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Language[edit source]

Phonology and orthography[edit source]

Consonants[edit source]

Labiodental Dental/


Postalveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal ɱ n ŋ
Plosive voiceless t t͡ʃ k
voiced d ɡ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ ç x
voiced v ɣ
Approximant (ɫ)1 l j
Rhotic (r)2
  1. The velarized alveolar lateral approximant (a.k.a. dark l) [ɫ] is an allophone of the postalveolar lateral approximant [l] in Vjotercalic.
  2. Rhotic consonants in Vjotercalic can be articulated as a dental trill [], alveolar trill [r], or postalveolar trill [].

Vowels[edit source]

Front Central Back
Close i
Near-close ɪ ɪː ʊ ʊː
Mid ə əː
Open-mid ɛ ɛː
Open ɑ ɑː
Diphthongs ɑɪ ɑɪː
Triphthongs ɑɪ.i ɑɪ.iː

Orthography[edit source]

IPA [ə] [ç] [t͡ʃ] [d] [ɛ] [ɛː] [f] [ɡ] [ɣ] [x] [i]




[j] [k] [l]


[ɱ] [n] [ɑ] [ɑː] [ʊ] [ʊː] [r] [s] [t] [v] [ɑɪ] [ɑɪː] [ɑɪ.i] [ɑɪ.iˑ]
Latin a c č d e ë f g ĝ h i ī j k l m n o ö u ü r s t v y ÿ ï ı

Phonotactics[edit source]

The phonemic template of a syllable in Vjotercalic is (C)(C)V(C), in which C can be an obstruent, sonorant, or a liquid consonant. V can be realized as a diphthong. A final consonant of a Vjotercalic word, though not a syllable, must be a coronal one.

Originally Vjotercalic syllables could not start with two consonants but many loans containing these have added this to the inventory. This is observable in older loans such as ranska < Swedish franska ('French') contrasting newer loans presidentti < Swedish president ('president'). In past decades, it was common to hear these clusters simplified in speech (resitentti), particularly, though not exclusively, by either rural Finns or Finns who knew little or no Swedish or English. Even then, the Southwestern dialects formed an exception: consonant clusters, especially those with plosives, trills or nasals, are common: examples include place names Friitala and Preiviiki near the town Pori, or town Kristiinankaupunki ('Kristinestad'). Nowadays the overwhelming majority of Finns have adopted initial consonant clusters in their speech.

Consonant phonotactics[edit source]

Consonant phonotactics are as follows.

Word-final consonants

  • Only /t, s, n, r, l/.

Word-initial consonants

  • Only /d/, /ç/, /t͡ʃ/, and /ŋ/ cannot occur word initially (except /d/ in loan words).

Word-initial consonant clusters

  • Only stop+liquid combinations are allowed, which is a result of the influence of mostly post-WWII loanwords (e.g. /klinikkɑ/ = 'clinic', /plɑneettɑ/ = 'planet').

Word-final consonant clusters

  • None, except in dialects via vowel dropping.

Word-medial consonant clusters

  • The following clusters are not possible in Vjotercalic:
    • any exceeding 3 consonants (except in loan words)
    • stop + nasal
    • non-dental stop + semivowel
    • nasal + non-homorganic obstruent
    • nasal + sonorant
    • liquid + liquid
    • semivowel + consonant
Vowel phonotactics[edit source]

Vowel phonotactics are as follows.

Word-final and word-initial vowels[edit source]
  • Any of the vowels can be found in this position. /ə/ cannot be the first phoneme of a word.

Vowel sequences

  • Doubled vowels
    • Usually only /ɑ, i, ʊ, ɛ/ are doubled.
    • Sometimes the mid vowel /ə/ can be doubled in cases of contraction.
  • Diphthongs and triphthongs
    • The diphthong [ɑɪ] and triphthong [ɑɪ.i] can only be followed by liquid or stop consonants and may be preceded by /n, m, k, g, l, s, f, v/.
  • Consecutive vowels
    • Consecutive vowels are usually separated by a voiced palatal approximant [j].

Compound word phonotactics[edit source]

Compound word phonotactics are as follows:

Consonants[edit source]

Consonant phonotactics in compound words are as follows:

Word-initial consonants[edit source]
  • If not part of the first root word, it will be preceded by /ə/.
Word-final consonants[edit source]
  • If not part of the last root word, it will be followed by /ə/.

Vowels[edit source]

Vowel phonotactics in compound words are as follows:

Word-initial vowels[edit source]
  • If not part of the first root word, it will be preceded by /j/
Word-final vowels[edit source]
  • If not part of the last root word, it will be followed by /j/.

Note: It is important to remember that /j/ should not be doubled between compound words and instead simply be /j/.

Prosody[edit source]

Stress[edit source]

Stress in Vjotercalic is non-phonemic. Vjotercalic always places the primary stress on the first syllable of a word. Secondary stress normally falls on odd-numbered syllables. Contrary to primary stress, Vjotercalic secondary stress is quantity sensitive. Thus, if secondary stress would normally fall on a light (CV.) syllable but this is followed by a heavy syllable (CV(C)V. or CVC.), the secondary stress moves one syllable further ("to the right") and the preceding foot (syllable group) therefore contains three syllables. Thus, omenanani ("as my apple") contains light syllables only and has primary stress on the first syllable and secondary on the third, as expected: ómenànani. On the other hand, omenanamme ('as our apple') has a light third syllable (na) and a heavy fourth syllable (nam), so secondary stress falls on the fourth syllable: ómenanàmme.

Certain Vjotercalic dialects also have quantity-sensitive main stress pattern, but instead of moving the initial stress, they geminate the consonant, so that e.g. light-heavy CV.CV(C)V becomes heavy-heavy CVCCV(C)V, e.g. the partitive form of "fish" is pronounced kalaa in the quantity-insensitive dialects but kallaa in the quantity-sensitive ones (cf. also the examples under the "Length" section).

Secondary stress falls on the first syllable of non-initial parts of compounds, for example the compound puunaama, meaning "wooden face" (from puu, 'tree' and naama, 'face'), is pronounced [ˈpuːˌnɑː.mɑ] but puunaama, meaning "which was cleaned" (preceded by an agent in the genitive, "by someone"), is pronounced [ˈpuː.nɑː.mɑ].

Timing[edit source]

Vjotercalic is not really isochronic at any level. For example, huutelu ('shouting') and huuhtelu ('flushing') are distinct words, where the initial syllables huu- and huuh- are of different length. Additionally, acoustic measurements show that the first syllable of a word is longer in duration than other syllables, in addition to its phonological doubling. Thus, there are four distinct phonetic lengths.

Sandhi[edit source]

Vjotercalic sandhi is very frequent, appearing between many words and morphemes, in formal standard language and in everyday spoken language. In most registers, it is never written down; only dialectal transcriptions preserve it, the rest settling for a morphemic notation. There are two processes. The first is simple assimilation with respect to place of articulation (e.g. mt > nt). The second is predictive gemination of initial consonants on morpheme boundaries.

See also[edit source]