Basic syllable patterns

All Tundrian words consist of one or more syllables. At the core of each syllable is a vowel, which may be a monophthong or a diphthong.

The rules for syllable division are as follows:

  • When vowels are next to each other, they belong to separate syllables: cha-os /'ka-us/, the-o-lo-gí-a /tɛ-u-lu-'dʒi-a/. Syllable division is before the consonant when there is only one (pronounced) consonant between vowels, written as a single consonant or as a digraph: ca-sas /'ka-zas/, na-tzo-na-li-za-tzoun /na-tsu-na-li-za-'tsun/, si-gna-lar /si-ɲa-'lar/, via-txar /vja-'tʃar/.

    Exceptionally, this rule does not apply to the written language when the single consonant is spelt with one of the digraphs mn, nm, sc, sç, xc. In the case of these digraphs, the written syllable division occurs between the two members of the digraph: hom-nes /'o-nəs/, an-ma /'a-ma/, a-do-les-cent /a-du-lɛ-'ʃɛnt/, as-ça /'ɑ-ʃa/, ex-ceut /ɛ-'ʃøt/.

    Another apparent type of exception occurs in words beginning with prefixes such as an-, dis- and in-: an-ar-chia /an-'ɑr-kja/, dis-o-bê-diyr /diz-u-bɛ-'døĭr/, in-ûn-dar /in-un-'dar/. Such an apparent exception may also happen when the second part of the word begins with an <h>: an-hyd-rous /an-id-'rus/, dis-ho-nest /diz-u-'nɛst/, in-hê-rent /in-ɛ-'rɛnt/.
  • In the case of doubled consonants, the written language divides between the two consonant symbols, while the spoken language assigns the single pronounced consonant to the second syllable: sâb-bat /'sɑ-bat/, vac-ca /'vɑ-ka/, flam-ma /'flɑ-ma/, an-nual /ɑ-'nwal/, map-pa /'mɑ-pa/, tzer-ra /'tsɛ-ra/, pas-sar /pɑ-'sar/, mit-teir /mi-'tir/.

    In the few cases where the spoken language also pronounces a doubled consonant, it follows the written language in syllabification: il-lê-gí-tim /il-lɛ-'dʒi-tim/, im-mig-rar /im-mig-'rar/, in-no-var /in-nu-'var/, ir-rê-go-lar /ir-rɛ-gu-'lar/
  • When there are two separately pronounced consonants (whether spelled as single consonants or as digraphs), division is between the consonants: ac-tour /ɑk-'tur/, Ad-ri-á-tic /ɑd-ri-'a-tik/, af-ri-cán /ɑf-ri-'kan/, ag-ra-tar /ɑg-ra-'tar/, cal-da /'kɑl-da/, tem-po-ral /tɛm-pu-'ral/, con-tar /kɔn-'tar/, ap-li-car /ɑp-li-'kar/, par-tzal /pɑr-'tsal/, per-do /'pɛr-du/, cos-ta /'kɔs-ta/, pot-ri-am /pɔt-ri-'am/.

    As mentioned before, the affricates /ts/, /tʃ/, /dz/ and /dʒ/ are considered to be simple consonants, therefore they cannot belong to two different syllables: na-tzo-nal /na-tsu-'nal/, via-txar /vja-'tʃar/, o-dza /'o-dza/, em-pe-djar /ɛm-pə-'dʒar/. In line with the previous examples involving prefixes, words with the prefix ad- before the letter <j> are divided accordingly in writing: ad-ja-cent /a-dʒa-'tʃɛnt/, ad-jec-tiyv /a-dʒɛk-'tøĭf/.
  • The combination consonant + semi-vowel (/w/ or /j/) always begins a syllable: a-qua /'a-kwa/, lin-gua /'lin-gwa/, dis-sua-deir /di-swa-'dir/, la-bial /la-'bjal/, o-dious /u-'djus/, a-lie-nar /a-ljɛ-'nar/, tze-niam /tsə-'njam/, se-pia /'se-pja/, a-ria /'a-rja/, po-tiais /pu-'tjaĭs/, jo-vial /ʒu-'vjal/.
  • The letter x cannot, of course, be separated in writing, even though an obvious syllable division may occur in speech: prôxi-ma /'prɔ-si-ma/, toxi-ci-tat /tɔk-si-tʃi-'tat/. Where the pronunciation is /ʃ/, there is naturally no problem with word division: rûi-xa /'ru-ʃa/.

Open and closed syllables

In order to understand the accentuation rules of Tundrian, as well as the pronunciation of some of its vowels, it is essential to understand what is meant by the concept of open ("vocal aperta") vs. closed vowel ("vocal xerrata") in Tundrian grammar. Note that the concept has relevance only for the vowels a, e and o.

A vowel (a, e or o) is considered open if:

  1. it ends a word: carta, homne, pauvro;
  2. it comes before a final consonant (except x) at the end of a word: lac, ped, joc (but: the -e- in sex is closed);

  3. it comes before a single consonant + s cluster at the end of a word: mans, fers, locs;

  4. it comes before a digraph consonant at the end of a word, or before a digraph consonant followed by a word-final s: banh, alhs, medz, velhs, sonh, olhs;
  5. it comes before a single consonant (except x) followed by a vowel, a semi-vowel or <h>: casa, cadiam, abhorrent, vene, chemia, joca, utopia (but: the vowels are closed in maximal, sexual and toxicitat);
  6. it comes before a digraph consonant (except sc, sç and xc) followed by a vowel or semi-vowel: anma, velha, homne, philosophía (but: the vowels are closed in asça, descendeir, excellent, cognosceir);
  7. it comes before the consonants /z/ (written <s> or <z>) or /v/ followed by a voiced consonant: asno, avriyr, bevro, osmose, covriyr;
  8. it comes before another vowel: trae, theatro, boa;
  9. it carries the acute accent: ánta, ést, sçónta.

Conversely, a vowel (a, e or o) is considered closed if:

  1. it comes before a consonant cluster (with 2 or more consonants pronounced separately), e.g. in Adriátic, africán, agratar, altro, camp, contar, aplicar, perdo, costa, potriam (exceptions are noted under 3, 4 and 7 above; also,  /ts/, /tʃ/, /dz/ and /dʒ/, considered as affricates, count as single consonants and not as clusters, however they are spelt, so that the vowel preceding them is open: natzoun, lats, peds, vêloç, viatx, medz, legeir, adjectiyv);
  2. it comes before the digraphs sc, sç, xc, xç:  asça, ascendeir, excellent, cognosceir;
  3. it comes before x: axis, sexualitat, toxicitat;
  4. it comes before a doubled consonant: sabbatical, toccar, embracçar, additzoun, affêitar, exaggerar, cavalli, flamma, annual, appodzar, acquereir, tzerra, massa, cattiyn, ovviar;
  5. it carries the circumflex accent: ân, fevrêr, côr.