Tense vowels

This where it ges interesting. The 6 vowels also have another form, the “tense” form, which is signalled in spelling by a systematic and regular system of lengthening. Here they are:

SpellingIPAas in …fallback
abale, wake, failai
ebeep, whee, peelee
iæɪlied, vile, mikeia
oʌʊbowl, whole, tolloa
uɪʊcute, lure, butteue
oofool, boom, tombui

The vowel (one of ‘a,’ ‘e,’ ‘i,’ ‘o,’ ‘u,’ ‘oo’) is followed by a single consonant letter and then another vowel, which is arbitrary.

But obviously in the above table, not all the words have the sequence vowel-consonant-vowel. We are going to say they are irregular, and respell them so that they do, like this: ‘bale,’ ‘wake,’ ‘fale,’ ‘bepe,’ ‘whe,’ ‘pele,’ ‘lide,’ ‘vile,’ ‘mike,’ ‘bole,’ ‘whole,’ ‘tole,’ ‘cute,’ ‘lure,’ ‘bute,’ ‘foole,’ ‘boome,’ ‘toome.’ The final ‘e’ is a “magic” ‘e’ that isn’t pronounced, but it still counts as the final vowel in the vowel-consonant-vowel sequence. (When we mention polysyllabic words, which we should probably do soon, other vowels than ‘e’ can take this rôle.)

We also need to think about what to do if these sounds occur when they are not before a consonant and a vowel. This can happen in words like ‘baste,’ ‘wheeled,’ ‘heist,’ ‘toast,’ ‘lutes’ and ‘doomed.’ So we need an unambiguous way to spell each of these, as a fallback when the vowel letter isn’t in its natural position of vowel-consonant-vowel. Exhaustive research indicates that the sounds ‘eɪ’ ‘iː’ ‘æɪ’ ‘ʌʊ’ ‘ɪʊ’ ‘uː’ are often spelled by the pairs ‘ai,’ ‘ee,’ ‘ia,’ ‘oa,’ ‘ue’ and ‘ui’ (as in ‘plaice,’ ‘teeth,’ ‘briar,’ ‘goats,’ ‘cued’ and ‘sluice’), which gives us the spellings ‘baist,’ ‘wheeld,’ ‘hiast,’ ‘toast,’ ‘luets’ and ‘duimd.’ —How does it look? ⊢Not too alien. Great.

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