Friday, May 8, 2009

I'm Feeling Better

Epistle V: I’m feeling better and an Introduction to Babel Phonotactiξ

I apologuise for taking so long to write to you again. I’m not at all sure what came o'er me. Sometimes when I’m feeling just a little unwell, it does not take too many difficulties for me to start feeling truly sick indeed. But my Mother and Fhermáta took care of me, and I’m far better now. I’m not sure where Kàrula is right now, so I may have to copy my letter again myself. When I was feeling at m worst and thought that I was ay-sinking downwards into nightmares that would envelope me, I kept imagining that you were about to return home to me at any moment, that soon I would hear the gate’s unlatching, and all the sheep and fainting goats and dinosaurlings would bleat again to sniff and see you again, and that your smiling face were just about to enter the room and embrighten all things.

In order for you to practice making the sounds of Babel I shall try to chart out the sounds for you. It is a matter of historical confusion that the phonology, the sounds of Babel, has been so illstudied by the Wise in the past. I think this is due to the fact that all of the children of men so easily learn to speak, and so the Wise have been uninterested in how such a talent was acquired, but also because we learn at a young age that an Kháfha and a Qája will say the same word and pronounce it in slightly different ways, and sometimes we aren’t even aware of the difference.
When I searched through the branches of Jhotòpwan, the Galactic Libraries, I came across one of the earliest attempts to chart out the sounds of Babel, and this is what I found:

Q Qh K
Ai Au Ei
Kh Khy Khw
Khl Khm
J P T Xh
Jh Ng
Ts, Tlh, X
Y, W
Fh, Th, S

This was written during the days of the kingdom of Khlakhrátlha, perhaps eight thousand generations ago. I find this chart to be especially interesting because, although it is inaccurate, it is remarkable in its attempt to systemize what has never been analyzed before. For instance, you’ll notice that there are eleven columns, I assume because we like to count in elevens, and six of these columns consist of three different vocables, since three is such an important number in our cultures, I guess. The first line is interesting because they’re all vowels, so that’s a good sart. Q, Qh, and K have a vague similarity in sound. E and O finish the vowels, but I think that R and N are written next because in Khniîxhwa they’re written like vowels, although they are not quite phonetically vowels, although they are very similar. Ai, Au, and Ei are some of the most common vowel sounds in our language, but they are diphthongs, that means, they are two different vowels prounced after each other, so they’re not really distinctive vowel sounds. Then we get Kh, Khy, Khw, Khl, and Khm. Now, the last four of those are also combinations, Kh+y, Kh+w, Kh+l, and Kh+m. The scholar does not realize that he should really be writing Y, W, L, and M. P and T are both stopped consonants, but I don’t know why P and Xh live in that column, nor why Jh and Ng have been yoked. Ts, Tlh, and X are all forceful sounds, and even today I am not quite sure how to classify them. Y and W are both semivowels. Fh and Th and S are all fricatives, so at least they belong together.

The second example of Babel Phonotactics which I have found comes from something written during the earliest days of Eilasaîyanor, when my forefather Eilasaîyan the Son of the Sun moved the Capitol of the Dreamtime from Tniiqhíya and Khniîqha unto the place of the Rising of the Suns. The scribe who copied this down claimed that Fhért Khnànto, the Tájo slave of Empress Qwasàkhta invented this arrangement, although I suspect it may be far older:

Tlh, K, Ts, Wts, Xhth, Qth, Wth, Jhp, Jhkh, Tn, J, Qh, Pfh, Fht, Pt, Tq, Qt, X, Mp, Lp, Khp, Nt, Lt, Kht, Ntr, Qn, Lq, Khq, Mfh, Nth, Thn, Sqr, Nkh, Nxh, Nw, Ny, Lkh, Ml, Ngp, Ngt, Ngt, M, L, Ng, P, Pw, Py, Pr, Pl, T, Tw, Ty, Tr, Q, Qw, Qy, Qr, Ql, Fh, Fhw, Fhy, Fhr, Fhl, Th, Thw, Thy, S, Sw, Sy, St, Sq, Lr, Lw, Ly, Y, W, Jh, Jhw, Jhy, Kh, Khw, Khy, Khr, Khl, Khm, Khn, Xh, Xhw, Xhy, Xhr, Xhl, Xhm, Xhn

This may be a little familiar to you because this is the order of the consonants and consonant clusters in the Khniîxhwa writing system in the same order that we have today. Although this writing system is ideal for one who already knows the language, and especially elegant as it displays the words syllable by syllable rather than sound by sound, it does obscure the consonant clusters a little. So, for instance, in our wriing system Pw is written as one letter, when you must pronounce it as P+w. Pfh is P+fh, Sqr is S+q+r, and Xhth is xh+th. Fhért also did not write down the vowels or the musical pitch at all, since, according to his theory, Babel is a consonantal language, and one should learn the words and affixes by the quality of the consonants and not as complete syllables. Although there may be some validity in this, at least for some words, I don’t think that it is the best way to learn the language.

Therefore I have had to create a chart myself for the different sounds of Babel. As I mentioned in a previous letter, there is not a great deal of literature out there on the details of the sounds of our language, so I have had to invent and guess in some cases. I thought I would try to describe the different parts of the mouth and throat where the sounds are described. I am sad to say that I could not quite fit everything into a single chart, and I am not at all sure about the description of some of these sounds:

Þe 20 Consonants ond 2 Semivowels

asperated labial dental
Alveolar Palatal








R, L




Qh is oftwise pronounced as a purr, a laryngeal ør pharyngeal ør epiglottal trill
Ts is pronounced like a forceful “ts!,” a voiceleß grooved dental affricate
Tlh is a voiceleß alveolar lateral affricate pronounced like a forceful “tl!”
Xh is an “shhh” sound formed beneath Þe tounge, sharp hißed sibilant
X is a click, sounding somewhat like a Raven singing “tock!”
Y is W are considered semivowels
‘ is the saltillo, the glottal stop
Final -T, -S, -Kh, -L, -M, and –N are lengthened under certain environments

Þe 5 Vowels


Ir Ír Ìr Ur Úr Ùr
Er Ér Èr Or Ór Òr
Ar Ár Àr

Ii Ie Iî Iê
Ei Eu Eî Eû
Ai Ae Ao Au Aî Aê Aô Aû
Oi Oe Oa Oî Oê Oâ
Ui Uî

Iir Ier Iîr Iêr
Eir Eur Eîr Eûr
Air Aer Aor Aur Aîr Aêr Aôr Aûr
Oir Oer Oar Oîr Oêr Oâr
Uir Uîr

Puey, I think if you get Khrùkhtii and Paloîta to help you by reading aloud the chart in order several times, then I think you will be able to hear the relationship of the sounds one to another. In the same way that you were trying to explain to me the harmonics and resonances in music, so too one can hear something similar in the 20 consonants, 2 semivowels, and 5 vowels of Babel. I think it is important not to impose artificial constraints upon the sounds, though. Our first scrivener of Khlakhrátlha kept trying to place the sounds into threes and elevens, which makes sense when one is playing tnúpa jórqha chess or engaged in mathmatics, but language is far older than mathmatics, mathmatics and music are after all blossoms of language.
The consonants and vowels of Babel, however, may not be jumbled together in an haphazard order to make a word. For instance, although P, Xh, M, and A are all sounds in our language, the following vocables are most certainly not words:


In fact, most adults would even have difficulty pronouncing those at all. Perhaps it is best, then, that the only ones who appear interesting in studying language are children, for we are just have more creativity and curiosity than the older generation.
What makes these sounds into words can actually be reduced to a simple series of rules. There are a limited number of consonant clusters which may be used to form a word. A word may begin with a vowel and end with a vowel, but it must have at least one vowel in it.

Consonants ond Consonant Clustren

Initial only Consonant Clustren
Wts, Xhth, Qth, Wth, Jhp, Jhkh, Tn

Consonsants ond consonant clustren Þæt may be initial ør medial

P, Pw, Py, Pr, Pl
T, Tw, Ty, Tr
Q, Qw, Qy, Qr, Ql
Fh, Fhw, Fhy, Fhr, Fhl
Th, Thw, Thy
S, Sw, Sy
St ,Ts, Sq
Jh, Jhw, Jhy
Kh, Khw, Khy, Khr, Khl, Khm, Khn
Xh, Xhw, Xhy, Xhr, Xhl, Xhm, Xhn
Lr, Lw, Ly
J, Qh, Pfh, Fht, Pt, Tq, Qt, X

Consonants ond consonant clustren which may only be medial

Mp, Lp, Khp, Nt, Lt, Kht, Ntr, Qn, Lq, Khq, Mfh, Nth, Thn, Sqr, Nkh, Nxh, Ny, Nw, Lkh, Ml, M, N, W, Y, L, R, Ng, Ngp, Ngt, Ngq
Final Consonants
L, R, M, N, Ng, T, S, Kh

From a practical point of view the final consonants L, R, M, N, Ng, T, S, Kh, as well as the semivowel Y are repeated many times since most affixes will consist of one of those consonants and a vowel or two suffixed to the root. This means that the harsher consonants, such as Qh, Q, J, X, tend to be at the beginning or a word or root and weigh it in that direction while the more mellifluous sounds come at the end.
The patterns of sounds, oh my Puey, raise some interesting puzzles to me which I shall try to clarify.

The initial only consonant clusters, Wts, Xhth, Qth, Qth, Jhp, Jhkh, Tn add an epenthetick E when they form the second part of a compound word: Wts > Wets, Xhth > Xheth, Qth > Qeth, Wth > Weth, Jhp > Jhep, Jhkh > Jhekh, and Tn > Ten. However, these initial consonant clusters do not change when a grammatical prefix is added unto it. Hence when I add tsena- to wthá I pronounce and write tsenàwthá and not tsenawethá or tsenàwethá.
The R that one finds in Pr, Tr, Qr, Fhr, Thr, Khr, Xhr, Ntr, and Sqr is of a slightly different phonetic realization than the R that follows a vowel. This is even reflected in our writing system, where, for instance, Pr is a circle with a line reaching down, while Ar is the vowel A with a little hook beneath it. This is because Ar is really an entire vowel sound, while Pr is consonant combination. The word qráyingtèrpa, your mother is thus qrá-ying-tèr-pa rather than qrá-ying-tè-rpa. The name Fhermáta is Fher-má-ta, and not Fhe-rmá-ta, or something of the sort.
Ao, Au, Ei, Eu, Ie, Ei, Oa, and Ui are diphthongs for words of one or more syllable. The diphthongs Ae and Oe only occurr in words of a single syllable, while the diphthongs Ai and Oi only occur in words of more than one syllable. When a word that has the diphthong Ae or Oe is part of a compound, the diphthong changes to Ai and Oi. However, Ae and Oe do not change to Ai and Oi when grammatical affixes are added unto them. This rule may sound a little more complicated that it is, oh my Puey, but most of us just learn it as we learn to talk, and then latter as a rule of orthography in painting our letters. In the same way that when you strum the the strings of your harp and somehow just know how to tune and make it a part of melody, so too do we who speak in words know what are the order and manner of the sounds of language.
Monosyllabick roots with a single vowel always have a rising accent which is sometimes realized as a long vowel. These vowels do not become the level tone when grammatical affixes are added, that is, they are not shortened. Hence Fhérm + -áxeus becomes Fhérmáxeus rather than fhermáxeus. However, when these roots are used in compounds the rising accent is lost, so the name derived from Fhérm is Fhermáta, and not Fhérmáta. Monosyllabick roots with a diphthong take the rising-falling accent when appropriate.
The pitch accent is very simple, and I shall describe it in full in a later letter. The ultimate is never accented with a rising accent save if it is of a monosyllabic root with a single vowel as I mentioned above. The penultimate is only accented if the vowel is a fhtoîsyoi diththong, if the vowel is long with a rising accent, or if the vowel follows two or more qwòthnas consonants. For the purposes of the pitch accent, a vowel followed by an R is considered a vowel followed by a consonant, even though we know it is not phonetically the case. This is why, for instance qráyingtèrpa, your mother, takes the grave accent on the Er, but if I added the focus suffix –inwi, the accent shifts to qráyingterpayìnwi, your mother indeed. If the penultimate is not a diphthong, if the vowel is not of a rising tone, and if it is not followed by two or more consants, than otherwise the antepenult is accented and takes the falling tone. I will describe this better later on, especially if that was too much for you to take in at once.
And finally when the final vowel is a diphthong and the penultimate syllable is a level toned vowel, a short vowel followed by only one consonant, the antepenult is still accented. In other words, diphthongs count as one syllable in Babel accentuation, even though phonetically they consist of two vowels betrothed together.

Why did you just make me copy that down? Vowels betrothed? Can’t you even talk about something as boring as grammar without diverging onto some romantic story involving my Foster Brother? Do I have to remind you, Éfhelìnye, that I was supposed to be married to him first? You just came along and tried to take control of the whole story. The entirety of the Universes don’t revolve around you. Who died and made you Empress! Oh, wait. That’s the entire plot of the book.

Kàrula, I can’t help but notice that sometimes your mind wanders when you copy my epistles down. For instance, there are a great deal of doodles here in the margin of this letter, and most of these scribbles end in, Karuláta rules! Everyone loves Karuláta. Karuláta is sooo bored. Would you please just copy the charts that I’ve circled in blue crayon?

Yeah well, I’ll copy what I want to copy. Do you think Puey even reads these margins? I doubt it. So I can write anything I want here, right? Okay, I’m really bored and I can’t believe you made me copy out charts of nothing but glyphs following glyphs. Those are a lot of rules for making up words, I never had to learn them to talk good! And how come Xhaaa and Aapmaa and Axhmp and Mpa and Pxha are not words?

I just explained it above.

Can I add Pxha to your lexicon? Okay, Pxha means I’m so booored!

Kàrula, you’re using up all the paper. I need enough space to write down how these sounds were pronounced from a practical point of view.

How about Pxhaaaa? Can that be a word? Mpxhaaa! As in, Mpxhaaa, I’m so bored!

Why don’t you stop writing all o'er my letter? Oh, now you’ve gotten me to write down everything that I say!

Puey, are you reading this? Please save me from your wife! She’s going to make me copy down like a million pages!

[torn page]

The largest consonant clusters permissible in Babel are R + Sqr and R + Ntr which is found in only an handful of words:

Jhkhèrsqro, jhkhèrsqrot tho who push forward, speak careleßwise, act haphazardwise, wilwise·nilwise
Jhpùrsqra spot on eyeball, debris
Jhyàrsqrakh Xhwàrmol, a prince among Þe Noiselords
Khmùrsqru musk
Thàrsqri tho who make (somewhom/somewhat) into irregular patches; suspect for ne reason; are without reason, are nowhy
Tsòrsqri, tsairòsqri garblren; tho who garble (somewhom/somewhat)
Xhyuîrsqre, xhyuîrsqrat tho who loosen, come loose, bloom, bloßom

Tnòrntru tho who pound (somewhom/somewhat) with a pestle
Qèrntre tho who are spread out bi divren weyes
Khlutyèrntra crystals
Xhwaûrntri, xhwaûrntring spies, scouts, ninja

Karuláta will you just stop it and

[torn page]

Puey, I’ve sent Karuláta away to get some more paper from the Abbey. In the meanwhile I’m going to write down a summary of how to pronounce the various sounds. Khrùkhtii and Paloîta can help you practice, I’m sure. While all all varieties of Babel have the same number of jàngqi phonemes, the pronuncation of those phonemes varied slightly from dialect to to dialect from and from Immortal and Spirit and Real Person and by nation and caste and timeline. I shall describe the standard pronunciation, that is the elegant way that it was prounced by the Khniîkha cultures which found their home in Khniîqhekh and Khníxher and Tnakhíya and the great Ice Capitol of Eilasaîyanor where the learning of the Prophet Khniikhèrkhmair was preserved. This system of pronunciation is in manyways considered average or even middling, and is easiest understood by the most strange and distant cultures and folk. However, I personally find that the lwèlqi, the delicate sing-song accent of Jaràqtu to be especially attractive, but the only difference between the speech of your people and that of mine own tends to be in the quality and timber of the vowels. Since phonology is still a discipline in its infancy, I may have to describe some of these pronunciations by analogy.

The Consonants:

Fh, is a puffed aspirated labial dental humming fricative. It is sometimes pronounced like a very breathy p’p’p’ sound. It has some allophonick voiced varieties pronounced like m’m’m’. I usually hear it aspirated when spoken by a Xhámi, but not when spoken by someone such as a Qhíng or Kháfha who sports a beak. When Fh is medial some species pronounce it like W but with a puff of air. I used to think that it was voiced, that it regularly represented the jàngqim phoneme m’kh’, but I think that it is really unmarked and voiceless for most of us real people. I suppose one could say that my name Éfhelìnye is pronounced by some folk as É-p’p’p’kh’e-lìn-ye or É-m’m’m’kh’e-lìn-ye. Fh sometimes colors the neighboring vowel, and like Y and Y could itself be seen as having vowellike qualities. Think of the Fh in Fhermáta.

J, an alveolar palatal mountain affricate. It is pronounced like the J in Jeûr and Ixhúja.

Jh, an alveolar palatal mountain fricative. It is prounced like the Jh in Xhàtrajhil and Jhwèsta.

K, is a velar stopped consonant. I am not entirely sure

Hi, I’m back. Princess! Still writing?

Where’s the papyrus?

What papyrus?

You left to get me more papyrus. I’m trying write Puey a lovely little letter and I’m running out of room down here. You have chocolate all o'er your face!

Oh. I remembered to get the chocolate.

Would you please get me some more paper? Look, I’m wasting what I have left writing notes to you.

Puey, I’m not sure what relationship K has with aspiration. Among some folk I hear a variation between K and K-kh’, for instance a word beginning with K has a puff of air after it while K in the middle of a word did not in regular allophonic variation. For instance in the sentence:

Qunísqu kartayòjhwa xhlir Karuláta kùlta qtènokor.
Dearest and golden Karuláta chanced to forget the small hexagons of paper.

The K in kartayòjhwa and Karuláta and kùlta all have puffs of air after them in some varieties, but the K in qtènokor does not. To aid you in learning Babel I’ll include vocabulary from time to time as follows:

Kàrta cards, small rectanglen of paper, small hexagons of paper
Qùsqu, qunísqu tho who forget (somewhom/somewhat), qunqa
Kùlta tho who are golden, dearest, bal, nefsis, gråt
Qtènokor tho who are yellow, golden, honey colored, aureate, aurelian, aureous,

Kh is a glutteral glotta affricate. It is one of the most common sounds of Babel and prounced in the back of the throat almost like a growl. Before M, N, L, R, Y, and W sometimes it is softened a little and almost sounds like kh’.

L is an alveolar veldt liquidic approximant, and

What does kh’ mean?

You haven’t gotten the paper yet. I’m almost at the bottom of the sheet.

So, what’s kh’ mean?

It’s a notational symbol. In Khniîkhwa we have a little mark which we can place above one of the regular glyphs to show that it’s not pronounced in the normal way. So kh’ is not prounced like Kh, it’s softer as one finds it spoken by, say, the Lwàlyas.

So that’s why you wrote É-p’p’p’kh’e-lìn-ye and É-m’m’m’kh’e-lìn-ye above? Cause that haint how you spell your name. Princess. Pal.

I’m just trying to show how some pronounce it.

Épkhelìnye? Émkhelìnye?

No, it’s pronounced … perhaps I should just invent mine own letters.

NO! This is complicated and boring enough. Épkhelìnye.

Please get some paper. She’s gone. L is a fun letter, mostly because the aliens pronounce it in so many fun little ways. Sometimes it sounds very heavy to me, especially at the end of syllable, such as in Xelpeîto, the Hāligdōm. L is sometimes devoiced after Kh. It is quite a common sound, and you know it from Karuláta’ Akhlísa and Siêthiyal and Éfhelìnye.

M, is a labial liquidic nasal. It is sometimes devoiced after Kh. You know this sound from Íngìkhmar and Qtìmine.

N, is an alveolar veldt liquidic nasal. N is sometimes devoiced after Kh, such as in the name of our illustrious pirate Uncle Xhnófho. You also know N from Euqliîna and Qìtien.

Ng is a velar liquidic nasal. You know it from Íngìkhmar and Khangisqrírles.

P, is a labial stopped consonant, and like K sometimes it is aspirated in an initial position and other times not aspirated. Thus in some speech communities there is allophonic variation between P and Pkh’. You well know this letter from Pátifhar and Pàlron and your own name Puîyus.

Q is a coughing uvular affricate that is pronounced back in the throat. This is an extremely common phoneme. Some dialects, however, pronouce it as we pronounce K, and they pronounce K as something else, but there is usually no confusion since one can quickly understand the pattern of the phonemes from one dialect to the next. You’ll recall the names of Princess Qlenólakh and my adorable little golden toy Qwatríxe. I wonder how Qwatríxe is doing right now? I need to play with him.

Qh is a coughing uvular humming fricative, it almost sounds like a trill to me. The sound I find especially evocative, for it reminds me of pools and clouds and luich and music. It almost tickles the throat to purr it, for in truth it is a cross between a purr and a growl, a laryngeal or pharyngeal or epiglottal trill. You hear this purr in the name Wthí Qhòrem, one of Xhnófho’s sweethearts, as well as the Qhíng the name of his people, as well as the name of the Father of all Dragons, Qhalúxha whose name begins with a growl.

R is an alveolar veldt liquidic approximant when it follows a consonant, but when it follows a vowel it just colors it. Some folk pronounce it with a very strong sound, some prounced it as a trill which one transcribes as R’. In the Khniîkhan varieties of Babel R was not trilled. R is often unvoiced after Kh. In some ways R is more of a vowel in Babel than a consonant at all, which is why it just hops about unto its own dance. To use the example of your oldest Sister’s name, Fhermáta contains an R which is clearly a vowel, Er, but her other name Fhrúla is really a consonant cluster. Karuláta or Kàrula is almost both have diphthongs at the beginning, ar-u and àr-u. Fhèrkifher contains two vowellike Rs.

S is an alveolar veldt humming fricative, an extremely common sound found both in your name, Puîyus and in that of your Sister Siêthiyal.

T is an alveolar veldt stopped consonant whose

Did someone call for me? Who, nice paper. I’m going to draw all o'er it.
[The epistle is partially torn at on end]

Puey this is Siêthiyal. Your sweetheart is writing a really boring letter here and I won’t let her have the paper back. Can you believe that I can hold her down with one arm? She’s so weak! I’m just going to draw upon this chart.

Puey, I got the letter back. Siêthi is off in search for Karuláta. She might have gotten lost going to the abby and
[the next few lines are blotted out and DON’T CALL ME SIÊTHI is painted upon them]

rather similar in realization. The exact pronounciation of T as well as Fh, Qh, and Xh does vary a bit among the nations and peoples, and is perhaps the only aspect of phonology which the wise debated. My source from Khlakhrátlha, all three pages of it, wrote that the Khniîkhan pronunciation at the time was a thick t’ sound, that is, think of the pronoun tú, you, and feel as your tounge touches the upper upper teeth, but lower it a little and press harder. Sometimes when I hear some folk say tú I think I’m really hearing nt’, that is the T is voiced in my ears. Some of the varieties of Khniîxhwa from the time of Khlakhrátlha one would find the phoneme t’, voiced, along side the two unvoiced stopped consonants P and K. I think that many of the folk today prounce T in varied allophonic variation between t’ and n’ and T, although the exact distriburation varies quite a bit. I wrote before that P and K seem to have been aspirated, spoken with a puff of air at the end, but in Khniîkha I have never heard T pronounced like Tkh’, although some varieties of Babel do so. You can practice T with the names of your Sisters, Fhermáta and Karuláta and even my adorable little toy Tetratríxe.

Th, is a dental humming fricative, always unvoiced in our varieties of speech. You can practice with the names Siêthiyal and the name Thiêfhilos, one of the names of Grandfather Pátifhar.

Tlh is one of my favorite sounds, it is a voiceless alveolar lateral affricate sounded a little like a forceful Tl’ sound. Sometimes I think that Tlh has actually two different places of articulation, at both T and K, which is why some writing systems don’t have an individual glyph for Tlh but rather write it as if it were K + L or K + Khl. In reading one of those writing systems, Puey, my beloved, please keep in mind these are not meant to be the phones K or Kh or L. Tlh is already a fairly special phoneme, aside from its wonderful sound, but it does seem to have some relationship to the fact that T may be combined with R and Y and W but never L. In other words we have words that begin T, Tr, Ty, and Tw but never Tl. Tl is a consonant combination that is illegal in Babel phonotactics. Tlh in some ways takes its place. You can practice this sound with the name Stitlhàrkhlo, that of your Father’s faithful velociraptor steed, as in the word tlheîr, the one legged silicon deer.

Ts is a voiceless grooved dental affricate, a forceful T+s sound. Some varieties pronounce it as a voiced version of S or in a variety of other ways. You can practice saying this sound by thinking of the birdlings that Captain Euqliîna likes the juggle, the atsáya rooster raptors, or our word for good omens, especially on one’s Starday, tsóriêna! Tsóriêna púxhmi! Happy bird omens to me. Puey, I hope you return to me by the time of my Starday. Right now the fields of Jaràqtu are blushing blue and green. The lochs are filled with prismatic spray, and whenever we open the windows in the kitchens fishes almost fight themselves to flood and fly into the crannog. The storms rumble with the coming storms. I know that summer is lovely, and it certainly makes Siêthiyal and Karuláta happy, but I long for your return, when the fields were bloom in spring again. I hope that when you return it will be my day once again and we can betrothed.

Ha ha ha! I have the Princess’ letter! Mine mine mine. Brother, send me toys. Here, I got you more paper. Write whatever you want.

Okay, Puey I’m back. Siêthiyal and Karuláta are chasing each other now. W is a labial liquidic approximate. Like M, N, L, and Y, it is sometimes devoiced after Kh. You can practice this sound by saying the names of our Mothers, Khwofheîlya and Khnoqwísi.

X is a click sounded in all manner of varieties. In Khniîkha it is prounced a little like the way that a Raven makes the sound X! X! X!, but in other dreamlands it is prounced in a variety of other ways. One day I shall write an extensive work on the various click sounds. I suspect that one can identify where someone was born by the way that one clicked. You are already an expert on the sound X because of your ability to speak with birds and fishes and all such creatures who click, and Ixhúja tends to click quite a bit when talking to her machines, and you can practice the names Tetratríxe and Qwatríxe to help, or even think of the Xeriîqe among the Xakhpàlqe.

Xh is a strong and sharp hissed sibilant prounced beneath the tounge. It is very similar to a low whistle, almost a retroflexive S sound. You can practice the name of Grandmother Xhàtrajhil and the name of your other Grandmother Xhelilamaramaláma.

Y is an alveolar palatal mountain liquid approximate. It is sometimes devoiced after Kh. It is one of the most common sounds in our language and ensure that it always has a musical wave unto it. You can practice the name of your Mother Khwofheîlya and your Sister Siêthiyal and my name Éfhelìnye to master that sound.

The Vowels

Babel has five vowels, each of which may be spoken on a level musical tone, a rising musical tone, and a falling musical tone. The rising musical tone is also sung half a beat longer than a level or falling tone. Some varieties of Babel turn their pure vowels into fhtoîsyoi diphthongs, but this is not the came in the divine dialect of Babel, Khniîxhwa as it is spoken among the Rising Suns.

Here is a list of the different vowels that we have, and I have paired them with names that you know so that you can practice saying them:

I such as in Éfhelìnye and Siêthiyal and Ixhúja and Kàrijoi and Khnoqwísi and Qtìmine and Khrùkhtii and Qìtien
Ì such as in Puîyus and Íngìkhmar and Khwofheîlya and Qtìmine and Fhèrkifher and Ìkhnos and Euqliîna and Qìtien
Í such as in Siêthiyal and Tetratríxe and Qwatríxe and Khnoqwísi and Íngìkhmar and Euqliîna
E as in Éfhelìnye and Tetratríxe and Jeûr and Qtìmine and Pereluyàsqa and Fhèrkifher
È as in Siêthiyal and Khniikhèrkhmair and Fhèrkifher and Eirènwa and Jhwèsta
É as in Éfhelìnye and Khwofheîlya and Tét and Asiréma
A as in Fhermáta and Siêthiyal and Karuláta’ Akhlísa and Ixhúja and Tetratríxe and Qwatríxe and Pátifhar and Íngìkhmar and Tetratríxe and Qwatríxe and Eirènwa and Xataríyona and Paloîta and Euqliîna and Aîya and Asiréma and Qlenólakh and Jhwèsta. The sound A in some varieties has allophonic variation with a’.
À as in Kàrijoi and Pereluyàsqa and Khosyaràsqa and Pàlron and Stitlhàrkhlo
Á as in Karuláta and Pátifhar and Táto
O as in Táto and Khnoqwísi and Khwofheîlya and Khosyaràsqa and Ìkhnos and Pàlron
Ò as in Wthí Qhòrem and Jhotòpwan, the Galactic Libraries
Ó as in Xhnófho and Paloîta and Fhólus and Qlenólakh
U as in Karuláta and Pereluyàsqa. The sound U in some varieties has allophonic variation with i’.
Ù as in as in Jeûr and Khrùkhtii
Ú as in Ixhúja

Some of the examples that I gave above we really diphthongs, but diphthongs are merely two vowels betrothed. If you can say the names above it should be quite simple to sing out these diphthongs:

Ii Ie Iî Iê
Ei Eu Eî Eû
Ai Ae Ao Au Aî Aê Aô Aû
Oi Oe Oa Oî Oê Oâ
Ui Uî

Iir Ier Iîr Iêr
Eir Eur Eîr Eûr
Air Aer Aor Aur Aîr Aêr Aôr Aûr
Oir Oer Oar Oîr Oêr Oâr
Uir Uîr

Ae and Oe exist only in monosyllabic roots, and they become Ai and Oi in polysyllabic derivatives. Some peoples prounce Ae and Ai the same, and Oe and Oi the same, while others pronounce them in a very different way. In Khniîxhwa we keep Ae and Ai quite distinct, as well as Oe and Oi.

Puey, right now Siêthiyal and Karuláta are having far too much fun, so I’m only going to write about another page more, and then I’ll run out and chase after them. I just want to add that final vowels of level tone, vowels which are chanted for a shorter length than the rising tone, are not reduced to a’ sound in the divine dialect of Khniîxhwa. For instance, the following five participles are all identical save for the final vowel, and so if they were all prounced kàmp-a’, then they would all sound the same. One could say that final level vowels are minimal distinctions.

Kàmpa caps, hats
Kàmpe tho who compare (somewhom/somewhat) (+dat to somewhom/somewhat)
Kàmpi cabins
Kàmpo camps
Kàmpu tho who compete with (somewhom/somewhat)


Tsìmla Tsìmli (male) {species of mountain sheep}
Tsìmle tho who are interesting
Tsìmli, tsitsìmli Tsìmli (epicene) {species of mountain sheep}
Tsìmlo Tsìmli (female) {species of mountain sheep}
Tsìmlu tho who are moist

In this example the first two have a rising tone and the next three falling:

Xhnéja sentences [together·wørd]
Xhnéje machicolaciouns, openings between supports on castle parapets for droping mißlen on enemies
Xhnèji, xhnejelínge tho who are hidden
Xhnèjo devoted gnights, gnights devoted to Þe Empress, Princess, high·born ladies
Xhnèju, xhnèjuju tho who ripple, wrinkle

I cheat a little with these because the last one is a name, and I’m probably one of the few Princesses to know the names of the generals of the Xelòrkhta people.

Pànta pair of pants, trousren
Pànte tho who protest (somewhom/somewhat)
Pànti pastry, pasta, food made from dough
Pànto, papànto proverbs, maxims, apothegms
Pàntu Pàntu, a Xelòrkhta general

This one also has a few examples with rising tone on the penultime.

Plàta plates, dishes, Geschirr, šriš, līspa
Pláte planes
Pláti place for somewhom/somewhat, place to put somewhom/somewhat, proper place
Plàto plows, swords, glaß swords, kleze, dilizanz, zEvwyd, bloodworms, waroñions, taming wands, nsi, autoguos, fanploughs, slacc, collann, ziginz, ranchil, surka, savikpak
Plàtu plans, rede, quorum

Jaê kàmpa púxhlisa.
I see hats.
Jaê kàmpi púxhlisa.
I see cabins.
Jaê kàmpo púxhlisa.
I see camps.

Jaê kampayùtya púsa.
I see some hats.
Jaê kampiyùtya púsa.
I see some cabins.
Jaê kampoyùtya púsa.
I see some camps.

Kàmpe khleit stélaràswaor púsa.
I compare you to princesses.
Kàmpu khleit stélaràswaor púsa.
I compete mwith you for princesses.

Grammarians consider such sets of words varying only zo slightwise qlèqi ør xhrìmini rhymes.
Puey, I’m going to go and play with Siêthiyal and Karuláta right now. I’ll have Karuláta copy out a few of these pages, but I’ll do some of the work myself since it was rather complex. I hope this has clarified some of the details on how Babel is spoken. If you can just practice saying some these names, I think that you will be able to learn the rhythm of language without having to learn the actual artistry that I have created within it.
Please keep safe in the war, and I pray for your safe return.
[Scribbled all on the bottom of the page and on the back: KARULÁTA IS THE BEST! KARULÁTA FOR EVER!]

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