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Accent

Primal can be spoken with a variety of accents.  This lesson discusses aspects of the phonetic alphabet which are unique to the Primal language, and those that commonly differ between speakers.

English Phonetic Translations

On occasion, you'll want to translate a name from English to Primal.  If the name has a literal meaning, you can simply look it up.  For example, the name "Jewel" translates directly to vBk (voik, "gemstone").  But many English names, like Anna or Chicago, may not have a clear literal translation.  These must be translated phonetically.

Phonetic translation will often produce a name that is longer than one syllable.  This is called an extended proper noun.  Rules for creating extended proper nouns are given in the Noun Forms lesson.  In this section, we're going to ignore the grammar requirements and just focus on how to translate sounds from English to Primal.

There are several sounds from English that aren't found in Primal.  For example, Primal doesn't have sounds for the English "t" in "top" or "cat", the "d" in "dog" or "ladder", the "g" in "goat" or "log", or the "b" in "boy" or "lab".  This can make translation of proper nouns from English to Primal tricky.

When converting sounds from English to Primal, the following substitutions are most common:

  • "t" becomes ,T (ts)
  • "d" becomes ,D (dz)
  • "b" becomes ,p (p)
  • "g" becomes ,H (khh)

This means the name "Todd" could be pronounced ToD (tsodz) in Primal, and the name "Gabe" could be pronounced HFp (khhayp).

All words in Primal must begin with a consonant.  To translate words that begin with a vowel, add an ,h (h) to the beginning of the word.  So, "Ed" becomes hed (hehdz).

Some English sounds would inadvertently produce Primal slurs if made into syllables the wrong way.  A proper translation should avoid introducing slurs that aren't in the name.  For example, the name "Samantha" sounds like "suh-man thuh", but Primal sumanqu (s'man-thuh) slurs the first syllable.  A better translation would be to summanqu (suhm-man-thuh), repeating the "m" sound to preserve the "uh" in the first syllable.  This necessitates a slight pause between the first two syllables, but this is preferable to inserting a slur.  Ending syllables like qu (thuh) are less of a concern; these may freely slur with other words.

On the other hand, some English sounds are equivalent to Primal slurs.  Any translation must be done in a manner that preserves the rules on slurring.  For example, the English "x" sound can be approximated by slurring ,k (k) with ,s (s).  The name "Max" could be translated as makusu (ma-k'suh).  This sounds more like "max-uh" than "max".  The extra ,u (uh) is necessary for correct phonetic translation, because the only way ,k (k) can slur with ,s (s) is if the syllable ku (kuh) appears before a syllable starting with ,s (s).

In rare cases, English words use the semivowel sounds for "ooh", "ee", and "ur" to string together long vowel slurs.  When translating long vowel slurs, the slurs must be approximated by properly inserting consonants ,W (w), ,R (r), ,Y (y), or L (l) to break the vowel sound into manageable syllables.  For example, the phonetic translation for "Arial" would be hPRyYU (hair-ree-yul).  Notice how ,R (r) and ,Y (y) were inserted after similar sounds in order to break up the word.

The only sound that can never be phonetically translated into a name is "zee".  The reason for this restriction is that the noun suffix zy (zee, "resulting") plays a special role in building extended proper nouns.  To phonetically translate "zee", any substitution with a trailing consonant is acceptable, such as zyH (zeekhh).

As described in the Noun Forms lesson, the true phonetic translations for multi-syllable names such as "Max" and "Arial" are more complicated:

  • Max: kumazy kusu zy (k'ma-zee k's'zee)
  • Arial: kuhPzy RyYU zy (k'hair-zee ree-yul zee)

Only the first syllable, kuma (k'ma) or kuhP (k'hair), is likely to be used as a name in general speech.

Species Accents

Primal can be spoken with a variety of accents.  The majority of these accents fall along species lines, and many of them can be intermixed.

The default accent given by the (basic) Alphabet lesson is often called "human" or "English", even though some other species also use this accent.

Dietary accents affect the range of pitch:

  • Omnivore or carnivore: Standard pitch, somewhat variable.
  • Herbivore (hooved): Pitch standard, but more highly variable.  More ups and downs.
  • Herbivore (other): Pitch moderate and less variable, somewhat droning.
  • Mineral sources, energy absorption, or no diet: Pitch tending low and droning.

Social accents change how vowels ,r (ur), ,b (oar), ,P (air), ,V (eer), ,S (ar), and the consonant ,R (r) sound:

  • Aggregate, herd, or group: Standard, as in English.
  • Solitary: All "r" sounds should be rolled or trilled, like a purr.
  • Hierarchical or pack: The "r" sounds should be formed with the tongue further back in the throat, as if the mouth is full.

Communication accents add emphasis (prolonged, with pitch peaking in the middle) to particular sounds:

  • Talkers, chitterers, babblers: Standard, no special emphasis.
  • Howlers: Add special emphasis to ,C (auw) sounds.
  • Screechers and sonar-based: Add special emphasis to ,y (ee) and ,Y (y) sounds.
  • Buzzers: Add special emphasis to ,z (z) and ,X (zh) sounds.
  • Roarers, bleaters, bellowers, and grunters: Add special emphasis to ,g (ohw) and ,B (oi) sounds.
  • Chirpers and yippers: Add special emphasis to ,Z (ii), and ,F (ay).
  • Hissers and quiet beings: Add special emphasis to ,s (s), ,x (sh), and ,H (khh) sounds.

Cycle accents change the pronunciation of ,f (f) and ,v (v) sounds:

  • Diurnal: Standard, with upper teeth against lower lip.
  • Nocturnal or sleepless: Form these sounds by pressing both lips close together, rather than using the teeth and lips.  The sound will be closer to ,W (w).
  • Hibernator (regardless as to cycle): Form the sounds by using the lower teeth against the upper lip.

Habitat accents change other sounds.  These may overlap, so use all that apply:

  • Land-bound: Standard, no changes.
  • Aquatic or amphibious: The ,o (o) sound is pronounced less like the vowel sound in English "dog" and more like the vowel sound in English "spa".  Keep the tongue nearer to the front of the mouth.
  • Flight-capable: More air is expelled from the lips when making the sounds ,w (ooh) and ,W (w), making them sound breathier.  Keep the lips spread wider apart.
  • Burrowing and underground dwellers: Pronounce ,H (khh) and ,k (k) deep in the back of the throat rather than at the top.  Keep the tongue low.
  • Aetherial: Pronounce ,m (m), ,n (n), and ,N (ng) with a trill or raspy sound.

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