Spelling and pronunciation

Pandunia is phonetic in two directions:

  1. When you read a word, you can always pronounce it.
  2. 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.

A B C Ch D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S Sh T U V Y Z

Sounds

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.

Vowels

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 Internation Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as well as pronunciation advise in plain English.

Pandunia IPA Pronunciation advise
A a As in father.
E e As in bet when it is in accented syllable.
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.

Semivowels

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.

Consonants

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 Internation Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as well as pronunciation advise in plain English. If an alternative pronunciation is allowed, it is enclosed in parentheses in the IPA column.

Pandunia IPA Pronunciation advise
B b
Ch Always like ch in chat.
D d
F f
G g Always hard as in get. Never soft as in gel.
H h (x)
J Always like J in judge_ or the soft g in gel.
K Pronounced with a puff of air as in kin.
L l
M m
N n (ŋ)
P Pronounced with a puff of air as in pin.
R r (ɹ) Preferably trilled as in Scottish and Indian English, or rolled as in American English. Never silent!
S s Always voiceless like s in sissy.
Sh ʃ Like sh in shop.
T Pronounced with a puff of air as in tin.
V w (v)
Y j Like y in yes.
Z z (dz)

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.

Pandunia IPA Pronunciation advise
C ts (s) Like ts in bits or like c in city.
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.
W w (v)
X ks (s) Like x in axe.

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. Just pronounce the first letter and ignore the H.

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).

Examples:
Athina Athens (the capital of Greece)
Khartum Khartoum (the capital of Sudan)
Rhone Rhône (a river in France and Switzerland)

Word Structure

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, x, h, y, and v.

Certain consonant clusters are also allowed only between vowels, like ks and zn.

Some of the heaviest words in practice are kristal 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.

Common words

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.

Proper names

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 is normally written only in small letters (i.e. lower case letters). Large letters are used only in special cases.

There are three reasons why large letters and rules about their usage are not necessary.

  1. Writing represents speech and there are no "capital letters" in speech. Still understanding spoken words is as easy as understanding written words.
  2. 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.
  3. It is simpler to use only small letters. No need for special rules for capitalization.

Note! It's not a mistake to use the capital letters. Sometimes people do it because they are accustomed to them in other languages. But still capital letters are unnecessary and not recommended in Pandunia.

Capital letters are necessary in standard international acronyms. For example: 10 Mb (desi megobite), 100 Gb (honi gigobite), 2 mm (duli milometre), 1 kJ (un kilojul).

Proper names

Personal names and other proper names can be capitalized although it's not necessary or recommended. For example Thomas Stearns Eliot would be written Tomas Sternz Eliot in Pandunia, and it can be abbreviated to initial letters variously Tomas S Eliot, TS Eliot and TSE.

In titles of artistic works, like books, songs and films, every word begins with a large letter. For example, Putong Loge Da Insani Hake (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

Acronyms

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 (ten megabite), 100 GB (hunde gigabaite), 2 mm (due milimetre), 1 kJ (un kilojul).

Syllabification

« - » 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, kon-ca-nis-tia.

Punctuation

« . » 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, two spaces can be inserted after the punctuation mark that ends the sentence. This practice helps to separate sentences more clearly.

In informal texts, smileys, emoticons and emojis may be used to indicate mood. For example :) indicates happiness and :( indicates sadness.

mi vide tu :) = I see you.
tu no vide mi :( = You don't see me.