The Hani Language and Culture
The work below is independent of The Hani Babel Text Page. Please see also: Hani Language Site — Hani language site by Spence Hill, approved by C.J. Cherryh.
Phonemes: Sounds, Alphabet, and Pronunciation Key
|a||ah or uh|
|c||k: before (a, o, u, w);|
|c||s: before (ä, e, i, y);|
|e||ay or eh|
|fh||f + h;|
|g||g: always hard (get, give);|
|h||h before any letter;|
|h||h or silent after a vowel;|
|i||ee or ih|
|kh||kh: Chanukkah, loch, Bach, jalapeño;|
|lh, ll||h + l|
|ng||ng in sing|
|o||oh or aw|
|r||r (trilled or purred)|
|rh||h + r (trilled or purred)|
|u||ooh or oo|
|w||w: always a semi-consonant;|
|y||y-: as a consonant before or after a vowel in a syllable;|
|y||y: as a vowel alone in a syllable; ah-ee, ee, or ih|
|zh||zh: s as in treasure|
Hani Pronunciation Notes
Some years ago, I emailed C.J. Cherryh to ask about the proper way to pronounce hani words. My questions and her replies are here.
Hani Pronunciation, per C.J. Cherryh
- Hani KH = [x] as in loch, Bach, jalapeño; [h] as in hat; or [k] as in cat?
- More like CHanukkah.
- LH, LL (e.g. Llun). Does this differ in sound from L at all? Did it in the past?
- ALMOST KHLUN. But breathed.
- Same question, but for FH.
- Spit-hiss-FFF-hhh [guttural]
- Doubled vowels (aa, ee, ii, oo, uu) — are they pronounced separately, e.g. “Ahn-ooh-oorn” or are they long, e.g. “Ahn-oohrn?”
- I suppose otherwise the vowels are generally long and short, something like Middle or Old English (or most modern European languages for that matter)?
- Positionally affected. Surrounding consonants help determine.
- R, RR, RH: Is there any consistent difference, such as American R, Spanish rolled R and *really* rolled RR, French R for RH?
- Yes. RH is a lion cough. The others are rolled or purred.
- fh = [fx]; like “spit-hiss-FFF-HHH!”;
- kh = [x]; a strong h, like in Chanukkah, Bach, loch, or jalapeño;
- ll = [hl] or [xl];
- r = [r]; American R, a retroflex R; Note: Both r and rr may be trilled (or purred);
- rr = [rr]; A very trilled (purred) R, as in Spanish RR, or as in Italian;
- rh = [hr] or [xr] or [R]; a “lion cough”;
- Long vowels are sometimes shown by double vowels (aa, ee, ii, oo, uu).
- Short vowels may be shown by doubling the following consonant.
- Vowel length is otherwise shown by position within a syllable:
- A vowel is usually long if the syllable ends in a vowel.
- A vowel is usually short if the syllable ends in a consonant.
- Y is a vowel, long or short: Py, Py-an-far. Short Y is ih [i] as in bit. Long Y is ee [i:] as in beet or ah-ee [ai] as in bite.
- Y is also a semi-consonant: Ayhar
- AI and AY are usually ah-ee [ai], but sometimes eh-ee [ei].