How do I pronounce “Zhi Ilun dàbiras nir”?!

Pronunciation example

A few people who’ve ordered Beneath the Vault of Stars have been posting photos of their purchases on Facebook. Keep ’em coming! (I’m not too proud to admit that so far, most purchases appear to have been made by family: thanks, everyone! Tell your friends!)

Somehow, seeing those posts got me thinking about some of the…let’s call it curious pronunciation required for some of the “native” language these characters use from time to time. (While every character had the bad fortune to receive a name from me, some received…more unique names than others!) For anyone wondering “How on earth do I pronounce that?!” I have the answer!

Maybe.

Once you figure out how each sound “works,” things should become clear: letters (and any accompanying diacritics) always have the same sound. In English, depending any number of curious variables, identical combinations of letters can have different sounds while other, different combinations can sound just like something else. For example: “I wound a bandage around the wound,” or “They’re putting their things over there.” My characters don’t have to worry about such peculiarities and, with this handy dandy chart (Table 1), neither do you!1

Unless you’re speaking English.

SoundIPAExample
a/ɑ/father
à/ɑɪ/rite
â/ɑʊ/mouth
á/jɑ/riata
e/eɪ/face
ë/e/red
i/i:/see
ï/I/sit
î/ɪʊ/kiwi
í/ji:/ye
o/əʊ/show
ö/ɒ/boss
ó/jəʊ/yo
u/u:/who
ü/ʌ/fun
ú/ju:/you
dh/ð/this
dzh/dʒ/jet
mb/mb/bombast
th/θ/thin
tsh/tʃ/chap
ts/ts/tsunami
zh/ʒ/treasure
Table 1. Pronunciation guide for in-world language.

Double consonants, while rare, require a subtle lengthening of the sound. A weak glottal stop, maybe. Think of the difference between night time and nigh time. That “pause” between the sounds is what I’m talking about.

To answer the post title’s question, Zhi Ilun dàbiras nir sounds like ʒi: i:lu:n dɑɪbi:rɑs ni:r (written with IPA characters), or, perhaps, ZHEE ee-LOON dai·BEE·rahss NEER. What’s it mean? Good question!2

  1. Mostly! Some constructions suffer from minor phonetic reduction, but such occurrences are so rare (and so trivial), it’s hardly worth the mention.
  2. The Creator be blessed! (Literally, The Creator blessed be!)

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