Lesson #1: Zebesian script
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A rundown of the Zebesian alphabet, common diphthongs and digraphs, and numbers 1-Ɛ
This public article was written by cemeteryghoul, and last updated on 27 Sep 2020, 16:24.
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2. Chozo LoreWelcome to the first lesson in Zebesian Chozo! We'll be looking at the alphabet.
First, let's take a look at the 11 Zebesian vowels.
|a||a: ɐ||ā||ā: ɐ:|
|i||i: i||ī||ī: i:|
|u||u: ɯ||ū||ū: ɯ:|
|e||e: ɛ||ē||ē: ɛ:|
|o||o: ɤ||ō||ō: ɤ:||ḷ||ḷ: ɭ̩:|
All Zebesian vowels are either short or long, and only one long vowel can occur in a word before conjugating.
Long vowels are always stressed, and if there is more than one long vowel in a conjugated form, the long vowel closest to the end is stressed. (If there are no long vowels, the penultimate syllable is stressed instead.)
u can become the consonant ɰ when between identical vowels as long as it isn't part of a diphthong, and also occurs very rarely following a consonant in loanwords.
It is important to note that while ḷ appears to be a consonant, it is syllabic and considered a vowel grammatically. It is also always phonetically long, and grammatically long except as the root ending of adjectives.
Zebesian also has 11 diphthongs, which are:
|а||ai: ɐi||ю||au: ɐɯ|
|о||ao: ɐɤ||с||aō: ɐ̆ɤ|
|е||ei: ɛi||э||eī: ɛ̆i|
|и||oi: ɤi||у||ou: ɤɯ|
|л||ḷa: ɭ̩ɐ̆||г||ḷe: ɭ̩ɛ̆||ы||ui: ɯi|
Phonetically, diphthongs are always long. Each diphthong is also considered grammatically long except when a pure long vowel occurs in the same word. с, э, л, and г have an imbalance of phonemic length—the long vowels in the diphthong are long and the short vowels are extra short, so е is different from э in that in е the e and i are the same length, whereas in э the e is extra short and the ī is long.
Also note that ы can only occur in vowel contraction, which will be discussed later. Under most circumstances, ui would be two separate syllables.
In standard Zebesian orthography, diphthongs are rendered by the letters being connected. There is no formal way to render this with Latin letters, but frequently an interpunct · is put between vowels that do not form a diphthong.
Now let's look at the 25 Zebesian consonants.
|r||r: r||ṛ||ṛ: ʀ|
|l||l: l̥||ł||ł: l|
|ṭ||ṭ: ʈ||t||t: t|
|ḍ||ḍ: ɖ||d||d: d|
|s||s: s||ṣ||ṣ: t͡s|
|š||š: ʃ||c||c: ɕ|
|z||z: z||ž||ž: ʒ|
|ṇ||ṇ: ɳ||n||n: n|
|ŋ||ŋ: ŋ||h||h: h|
|g||g: ɡ||γ||γ: ɣ|
|j||j: j||č||č: t͡ʃ|
|k||k: k||x||x: x||ʘ||ʘ: ʘ|
Some important things to note:
r is pronounced as the retroflex trill ɽr when around a retroflex sound (ḷ, ṭ, ḍ, ṇ) and the alveolar tap ɾ at the end of words.
The difference between l and ł is that l is unvoiced, which is achieved with slight preaspiration.
γ and x are pronounced as g and k when followed by r.
ʘ is a beak click, but the most appropriate replacement for human speakers is the bilabial click. It stands in for labial stops and nasals in loanwords (ex. apple = aʘḷ) and can be rendered as b or m in English (a notable example being Zebes itself, which is spelled zeʘeṣ).
Some common Zebesian digraphs:
|lḷ||lḷ: hɭ̩:||ll||ll: h͡l|
|ṭč||ṭč: ʈ͡ʂ||ḍč||ḍč: ɖ͡ʐ|
|dz||dz: d͡z||dž||dž: d͡ʒ|
|cʰ||ch: ʑ||hʰ||hh: ʔ͡h|
|gγ||gγ: ɡ͡ɣ||kx||kx: k͡x|
|ṭʰ||ṭh: ʈʰ||tʰ||th: tʰ|
|ḍʰ||ḍh: ɖʰ||dʰ||dh: dʰ|
|gʰ||gh: ɡʰ||kʰ||kh: kʰ||ʘʰ||ʘh: ʘʰ|
.ʰ is considered an identical letter to h, but the use of .ʰ only occurs as part of a combination of letters to create a new sound, and h only ever stands alone. For the sake of this site, the type of h in romanised Zebesian can be determined by the presence of an interpunct, where a consonant cluster with no interpunct is the modifying form (th: tʰ) and a consonant cluster with an interpunct is the standard form (t·h: th)
ʘʰ can stand in for any labial and labio-dental fricatives in loanwords (ex. xylophone = zаłoʘʰon) and is typically rendered as v in English.
And finally, let's look at Zebesian numbers.
All Chozo languages use a base-12 numbering system, which means the single digit numbers are 0-11. For our purposes, "10" will be written as Χ (capital Greek chi) and "11" as Ɛ.
|0, spelled šti||0, šti|
|1, spelled ṇe||1, ṇe|
|2, spelled ḍūa||2, ḍūa|
|3 or з, spelled ṛe||3, ṛe|
|4, spelled aʘa||4, aʘa|
|5, spelled ške||5, ške|
|6, spelled л||6, ḷa|
|7 or т, spelled drāne||7, drāne|
|8, spelled džea||8, džea|
|9, spelled čūe||9, čūe|
|χ, spelled ṭaua||Χ, ṭa·ua||ɛ or ε, spelled laxe||Ɛ, laxe|
Following this progression, "12" is written as 10 (10, ṇēšta) and so on.
Also note that 3, 7, and Ɛ all have two forms. The second form is used only when preceded by one of the first, ex. 3т, ɛз, 7ε and so forth.
Zebesian also has a handwriting system that’s largely fallen out of use for several millennia, but I’m including it here with an example anyway.
And there we go!