Þrjótrunn: A North Romance Language


Amazingly, the pronunciation seems to be identical to Icelandic!


To begin with, Þrjótrunn is written using the following letters, given in the order they appear in a (modern) lexicon.

a á b d ð e é f g h i í j k l m n o ó p r s t u ú v x y ý þ æ ö

The letters c q w only appear in recent loans and z only appears in old texts.


Þrjótrunn has the following monophthong phonemes, of which both the grapheme and the phoneme are given in the following table.

front central back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
close, tense í, ý ú
/i/ /u/
close, lax i, y u
/ɪ/ /ʏ/
mid e ö o
/e/ /ø/ /o/
open a

Note that i and y are only distinguished for historical reasons, they represent the same phoneme. The same holds for í and ý.

The following phonemic diphthongs exist.

á /au̯/
au /øy̯/
é /je/
ei, ey /ei̯/
ó /ou̯/
æ /ai̯/

All of the above vowels and diphthongs may be long and short. The above phonemic representation shows the phonetic realisation of the short phonemes. Compared to the short phonemes, the long phonemes change their quality only slightly, if at all. Typical is a slight diphthongisation of /eː/ as [eːə̯], /oː/ as [oːə̯], and /øː/ as [øːə̯].

Vowel length is determined by stress and phonotactic rules.

Before some consonants, vowel pronunciation changes significantly.

a e i, y o u ö
before [ŋ]:
(ng, nk)
[au̯] [ei̯] [i] [ou̯] [u] [øi̯]
before [j]:
(gi, gj, j, é)
[ai̯] [ei̯] [i] [oi̯] [y] [øi̯]

In a few dialects, [ɪː] and [eː] have collapsed into [eː].


Þrjótrunn has the following consonants. The following table lists them with one (not necessarily the only) way of writing the phoneme. Although Þrjótrunn pronunciation can quite regularly be derived from the spelling (if the morpheme breakdown is known), there is no easy grapheme-to-phone correspondance, so the following sections will clarify the orthography and pronunciation.

This section does not try to reason about phonemic and phonetic status of the sounds, but its purpose is to gives an overview of how to pronounce a written word.

Those consonants listed without graphemes are explained below.

Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stops p b pp t d tt kj ggj kkj k gg kk
/pʰ/ /p/ /hp/ /tʰ/ /t/ /ht/ [cʰ] [c] [hc] /kʰ/ /k/ /hk/
Fric. f v þ ð s hj g h
/f/ /v/ /θ/ /ð/ /s/ /ç/ /x/ /ɣ/ /h/
Nasals m hn n nj ng
/m˚/ /m/ /n˚/ /n/ /ɲ˚/ /ɲ/ /ŋ˚/ /ŋ/
Approx. j
Lat. hl l
/ɬ/ /l/
Trills hr r
/r˚/ /r/


p, t, k are postaspirated only at the beginning of stressed syllables.

p, t, k are preaspirated in orthographic geminates pp, tt, kk and before n and l, but they are never preaspirated at the beginning of stressed syllables.


n is pronounced [ŋ] before velar g and k and [ɲ] before palatal g and k.


Intervocalic f and f after a voiced consonant before a vowel is voiced and thus pronounced [v].

Final postvocalic f is pronounced [v].


Some voiced consonants become voiceless before s, p, t, and k:

/m/ [m˚]
/n/ [n˚]
/ɲ/ [ɲ˚]
/ŋ/ [ŋ˚]
/v/ [f]
/ð/ [θ]
/ɣ/ [x]

Some voiced consonants become voiceless after h, p, t, and k, and after voiceless consonants at the end of words:

/l/ [ɬ]
/r/ [r˚]
/m/ [m˚]
/n/ [n˚]


p and k become fricatives before s, p, t, and k:

p [f]
t [θ]
k [x]

This does not happen when the s is from an enclitic definite article.


f is pronounced [p] before n and l.

m is pronounced [p] before n.

g is pronounced [k] or [c] at the beginning of stresses syllables, depending on the subsequent vowel (see palatals).


Before j, i, í, y, ý, e, é, æ, palatal pronunciation is used for some consonants:

/k/ [c]
/kʰ/ [cʰ]
/hk/ [hc]
/n/ [ɲ]
/ŋ/ [ɲ]
/ŋk/ [ɲc]

There is an ongoing debate on whether these palatals are phonemes or phones.

Before j and i:

/ɣ/ [j]

Miscellaneous and Exceptions

x [xs]
hj [ç]
ll, rl [tɬ]
rn [tn]

After á, é, í, ó, ú, ý, æ, au, ei, ey:

nn [tn]

hv is pronounced [kv].

Stress and Length

Stress and length is determined on units of uncompounded words. Some affixes, however, are also an independent unit and are handled like parts of compounds. In the following, we will call these units stress units.


The first syllable of a stress unit is stressed. In words with more than one stress unit, the individual stress is basically maintained for the components, but changed to secondary stress in all but the first component.

Vowel Length

Unstressed vowels are short.

Stressed vowels are long if:

  • only one non-geminate consonant follows, or
  • a stop + either j, v, or r follows.

Otherwise, accented vowels are short.

Consonant Length

The traditional analysis postulates phonetically long consonants in Þrjótrunn, but recent research and experiments have shown that only few speakers have a considerably different consonant length in what is traditionally expected to be a long consonant. Therefore, this document neglects consonant length. It was noted before that orthographic geminates shorten preceding vowels, so orthographically, there are good reasons for writing two instead of one consonant, at least after stressed vowels.

Old Language

At an earlier stage, pronunciation was different (but we are not going into the detail here). Due to the similarity of grammar, written old texts are usually easily understood, and when read aloud, modern pronunciation is usually applied because of so much similarity.

Some additional graphemes were used in older texts. The following table lists the most common ones together with the modern letters they collapsed with. (Note that ö is a modern letter only – it was not used in old texts.)

old modern
ǫ ö
ǭ á
ø ö
œ æ
ę e (not frequently used)
z s

Apart from these additional characters, the vowels that are written with an acute accent in the modern language, which were simply long vowels in the old language, are written with macrons instead: ā, ē, ī, ō, ū, ȳ.

October 28th, 2007
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