Sounds and Symbols

Alphabet

The Kiitra alphabet is highly phonetic, with each character representing one sound or closely-related sounds. There are eight vowels, nineteen consonants, and one glottal-stop marker:

character Romanization pronounced like … IPA notation
. a alpha /æ/
.: aa spa /ä/ or /ɑ/
b bravo /b/
d delta /d/
e echo /ɛ/
f foxtrot /f/
g golf /g/
.°: h hotel /h/
i India /ɪ/
└: ii Hindi /i/
j Juliet /d͡ʒ/ or /ʒ/
k kilo /k/
╒° kh loch /x/
. l Lima /l/ or /ɫ/
m Mike /m/
n November /n/
o Oscar /ɔ/ or /ɒ/
p Papa /p/
. r Romeo /ɹ/ or /ɾ/
.╨° rh trilled “r” /r/ or /ʀ/
. s Sierra /s/
╞° sh share /ʃ/
: t tango /t/
u uncle /ʌ/
: uu room /u/
: v victor /v/
: z Zulu /z/
.° glottal stop /ʔ/

Note: The order above is for the convenience of English-speaking Terrans learning Kiitra; the actual order of the Kiitra alphabet (hirmekei) is as follows:

a, aa, o, i, ii, e, u, uu, ‘, h, s, g, k, kh, n, m, f, v, j, z, sh, p, b, d, t, l, r, rh

..: ╙ └ └: ╘ ╚ ╚: .° .°: .═ ┌ ╒ ╒° ╓ ╔ ├ ├: ╞ ╞: ╞° ║ ╟ ╠ ╠: ...╨°

Kiitra and general Alplai phonological theory regards the h and glottal stop sounds as an intermediate category (leidvona) between vowels (merdvona) and consonants (biirdvona).

There are also two additional vowel sounds, represented by combining two vowel characters:

characters Romanization pronounced like … IPA notation
.─└ ai eye /aɪ/
╘└ ei ray /eɪ/

With the exception of ai and ei, there are no other cases of combined or “blended” vowels; in many words the glottal-stop marker is used to separate vowels from one another. This restriction is also present in other Alplai languages, and even more so with Konarai having only one vowel sound (a). Combined with the restrictions of Alplai vocal physiology (ie, rigid beaks making it difficult to reproduce more nuanced labial sounds) and the absence of certain consonants and digraphs (ch, th, w), this makes it more difficult for Alplai to pronounce many Terran words than for Terrans to pronounce Kiitra and other Alplai languages.

Pronunciation tips

For most Terai (humans) first learning Kiitra, the trickiest part of pronunciation is in the vowels a and o. Also, the consonants kh and rh can be tricky for many English speakers.

  • A single a is always pronounced like the beginning of “alpha” and “apple”; to prevent slipping towards the “ah” sound (represented by aa) stretch your lips back.
  • The o is always pronounced like the beginning of “Oscar” and “olive”; avoid saying o as in “more” or “low” by keeping the lips rounded and the jaw still.
  • Say kh in the back of the throat, with the mouth slightly open and relatively relaxed.
  • Say the rh in the front of the mouth, with the lips rounded and projecting forward.

Punctuation and written format

Kiitra is written in continuous form; words are separated by a special punctuation mark instead of blank spaces. Paragraphs are formatted with hanging indents; this was originally adopted so that a recipient could write responsive notes in the margins. Also, Kiitra has only one letter case; proper names are designated by a special marker placed in front of the first letter.

symbol function same function as …
˽ word separator blank space
˽.˽ indicates omitted content ellipsis
.. clause separator comma or semicolon
> < quote framer quotation marks
.: sentence end full-stop/period
question marker question mark[1]
exclamation marker exclamation mark[1]
proper name marker capitalization[2]

[1] = placed in front of sentence; [2] = placed in front of name

Numbers and mathematical symbols

The Alplai use a base-10 numerical system, with the nine positive numbers in groups of three, along with symbols for different mathematical operations:

symbol digit, operation or function Kiitra word
~ zero jon
\ one okh
\. two dof
\: three dol
/ four got
/. five ponk
/: six zot
X seven sipot
X. eight ozat
X: nine nof
° thousands separator edolamek[1]
˽ decimal point tazeimek
˄ addition k’shaan
˄. link whole number with fraction sed
˅ subtraction k’niin
multiplication k’shaaniil
division k’niiniil
equal k’ajlaan
not equal k’nijlaan
˅ greater than k’periil
˄ less than k’orpiil
│˅ greater or equal k’perilajlaan
│˄ less or equal k’orpilajlaan
exponent (“to power of”) k’shaaniikh
exponential root (“root of”) k’niiniikh

[1] the “thousands” separator is used on both sides of the decimal point, to separate digits into groups of three.

Additionally:

  • 10 = taz
  • numbers 11 to 19 = taz’n’ + [number 1-9]
  • multiples of 10 = [multiplier 2-9] + ‘taz (but if multiplier ends in t, glottal stop and one t dropped)
  • 100 = shot
  • 1,000 = mot
  • 1 million = haalmot
  • 1 billion = jermot
  • 1 trillion = mormot

Example: 502,374 = /.~\.°\:X/ = ponk’shot’dof’mot’dol’shot’sipotaz’n’got

To indicate a negative number, a zero and minus sign are placed in front; the compound word jon’k’niin is placed in front of the number.
Example: -19 = ~˅\X: = jon’k’niin taz’n’nof

Tazeimek is the proper name for the decimal mark; in the name of a particular number, the separation point between the integer and the decimal fraction is called tazei, and decimal numbers less than one simply begin with tazei.
Example A: 1.1 = \˽\ = okh’tazei’okh”
Example B: 0.3651 = ~˽\:/:/.°\ = tazei’dol’zot’ponk’okh

A fraction is expressed by linking the divdend and divisor with the archaic word for division, tii, then adding the suffix -luu. When the number is a whole with a fraction, the word sed (“with”) is placed between them; this is represented formulaically with the ˄. symbol.
Example A: one-half = \▼\. = okh’tii’dofluu; colloquial “half” = otidof
Example B: one-quarter = \▼/ = okh’tii’gotluu; colloquial “quarter” = otigot
Example C: three-fifths = \:▼/. = dol’tii’ponkluu
Example D: one and two-thirds = \˄.\.▼\: = okh sed dof’tii’doluu

Percentages are expressed as hundredths (tii’shotluu) but with the digits follwed by an abbreviated notation:
Example A: 25% = \./.:╞° = dof’taz’n’ponk’tii’shotluu
Example B: 7.3% = X‿\::╞° = sipot’tazei’dol’tii’shotluu

The suffix -luu is added to a number to indicate the ordinal form:
“first” = okhluu
“second” = dofluu
“sixteenth” = taz’n’zotluu

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