ORTHOGRAPHIA E PRONUNCIATION

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Spelling and Pronunciation


Spelling is written form; pronunciation is voiced form. In the international vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation — like forms — represent the consensus of the source languages. Both are governed by prototype rules evolved from the contributing variants. The resulting system of orthography makes use of the conventional twenty-six letters of the Roman alphabet without special diacritical signs or accent marks. The norm of pronunciation is, generally speaking, "continental." Its values are elastic within type limits, or technically expressed, it permits phonemic variations of sounds not only under the influence of neighboring sounds but also as an effect of the native speech habits of individuals of various language backgrounds.


The English speaker should guard against his native tendency to merge all unstressed vowels in the neutral sound of a in China. His normal native pronunciation of b, d, f, k, l, m, p, ph. qu, v, w, and z agrees with the international norm. All other symbols and sounds are tabulated below.


  • a like a in ‘father’;
  • c before e, i, y like ts in ‘hats’ (or, optionally, like c in ‘city’); otherwise like c in ‘cats’; ch like ch in ‘echo, chrome’;
  • e like e in ‘met’;
  • g like g in ‘good’;
  • h as in English (or, optionally, silent); after r and t, silent;
  • i like i in ‘machine’; when unstressed before a vowel, like i in ‘onion’ or in ‘phobia’); e.g. bile, biliose, varie;
  • j like z in ‘azure’ (or, optionally, like g in ‘gem’ or like y in ‘yes’);
  • o like o in ‘obey’;
  • r like rr in ‘merry’ or, better, like r in Spanish ‘care’;
  • s like s in ‘stay’; between vowels, the same (or, optionally, like s in ‘these'); e.g. sparse, abstruse, accusativo;
  • t as in English; ti before vowels, unless stressed or preceded by s, like tsy in ‘he gets you’ (or, optionally, like sy in ‘we pass you’ or like ty in ‘we let you’); e.g. actor, action, garantia, question;
  • u like u in ‘plural’; when unstressed before a vowel, like u in ‘persuade’ or in ‘superfluous’; e.g. plural, persuader, superflue;
  • x like x in fox; between vowels, the same (or, optionally, like x in exact);
  • y unstressed before vowels like y in ‘yes’; otherwise like i in ‘machine’; e.g. Yugoslavia, typo.


Pronunciations deviating from these norms are indicated in the Dictionary by a simple system of respelling. In it the normal sound values of the interlingua are to be assumed. The digraph ch stands frequently for the sound of sh in English and has been respelled as sh; e.g. choc (sh-). The combination gi often represents the sound of z in azure. It has been respelled j; e.g. avantagiose (-ajo-). Simple g has this sound and hence this respelling in the suffix -age; e.g. avantage (-aje).


The diphthong eu stands for a combination of the normal interlingua sounds of e and u. Similarly, ai stands for a plus i as in kaiser; au for a plus u as in kraut. — Double consonants need not be distinguished in pronunciation from simple consonants. — The double consonant ss, however, is always voiceless like ss in ‘miss.’ The sounds of g and k assimilate a preceding n as in English.


Unassimilated guest words, that is, foreign or borrowed words which are identified in the Dictionary as to their origin, retain the pronunciation and spelling of the language of origin. The original diacritical signs are omitted when the languages which have borrowed such words dispense with them too. They do so when the resulting simplified spelling suffices to suggest the intended pronunciation; e.g. defaite for French défaite, but kümmel as in German.


The main stress is normally on the vowel before the last consonant. Words ending in -le. -ne, -re preceded by a vowel have the stress on the third syllable from the end; e.g. fragile, ordine, tempore. In words formed with the suffixes -ic, -ica, -ico, -ide, -ido, -ula, and -ulo, the stress falls on the syllable preceding the suffix. The suffixes -ific, -ifico are stressed on the first i.


Deviations from this system are covered in the Dictionary by respelling with stress marks; e.g. abbatia (-ía), formica (-íca), thermometro (-ó-).


While syllabification may be handled according to derivation, usage in the source languages suggests that preference be given to syllabification according to pronunciation. This means that single consonants belong with the following syllable except for x which stays with the preceding syllable; e.g. ex-a-mi-na-tor. Consonant groups are divided with the important restriction that l and r cannot be separated from preceding b, c, ch, d, f, g, p, ph. t, th, and v; e.g. al-le-gre. The combinations qu, gu, and su are likewise indivisible.