Dhaqan Phonology

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Referencearrow.png Main Article: Dhaqan Languages


Cells in the following table show pronunciation in IPA notation followed by Nagaskian letter and official transliterations. If two transliterations are given, the second is to be used in diacritic-free transliterations (although only the first is official and is always the preferred transliteration). Transliterations in gray are common variants, but have no official status.

bilabial alveolar (alveolo-) palatal velar ~ uvular lab.-vel. coarticul. glottal or palatal
voiceless nasal m̊/hm n̊/hn
voiced nasal m m n n ŋ ng
voiceless plosive p p t t c q k~q k k͡p kp
aspirated plosive  ph  th  qh kʰ~qʰ  kh
voiced plosive b b d d ɟ j g g ɡ͡b gb
breathy-voiced plosive ᵐbʱ  bh ⁿdʱ  dh ᶮɟʱ  jh ᵑgʱ  gh
voiceless affricate t͡s ts t͡ɕ tx
aspirated affricate t͡sʰ  sh/tsh t͡ɕʰ  xh/txh
voiced affricate d͡z dz d͡ʑ dʒ/jz
breathy-voiced affricate ⁿd͡zʱ  zh/dzh ᶮd͡ʑʱ  ʒh/jzh
voiceless fricative ɸ f s s ɕ x x~χ c h/ç h̥/hh
voiced fricative β  v z z ʑ ʒ/zy ɣ~ʁ r ɦ/ʝ  h
approximant r) j y ɰ͡β̞ w
lateral fricative ɬ  lh
lateral approximant l l

notes and remarks:

  • Breathy-voiced plosives and affricates tend to be prenatalized, but this is not phonemic.
  • Labial-velar coarticulations, voiceless nasals, and aspirated and breathy-voiced consonants are uncommon in Tongman, occurring mostly in Tyannese loan words.


front central back
closed i/i̯ i u/u̯/ɯ/ʉ/ʊ / u/ɯ
(see below)
ɪ i
 ei  ou
mid ɞ/ǝ/œ ǝ/ø
ɛ e ɔ o
ɐ a
open aa ɑ a

notes and remarks:

  • [i] followed by [ŋ] becomes [ɪŋ].
  • If [ɑ] is not preceded by a glide or followed by a consonant, it is usually pronounced /ɐ/.
  • [aː], [eː] en [oː] are always long. The only vowel that has both long and short versions is [i]: [iː] (Nagaskian script: ; transliteration: ii).
  • is officially pronounced /ǝ/ in Tyannese and /ɞ/ in Tongman, buth both pronunciations occur in both languages, and in Tongman /œ/ also occurs as an allophone. Note that the transliteration of this phoneme in Tyannese is ǝ, and in Tongman ø.
  • The diphthong or long vowel [ɛi] varies from /ɛi/ or /ɛɪ/ to /eː/. Similarly, [ɔu] varies from /ɔu/ or /ɔʊ/ to /oː/. Other diphthongs are [ɑɪ] (also /ɑi/) and [ɑʊ] (also /ɑo/ or /ɑu/). These four diphthongs are transliterated as ei, ou, ai and ao. Tongman has one more diphthong [ɞʉ] (also /ɵː/ or /øː/), transliterated as øɯ.

closed back and central vowels

Tyanese officially has [u̯] as glide and [ɯ] as vowel, both written in Nagaskian script and transliterated as u.

Tongman officially has the vowels [u] and [ʉ], written as (u) and (ɯ), respectively.

Under Tongman influence, the Tyannese vowel [ɯ] is also pronounced as /ʉ/ or /ʊ/, especially in the north-east. (And /ʊ/ also occurs as a pronunciational variant of /o/, possibly leading to confusion in some cases.)

Butyang distinguishes [u̯] (, u), [u] (, u), and [ʉ] (, ɯ).


Tyannese and Butyang have two tones: neutral and rising, marked with a single short, rising line above right the vowel: . Tyannese loan words in Tongman keep their tone (and tone marking), but other Tongman syllables are almost all neutral tone.



Tyannese is essentially monosyllabic. A syllable consists of an initial and a final, or a final only (with the "null-initial"). Any consonant can be an initial. Possible finals are:

a ang en ǝng ieng iong ou uei
aa ao eng i iǝng iu u ung
ai e ǝ iang ii o ua uong
an ei ǝn iao ing ong uang

Most of these can be either neutral or rising tone, but there are a few exceptions. The finals a (except in a few particles), o, ǝn, and ǝng can only be neutral; the finals e, en, eng, and i can only be rising. (Note that finals that can only have rising tone are usually not marked as such.)

The initials y and w are not "real" initials, but variants of the null-initial. The i-glide becomes y; the u-glide becomes w.

In cases where phonetic history would suggest "ngǝ", actual pronunciation is often (but not always) just "ng": syllabic /ŋ/. This is the only syllabic consonant, and the only deviation from the above initial-final scheme.

Tongman and Butyang

Tongman and Butyang are polysyllabic. Syllables are V, CV, VC, or CVC, where initial C can be any consonant, V can be any vowel or diphthong, and final C can be a voiced nasal, voiceless plosive, voiceless fricative (with the exception of [h]), or alveolar approximant (/l/ or /ɹ/). However, V and VC syllables almost only occur as the first syllable of a word, and non-nasal finals are less common in non-word-final position (they mostly occur in relatively recent German loan words).