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Lingua Franca Nova uses the two most widely known alphabets in the world: Roman (or Latin) and Cyrillic.
|Roman||a b c d e f g h i j l m n o p r s t u v x z|
|Roman capitals||A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P R S T U V X Z|
|Cyrillic||а б к д е ф г х и ж л м н о п р с т у в ш з|
|Cyrillic capitals||А Б К Д Е Ф Г Х И Ж Л М Н О П Р С Т У В Ш З|
K, Q, W, and Y do not appear in ordinary words. They are only used to preserve the original forms of proper nouns and non-LFN words. The same applies to various additional letters of the Cyrillic alphabet.
H is also not common, but it is found in some technical and cultural terms.
Capital letters Edit
A capital letter is used at the start of the first word in a sentence.
Capital letters are also used at the start of proper nouns. When a proper noun consists of several words, each word is capitalized – apart from minor words like la and de:
|People||real or imagined, as well as personified animals and things – Maria, San Paulo, Barack Obama, Jan de Hartog, Seniora Braun, Oscar de la Renta, Mickey Mouse|
|Organizations||e.g. companies, societies – Ikea, Nasiones Unida, Organiza Mundal de Sania|
|Political entities||e.g. nations, states, cities – Frans, Atina, Site de New York, Statos Unida de America|
|Geographical locations||e.g. rivers, oceans, lakes, mountains – la Alpes, Rio Amazon, Mar Atlantica|
|Letters of the alphabet||E, N|
But with titles of works of art and literature, only the first word of the title is capitalized (along with any proper nouns that appear):
- Un sonia de un note de mediaestate – A Midsummer Night's Dream
- La frates Karamazov – The Brothers Karamazov
- Tocata e fuga en D minor – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
Sometimes, as in warnings, capitals are used to emphasize entire words or phrases.
LFN uses small letters in places where some languages use capitals:
|Days of the week||lundi, jovedi – Monday, Thursday|
|Months||marto, novembre – March, November|
|Holidays and similar occasions||natal, ramadan, pascua – Christmas, Ramadan, Easter|
|Centuries||la sentenio dudes-un – the twentieth century|
|Languages and peoples||catalan, xines – Catalan, Chinese|
Letter names Edit
The following syllables are used to name letters in speech, e.g. when spelling a word:
|a be ce de e ef ge hax i je ka el em|
|en o pe qua er es te u ve wa ex ya ze|
These are nouns and can be pluralized: as, bes, efes.
In writing, one can simply present the letter itself, capitalized, adding -s for the plural:
- La parola "matematica" ave tre As, du Ms (pronounced emes), e un E. – The word "matematica" has three As, two Ms, and an E.
The letters A, E, I, O, and U are pronounced as in Spanish:
|A||[a]||as in Spanish or French "papa"; similar to the vowel in "palm"||open front unrounded||ambasada|
|E||[e]||as in Spanish "peso" or French "été"; similar to the vowels in "get" or "gate"||mid front unrounded||estende|
|I||[i]||the vowel in "feet"||close front unrounded||ibridi|
|O||[o]||as in Spanish "poso" or French "beau"; similar to the vowels in "caught" or "coat"||mid back rounded||odorosa|
|U||[u]||the vowel in "moon"||close back rounded||cultur|
The vowel sounds allow a degree of variation. For example, A can be pronounced as [ɑ] (as in "car"), E as [ɛ] ("get") or [ei] ("gate"), and O as [ɔ] ("caught") or [ou] ("coat") without causing misunderstanding.
When one vowel follows another, they are normally pronounced separately.
But when the second vowel is I or U, the two vowels form a diphthong:
|AI||[aj]||the sound in "aisle"||pais|
|AU||[aw]||the sound in "mouth"||auto|
|EU||[ew]|| no corresponding English diphthong; |
similar to the "ay w" in "bay watch"
|OI||[oj]||similar to the sound in "coin"||seluloide|
Adding a prefix does not create a diphthong: reuni [re-uni], supraindise [supra-indise]. For similar reasons, two separate syllables are normal in a few other words too: egoiste [ego-iste], proibi [pro-ibi]. Such words are indicated in the dictionary, e.g. "proibi (o-i)".
The sequence EI is rare. It is normally pronounced as two separate vowels: ateiste [ate-iste], feida [fe-ida], reinventa [re-inventa]. But speakers who find this pronunciation difficult can say [ej] or even [e] instead.
When I or U precedes another vowel, it is reduced to a semivowel – like the English Y or W – in the following cases:
|At the start of a word||ioga [joga], ueste [weste]|
|Between two other vowels||joia [ʒoja], ciui [kiwi], veia [veja]|
|LI, NI between two other vowels||folia [folja], anio [anjo] – but not in the first syllable of a word|
|CU, GU before a vowel||acua [akwa], cual [kwal], sangue [sangwe]|
In other cases – e.g. emosia, abitual, plia – the I or U remains a full vowel.
While these rules define the normal pronunciation for diphthongs, they can be ignored without confusion.
The following letters are consonants:
|B||[b]||as in "big"||voiced bilabial plosive||bebe|
|C||[k]||as in "cat"||voiceless velar plosive||clica|
|D||[d]||as in "dog"||voiced dental/alveolar plosive||donada|
|F||[f]||as in "fat"||voiceless labiodental fricative||fotografi|
|G||[g]||as in "get"||voiced velar plosive||garga|
|H||[h]||as in "hot", or silent||voiceless glottal fricative||haicu|
|J||[ʒ]||as in "treasure"||voiced postalveolar fricative||jeolojia|
|L||[l]||as in "let"||voiced dental/alveolar lateral approximant||lingual|
|M||[m]||as in "man"||voiced bilabial nasal||mesma|
|N||[n]||as in "not"||voiced dental/alveolar nasal||negante|
|P||[p]||as in "pot"||voiceless bilabial plosive||paper|
|R||[r]||as in "roll"||voiced dental/alveolar trill||rubarbo|
|S||[s]||as in "set"||voiceless dental/alveolar fricative||sistemes|
|T||[t]||as in "ten"||voiceless dental/alveolar plosive||tota|
|V||[v]||as in "vat"||voiced labiodental fricative||vivosa|
|X||[ʃ]||as in "shop"||voiceless postalveolar fricative||xuxa|
|Z||[z]||as in "zoo"||voiced dental/alveolar fricative||zezea|
Note the following points:
- C is always as in "call", never as in "cell".
- F is always as in "off", never as in "of".
- G is always as in "get", never as in "gem".
- J has the sound that it has in French and Portuguese: like the S in "treasure".
- N before G or C has the sound of NG [ŋ] in English: longa, ance. Final NG, as in bumerang, also has this sound: the G is silent.
- R has the trilled or rolled sound that it has in Italian and Spanish.
- S is always as in "hiss", never as in "his".
- V never sounds like B, unlike in Spanish.
- X is like SH in English, SCH in German, and CH in French and Portuguese.
- Z is always as in "zoo".
As some speakers have difficulty with consonants in certain combinations or positions, LFN allows the following variations:
- J can also be pronounced [dʒ] like the J in "judge" if preferred.
- Other R sounds (as in French, German, or English) are acceptable, as long as they are clearly distinct from other LFN sounds.
- X can also be pronounced [tʃ] like the CH in "church" if preferred.
- Z can also be pronounced [ts] like the ZZ in "pizza" if preferred.
- haicu, bahamas
- H can be left silent, if a speaker prefers: [aicu], [ba-amas].
- blog, club
- Some international words end in unusual consonants. A trailing E can be added to ease the pronunciation: [bloge], [klube].
- spada, strada
- A number of words start with S followed by a consonant. A speaker who finds this difficult can add a leading E: [espada], [estrada].
- gnostica, psicolojia
- Some scientific words start with unusual combinations of consonants, such as FT, GN, MN, PS, or PT. The first consonant can be omitted in pronunciation: [nostika], [sikoloʒia].
When the non-LFN letters appear in a word, they are normally pronounced as follows:
|W||[u] or [w]||like U|
|Y||[i] or [j]||like I|
|Й||[i] or [j]||like I|
If a word has more than one vowel, one of the vowels is stressed (pronounced more strongly). The stressed vowels below are underlined.
The basic rule is to stress the vowel that precedes the last consonant of a word:
Adding a suffix can move the stress:
- matematica > matematical
- radiograf > radiografia (no change)
- radiograf > radiografiste
But adding the plural -s does not move the stress:
- un falda > du faldas
- un joven > tre jovenes
- ambos – this special word is stressed like a plural
The I or U of a diphthong behaves like a consonant in this regard:
If no vowel precedes the last consonant, the first vowel is stressed:
Some words have multiple vowels after their last consonant. If the vowels are IA, IE, IO, UA, UE, or UO, the stress still goes on the vowel before the consonant:
However, when the final vowels are AE, AO, EA, EO, OA, OE, o UI, the stress goes on the first vowel of the pair:
(But in estingui, the U is a semivowel because of another rule.)
Ala, asi, agu, ami, enemi, perce, alo, and ura are often pronounced with the stress on the final vowel rather than on the previous one. Either pronunciation is acceptable.
Compound words such as parario and mediadia retain the original stress of the second component.
LFN is not a tonal language: words are not distinguished by changes in the pitch of the voice. However, one way to indicate that a sentence is a question is to end on a rise:
- Tu parla portuges? – with a rising pitch in the last word
- Tu no parla portuges. – with a flat or falling pitch
The forms of ordinary words in LFN are constrained by certain rules.
Two examples of the same vowel (such as aa) cannot be adjacent, except where this is the result of adding a prefix: "reenvia", "coopera". In these cases, both vowels are pronounced.
The sequences ei and ou are invalid. But ei is allowed in words that start with re-, such as reincarne. The two vowels are pronounced individually.
The sequence ei is normally only found in words with a prefix that ends in e (such as preistoria and reincarne) and in words with a suffix that starts with i (such as fein and veida). The standard pronunciation of ei is as two separate vowels, but [ej] and [e] are allowed if a speaker prefers.
The sequence ou is not normally acceptable.
Where a suffix would create an invalid vowel sequence, the second vowel of the sequence is dropped:
- comedia + -iste > (comediiste) > comediste – comedian
Only the following 22 consonant clusters are allowed at the start of a syllable:
- bl-, cl-, fl-, gl-, pl-
- br-, cr-, dr-, fr-, gr-, pr-, tr-
- sc-, sf-, sl-, sp-, st-
- scl-, scr-, spl-, spr-, str-
Only the following consonants are allowed at the end of a syllable, and they must be directly preceded by a vowel:
- -f, -s, -x
- -m, -n, -l, -r
A consonant cluster in the middle of a word is valid if it can be split over two valid syllables:
- encontrante = en-con-tran-te
- mostrablia = mo-stra-bli-a
- instinto = in-stin-to
Proper nouns, along with technical, international, or culture-specific words, are free to break these rules.