Haloed Bane

Appendix Two: Stress


Grammarians teach four basic rules for Horgothic stress:

  1. In two-syllable words, the first syllable is stressed; and in words of three or more syllables, the third syllable from the end is stressed. E.g. jínak, kálakan
  2. HOWEVER, in compounds, the second element takes the stress, unless it's monosyllabic, in which case the last syllable of the first element is stressed instead. E.g. gloma-gódoltur, grailú-bol
  3. In diphthongs, u yields to i, and i yields to the other vowels (a, e, o). E.g. chuínan, sóinum
  4. HOWEVER, ia, io, ui are in a notional hiatus in monosyllables and in the final unstressed syllable of a word, potentially affecting stress. E.g. The word tior is pronounced tíor because it is putatively a two syllable word: ti-or. The word Sandalion is stressed Sandálion because it is putatively four syllables San-da-li-on, not three (San-da-lion).

The reason I use the word putative when describing hiatus in the last rule is because many speakers in Belklaun, including many Inculae, do not necessarily pronounce these vowels separately, even though they generally do stress the words as prescribed. For example, Glowgem speakers like Sinduin only apply the hiatus rule consistently to ui, whereas for the other diphthongs they only apply it in monosyllables (and even then, if the monosyllable happens to be a function word followed by a content word, the rule goes out the window once again, e.g. tiór vánja instead of tíor vánja.

Some affixes affect these rules, complicating matters quite a bit. We talk of three kinds of affixes: 1) neutrals, which do not affect stress in any special way; 2) attractors, which attract the stress to themselves, and 3) repulsors, who repel the stress back one syllable from themselves (when more than one attractor/repulsor is present, the one closest to the end of the word prevails). The transitivity infixes ain, an, as well as the denominal suffix es (and connective ése) are attractors. Thus, docháinom, and aborés would but for the presence of attractors be stressed on the first syllable because of Rule 1. There are two final consonants that are also attractors, even though they are not suffixes and are in themselves meaningless: ny and sh. E.g. lodóny, janóish.

The repulsors are the passive infix tu and denominal suffixes ter, men, ia, den (and their connective forms). The word ending is (meaningless in itself) is also a repulsor.

Some further notes on compound stress:

  • Monosyllabic second elements never take the stress, even if they are putatively bisyllabic. E.g. we say Brigá-krion, not Briga-kríon. In other words, Rule 2 kicks in before Rule 4.
  • Second elements in a compound, when stressed, never take the stress on the last syllable, even if it carries an attractor. E.g. we call a "conlang" a datrian-janoish. Now, even though Rule 2 tells us we should stress the second element janoish and this word, ending as it does in sh, is by itself always pronounced janóish, the compound is pronounced datrian-jánoish.
  • If the syllable to be stressed in the second element forms a diphthong with the last syllable of the first element, the diphthong as a whole takes the stress. E.g. the word for "birthday" is pronounced likáuva, even though it's a compound lika-uva, because according to Rule 3 it is the vowel a which takes the stress in the new diphthong.

Finally, Pelrenists recognize two words which are completely irregular in terms of stress: adún and navách, but receiving stress on their last syllables.

Use of the Silent Letter

The above suffices for common words, but the denizens of our universe are prone to break the rules of stress when it comes to personal names. Most species rely on silent glyphs or letters, whose purpose is to shift the stress of a word without changing its pronunciation. And in many cultures, these letters are also used to produce sound combinations not permitted by the standard language. The Teivan script employs the letter H to represent a silent "consonant" and its superscript form (H) to represent a silent "vowel", the difference being not in the sound of course but in their position in the sentence and the desired effect.

Inculae are extremely conservative when it comes to proper names, so the only examples you'll see of weird name stress occur among the more reckless Highborn. A classic example is the famous Ikrilathi House of Malsain, stressed as Malsáin. We can immediately see this word should really be stressed Málsain, and written in Teivan as mlsAn. To get the stress on mal, we'll need to tack on a couple of silent letters. First, we break up the diphthong in the second syllable with a silent "consonant": mlsaHin. The word is now three syllables long, but the stress remains on mal. Now we add a silent vowel at the end to make a four syllable word, shifting the stress to sa as we wanted: mlsaHinH. This is the way the name is spelled for all members of the ducal house, except for the Duchesses themselves. Their names are spelled with the single silent letter, as mlsaHin. They still stress the sa, however, and the reason for this is that they count the first syllable in their name as the noun mal (i.e. the number quintillion). Culturally speaking, there's enormous hubris in this ploy, but it works linguistically: if saHin is the second element in a compound, then it's first syllable sa is properly stressed. Note that without the silent consonant here, this second element would be monosyllabic and so the stress would fall on mal once again.

Let's give a simpler, more common example out of irregularly stressed place names, which the Inculae are far less reluctant to indulge in. The innermost planet of the Home System is called Sabaino, stressed Sabáino. The word is spelled in Teivan sabaHino, making the stress fall on the third of four syllables.

The Zeburajan Oxylords love to overload their babies' names with silent letters, which they must earn the right to remove as they grow in deeds of honor. Sinduin's mount Papieka, for example, has no less than two silent consonants and one silent vowel, papiHekaHH, with the final two letters making a silent syllable for stress purposes (Papiéka). The former king Lambodui (a.k.a. Lambodew) was born with the following name: lamboHuHiHH, or Lamboúi, which aside from the irregular stress has way too many vowels. Later on the first silent letter was revealed to be a d and the others were dropped, leaving Lambodúi. The current Queen Rosinash (stressed as Rosinásh), used to be Rosínsh for many years (rosinHx). I'm not even sure how a Pelrenist would deal with such a name. I wouldn't be surprised if she insisted on stressing it on the first syllable. In any case, the fact is that apart from our diplomatic class, most Inculae prefer butchering Oxylord names to abusing the standard tongue.

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