends in a nominative -e, the -e is dropped. Where a noun would end in the accusative -ar, it ends in -aer when emphasised.
The emphasis placed upon a noun is roughly equivalent to stressing a noun by specifying a noun in English with this or that.
The singular number of a noun marks when there is a single object or idea. The plural number indicates when there are many objects or ideas. The plural plural or surplural marks when there are many groups of the noun. There are also secondarily marked numbers, the uncountable, partative and plupartative and total.
The singular number of a noun does not have any special marking and is the form of the noun as it is found in the dictionary. The singular noun does not require an article, but may take a singular definite article is desired.
The plural of a noun also does not require an article, but is morphologically distinct. In the nominative case, the plural takes a plural marker n or an, or, if the noun ends in a nominative e, changes the e to an. The stressed syllable of the noun also takes a nasal infix n, which nasalises the preceding vowel and can nasalise the following consonant. Although it is not written orthographically, many speakers also nasalise every vowel in between the stressed syllable and the final syllable.
The genitive plural is marked the same as the nominative plural.
The surplural is marked by the suffix -an to any plural form of the noun, nominative or accusative.
|Final -e Nom.||cuaethan||cuaethanan|
|Final -ar Acc.||cuanthar||cuantharan|
Articles and NumberEdit
There are plural and partative articles, and singular and plural definite articles.
Singular indefinite nouns do not take an article and are written as they are: yagwae, "apple" or "an apple".
Singular nouns can take the definite article w: w'yagwae, "the apple".
Plural indefinite nouns do not take an article: yangwaen, "apples"
Plural nouns can take the definite plural article ni: ni yangwaen, "the apples"
Plural plural nouns (or surplural nouns) need not take any article, but can take the plural definite article ni: yangwaenan, "appleses", ni yangwaenan, "the appleses"
Uncountable nouns take the plural article ni but use the singular form of the noun: nin yagwae, "uncountable apples".
Total nouns take the singular definite article but uses the plural form of the noun: w'yangwaen, "all the apples".
The partative and plupartative are the singular and plural forms of the noun together with the partative article y (yr before y): yr yagwaë, "some apple/part of an apple", and yr yangwaen, "some apples".
Not all the numbers of Gwethe translate well into English. Nouns in Gwethe tend to fall into three categories defined by number: individual, grouped, or uncountable. Individual nouns are generally expressed as singular, plural, partative or plupartative. An individual noun such as "apple" could then be expressed as "an apple", "the apple", "apples", "the apples", "some of an apple", "some of the apple" or "some apples" (one could also, based on context, translate the plupartative as "some of the apples", but this definitiveness is not expressed in Gwethe).
Grouped nouns are expressed as plupartative, plural or surplural. A group noun such as "horse" could be expressed as "some horses", "horses" or "the horses" and "(the) groups of horses". Body parts that come in pairs, such as eyes, ears, hands, legs, arms and feet, are described in the surplural when referring to more than one person: ni invan, "the eyes" (an irregular plural of w'ilve) refers to one person's eyes, whereas ni invanan, "the eyes", refers to the eyes of many people. Objects that come in sets, such as body parts, multiple parts of a single whole (such as doors in a house or drawers in a desk) or groups of things are used as grouped nouns.
Uncountable nouns are generally expressed as plupartative or uncountable. An uncountable noun such as "cloud" would be expressed as "some clouds", or, more usually, just as "clouds", though this would be expressed in the uncountable number. Other uncountable nouns include materials, liquids, granular groups such as grain or sand, concepts and incredibly numerous objects such as trees in a forest, or grass in a field, or hair.
All three categories can be used in the total. The total is used to describe all objects within the established context.
Adjectives come in three different classes: unstressed, stressed and immortal.
Unstressed adjectives are the most common type of adjectives, and do not decline for case or number. Unstressed adjectives immediately follow the noun that they modify or follow the possessive adjectives of the noun. A noun can have any number of unstressed adjectives.
Although unstressed adjectives do not decline for number, it is common to hear a prenasalisation of an unstressed adjective in the nominative case as this adjective will almost invariably follow the suffix -n. As an example the singular of "green apple" is yaegwe ava, /ʝɛːɣβ ɑʝβɑ/ and the plural is yaengwan ava /ʝɛːɣ̃βɑ̃ ɹ̃ɑʝβɑ/. Where the adjective begins in a fricative, the fricative is nasalised: yaegwe gez, "soft apple", /ʝɛːɣβə ɣɛz/ becomes yaengwan gez, /ʝɛːɣ̃βɑ̃ɣ̃ɛz/.
Stressed adjectives immediately precede the noun and follow the article (if that noun requires an article). Stressed adjectives decline for number by being prenasalised in the same way that unstressed adjectives are, however this is made orthogrpahically distinct by writing n' in front of the adjective: vith yaegwe, "bitter apple" becomes n'vith yaengwan in the plural.
Stressed adjectives are adjectives that distinguish two similar nouns (the red shirt as opposed to the white shirt, or the big person as opposed to the small person), or are the most important part of the meaning of the noun (as in, "I ate a bitter apple today" as a sentence trying to convey the specialness of the apple being bitter).
There are a few special adjectives that are always stressed and therefore always precede the noun and decline for number - these are called complimentary adjectives, because they are always positive adjectives describing beauty, grace or some comlimentary feature.
Immortal adjectives are adjectives that always precede the noun, but which never decline for number. There are only a certain number of adjectives in this group which are categorised here historically.
Possessive adjectives immediately follow the noun that they modify, with no exceptions.