2.3. Sounds of the Letters

2.3.1 The following pronunciation is substantially that employed by the Indo-Europeans in what we call the III stage, at the time when the phonetic trends usually called satemization were probably beginning.

NOTE. This Europaio, as we already said, does not permit the phonetic splits among languages, because systematization, especially in the pronunciation basics, is needed, and satemization is deemed to have been only a logic phonetic trend. Thus, although we include features from dialects which are centuries younger, we need an older, more unitary pronunciation system.

2.3.2. Vowels:

a:  as in father

a  as in idea

e:  as in they

e  as in met

i:  as in meet

i  as in chip

o:  as in note

o  as in pot

u:  as in rude

u  as in put

ə  as a in about *

y   between u and i, like French u, German ü **

* Written a in Europaio

** Not an original Europaio sound

NOTE 1. Because there are at least so many ways to mark vowel length and accent as writing systems, we have chosen a more practical way of writing - although it may bring some extra difficulty in reading Europaio texts -, avoiding the marking of both of them. In this book, though, long vowels are normally underlined, and accented vowels are in bold type.

NOTE 2. The sonants can also be lengthened, especially in the conjugation of verbs, giving thus m,n,r and l. The semi-vowels j and w can also have a prolonged pronunciation, having thus allophones iy and uw. For more details on this see §2.7.2.

2.3.3. Diphthongs:

ei  as in vein

eu   e (met) + u (put)

oi  as in oil

ou  as ow in know

ai  as in Cairo

au  as ou in out

NOTE. je, jo, ja, as well as we, wo, wa cannot  be considered properly diphthongs, because j- and w- are properly consonants. Nevertheless, in Eu-ro-pa-io we consider -io a diphthong for syntax analysis.

2.3.4. Triphthongs:

There are no actual triphthongs, as a consequence of what was said in the preceding note. The formations usually called triphthongs are jei, joi, jai; jeu, jou, jau; or wei, woi, wai; weu, wou and wau; and none can be named strictly triphthong, as there is a consonantal sound (j- or w-) followed by a diphthong. The rest of possible formations are made up of a diphthong and a vowel.

NOTE. Triphthong can be employed for syntax analysis, though. But a semi-vowel surrounded by vowels is not one. Thus, in Eu-ro-pa-iom, /euro'pajom/ there aren't any triphthongs.

2.3.4. Consonants:

1. b, d, h, k, l, m, n, p, are pronounced as in English.

2. n can also be pronounced as guttural [ŋ] when it is followed by another guttural, as English sing or bank.

3. t is always a plain t, never with the sound of sh, as English oration.

4. g always as in get. It has two possible pronunciations, simple velar and palatovelar. Compare the initial consonants in garlic and gear, whispering the two words, and it will be observed that before e and i the g is sounded farther forward in the mouth than before a or o.

5. c is pronounced similar to [g] but with rounded lips. Compare the initial consonant in good with those of the preceding example to feel the different articulation. q has a similar (but voiceless) pronunciation, as c in cool.

6. j as the sound of y as in yes, w as w in will.

7. r was possibly slightly trilled with the tip of the tongue (as generally in Romance or Slavic languages), but other usual pronunciations of modern European languages have to be admitted in the revived language, as French or (Standard) German r.

8. s is voiceless as in sin, but there are situations in which it is voiced, depending on the surrounding phonemes. Like with r, differing modern languages will probably pronounce this phoneme differently, but this will not usually lead to misunderstandings, as there are no proper Europaio words with z, only loan words.

9. bh, dh, gh, ch are uncertain in sound, but the recommended pronunciation is that of the Hindustani's "voiced aspirated stops" bh, dh, gh, as they are examples of living voiced aspirates in an IE language which is derived from Sanskrit, the earliest attested IE III dialect.

NOTE. There are several ways to generate breathy-voiced sounds. One is to hold the vocal cords apart, so that they are lax as they are for [h], but to increase the volume of airflow so that they vibrate loosely. A second is to bring the vocal cords closer together along their entire length than in voiceless [h], but not as close as in modally voiced sounds such as vowels. This results in an airflow intermediate between [h] and vowels, and is the case with English intervocalic /h/. A third is to constrict the glottis, but separate the arytenoid cartilages that control one end. This results in the vocal cords being drawn together for voicing in the back, but separated to allow the passage of large volumes of air in the front. This is the situation with Hindustani.

10. x represents the [x], wether with ach-laut, such as kh in Russian Khrushenko, or with ich-laut, such as ch in German Lichtenstein; but never like ks, gz or z, as in English.

11. z, v, f, sh, are pronounced as in English.

12. zh is pronounced as in English leisure.

13. tsh corresponds to English ch in chain and tzh to j in jump

14. The aspirates ph, kh, th are pronounced very nearly like the English stressed p, c, t.

15. There is also another value for th, which corresponds to English th in thing, and for dh, which sounds as th in this.

16. rh, rr and rrh have no similar sounds in English, although there are examples of loan words, such as Spanish guerrilla, or Greek rhotacism or Tyrrhenos.

17. nj is similar to /nj/ in English onion or canyon; and lj to /lj/ in English million.

18. Doubled letters, like ll, mm, tt, etc., should be so pronounced that both members of the combination are distinctly articulated.