Mirad Grammar/Phonology and Orthography

Pronunciation edit

Consonant and Glides edit

The following IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) chart shows the consonant phonemes (minimal meaningful sounds) and semi-consonant (glide) phonemes in Mirad:
Consonant Phonemes
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal /m/ /n/
Plosive voiced /b/ /d/ /g/
unvoiced /p/ /t/ /k/
Affricate voiced
unvoiced /t͡ʃ/
Fricative voiced /v/ /z/ /ʒ/
unvoiced /f/ /s/ /ʃ/ /h/
Approximate /l/ /j/ /w/
Flap /ɽ/
The phonemes /r/ and /l/ are consonant liquids and behave in a special way in forming words in Mirad.
The approximate phonemes /j/ and /w/ are semi-consonantal glides and are used to form diphthongs (complex vowels). See Vowels.
The following chart shows the correspondence of the consonants and glides with their phonemic values:
Consonant Graphemes and Phonemes
GRAPHEME b c d f g h j k l m n p r s t v w x y z
PHONEME /b/ /t͡ʃ/ /d/ /f/ /g/ /h/ /ʒ/ /k/ /l/ /m/ /n/ /p/ /ɽ/ /s/ /t/ /v/ /w/ /ʃ/ /j/ /z/
In Mirad, every consonant has a one-to-one correspondence with a single phoneme (ideal sound). Mirad does not use digraphs like sh or ph to represent consonant sounds. There are no double consonants, although sometimes a consonant will come together with the same consonant in the same word, but not the same syllable. There are no silent consonants. Also, there are no letters in "native" Mirad with diacritical marks like é or ñ.
That said, the y and w, while functioning as consonants in words borrowed from other languages, such as Yohan (Johann) and wan (wan), they are, in Mirad native words, used as semi-consonantal glides to alter the pronunciation of vowels. See Pronunciation of Vowels.

Pronunciation Compared to English edit

Here are the letters that are pronounced somewhat differently from English:
  • The letter x is pronounced like an sh in English.
  • The letter h is never silent. It is used to form the determiners in Mirad and is also used to simulate foreign sounds like the ch in Yiddish lachayim (to life!), or German Bach.
  • The letter j is pronounced like the zh in Russian Zhivago or the ge in English mirage.
  • The letter s is always unvoiced as English ss and never sounds like a z.
  • The letter g is always a hard sound as in English gap, not as in English wage.
  • The letter c is used mostly in foreign words and represents the unvoiced affricate sound t͡ʃ like the ch in English church. For example, the Mirad name for China is Cinam. Some chemical names and metric units use the letter c, in which case, it is also pronounced like the ch in English church.
  • The unvoiced plosives p, t, and k are pronounced without the puff of breath that sometimes follows them in their English counterparts. The corresponding consonants in French are exact equivalents.
  • The consonant r should be a flap or trill like the r in Brit. Eng. very or the single r in Spanish pero.
  • The consonants in the Mirad alphabet correspond one-to-one with phonemes. There are no cases of consonant sounds being represented in native words by digraphs as in English ph, sh, ch, or th. For example, the sh sound in English is represented by x in Mirad.
Here is a chart showing the pronunciation of Mirad consonants:

b [b] unaspirated voiced bilabial plosive French bon, English boy
c [tʃ] unvoiced palato-alveolar affricate English child, Spanish chico (only used in foreign words)
d [d] unaspirated voiced alveolar plosive French de, English dog
f [f] unvoiced bilabial fricative English fog
g [g] unaspirated voiced velar plosive French gare, English good (always hard, even before e and i)
h [h]
glottal fricative English house
(used in foreign words and names as a kh-like sound like German Bach
j [ʒ] voiced palatal fricative French je or English mirage
k [k] unaspirated unvoiced velar fricative French carte, English kite (without aspiration) or French comment
l [l] voiced post-alveolar lateral approximant English love or French bel (never a dark l as in English bell.
m [m] voiced bilabial nasal English mother
n [n]
voiced alveolar nasal English nobody
Before g or k, like English fang
p [p] unvoiced bilabial plosive French pain, English pan (without aspiration)
q - - (Only used in foreign words, where it has various guttural pronunciations)
r [r] alveolar flap Spanish mira or Italian Roma or British Eng. 'very
s [s] unvoiced alveolar fricative Always hard as in English safe (never a z sound as in rose)
t [t] unaspirated unvoiced alveolar plosive French tous, English top (without aspiration)
v [v] voiced bilabial fricative English very
w [w]
voiced labio-velar approximant As a pre-glide, English water, French oui
As a post-glide, as in English law
x [ʃ] unvoiced post-alveolar fricative English shape or French cher
y [j]
voiced palatal approximant As a pre-glide, like English yard
As a post-glide, like English boy.
z /z/ voiced alveolar fricative English zone. German speakers, beware. Mirad z is pronounced like a German s, as in Sohn, not like z as in zehn, which sounds more like ts.

Note: If you see a blank here instead of an IPA symbol, it probably means that the font you are using to display characters in your browser does not support these characters.

Vowels edit

Mirad vowels are divided into simple and complex vowels. The simple vowels are single-letter, while the complex vowels have one or more glides.

Simple Vowels edit

The graphemes (alphabetic letters) in Mirad used to represent the simple vowel phonemes (minimal meaningful sounds) are as follows:

Vowel Graphemes and Phonemes
GRAPHEME a e i o u
PHONEME /a/ /e/ /i/ /o/ /u/
The simple vowels are pronounced as they are in many European Latin-based languages. The table below gives their phonetic values and some close examples in Spanish and French, and not-so-close examples in English.
Simple Vowels
a [a] mano à
e [e] hecho et
day 2
i [i] si si
o [o] no de l'eau
u [u] tu ou

Complex Vowels edit

Complex vowels are those preceded or followed by the glides y or w. This chart shows the possible complex vowels and their pronunciations:
Glided Vowel Patterns
ya [ja] Eng. yacht, Fr. hiacinthe (there is)
ye [je] Eng. yet, Fr. grillé (grilled)
yi [ji] Eng. yeast*, Fr. bouilli
yo [jo] Eng. yoke*, Fr. maillot
yu [ju] Eng. you*, Fr. piou-piou
wa [wa] Eng. water, Fr. gouache (poster paint)
we [we] Eng. wet, Fr. ouais (yes)
wi [wi] Eng. wee2, Fr. oui (yes)
wo [wo] Eng. woke2
wu [wu] Eng. woo2
ay [aɪ] Eng. sight, Sp. hay (there is)
ey [eɪ] Eng. day, Sp. rey (king)
iy [iɪ] Eng. see, Fr. bille (marble)
oy [oɪ] Eng. boy, Sp. hoy (today)
uy [uɪ] Eng. gooey, Sp. muy (very)
aw [ɔ] Eng. awe
ew [eʊ] Br. Eng. beau, colloq. Eng. Tell me!
iw [iʊ] Eng. eew! (sound of disgust), Du. niew (new)
ow [oʊ] Eng. know, foe
uw [uʊ] Eng. goo
yay [jaɪ] Eng. yikes
yey [jeɪ] Eng. yea!
yiy [jiɪ] Eng. yeesh! (sound of disgust)
yoy [joɪ] Eng. yoink ( = New Jyoizy )
yuy [juɪ] Eng. Hughie
way [waɪ] Eng. wise, Fr. ouailles (flock)
wey [weɪ] Eng. way
wiy [wiɪ] Eng. wee! (sound of fun)
woy [woɪ] Eng. woy (rhymes with boy)
wuy [wuɪ] Eng. wooish (rhymes with gooey)
In Mirad, the above complex vowels are considered single glided vowels for the purposes of grammar, syllabification, and stress.
Note 1: International Phonetic Alphabet. See chart and click on sounds at [[1]].
Note 2: Without the typical y-glide at the end of the English vowel. The vowel should be pure, as in the Romance languages of Europe.
Note 3: Without the typical w-glide at the end of the English vowel. The vowel should be pure, as in the Romance languages of Europe.

Syllabification edit

Every syllable in Mirad contains one and only one vowel. A y when final or followed by a consonant is used to post-y-glide or diphthongize the previous vowel and is therefore considered part of the syllable in which that vowel is the nucleus (see case 2, below). Similarly, the liquids r and l, when final or followed by a consonant are considered to be a part of the syllable where the preceding vowel is the nucleus (see case 4, below). Two vowels in a row form two syllabic nuclei (see cases 3, 6, and 7, below). Two non-glide consonants (i.e. not y or w, are split between them (see case 8). How syllables are divided is important for determining where the stress accent goes in a word (see Stress, below).
1 ama.....hot a-ma
2 ayma.....warm ay-ma
3 aymsea.....warming up aym-se-a
4 prexwa....exploded pre-xwa
5 upayo....will have come u-pa-yo
6 vyaa....true vya-a
7 vyaay....truly vya-ay
8 vay....indeed vay
9 tambwa....settled tam-bwa

Phonotactics edit

For the purpose of this section:
  • G stands for the glides y or w.
  • L stands for the liquids r and l.
  • C stands for consonants other than glides or liquids.
  • V stands for single vowels.
  • + means 1 to 3 of the foregoing letter
  • Parentheses indicate that a letter is optional.
  • Bracketing indicates a choice of letters or patterns.
Syllables in Mirad are shaped according to the following pattern constraints:
(C)[LG]V+(G)(L)(C) o, ay, xwa, gyo, gra, toyb, glays, alp, mayr, hyos, va, xwa, gyo, gla, gre, vyaa, lo, wa, yu
...V(G)m[psx] mamp, yomx
...V(G)n[kgsx] yank, yons, anx, Englam, eynx
  • Two non-glide/liquid consonants cannot appear together in the same syllable, except in foreign-imported words.
  • Two glides or liquids cannot come together in one syllable except in foreign-imported words.

Stress edit

Stress in Mirad is not marked and is not phonemic, i.e. not semantically distinctive. However, in all words of more than one syllable, the stress is applied to the last, non-final vowel, included complex (i.e. glided) vowels. The following chart gives some examples:
Mirad Word With Stress and Syllabification Marked
teja....vital te-ja
igay....quickly i-gay*
Mirad....Mirad Mi-rad
booka....tired bo-o-ka
bookan....fatigue bo-o-kan
tejea....alive te-je-a
oyse....lacks oy-se
* Here ay is a post-y-glided complex vowel, and final, so it is not stressed.

Capitalization edit

Words in Mirad are capitalized as in English, that is:
  • The first word of a sentence is capitalized.
  • Proper nouns, including names of places and persons, inhabitants of those places, and the languages spoken there, are capitalized. (This contrasts with usage in most European languages.)
  • All the letters of an acronym are upper case.
The following chart illustrates this:
Mirad English
Amerikam America
Amerikama American
Amerikat an American
Amerikad American English
Ivan Ivan
Dropek ay Poos War and Peace
At Mirade. I speak Mirad.
Hyat be ha mir Mirado glojo. Everyone in the world will speak Mirad soon.
Yat tambeseya Boston. We were living in Boston.
His se Fransa vafil. This is a French wine.
Ha Anxwa Doobi gey dyunuwe ha AD. The United Nations is also called the UN.
Ha AD The UN

Punctuation edit

Punctuation and the rules governing it are basically the same as in English, except for one difference. The part of a sentence in Mirad that introduces a direct quotation uses a colon (:) instead of a comma, eg.:
  • It da: "At voy te." .... He said, "I don't know."