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Karkin Language

Karkin Phonology


Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Stop p b t d c ɟ k g q ɢ ʔ
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ x ɣ χ ʁ h
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ ɴ  
Approximate w   j      
Lateral   l ʎ      
Trill   r        


Karkin has six vowels, each of which has a phonemically distinct long version. The long versions are in the same location as the short vowels on the vowel trapezoid, so they aren’t pictured there. The long vowel is about twice as long in duration as its short version.

There are also iː eː aː əː oː uː. They are not considered doubles of a short vowel, but separate vowels in the phonology.

Romanized Orthography

The Karkin phonemes have been adapted to be written with the Latin alphabet. See their equivalents below.


/p/ <p>
/b/ <b>
/t/ <t>
/d/ <d>
/c/ <c>
/ɟ/ <j> 
/k/ <k>
/g/ <g> 
/q/ <q>
/ɢ/ <gg>
/ʔ/ <’>
/f/ <f>
/v/ <v>
/s/ <s>
/z/ <z>
/ʃ/ <sh>
/ʒ/ <zh>
/x/ <x>
/ɣ/ <gh>
/χ/ <qh>
/ʁ/ <rr>
/h/ <h>
/m/ <m>
/n/ <n>
/ɲ/ <ny>
/ŋ/ <ng> 
/ɴ/ <ñ>
/w/ <w>
/j/ <y>
/l/ <l>
/r/ <r> 


/a/ <a>
/e/ <e>
/i/ <i>
/u/ <u>
/o/ <o>
/ə/ <ë>

All long vowels are indicated by a macron. E.g ā, ē, ī, ō, ū. In the case of the schwa, ë, the macron is placed above the umlaut: ë̄ = /ə:/

For the consonant cluster /sh/, an apostrophe is placed between the letters like <s’h> to differentiate it from <sh>, which represents /ʃ/. This is the only situation in which the apostrophe does not represent a glottal stop. 


Karkin syllable structure

Complex onsets

Most obstruents can combine to make a two-consonant complex syllable onset. It can be two fricatives (e.g. ʃ + x) or two stops (e.g.p + t), a stop plus a fricative (e.g. p + s), or a fricative plus a stop (e.g. s + k).  If the two fricatives are the same manner of articulation, they can’t be close or identical in place of articulation. So you will never see */sʃ/ or */xχ/ or */vz/. This also applies to some stop combinations, like */qk/, but not to labials plus alveolars (/pt/ is acceptable).
It is also possible to see an obstruent plus a liquid or glide, like /pl/ or /vr/ or /kw/, /kj/. 
/kja/ ‘we, us’

Sometimes nasals appear before fricatives or other nasals: /mx/ or /mŋ/. /h/ often precedes a nasal in a complex onset as well /hm/, /hŋ/, /hn/. Phonetically, h + N is typically realized as [N̥]. /hmol/ ‘wall’ → [m̥ol].  
Some stops before nasals: /tm/ /pn/, /qn/.
There are some examples of laterals plus stops: /lq/, /ʎp/, /ʎk/, etc.
There are just a few possible three-consonant complex onsets: /skt/, /tsq/, /tsk/, /qst/, /skl/, /skr/.


The default stress for two-syllable words is on the first syllable.

But the default state can be interrupted by the following things.

Stress parameters are based a lot on consonant clusters and vowel length. If a word has a long vowel, the stress is almost always on that syllable. If there are two or more long vowels, the last one has the stress. Schwas usually do not take the stress unless there are only schwas as vowels in the word or if that schwa is the first vowel.

If there are no long vowels, then the stress placement is determined by consonant clusters. If a vowel comes before two or more consonants, the stress is probably going to be on that syllable.

If there is a fricative that is the onset of the last syllable of a three or more syllable word, the stress is on the syllable before that.

  • ‘axpas ‘servant’ > ax’pasχə
  • ‘nimmə ‘husband’
  • ‘cəŋi ‘dig’
  • i’muː ‘remove’
  • oːʎ’oː ‘be burned’

There are exceptions to all these rules, but they are not many.

Allophonic Rules

  • ʎ → [j] / i __ #
  • i → [ɪ] / [+uvular] __
  • h → [x] / __ C
  • l → [+ syllabic] / C __#
  • N → α place /__ [-cont α. place]
  • Vi → ∅ / _Vːi

Minimal Sets

  • tkor ‘square-shaped’
  • tkoːr ‘support’ (v.)
  • tsqə ‘bite’
  • tsqeː ‘horror’
  • tska ‘mistake’
  • ʃən ‘die’
  • ʃəɴ ‘feel pleasure’
  • ‘ground, earth’
  • ci ‘infant’
  • cuː ‘look’ (v.)
  • caːma ‘axe’
  • cama ‘cradle’