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Syllable stress, Macrons & Common Sound Changes
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A brief description of some Shykathi phonetics
This public article was written by Vulcanman, and last updated on 3 Sep 2017, 01:13.

19. Verbs
1. Using Macrons
2. Additional Indicators for Syllable Stress
3. Attaching Strong and Weak Suffixes
4. Attaching Strong and Weak Prefixes
5. Verbs and Syllable Stress
6. Additional spelling / sound changes

[top]Using Macrons

Before diving into macron usage in Shikathi, it’s important to note that the macron is only used for the romanization of Shikathi. Shikathi orthography on the homeworld incorporates four types of diacritic characters. None have a function analogous to the macron. The macron in Romanized Shikathi serves two purposes. First and foremost it indicates a long vowel as opposed to a short one. The second purpose is to indicate which syllable is stressed.

The macron for vowel length
The Shikathi vowels are as follows:
a = [ɐ]
ā = [a]
ä = [æ]
e = [ɛ]
ē = [e]
i = [ɪ] (only occurs in stressed syllables)
ī = [i]
o = [ɔ] (only occurs in stressed syllables)
ō = [o]
u = [ʌ]
ū = [u]
y = [ə] or [ɪ] (only occurs in unstressed syllables)
And so we have:

The macron for syllable stress
 *from here on, stressed syllables will be highlighted in red

For the letters ā, ē and sometimes ī,  the macron indicates that there is stress on that syllable. For example:
(home) is pronounced [ˈ] instead of [fa ˈni]. fa[fɐ ˈni] is a word and is used as part of the verbal phrase: fanī akām (to live / dwell / inhabit) or fanī lator (to provide lodging / to take care of)

Some other examples:
shyðī[ʃə ˈka.ði]Shikathi
chōgyl[t͡ʃo.gɪl ˈɾe]flag
na[ ˈɾa.nɐ]light
ra[ɾɐ ˈna]used in the phrase: ranā lator (to illuminate)

The macron in diphthongs

The macron is also used to break diphthongs into two separate syllables. This is especially true if the macron is above the first vowel.
ia = [jɐ]iarān[jɐ ˈɾan]seventy
īa = [i.ɐ]ðorthīalaet[ðɔr ˈθi.ɐ.laɪt]perfume

ue = [wɛ]ekongue[ɛ ˈkɔŋ.gwɛ]sheep
ūe = [u.ɛ]sūekrō[su ˈɛ.kɾo]a type of verbalizer

If the macron is over the second vowel in a diphthong, this usually indicates the length of the syllable and/or the stress of that syllable.
ia = [jɐ]azhīnthiamthī[ɐ ˌʒin.θjɐm ˈθi]a word used in the verbal phrase azhīnthiamthī akām = to have a strong taste / odor
iā = [ja]azhīnthmthī[ɐ ˌʒin ˈθjam.θi]ADJ: strong/pungent/spicy

Macron Omission
The vowels a, i and o, when they precede the letter r, may be long or short. Even if they are long, the macron is not used.
orarī[ɔ ˈɾa.ɾi]the color red

If the letter u precedes the r it is always long, but it’s syllable might not necessarily be stressed. Even though it is long, the macron is not used.
surthī[sæ ˈsur.θi]sugary / sweet
Shurae[ʃu ˈɾaɪ]Syria

If the letter e precedes the r it is always short and may or may not be stressed.

erūk[ɛ ˈɾuk]love
Tleryth[tə ˈlɛ.ɾɪθ] or [ˈtʰlɛ.ɾɪθ]Earth

[top]Additional Indicators for Syllable Stress


Generally, Shikathi words are stressed on the second to last syllable.

chamyth[t͡ʃɐ ˈka.mɪθ]maturity

Aside from using macrons, there are additional ways to indicate that a syllable other than the penultimate is stressed.

The letter “i” vs. the letter “y”
Use  the letter i /ɪ/ (not in a diphthong) to indicate that it’s syllable is stressed. The stress can be primary or secondary. If the sound /ɪ/ is present but the syllable is unstressed, the letter y would be used instead

bängyth[ˈbæn.gɪθ]a wave / undulation
bängith[bæn ˈgɪθ]used in the expression: bängith akām (to fluctuate)

The letter y is never used at the beginning of a word. Instead use the letter i... regardless if that syllable is stressed or not.
indrākam (ndrākam) [ɪn ˈdɾa.kɐm] or [ʔn ˈdɾa.kɐm]3rd person conjugation of akām

If the letter i is at the beginning of the word, but its syllable is not stressed, that letter may be, and is oftentimes omitted. If the i is dropped, the /ɪ/ sound might still be heard or it might be replaced with a glottal stop /ʔ/. This all depends on regional accents / dialects, yet both ways are perfectly understood.
inðī[ɪn ˈza.ði]sound
nðī[ɪn ˈza.ði] or [ʔn ˈza.ði]sound

The letter “o” vs. the letter “y”

Use the letter o /ɔ/ (not in a diphthong) to indicate that its syllable is stressed. It can be a primary or a secondary stress. If the primary word originally had the sound /ɔ/, but the stress of the word shifted due to other surrounding syllables, then the sound becomes  /ə/ and the letter y is used.  

Special Note: if y /ə/ is used between two consonants (especially at the very end or very beginning of words), the y is oftentimes dropped, but the /ə/ sound is preserved.
ūmlatorky[um.lɐ ˈtɔɾ.kə]1st person plural conjugation of lator
ūmtyr > ūmtr[um ˈla.təɹ]1st person singular conjugation of lator

If the letter o is at the beginning of a word, its syllable may be stressed or unstressed. Again… the letter y is never used at the beginning of a word. Instead use the letter o even if the syllable is unstressed.

orarī[ɔ ˈɾa.ɾi]the color red

The Diphthong “ae”

The diphthong ae /aɪ/ will never have a macron over it, and it can not be broken into two syllables. The syllable that carries this diphthong will be a stressed syllable most of the time. The stress can be either primary or secondary.

chōglaetazhīk[t͡ʃo ˌglaɪ.tɐ ˈʒik]argument
bykaeathī[bɪ ˈkaɪ.ɐ.θi]at the same time / in sync


If the syllable containing this diphthong becomes unstressed due to other syllables surrounding it, the spelling and corresponding sound changes to e /ɛ/.

chōglezhyzhīk[t͡ʃo.glɛ ˌta.ʒə ˈʒik]more of an argument / a bigger argument
bikeāðythī[bɪ.kɛ ˈa.ðə.θi]more in sync
There are some exceptions to this rule, one being words ending in -aet /aɪt/. For these words, The stress might not fall on its syllable, yet the spelling and sound will still be the same.

chōglaet[ˈt͡ʃo.glaɪt]king / emperor
sirykaet[ˈsɪ.ɾə.kaɪt]friend / acquaintance
tykaeataet > tkaeataet [tə ˈkaɪ.ɐ.taɪt] or [tʰ ˈkaɪ.ɐ.taɪt]ancestor
However, when paired with certain words (like the verbaliser ekrō / ˈɛ.kɾo/) these words will begin to follow the normal pattern. This is due to enchainment between the two words.

chōglet ekrō[ˌt͡ʃo.glɛ ˈt‿ɛ.kɾo]to become king
siroket ekrō[sɪ ˌɾɔ.kɛ ˈt‿ɛ.kɾo]to become a friend
tkaeatet ekrō[tʰ ˌkaɪ.ɐ.tɛ ˈt‿ɛ.kɾo]to be preceded by
Words beginning with the syllable ae /aɪ/ may have that syllable stressed or not. If it’s unstressed, the spelling/sound change is optional and is determined by regional and dialectal differences.

kaeāðī[kaɪ ˈa.ði]stale / aged
keāðī[kɛ ˈa.ði]stale / aged

[top]Attaching Strong and Weak Suffixes

There are a variety of suffixes that can be attached to nouns, adjectives and verbalizers. Most suffixes fall into one of the following categories:

Category Common Affix Example
Indefinite Pluralizers-ky / -ki fānī (house) > fanīky (houses)
Adjectival / Adverbial Markers-thī / -ðī fanīðī (the house’s…)
Case Markers-shpa fanīshpa (the house’s...)
Postpositional Affixes-drū (to/towards) fanīdrū (towards the house)
Conjunctive Affixes-pin / -pyn / -pn (and) fanīpn (and the house)
Adverbial & Negation Affixes-tō (not) fanī (not the house)

Suffixes are strung together usually in the order that they are presented in the table above.
And so you get the following sequence:
fānī > fanīky > fanīkthī > fanīkythīshpa > fānīkithīshpādrū > fanīkythīshpadrūpn > fānīkithīshpādrūpintō
The above sequence is simply meant to illustrate the order of succession, but not all of the categories of suffixes are used all at once. Especially not the adjective marker with the genitive case.

With regard to syllable stress, Shikathi likes to place the stress on the penultimate syllable.
When attaching a suffix, the stress will still fall on the second to last syllable. As a result, macron placement and vowel lengths will change.
fānī > faky[fɐ ˈni.kə]houses
*fanīk(y)thī > fanīkthī[fɐ ˈnik.θi]of the houses
*fapn[fɐ ˈni.pɪn]and the house
*remember that the y is usually dropped between two consonants at the end of the word.

When adding more than one suffix, spelling the word correctly gets complicated. A good rule of thumb is that for an even number of suffixes, the primary stress is still on the penultimate syllable, and what was once the primary stress of the root word now becomes the a secondary stress. Depending on the length of the word, there may even be a tertiary stress.

(2 suffixes added) pin[ˌ ˈpɪ]and not the house
(4 suffixes added) kidrūpin[ˌɪ.dɾu ˈpɪ]and not towards the houses

For an odd number of suffixes, the primary stress is still on the penultimate, and a secondary stress falls on the last syllable of the root word.
(3 suffixes added) faðīdrūpn [fɐ ˌni.ði ˈdɾu.pɪn]and towards that which belongs to the house

Attaching Strong Suffixes

There are some suffixes that require stress no matter what. These override the penultimate stress rule. I don’t know if there’s an official term for something like this so I’ll just call them strong suffixes because they tend to pull the stress towards them no matter where they are in a word.
Some of these include:

Category Common Affix Example
Some Definite Pluralizers-kā (Plural: trial)fānī (house) > (three houses)
Instrumental Case-īn fanīn (by means of the house)
Some Postpositional Affixes-drē (on top of) drē (on top of the house)
Some Adverbial Affixes-pon (still / also / yet) pon (the house also)

When stringing strong suffixes together, the last one carries the stress. When combining strong and weak suffixes together, the strong suffix takes the stress.... always.

Here are some additional examples:

fakaīn (last strong suffix = -īn)[fɐ ˌni.kɐ ˈin]by means of the three houses
fakadrē (last strong suffix = -drē)[fɐ ˌni.kɐ ˈdɾe]on top of the three houses
drū (last strong suffix = -kā) [ˌ ˈka.dɾu]towards the three houses
drepon (last strong suffix = -pon) [ˌɾɛ ˈpɔn]still on top of the three houses
fakadrēpn (last strong suffix = -drē) [fɐ ˌni.kɐ ˈdɾe.pɪn]and on top of the three houses

There may be a secondary or tertiary stress on the last weak suffix if the strong suffix falls more towards the middle of the word.

fadrūpin (last strong suffix = -kā) [ˌ ˈka.dɾu.pɪn]and towards the three houses


[top]Attaching Strong and Weak Prefixes

Prefixes in Shikathi are prepositional only. The same words used as postpositional suffixes can be used as prefixes. Adding a prefix creates an entirely new word to which any number of suffixes and prefixes (and verbalizers) can be added.
When adding prefixes, keep the original stress of the root word.

fadruk [fɐ ˈni.dɾʌk]next to the house
druk[dɾʌk ˌ]the space beside the house
drukfadruk [dɾʌk.fɐ ˈni.dɾʌk]next to the space that's beside the house

Attaching Strong Prefixes

Just like with suffixes, there are strong prefixes that require stress no matter what. These override the rule mentioned above.

fānīdrē [ˌ ˈdɾe] on top of the house
drēfanī [ˈdɾ] roof (lit: the part on top of the house)

When two strong affixes are attached to a word, the last strong suffix carries the primary stress. while the first strong prefix carries the secondary stress.

drēfanīdrē [ˌdɾe.fɐ.ni ˈdɾe] on top of the roof

as opposed to the secondary stress being tied to the root word, as in the case with weak prefixes.

drukdrē [dɾʌk ˌ ˈdɾe] on top of the space beside the house


[top]Verbs and Syllable Stress

As mentioned earlier, Shikathi usually places the stress on the second to last syllable. For verbs however, the stress is placed on the last syllable when followed by the verbalizers akām and lator. Remember that in Shikathi, it takes two words to form a verb. A noun or adjective and then the verbalizer. So this means that if a noun/adjective is part of the verb phrase, its last syllable will be stressed. Because of this, the spelling may change to conform to the phonetic rules mentioned previously.
amintr[ɐ ˈmɪn.təɹ]a lie
āmyntor akām[a.mɪn ˌtɔ.ɾ‿ɐ ˈkam]to lie
āmyntor lator[a.mɪnˈtɔɹ lɐ ˈtɔɹ]to mislead / to divert
neprānsryn[nɛ ˈpɾans.ɾɪn]reflective thought
nepransrin akām[nɛ.pɾɐns ˌɾɪ.n‿ɐ ˈkam]to reflect on (i.e. my actions reflect on all of us)
nepransrin lator[nɛ.pɾɐns ˈɾɪn lɐ ˈtɔɹ]to reflect on (i.e. I reflected on my actions)

With the verbalizer ekrō however, the secondary stress may be on the penultimate syllable or the antepenultimate, depending on the word. The stress is secondary as the primary stress will fall on the e in ekrō.

āmyntr ekrō[ˌa.mɪn ˈtɾ‿ɛ.kɾo]to be misled
neprānsryn ekrō[nɛ ˌpɾans.ɾɪ ˈn‿ɛ.kɾo]to be reflected


[top]Additional spelling / sound changes

/ð/ vs /θ/
Use the sound /ð/ after long vowels. The sound and spelling will change to th /θ/ after short vowels. This plays an important part when forming verbs.

oði[ɔ ˈɾa.ði]hot
orathī akām[o.ɾɐ ˈθi ɐ ˈkam]to be hot
oði ekrō[ɔ ˌɾa ˈðj‿ɛ.kɾo]to get hot

The diphthong ae is considered long while the vowel ä is short. So we get the following:

tkaeðysh[tə ˈkaɪ.ðɪʃ]afterwards

The letter sequence -tthī will usually change into -ðī regardless if the previous vowel is long or short. If the preceding vowel is short, make it long and then tag on the ending.
chōglaet = king
-thī = ADJ/ADV marker
chōglaetthī > chōglaeðī[t͡ʃo ˈglaɪ.ði]The king’s…

dokt (older: dokyt) = bravery
dokitthī > dokīðī[dɔ ˈki.ði]brave

There are two exceptions to this:
1: -tthī is ok for foreign words
doichlāntthī[doit͡ʃ ˈlanʔ.θi] German

2: -tthī is ok if the word is part of the verbal phrase.
For example: chōglaet (n.) > chōglaetthī > chōglaeðī (adj.) = of the king

chōgletthī lator[t͡ʃo.glɛʔ ˈθi lɐ ˈtɔɹ] to decree
Special Note: if -tthī occurs, the first t is pronounced as a glottal stop /ʔ/ instead of /t/.

/ɾ/ vs  /ɹ/

If the letter r should fall at the end of a syllable, it has the sound of /ɹ/. Otherwise it has the sound of /ɾ/.

orathī lator[o.ɾɐ ˈθi lɐ ˈtɔɹ] to heat something up

Because of enchainment between certain words, especially among verb phrases, sometimes the /ɹ/ at the end of a word will become /ɾ/.

āmyntor akām[a.mɪn ˈtɔ.ɾ‿ɐ ˈkam] to lie
āmyntor lator[a.mɪn ˈtɔɹ lɐ ˈtɔɹ] to mislead / divert
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