Bircena is an a priori language for a fantasy universe with some loose inspiration from Russian phonology. Some of its most unique features are its extensive use and interplay of case and voice, and a very high sound-to-meaning ratio in some of its most common morphemes.
Bircena is a language spoken on the planet Halonia, in the north of the country Viržura, by both humans and the dominant sentient machines on the planet, the aureli. It is written with a modified version of the Keiphyos script. As with many modern languages of Halonia, its origins were as a sort of creole of futuristic humans languages and the communication systems of the aureli.
|Plosive||p b||t d||č ǰ||c j||k g||q ğ|
|Fricative||v||s z||š ž||ś ź||x||x̌||h|
/č/ and /ǰ/ represent postalveolar affricates, not plosives, but they behave phonologically as plosives, whereas forms with accute accents represent palatalized consonants, rather than true palatals.
|Close||i [i]||ï [ɪ]||ÿ [y]||ü [ʊ]||u [u]|
|Mid||é [e]||e [ɛ]||ö [ɵ]||o [o]|
|Open||a [æ]||ä [ä]||à [ɒ]|
The vowels are grouped as "strong" (i, é, a, à, o, u, ÿ) and "weak" (ï, e, ä, ö, ü). The weak vowels will harmonize to surrounding vowels (see phonotactics, below), while the strong vowels will often reduce to a weak counterpart in unstressed syllables (but not undergo subsequent harmony):
- i --> ï
- é --> e
- a & à --> ä
- o --> ö
- u & y --> ü
The syllable structure is generally V or CV, with a marked but not complete aversion to codas.
Consonant clusters are only permitted if the consonants are (relatively) homorganic, of two different manners, and follow the sonority hierarchy. Therefore, "tsa" and "tla" are acceptable syllables, but "tfa" and "tna" are not. As obstruents are relatively equally sonorous, "sta" is also valid.
Some exceptions occur at morpheme boundaries, but these are generally interrupted in speech production by an epenthetic schwa (or harmonized vowel).
There is a minor form of vowel harmony, wherein a "weak" vowel will assimilate in height, backness, and/or rounding when surrounded by two identical vowels:
- kažö "throw" + -la "simple past" --> kažäla "threw"
- hünö "shine" + -tüvä "perf. future" --> hünütüvä "will have shone"
- hiźe "run" + -hi "pres. prog." --> hiźïhi "running"
- bure "tilt" + -suvo "incho. future" --> burosuvo "will become tilted"
This harmony never occurs within a root, but as a morphosyntactic process.