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Laní Ethika
Basics I
Alphabet and phonology
The writing system of Lilitika is called títina, which means "the set of letters." We will not be using it in this course except for the occasional embellishment, but it is one of the features of the language that has persistently drawn the attention of students throughout the ages. Here is a sample, drawn from the opening lines of a Thelepelía-Khríméurí Stipta, "the Garden-Haired Girl," a poem written by Sarthía in Sarasí around 400 lilpo.

Apas mokalvai il Dashr'í hapla
        (kantí hé fameneí 'lú mileme)
Trú'ré mí thel'pelí'-khrím'rí stipta
        ('lú daz'ai laní ye'tshai 'zhatézhé)

In the dunes of Dashro’s sand
        (pure and glittering as glass)
I saw a garden-haired girl
        (her rags torn like clouds)

For the time being, however, we will focus on alfí denlekío, the standard system of writing Lilitika with the Latin alphabet as established by scholars shortly after Thet's colonization. This orthography was often used on signage and when transcribing Lilitic words into other languages, in addition to its popularity in textual criticism. It is advertised as "culturally neutral" (although culturally-skewed derivatives exist), but it is not entirely without its biases.

Basic Vowels

a  e  é  i  í  ô  o  u  ú

These are pronounced as follows (with an American accent):

  • a like in stack, not stall
  • e like in bet, not weight
  • é like in weight, not bet
  • i like in fit, not pine or keen
  • í like in keen
  • ô like in bob, not both
  • o like in both, not bob
  • u like in cut, not cute or boot
  • ú like in boot, not cute or cut

  • Familiar Consonants

    k  g  r  p  b  m  f  v  l  t  d  n  s  z  y  sh  w

    These are all pronounced exactly as in English. Note that y is never a vowel, but the "yuh" sound from words such as "yellow." Also, r sometimes sounds more like "wr" to contrast it with dt (see "Unfamiliar Consonants," below.)

    Diphthongs and Rare Vowels

    au  ê  û  ei  ai  oi

  • au like in awesome
  • ê like in French deux (say "ooh" while rounding your lips)
  • û like in British (Received Pronunciation) ore
  • ai like eye
  • ei like in say
  • oi like in toy

  • Unfamiliar Consonants

    ts  dz  tsh  dzh  dt  th  dh  kh  gh  ph  ñ

  • ts and dz are pronounced as they appear, but bunched up so the sounds come out simultaneously.
  • dzh is the soft G sound often written with "j" or "g" in English, such as in jet or gel
  • tsh like chant
  • dt is between an r and a d, like some might say in water when talking quickly
  • dh and th are both written as th in English, but are different; contrast that (dh) and thing (th).
  • kh is pronounced like "ch" in Scottish or German, e.g. loch
  • gh is rarer in Terran languages, but can be found in the Arabic and Persian pronunciations of Afghan
  • ph is pronounced like a p followed by an f
  • ñ is pronounced like in sting or pink, not bin

  • Any h not following t, s, d, z, k, g, or p can be taken to indicate aspiration, just like a lone h at the start of a word in English. Very rarely, aspiration may immediately follow one of those consonants, and be marked as separate from it by using a dot ( · ), e.g. its·hé. We will try to avoid this, instead using epenthic vowels, e.g. itsehé, but remember that these vowels (almost only ever found in the nominative complement form of Sarasí only) are silent and do not appear in Títina.

    Modifier letters and other marks

    From time to time you will see certain letters italicized: i, r, h, n, m, or ñ. This is merely a difference in spelling in Títina and can safely be ignored for the beginning student.

    An apostrophe indicates a contraction, like with most uses in English.

    A diaresis (¨) over a vowel, usually ë, ü, or ï, indicates that the letters are separate and should not be read together.

    Grave accents and acute accents over a and o indicate stress, something we will not worry about in this course. They are normally only found in Illeran, Ketalán, and other later dialects.

    A ý indicates what is normally the letter í, but for poetic reasons has been squished down into sounding like a y. These are not normally found in Sarasí either.

    For further information, such as exact values in the International Phonetic Alphabet, see the full phonology article.


    1. Practice the following:
      • zú (yes)
      • bet (no)
      • atshai (stars)
      • maní (one's)
      • neiptei (notes)
      • vedreia (you (pl.) were)
      • kwevú (because of)
      • bístogalsakan (to the sleep-aide)
      • dzenekhonverekirí (of the same description)
      • éhíñkeka (camaraderie)
      • tshentwidhildta (chronicle)
      • vêdtí (sharp)
      • zhovedta (knuckle)

    2. Practice the following. It may help if you transcribe it into a more familiar phonetic format first, e.g. replacing ú with "oo":
      • Kelí Shúthimífasa! (O, Great Winds!)
      • Washúthindeia sinakan surví menú! (Blow to us a new one!)
      • Apas mokalvai il Dashr'í hapla (In the dunes of Dashro’s sand)
      • kantí hé fameneí 'lú mileme (pure and glittering as glass)
      • Trú'ré mí thel'pelí'-khrím'rí stipta (I saw a garden-haired girl)
      • 'lú daz'ai laní ye'tshai 'zhatézhé (her rags torn like clouds)