2.2. Classification of Sounds

2.2.1. The Vowels are a, e, i, o, u and y. The other letters are Consonants. The proper Europaio Diphthongs are ei, oi, ai, eu, ou, au. In this diphthongs both vowel sounds are heard, one following the other in the same syllable.

2.2.2. Consonants are either voiced (sonant) or voiceless (surd). Voiced consonants are pronounced with vocal cords vibration, as opposed to voiceless consonants, where the vocal cords are relaxed.

a. The voiced consonants are b, bh, c, ch, d, dh, g, gh, l, r, m, n, z, and j, w.

b. The voiceless consonants are p, t, k, q, f, h, s, x.

c. The digraphs bh, dh, gh and ch represent voiced aspirates, whereas ph, th, kh are voiceless aspirates. The last three are confined almost exclusively to words derived from Greek, and are equivalent to p+h, t+h, k+h, i.e. to the corresponding mutes with a following breath, as in English loop-hole, hot-house, block-house.

d. The phonemes r, l, m, n, i/j and u/w can function both as consonants and vowels, i.e. they can serve as syllabic border or center. There is a clear difference between the vocalic allophones of the semi-vowels and the others, though: the first - [i] and [u] - are very stable, while /r,l,m,n/ are not. They cannot be pronounced more opened, hence the big differences among IE dialects.

2.2.3. The Mutes are also classified as follows:

Labials

p, b, bh, and ph

Dentals

t, d, dh and th

Velars

c, ch, g, gh, k, q and kh

2.2.4. The Liquids are l,r. These sounds are voiced. The group rh represents the aspirated r, mainly in words of Greek origin. Other groups include rr, the alveolar trill, and its aspirated counterpart rrh. There is also lj, the palatal lateral approximant.

2.2.5. The Nasals are m,n. These are voiced. The pair nj represents the palatal nasal (similar to the /n/ sound in English onion or canyon)

2.2.6. The Fricatives are s, h. These are voiceless, but for the s before voiced consonants, where it is usually voiced. It is also possible to write - mainly for loan words - voiceless and voiced pairs: labiodentals, f and v; dentals, th and dh; post-alveolar sh and zh. And also the alveolar voiced z, and the dorsal voiceless x.

2.2.7. The Semivowels are i/j and u/w. These are voiced.

NOTE. The semivowels are usually written with i and u. Only Europaio roots and their derivatives have j and w; as in wlqo, werdho, jugo or trejes. When there is a consonantal sound before a sonant, it is also written j or w; as in newn [newn]. More on this in 2.9.4.

2.2.8. There are also some other frequent compounds, such as ks, ts, dz, tsh, dzh, ...

2.2.9. The following table will indicate the relations of the consonantal sounds:

 

Labials

Coronals

Palatovel.

Velars

Labiovel.

Voiceless

p

t

k*

k

q

Aspirated

ph

th

kh*

kh

 

Voiced

b

d

g*

g

c

Aspirated

bh

dh

gh*

gh

ch

Nasals

m

n

 

 

 

Fricatives

f,v

s,z, th,dh,sh, zh

 

x

 

Liquids

 

r,l, rr, lh

 

 

 

Aspirated

 

rh, rrh

 

 

 

Approximant

w

 

j

 

 

Note. Those in bold are not 'original' Europaio sounds. This does not mean that they weren't heard already in the early stages of the language, though; for example, s was pronounced z before voiced consonants (as in nisdo, nest); and th appears in the verb conjugation, possibly derived from old laryngeals.

*This sounds are usually represented in traditional transcriptions as independent letters. We believe that the opposition labiovelar/velar is constrained, either to an especial phonetic environment, either to the analogy of alternating phonetic forms. Therefore, they are in our system just different pronunciations of the same velar phonemes.