Alphabets Edit

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 mediaestateA Midsummer Night's Dream
  • La frates KaramazovThe Brothers Karamazov
  • Tocata e fuga en D minorToccata 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
Abbreviations lfn, pf

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.

Vowels Edit

Listen and repeat (MP3).

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.

Diphthongs Edit

Listen and repeat (MP3).

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.

Consonants Edit

Listen and repeat (MP3).

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].

Non-LFN lettersEdit

When the non-LFN letters appear in a word, they are normally pronounced as follows:

K [k] like C
Q [k] like C
W [u] or [w] like U
Y [i] or [j] like I
Ё [jo] like IO
Й [i] or [j] like I
Ц [ts] like TS
Ч [tʃ] like TX
Щ [ʃtʃ] like XTX
Ы [i] like I
Э [e] like E
Ю [ju] like IU
Я [ja] like IA


Listen and repeat (MP3).

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:

  • falda
  • integra
  • matematica
  • albatros
  • ranur

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:

  • abaia
  • ciui
  • bonsai
  • cacau

If no vowel precedes the last consonant, the first vowel is stressed:

  • trae
  • fea
  • tio
  • proa
  • jua

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:

  • asentua
  • jelosia
  • rituo
  • alio

However, when the final vowels are AE, AO, EA, EO, OA, OE, o UI, the stress goes on the first vowel of the pair:

  • coneo
  • idea
  • sutrae
  • produi

(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

Phonotactics Edit

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.

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