Baranxe’i has eight fully phonemic vowels, which in Standard Baranxe’i have three main realisations: that in a stressed syllable (lengthened, iśñajatkanu, I), in an unstressed, non-final syllable (unchanged, mēźu, M), and in a final syllable (reduced, vimujatkanu, V).
These gives the following main vowels for SB:
/ / – I – M – V
/a/ – [ɑː] – [ɑ] – [ɐ]
/ɒ/ – [ɒː] – [ɒ] – [ɒ̆]
/e/ – [eː] – [e] – [ə]
/ɛ/ – [ɛː] – [ɛ] – [ɛ̆]
/i/ – [iː] – [i] – [ɪ]
/y/ – [yː] – [y] – [ʏ]
/o/ – [oː] – [o] – [ɤ]
/u/ – [uː] – [u] – [ɯ]
In addition, there is a marginal phonemic distinction between [u] and [ɯ], but due to its extremely limited appearance it is generally not counted.
The SB diphthongs are /aʊ̯ aɪ̯ eɪ̯ ɛɪ̯ oɪ̯/, of which /oɪ̯/ is extremely rare.
Vowel Length and Stress – Niraukutiśñul ā Aukutēpu
The development of the modern stress – vowel length correlation marked the beginning of the Modern Baranxe’i period, and it was shortly after the development of that system that SB was prescriptively laid down.
In short, long vowels can only appear in stressed syllables, and all stressed syllables have a long vowel.
All unstressed syllables carry a short vowel, and all final syllables carry a reduced vowel.
While stress is ultimately an inherited feature and not a dynamic one, it is nevertheless highly predictable.
Roughly said, the naturally longest vowel in a word’s stem receives the stress unless it’s the final vowel (the order of precedence is diphthong > innately long vowel > innately short vowel).
ausaġu /aʊ̯saɣu/ [ˈɑʊ̯sɑɣɯ] yearly
īmandā /yːmandɒ/ [ˈyːmɑndɒ̆] light
If all valid vowels are of the same length and different qualities, the penultimate gets the stress.
inaki /inaki/ [iˈnɑkɪ] experienced.M
If any two adjacent syllables have the same vowel phoneme, however the stress shifts to the antepenultimate.
inaka /inaka/ [ˈiːnɑkɐ] experienced.F
Morphemes and clitics do not influence the stress of a word, although they can undo final vowel reduction.
medur /medur/ [ˈmeːdɯɾ] room
> medurtu [ˈmeːduɾtɯ] room.GEN, of the room
> medurham [ˈmeːduɾhɐm] room=1.SG.GEN, my room
> medurhamtu [ˈmeːduɾhɐmtɯ] room=1.SG.GEN-GEN, of my room
This is only the pattern in SB, though. While most regiolects and dialects follow a similar pattern, there are often significant differences.
E.g., the Southern dialect group generally only lenghtens stressed, open syllables, but not closed ones. Hence, śap SB [ʃɑːp], WB [ʃɑp] building. This is currently making its way north.
The Simple Vowels – Amsinēn-Niraukuja
/a/ and /ɒ/
/a/ generally descends from Proto-Aketamsei /a/, whereas /ɒ/ generally comes from /aː/, but also the short diphthongs /au/ and /ao.
The prestigious pronunciation of /a/ is [ɑ] everywhere except in final syllables, although in casual speech even speakers of SB usually front and raise it to [a] in an unstressed position.
For /ɒ/, the preferred pronunciations is [ɒ], although when unstressed, it often is realised more centrally.
The pair /a/ – /aː/ was the first to undergo long vowel rounding, and thus, /ɒ/ is consistently found in all Baranxe’i dialects for historic long /a/, and it marks one of the Baranxe’i isoglosses (Asuāneica, for example, still has [aː], although it also merged the short diphthongs).
/e/ and /ɛ/
/e/ is generally from PA /e/, whereas /ɛ/ is ultimately from /eː/ (but see below) and directly from short /ei/, /ai/.
/e/ is mostly realised as /e/, and /ə/ in final position. Many dialects reduce it to /ə/ in any unstressed syllable.
On the other hand, the pronunciation of /ɛ/ as [ɛ] is relatively rare amongst most dialects and subsequently regiolects, although it is considered the best pronunciation for SB.
Originally, long e was rounded to [ø], the second vowel to undergo long vowel rounding. In Baranxiź, it was then first lowered to [œ] during the transition to Middle Baranxe’i, before being derounded to [ɛ] in Courtly Speech in the late 17th century. This pronunciation then was incorporated into SB. Most dialects of the Southern dialect group and Central Baranxe’i, however, continue to have either [ø] or [œ] for it, whereas other dialects in the Northern dialect group either continue unrounded [eː] (in the extreme peripheries), or adopted the prestigious [ɛ] pronunciation/underwent derounding of [œ], as well.
/i/ and /y/
/i/ is mostly from PA /i/, and /y/ is from PA /iː/ and /oi/, /ui/, /wi/.
/i/ and /y/ are relatively consistent in their pronunciation in Baranxe’i dialects. Like the ɑ – ɒ pair, this distinction is one of the isoglosses used to draw a line between Baranxe’i from Asuāneica.
/o/ and /u/
/o/ and /u/ take a special place in Baranxe’i phonology. /o/ is from PA /o/ and /u/, whereas /u/ is from PA /oː/ and /uː/, as well as /ou/.
Derounding of final /o/ and /u/ is relatively rare among Baranxe’i dialects, but typical of Central Baranxe’i and thus became part of SB.
The raising of long o and simultaneous lowering of short u took place before the long vowel rounding and is the oldest sound shift that is typical of Baranxe’i. Asuāneica still distinguishes [o] and [oː], [u] and [uː], whereas Vereti, Mañl, and Amarin shifted them differently and at least partly still have a four-way distinction.
The Diphthongs – Aþarsinēn-Niraukuja
/aʊ̯/ comes from the PA long dipthongs /aʊ̯ː/ and /aɔ̯ː/ and probably /aːw/; furthermore, /a/ and /u/ which were augmented later, and in certain positions overlong /a/ which was broken into a diphthong.
The preferred pronunciation in SB is [ɑʊ̯]; the diphthong is present in some form in almost all dialects of Baranxe’i, although some have collapsed it into a monophthong in unstressed syllables.
/aɪ̯/ comes from the long diphthongs /aɪ̯ː/ and /aə̯ː/ of PA and probably /aːj/.
The preferred pronunciation is [ɑɪ̯ː]. It’s commonly found in most Baranxe’i dialects in at least some positions.
/eɪ̯/ comes from PA /eɪ̯ː/ and at later stages, overlong /i/.
While common in Baranxe’i dialects, it has sometimes merged with [ɛɪ̯].
/ɛɪ̯/ may come from PA /eːj/ and in dialects which unrounded [œ], from PA /eːw/ via [œʏ̯]. Another source from post-PA times is overlong /e/ and /ɛ/ which were broken into diphthongs.
Nasalisation – Tśeiŋijatīr
Nasal vowels occur in SB, but in general, nasalisation is a marginal feature of most dialects.
In SB, untriggered nasal vowel occur where a nasal has been lost; this includes vowels preceding former double nasal stops.
PA *qʰammu [qʰɑmmu] > SB hãmī [ˈhɑ̃ːmʏ] 1.EPICENE
MB vamndrē [ˈβɑmn̩dɾɛ] > SB vãndrē [βɑ̃ːndɾɛ] autumn
Most dialects have lost this type of diachronically nasal vowel, however. The second type of nasal vowel, the one with synchroically triggered nasalisation, exists in a much larger number of dialects, although not all.
This trigger is infixed /n/ for the accusative singular. While it is a very narrow cause, it makes up for it with its commonness.
damrēk [ˈdɑːmɾɛk] > damrē̃k [ˈdɑːmɾɛ̃k] tent<ACC>
irsuk [ˈiːɾsɯk] > irsũk [ˈiːɾsũk] trouble<ACC>
In many dialects, if the final consonant is a stop, it is additionally replaced by a nasal stop or turns into a homorganic sequence [NP]. This is even kept in dialects which have lost this type of vowel nasalisation as well, so that most dialects today mark the accusative singular distinct from the nominative.
Marginal Vowels – Niraukuja Þukruja
Just as there are marginal consonant phonemes, (Standard) Baranxe’i has a few marginal vowel phonemes, as well.
Final [ɯ] and [u]
Similar to the narrow occurance of nasalisation mentioned above, there is an – although even narrower – case of a phonemic distinction between [ɯ] and [u].
For nouns ending in the sequence /uC/, the adpositional is homographic with its nominative. The same is true for the instrumental of nouns ending in /uS/.
However, many regiolects – and SB – realise the adpositional in this case as [uC], contrasting with the nominative [ɯC], and instrumental [uS] with nominative [ɯS].
The adpositional is usually analysed as /uuC/, and the instrumental as /uːS/ /(and indeed, some dialects have [uɯ̯C] for the adpositional).
If a clitic is added to the noun, the nominative and adpositional and/or instrumental turn into homophones, too, so this distinction is indeed extremely marginal.
/ø/ and /øʏ̯/
As mentioned above, [ø] is more common than [ɛ] as a descendant of PA long e. However, [ø] exists marginally even in SB. It is a relatively common interjection, written <ēo>, with a meaning along the lines of “hey”, “wait a second”, “stop”.
Furthermore, the most common informal greeting in SB is [høʏ̯], written <hēoi>.
In transcription of non-Baranxe’i names, [ø œ ɶ ɞ] are commonly transcribed as <ēo>, which is then reproduced in educated Baranxe’i as [ø~œ].
Baranxiź General Dialect
The general dialect of Baranxiź is the most common vernacular accent used nowadays, and is steadily replacing SB as a neutral Baranxe’i accent. While its stress-length system is that of SB, it diverges in many other aspects, including only reduction of /o/ and /u/ in closed final syllables.
|Stressed||Unstressed||Final close||Final open|
Temple Speech – Źutarġauz
Temple Speech is the deliberately archaic accent in which official prayers, sacrifices and ceremonies are conducted and in which priests recite the Holy Scriptures. It neither obeys the stress-length system of modern SB, and only reduces final vowels inasmuch as that every final vowel is of normal length.
To compare the three accents (Standard Baranxe’i, Baranxiź General, Temple Speech), a short line from a recital in honour of Baranxi:
Maŋun maŋīl, zantẽr zurŋēlan atmanis; maŋīja ś-śaupsi xoxaśtiseśa. Ratānis, ratis, ratisis.
SB: [ˈmɑːŋɯn ˈmɑːŋʏl ˈzɑːntẽɾ ˈzuːɾŋɛlɐn ˈɑːtmɑnɪs | ˈmɑːŋyjɐ ʃəˈʃɑʊ̯psɪ xoˈxɑːʃtiseʃɐ | ˈɾɑːtɒnɪs ˈɾɑːtɪs ˈɾɑːtisɪs]
BŹ: [ˈmɑːŋɯn ˈmɑːŋʏl ˈzɑːntəɾ ˈzuːɾŋɞlan ˈɑːtmanɪs |ˈmɑːŋʏjɐ ʃiˈʃɑʊ̯psɨ xɔˈxɑːʃtɪsəʃɐ | ˈrɑːtɔnɪs ˈɾɑːtɪs ˈɾɑːtɪsɪs]
SN: [ˈmɑŋun ˈmɑŋyl ˈzɑntemr̩ ˈzuːɾŋɛːlɑn ˈɑtmɑnis | ˈmɑŋyːjɑ ʃ̩ˈʃɑɸpsi xoˈxɑʃtiseʃɑ | ˈɾɑtɒːnis ˈɾɑtis ˈɾɑtisis]
He does good to the good, he exacts justice on the wicked; the good will enter into his blessed house. He was, he is, he will be.