Spelling and pronunciation
Pandunia is phonetic in two directions:
- When you read a word, you can always pronounce it.
- When you hear a word, you can almost always write it. (Foreign names can be an exception.)
Once you have learned the few rules and the way letters are pronounced, you can read Pandunia aloud and be understood.
Basic Latin Alphabet
Pandunia is written in the basic Latin alphabet – the same as English! It doesn't have any of the accented letters, which are different from language to language. So it can be typed, printed and used with computers and smart devices in most countries without any difficulty.
Pandunia has its own sound system and its own spelling system that are mostly similar to those of the languages of continental Europe and Latin America.
The complete speech sound inventory of Pandunia is presented in the table below.
|Stops||b p||t d||c j||k g|
Pandunia has five oral vowels. They are represented by the five vowel letters A, E, I, O and U in the writing system.
The table below shows how each Pandunia vowel is pronounced by using the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as well as pronunciation advice in plain English.
|a||a||As in father.|
|e||e||As in bet.|
|i||i||As in machine.|
|o||o||As in or.|
|u||u||As in rule.|
There are also several common vowel sequences – au, eu, ou, ai, ei, oi – which are pronounced as the consecutive vowels with or without a hiatus in between.
A semivowel is a sound that is phonetically similar to a vowel sound but functions like a consonant as the syllable boundary. Pandunia has two semivowels y and v. They appear only in the beginning of a syllable and they are always followed by a full vowel.
Pandunia has 19 consonant sounds. They are represented in the writing system by 19 Latin letters and their combinations. Most of them are pronounced in roughly the same way as in English.
The table below shows how each Pandunia consonant is pronounced by using the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as well as pronunciation advice in plain English. If an alternative pronunciation is allowed, it is enclosed in parentheses in the IPA column.
|c||tʃ||Always like ch in chat.|
|g||g||Always hard as in get. Never soft as in gel.|
|j||dʒ||Always like j in judge or the soft g in gel.|
|k||kʰ||Pronounced with a puff of air as in kin.|
|p||pʰ||Pronounced with a puff of air as in pin.|
|r||r (ɹ)||Preferably trilled as in Scottish and Indian English, or smooth as in American English. Never silent!|
|s||s||Always voiceless like s in sissy.|
|t||tʰ||Pronounced with a puff of air as in tin.|
|v||w (ʋ v)|
|x||ʃ||Like sh in shop.|
|y||j||Like y in yes.|
External letters and sounds
There are also additional letters and letter-combinations, which can be used only in external words, which do not belong to the ordinary vocabulary of Pandunia, like names of individual places and people. They are not used in any common Pandunia words.
|kh||x||Voiceless velar fricative, like ch in Loch in Scottish.|
|gh||ɣ||Voiced velar fricative|
|ph||ɸ||Voiceless bilabial fricative|
|bh||β||Voiced bilabial fricative|
|q||q||Voiceless uvular stop|
|qh||χ||Voiceless uvular fricative|
|rh||ʀ~ʁ||Voiced uvular trill or fricative like rh in rhume in Parisian French.|
|th||θ||Like th in thing.|
|dh||ð||Like th in they.|
|zh||ʒ||Like z in azure.|
|ch||tʃ||Duplicate of c|
|w||w (v)||Duplicate of v|
The additional letters and digraphs are used locally. Their purpose is to help to transfer names in the local language to the international language, so that the local people can recognize them. It's OK if you don't know how to pronounce any of these sounds. The letters C, Q, and W can be pronounced the same as S, K, and V, and the others can all be pronounced as if the H is not there.
For example, the capital of Greece is called "Αθήνα" /aθina/ in the local language, Greek. The Pandunia version of this name is "Athina". It can be pronounced either /aθina/ (as the Greek do) or /atina/ (in the simplified international accent).
Athina Athens (the capital of Greece)
Khartum Khartoum (the capital of Sudan)
Rhone Rhône (a river in France and Switzerland)
Pandunia words are structurally rather simple. A syllable can include in maximum:
- one initial consonant
- one liquid consonant (l or r)
- one or two vowels, and
- one final consonant from the following: m, n, ng, l, r, f, s, sh, h.
Certain consonant clusters are also allowed only between vowels, like ks and zn.
Some of the heaviest words in practice are problem and simple.
Adapting Loan Words
As a general rule, loan words are adapted to the phonetic spelling system of Pandunia. This rule is applied to both common words and proper names.
A common word refers to a thing as a member of a group, not as an individual. For example dog is a common word but Sam is not, it is a proper name.
Common words, which are in general use, must fit into the normal word structure, and they can include only the normal sounds of Pandunia.
Most Pandunia words are structurally simpler than the corresponding English words. Difficult consonant groups are avoided in the beginning, middle and end of words, so stadium is estadia, act is ate, and saint is sante in Pandunia. Also final stop consonants are avoided, so for example soup is supe in Pandunia.
Infrequently used common nouns and proper nouns can be more complex than ordinary words. They can even include sounds that don't belong to the normal sound inventory of Pandunia.
For example, family name Smith may remain Smith in Pandunia, although it is structurally more complex than common Pandunia words, and it has the external th sound. However, foreign people probably will pronounce this name incorrectly. Therefore it is advisable to adapt also proper names to the phonetic system of Pandunia.
Large and small letters
Pandunia has its own rules for using the large letters (i.e. upper-case letters) and the small letters (i.e. lower-case letters).
The only case when large letters are absolutely necessary is writing standard international acronyms, because using wrong letter-case could result into wrong meaning. For example, 1 mm (un milimitre) means 'one thousandth of a metre' and 1 Mm (un megamitre) means 'one million metres'.
Otherwise all text in Pandunia can be written in small letters. In particular, the first letter of sentences is not capitalized!
There are three reasons why large letters and rules about their usage are not necessary.
- Writing represents speech and there are no "capital letters" in speech. Yet understanding spoken words is as easy as understanding written words in spite of this "shortcoming".
- Most of the scripts and alphabets of the world have only one letter type, i.e. they don't have separate large and small letters.
- It is simpler to use only small letters. No need for special rules for capitalization.
Proper names may be capitalized according to the writers preference. Family names may be written completely in large letters. It is helpful because names are written in different way from language to language and they can include several given names and family names. However, all names may be written completely in small letters too.
Examples of written names: (1) ludoviko lazaro zamenhof, edgar de val, mizuta sentaro (2) Ludoviko Lazaro Zamenhof, Edgar de Val, Mizuta Sentaro (3) Ludoviko Lazaro ZAMENHOF, Edgar de VAL, MIZUTA Sentaro
In titles of artistic works, like books, songs and films, every word may begin with a large letter except prepositions. For example, Putong Loge de Human Hake (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
Initialisms, like ASEAN, EU, NAFTA and UN, are always written in large letters. Other acronyms may use a mixture of large and small letters, like for example GULag, which is an acronym of the Russian words "Glavnoye Upravleniye Lagerey".
Capital letters are also used in the standard international acronyms. For example: 10 Mb (des megabite), 100 GB (sento gigabaite), 2 mm (du milimitre), 1 kJ (un kilojul).
« - » Words may be divided into syllables with a hyphen. The hyphen is placed between spoken syllables. For example: bus, ka-fe, yu-mor, pos-te, hi-drar-gen-te.
« . » All kinds of sentences may end with a full stop.
« ? » Questions may end alternatively with a question mark.
« ! » Exclamation mark indicates loudness or emphasis.
« ... » Three dots (i.e. ellipsis) indicates incompleteness or uncertainty.
« : » Colon indicates the beginning of an explanation, quotation or list.
« , » Comma indicates a small pause or separation between clauses or listed items.
Tip! Because the first word of sentences is not capitalized, sentences can be set apart with more than one space. It's possible (1) to insert two spaces after the punctuation mark, or (2) to insert one space before and after the punctuation mark.
two spaces can be inserted after the punctuation mark that ends the sentence. This practice helps to separate sentences more clearly.
(1) sal! tu hau, he? mi vol ga to kafekan. tu vol lai kon mi, he? (2) sal ! tu hau, he ? mi vol ga to kafekan . tu vol lai kon mi, he ?
In informal texts, smileys, emoticons and emojis may be used like punctuation marks to end sentences but in addition they indicate the mood of the speaker. For example :) indicates happiness and :( indicates sadness.
mi vide tu :)
= I see you.
tu no vide mi :( = You don't see me.