Czecklish phonology

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Modern Czecklish has a total of sixteen oral vowels and twelve nasal vowels. All vowels come in short and long variants. The primary front vowels are /i y e ø/; the back vowels are /o u/ and the central vowels are /ɨ/ and /ɑ/.

Oral Monophthongs

Front Central Back
Close i y ɨ u
Mid e ø o
Open ɑ
* * * *
Close iː yː ɨː
Mid eː øː
Open ɑː

Nasal Monophthongs

Front Central Back
Close ĩ ɨ̃ ũ
Mid õ
Open ɑ̃
* * * *
Close ĩː ɨ̃ː ũː
Mid ẽː õː
Open ɑ̃ː

Vowel Distribution

Close Unrounded Vowels

The vowels /ɨ/ and /i/ have largely complementary distribution. Either vowel may follow a labial consonant. Elsewhere, /i/ is usually restricted to word-initial (C-) position and after palatal consonants, while /ɨ/ cannot appear in word-initial positions or after palatal consonants. The phoneme /i/ appears outside its usual positions in some foreign-derived words. The vowels /ɨ/ and /i/ are considered to rhyme in Khazarian poetry out of tradition, as in the past /ɨ/ was closer to [ɪ], which is acoustically much more similar to [i].

Nasal Vowels

The nasal vowels do not occur except before a fricative and in word-final position. When nasal vowels appear before plosives and affricates, they indicate an oral vowel followed by a nasal consonant homorganic with the following consonant. Before /l/ or /w/, the nasality is lost altogether and the phonemes are pronounced as oral vowels.

Vowel Harmony

Czecklish has a system of vowel harmony. All monophthongs are distinguished by the [±front] and [±round] features. There are two sets of vowel harmony systems: a simple one and a complex one. The simple one is only concerned with the [±front] feature, and is common with singular noun cases and derivational suffixes. The complex one focuses on both the [±front] and [±round] features, and is associated with verb suffixes.The centralized back open vowel /ɨ/and /ɑ/ are considered neutral, and ignore vowel harmony. Because of vowel harmony, most affixes come in front, back and rounded forms.

There are some exceptions to the rules of vowel harmony. In compound words, the vowels do not need to harmonize between the constituent words of the compound. In addition, vowel harmony does not apply in loanwords and some invariant affixes. Some loanwords do, however, exhibit partial or even complete vowel harmony; there are also a few native words that do not follow the rule. In such words, suffixes harmonize with the final vowel.



Labial Alveolar Post-alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive p b t d c ɟ k g
Affricate pf ts dz tʃ dʒ tʂ dʐ tɕ dʑ
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ ɕ ʑ x ɣ h
Approximant j
Trill r
L. Approx. l ʎ

Syllable Structure

The maximum syllable structure of Czecklish is:


Where [(C)(C)] is the onset, and has a maximum of two consonants [(C)(C)]. While the combinations of consonants is practically limitless, all consonant clusters have to obey phonotactics. The Nucleus is V, which can consist of only one vowel. The coda is (C) which can contain a single consonant.


  • Consonantal Voicing: Czecklish obstruents (stops, affricates and fricatives) are subject to voicing and devoicing in certain positions.
    • This leads to neutralization of voiced/voiceless pairs in those positions.
    • The phenomenon applies in word-final position and in consonant clusters.
  • In a Czecklish consonant cluster, including across a word boundary, the obstruents are either all voiced or all voiceless.
    • To determine whether a given cluster has voiced or voiceless obstruents, examine whether the last obstruent in the cluster, excluding /v/ or /ʐ/, appears to be voiced or voiceless.
      • The consonants /m n ɲ ŋ r r̝ l ʎ w/ do not represent obstruents, and therefore do not affect the voicing of other consonants; they are also usually not subject to devoicing except when surrounded by unvoiced consonants.
  • At the end of a word obstruents are pronounced voiceless.
  • Assimilation
    • Nasal Assimilation
      • [m] before [p, b, m]
      • [ɱ] before [f, v]
      • [ɲ] before [c, ɟ, ɲ]
      • [ŋ] before [k, g, ŋ]
    • Sibilant Assimilation
      • [s, z] + [ʃ] > [ʃː]
      • [s, z] + [ʒ] > [ʒː]
      • [ʃ, ʒ] + [s] > [sː]
      • [ʃ, ʒ] + [z] > [zː]
    • Palatal Assimilation
      • any alveolar consonant + /j/ > palatal consonant
      • any alveolar consonant + any palatal consonant > palatal consonant
      • any retroflex consonant + any palatal consonant > palatal consonant

Phonological Constraints

Onset [(C)(C)]

  • The onset may consist of a maximum of two consonants.
    • (C) can be any consonant.
    • (C)(C)
      • Plosive + any obstruent:
        • Plosive
        • Affricate
        • Fricative
      • Plosive + any sonorant.
      • Affricate + any obstruent:
        • Plosive
        • Affricate
        • Fricative
      • Affricate + any sonorant.
      • Fricative + any obstruent:
        • Plosive
        • Affricate
        • Fricative
      • Fricative + any sonorant.

Nucleus (V)

  • The nucleus can be any vowel.
  • The nucleus can be any syllabic sonorant.

Coda [(C)(C)]

  • The coda may consist of a maximum of a single consonant:
    • (C) can be any obstruent:
      • Plosive
      • Affricate
      • Fricative
    • (C) can be any sonorant.


Primary Stress

Secondary Stress