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The following is from the front matter of Brokedown Palace, copyright 1986 by Steven K. Zoltán Brust. Permission was granted by the author to add it to this Wikia article.

A Note on Fenarian PronunciationEdit

In Hungarian — whoops! — in Fenarian we have one of the world's most phonetically spelled languages. Having once learned their alphabet, school children from this land do not waste their precious youthful years, as do their less fortunate English-speaking counterparts, in endless hours of drudging homework to learn orthography. Even as adults, many — perhaps most — speakers of English persevere, resentfully, as slaves of old Noah Webster. Hence, a spelling bee is an unheard-of institution in a country where the language is pronounced exactly as it is written and written exactly as it is pronounced.

Another delightful plus for the native Fenarian (and an enormous bonus for foreigners learning his language) is the uniformity of accent. Unlike English or Russian or even German, Fenarian stress is permanently fixed: on the first syllable of every word. Only those who toiled to acquire any of the above three languages can appreciate what a blessing it is to confront such regularity. Still, despite the uniformity of stress, Fenarian is an exceptionally musical language whose underlying principle is based on vowel harmony, a feature of the linguistic family to which it belongs.

The Fenarian alphabet proper consists of forty letters. Of these, twenty-six are consonants, but an additional five consonants, so as to include foreign words, give the language a total of forty-five characters. By the use of long and short diacritical marks (which have nothing to do with accent) over the customary vowels — a, e, i, o, and u — these five are expanded to fourteen vowels, enabling every Fenarian sound to have its own distinctive symbol. It is a phonetic tour de force.

An approximation of these vowel sounds in American pronunciation would be: a as in law; á as in father; e as in met; é as in the ay of day; i as in the ie of field; í as in the ee of bee (longer than the ie in field); o as in old; ó as in oh (longer than old); u as in rule; ú as in pool (longer than rule); ü represents a sound similar to the ü of German über or the u in French tu. For readers unfamiliar with these languages, ü can be thought of as a sound similar to i in English fin but pronounced through pursed lips. The ű is a longer and tenser version of this sound. The ö is very much like the ö of German schön or the eu of French meurt. Again, some readers not familiar with these languages may be guided by the hint that ö resembles the e of her, only tenser, and the ő is a longer and even tenser version of this same sound.

With the exception of c, j, and s, the consonants are by and large not too unlike those in English. The c (and in older proper names, the cz) is pronounced as ts in the word hits. The j has the sound of y in you. The s is like sh in she or the s in sure. The consonant combinations are as follows: cs is like the ch in church; sz as the s in sun; and zs as z in azure.

Finally, the letter y, except in old proper names — mainly family names — or in modern foreign loan words where it is equivalent to the English ie in field, appears only as part of consonant combinations and palatalizes or softens the preceding consonant. The gy in nagy (big) would be pronounced somewhat like the d and the y in the words mind you, when pronounced rapidly. The l in the combination ly as in the name of the composer Kodály is mute so that the second syllable rhymes with high. The consonants ny as in hanyag (negligent) and ty as in tyúk (hen) are sounded and the y in both cases approximates the y in you.

— W. Z. Brust
March, 1985
St. Paul, Minnesota

Author's Note: The names Devera, Alfredo, and in fact, Fenario, are not Fenarian, and one oughtn't use the above rules in pronouncing them.

— S. K. Z. Brust
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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