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1. pronunciation and alphabet

pronunciation

Unlike English, NS words are pronounced in the same way they are written. This is good news. It means that once you learn how to pronounce individual NS characters, you will be able to pronounce any NS word.

Stress is on the first syllable of short words. That syllable is only slightly emphasized, just like in the English words "table", "memory". Long words have stress at internal syllable finishing by three or more consonants just like in the English word "December".

However, Neoslavonic is an artificial language and therefore allows different kinds of stressing. Polishes, for example, will tend to put stress always at the second last syllable of the words, Czechs will tend to put stress every time at the first syllable etc.


alphabet

Neoslavonic actually uses two equivalent alphabets: Latin and Cyrillic. In addition, it also has a transcript available in ASCII and Greek alphabets, and it is possible to use the first-ever Slavic script: Glagolitic for Your pleasure.

In this course
we will use the Latin alphabet, with the brief outline of its transcription in Cyrillic.
Take notice, that Neoslavonic uses the English version of the Latin alphabet appended by only three specific characters: č = ch, š = sh, ž = zh. There are no other accented or else characters:

 Latin  ASCII  Cyrillic  Greek  IPA  example  name
 a  a  а
 α  [a]  alphabet, but
 a
 b  b  б
 μπ  [b]  beer, bird
 be
 c  c  ц
 τσ  [ts]  cats
 ce
 č  ch (cz)
 ц
 τζ  [tʃ]  chimney, bench
 če
 d  d  д
 δ  [d]  date, do, odd
 de
 dj  dj  дь
 δι  [ɟ]  duty  dje
 dž  dzh  дж
 δζχ  [dʒ]  juice, gymnastics
 dže
 e  e  е
 ε  [ɛ]  bed, yes
 e
 f  f  ф
 φ  [f]  photo, leaf  ef
 g  g  г
 γ  [g]  go, get
 ge
 h (ch)
 h (kh)
 х
 χ  [x]  loch (Scottish), José (Spanish) 
 ha
 i  i  и
 η  [i]  city, see, meat  i
 ie (ě)
 ie  ѣ (е)
 ιε  [jɛ]  yes, cavalliero (Spanish)  jatj
 j  j  ј (й)
 ι  [j]  yes, you
 je
 ju  ju  ю  ιου  [jʊ]  you, cute  ju
 k  k  к  κ  [k]  kill, skin
 ka
 l  l  л  λ  [l]  like, loop
 el
 lj  lj  ль  λι  [ʎ]  cavalliero (Spanish)
 elj
 m  m  м  μ  [m]  man, ham
 em
 n  n  н  ν  [n]  no, nose
 en
 nj  nj  нь  νι  [ɲ]  new, cognac, mañana (Spanish)  enj
 o  o  о (ω)
 ο (ω)
 [ɔ]  law, talk, no (Spanish)
 o
 p  p  п  π  [p]  pen, spin
 pe
 q  q  к  κ  [k]  kill, skin  kve
 r  r  р  ρ  [r]  sombrero (Spanish)
 er
 s  s  с  σ  [s]  see, city, pass
 es
 š  sh  ш  σχ  [ʃ]  she, shame
 eš
 št  sht  щ  σχτ  [ʃt]  š + t
 šta
 t  t  т  τ  [t]  to, motor
 te
 th  th  ѳ  θ  [θ]  thing, teeth
 the
 tj  tj  ть  τι  [c]  Tuesday, opportunity
 tje
 u  u  у  ου  [ʊ]  put, good
 u
 v  v  в  β  [v]  voice, have
 ve
 w  w  в  β  [v]  voice, have  dvojne ve 
 x  x  кс (ξ)
 ξ  [ks]  sex, six  eks
 y  y  ы (υ)
 υ  [i]  city, see, meat  ypsilon
 z  z  з  ζ  [z]  zoo, zombie, rose
 zet
 ž  zh  ж  ζχ  [ʒ]  pleasure, Jean (French)
 žet
 '  '  ъ  '  [ɜ̆]  very short sound from burn, earth, bird   jor 

(auxiliary character j=ь without its own sound, which is used in ligatures of soft consonants dj=дь, tj=ть, nj=нь, lj=ль= we call "jer")

note:
  1. There is no sound difference between characters i and y (as well as in modern Greek, for example). We use these two symbols of the same sound in order to express different grammatical information about gender and case in order to separate some homonyms only. In case of "simplified orthography", it is possible to write only one character i.

  2. Ligature ie can be written as ě. This character is pronounced in the same way as standard e and softens the preceding consonants from die, tie, nie, lie to dj+e, tj+e, nj+e, lj+e. In other cases this character is pronounced as jotized e (eg. two sounds j+e). This character is often written in Cyrillic (or simplified Latin) as the standard e.

  3. Ligature ju softens the preceding consonants from dju, tju, nju, lju to dj+u, tj+u, nj+u, lj+u. In other cases this character is pronounced as jotized u (e.g. two sounds j+u).

  4. Some Slavic languages ​​(Slovak, Russian, ...) use vowels e and i for softening the preceding consonants in the same way as ie and ju are doing this. NS language does not. The combination of the letters ne is pronounced only as n+e, and not as nj+e, or the combination of the letters ni is pronounced only as n+i, and not as nj+i, for example.

  5. Neoslavonic has syllabic l and r, which behave in the same way as vowels in creation of syllables as in Sanskrit, for example. They are written auxiliary character "jor" as 'l and 'r (in cyrillic ъл and ър). Some modern national Slavic languages (Russian for example) lost this feature and therefore must combine r and l with standard vowels (ol and or, for example).

  6. Old Church Slavonic (and similarly in modern Polish) has nasal vowels ę=ѧ=[eⁿ] and ǫ=ѫ=[oⁿ] plus their jotized versions. In accordance with the evolution of most Slavic languages, ​​we do not use nasals. There is simple application rule in order to nasal replacement: ę=ѧ → e and ǫ=ѫ → u.
    (e.g. językjezyk = language, bǫdǫbudu = I will be)

  7. However, Neoslavonic is an artificial language and therefore allows different kinds of pronunciation. It will not be a big mistake, for example, if Russians or anybody else will pronounce e and i softly.


soft pronunciation of consonants versus simplicity

Eastern (partly also western) Slavic languages ​​are known for their softness and jotization. However this soft pronunciation can be a problem especially for southern Slavs and many non-Slavic people. Therefore, the Neoslavonic phonology design principle keeps following simplistic principle:
  1. Soft consonants should continue by a consecutive vowel in order to facilitate easier pronunciation.
    (e.g. nedielja = Sunday, ponedieljek = Monday, burja = storm, večerja = evening meal)

  2. If a word terminates with a consonant without any consecutive vowel, we prefer to write and pronounce this word hardly.
    (e.g. kost = a bone, radost = joy, učitel = a teacher)

    Of course, we acknowledge that the soft pronunciation (e.g. Eastern-Slavic accent) is also acceptable. These words have the same level of understandability regardless of whether they are written and pronounced softly or hardly.
    (e.g. kost [kɔst / kɔsc] = a bone; učitel [ʊtʃitɛl / ʊtʃitɛʎ] = a teacher; on jest [ɔn jɛst / ɔn jɛsc] = he is)

  3. Only in specific instances, if hardening could lead to loss of clarity or could create a wrong homonym with another word, we need to keep soft pronunciation and write soft consonants.
    (e.g. konj = a horse  ⟷  kon = ending, termination; miedj = cooper 
    ⟷  med = honey)


palatalization and euphony

Slavic languages ​​are known by the consonant softening in some situations of word derivation, declension or conjugation. This process is called palatalization. Neoslavonic it has also included, but in a very limited way of only three regular rules related with the soft consonants  č, š, ž  as
  1. kč,
  2. hš,
  3. gž.
Example: človiek (a man N), človieče! (man! V); prah (a dust, noun), prašny (dust, adj.)

In order to sound almost like an ordinary natural Slavic language, we need to improve some artificially generated sound combinations caused by application of some grammatical endings. There are only three euphony rules
related with the same soft consonants  č, š, ž  as
  1. cju→ču, cie→če,
  2. sju→šu, sie→še,
  3. zjužu, zieže.
Example: prositi (to please, inf.), prosjuprošu (I please), prosienijeprošenije (pleasing, verbal noun).


Please remember that for this euphony reason the characters ie and ju are newer written and pronounced after  c, s, z, č, š, ž. The only possible way is to put  ce, se, ze, če, še, že and cu, su, zu, ču, šu, žu  instead of them.


example 1

(You can hear these words in attached file example-1.wav)

voda   [vɔda]   water
hlieb   [xljɛb]   a bread
auto   [aʊtɔ]   a car, an automobile
s'lnce   [sɜ̆lncɛ]   a sun
človiek   [tʃlɔvjɛk]   a man (human being)
muž   [mʊʒ]   a man (masculine)
žena   [ʒɛna]   a woman
dietko   [ɟɛtkɔ]   a child
imaju   [imajʊ]   I have
imaješ   [imajɛʃ]   you have
imajeme   [imajɛmɛ]   we have
veliky   [vɛliki]   big (sg. m. adj.)
maly   [mali]   small (sg. m. adj.)
doma   [dɔma]   at home (adv.)
jedin   [jɛdin]   one (m.)
dva   [dva]   two (m.)
tri   [tri]   three
četyri  [tʃɛtiri]   four
pet   [pɛt]   five
deset   [dɛsɛt]   ten
sto   [stɔ]   hundred 


example 2

(You can hear these words in attached file example-2.wav)

Vsi ljudi rodjut se svobodni i rovni v svojem dostojenstviji i pravah.
[vsi  ʎʊdi  rɔɟʊt  sɛ  svɔbɔdni  i  rɔvni  v  svɔjɛm  dɔstɔjɛnstviji  i  pravax]
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Oni sut obdarieni razumom i sviestju, 
[ɔni  sʊt  ɔbdarjɛni  razʊmɔm  i  svjɛscʊ]
They are endowed with reason and conscience,

i treba jim jest postupati drug s drugom v duhu bratstva.
[i  trɛba  jim  jɛst  pɔstʊpati  drʊg  s  drʊgɔm  v  dʊxʊ  bratstva]
and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

(article 1. of preamble of the universal declaration of human rights by the United Nations)