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There are two different writing systems: Latin and Shavian. The Shavian writing system is used strictly in the Eastern dialect, while the Northern and Southern dialects tend to use Latin. This lesson focuses on learning the Latin alphabet, in which many letters differ from their English counterparts. IPA is marked in brackets.
The Latin alphabet was adopted in 1940, but the extremely messy orthography caused to people to desire a nicer orthography. Linguist Ẋerica Vùėntik travelled to the United States in 1982 and learned about the Shavian alphabet, a previously failed writing system for English. She adapted in to fit the phonology of Xïlusia and campaigned for its adoption. In 1987, the House of Powers in the Eastern District of Carthays island decided to mandate its teachings in schools.
Class I vowelsEdit
There are eleven vowels in Xïlusia, five of which belong to class I. Class I vowels and the letter "y" [j]/[ɪ] can be combined with a grave (`) or acute (´) accent.
a - like in father [a]
e - like in café [e]
i - like in freeze [i]
o - like in old [o]
u - like in loop [u]
The acute accent is added when [j] comes before the vowel. For example, áf is pronouned "yawf" [jaf].
The grave accent is added when [ɪ] follows the vowel. For example, b'èb' is pronounced like the English word "babe" [beɪb]
Class II vowelsEdit
These vowels are marked with a dot above (except for ï, which is marked with a diaresis due to the tittle in the original letter). When the [j]/[ɪ] sound is adjoined to the vowel, the letter "ỳ" must be used rather than mark it with a diacritic.
ȧ - like in umbrella [ə]
ė - like in apple [æ]
ï - like in ill [ɨ]
ȯ - no English equivalent, similar to ö in German and Swedish or ø in Norwegian and Danish [ø]
ẏ - no English equivalent, similar to ü in German or y in the Scandinavian languages [y]
å - like in all [ɔ]
Consonants are marked by a variety of diacritics. Some consonant clusters are represented by a single letter and are considered as individual letters.
b - like in bald [b]
c - a "t" and "y" pronounced together (this is a simplified version of [c]) [tj]
ci - like in chair [ʧ]
ć - no English equivalent, similar to ch in German [x]
ɔ - no English equivalent, similar to r in French (the symbol "ɔ" is seen as an inverted "c" rather than an open "o") [ʁ]
d - like in dog [d]
dy - a "d" and "y" pronounced together (this is a simplified version of [ɟ]) [dj]
f - like in fool, but slightly harder [ɸ]
g - like in yet, but slightly harder [ʝ]
ǵ - like in the (before a, ȧ, o, ȯ, u, ẏ, and å) [ð]
ḡ - like in goat [g]
h - like in heat [ç]
ħ - like in thump (the symbol is seen as a ligature of "t" and "h") [θ]
j - like in treasure (before ȧ, ȯ, ẏ, and å) [ʒ]
zi - like in treasure (before a, o, and u) [ʒ]
j - like in the (before e, i, ė, and ï) (because there are two different sounds made by the letter, it is considered to be a different letter, even though the symbol is the same) [ð]
k - like in coffee [k]
l - like in lemon [l]
lz - an "l" and a "z" pronounced at the same time [ɮ]
m - like in mouse [m]
ṁ - like in hums [mz]
n - like in noose [n]
ṅ - nasalizes the vowel it follows (it never follows a consonant), like in French or Portuguese [˜]
ǹ - an "n" and a "y" pronounced at the same time (this is a simple version of [ɲ]) [nj]
p - like in pull [p]
r - like in wrong [ɹ]
rd - no English equivalent, like a Spanish "rr", but with a single trill [ɾ]
rr - no English equivalent, like a Spanish "rr" [r]
ŕ - like an "rd" and a "d" pronounced together [ɾd]
s - like in ship (before e, ė, i, and ï) [ʃ]
si - like in ship (before a, ȧ, o, ȯ, u, ẏ, and å) [∫]
ś - like in seat [s]
t - like in time [t]
tâ - a "t" and a "v" pronounced together [tv]
v - like in violin [v]
viù - like in win [w]
vù - like in white [ʍ]
x - like in lids [ʣ]
ẋ - like in cats [ʦ]
ẍ - like in calls [ʫ]
y - like in yet [j]
ỳ - functions as [i] or [j] in diphthongs with class II vowels
z - like in treasure (before e, ė, i, and ï) [ʒ]
ż - like in zoom [z]
ź - like in bridge [ʤ]
Practice saying these words:
ïṅtakỳȧdyiListen to the words in the video and write them down. Compare to those in the video to your answer.