Height ↓ Backness → Front Central Back
Roundedness → Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded
Close ɪ i: ʏ y: - - - ʊ u:
Mid ɛ ɛ: e: - ə - - ɔ o:
Open - - a a: ɐ - - -

Primary vowels[]

Even though a total of 15 different vowels (8 short vowels + 7 long vowels) exist in Molva, only 6 vowels (3 pairs of short and long vowels) are considered "primary vowels". In Molvanian phonology, a primary vowel is a vowel that can appear in monosyllabic words.

The three primary vowel pairs are: /a/ ([a] + [a:]), /i/ ([ɪ] + [i:]) and /u/ ([ʊ] + [u:]).

Secondary vowels[]

All secondary vowels cannot appear on their own - they always appear in polysyllabic words. The reason for this is that all secondary vowels are actually umlauts of primary vowels; and since you need at least 2 vowels for an umlaut (one that is changed and one that changes), you need at least 2 syllables for secondary vowels.

Every primary vowel can force the other 2 primary vowels to become umlauts. The only exception is /i/ which is not affected by /u/.

Primary vowel ↓ Umlaut → a-Umlaut i-Umlaut u-Umlaut
Vowel length → Short Long Short Long Short Long
/a/ - - ɛ ɛ: ɔ o:
/i/ ɛ e: - - - -
/u/ ɔ o: ʏ y: - -

Reduction vowels[]

The vowels [ə] and [ɐ] are allophones of short primary vowels in word-final open syllables: [ɐ] is an allophone of [a] and [ə] of [ɪ] and [ʊ]. Note that a reduction vowel will still force an umlaut.

Vowel sequences[]

In Molva, all vowel sequences are strictly forbidden - this includes diphthongs as well as hiatus (both within a word and between words). Most vowel sequences are broken apart by additional consonants.


Manner ↓ Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal
Voice → Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced
Nasal - m - n - ŋ
Plosive pʰ p b tʰ t d kʰ k g
Fricative f v s - ç x -
Approximant - - - l - j
Trill - - - r - -
Before plosives, distinction between the individual nasals is lost: All nasals are pronounced [m] before /p/ and /b/, [n] before /t/ and /d/ and [ŋ] before /k/ and /g/.
All voiceless plosives are usually pronounced with a strong aspiration when they are on their own - in consonant clusters, they are usually pronounced without aspiration.
All fricatives used to come in pairs of one voiced and one voiceless consonant. Because of some sound changes, this system was (partly) lost. Old /z/ has completely merged with /s/. The modern counterpart to voiceless /ç/ is not /ʝ/ but /j/. [x] is an allophone of /ç/ after central and back vowels.

Final devoicing[]

In the end of a syllable, all voiced consonants are devoiced to their voiceless coutnerpart (if there is one).

Consonant gradation[]

Consonant gradation occurs when suffixes are attached to words ending in voiceless plosives. The second grade appears in open syllables, the third grade appears in closed syllables.

First grade Second grade Third grade
/p/ [p] [b] [v]
/t/ [t] [d] [s]
/k/ [k] [g] [j]

Consonant mutation[]

Consonant mutation is the change of word-initial consonants in certain constructions.

/p/ /f/
/t/ /s/
/k/ /ç/
/b/ /m/
/d/ /n/
/g/ /j/
/r/ /l/

Mutation appears in the following constructions (soon to follow!)

Silent consonants[]

Every word that ends in a vowel and every suffix that ends in a vowel possess a so-called "silent consonant". The consonants are only pronounced when they are necessary to split up a hiatus (comparable to liaison in French).


Stress usually falls on the first syllable with the following exceptions:

  • The second syllable is stressed if it contains a long vowel (and the first syllable contains a short vowel)
  • The second syllable is stressed if consonant mutation occurs (and the first syllable used to be stressed)
  • Infinitives are stressed on their penultimate
  • Names can be stressed on every syllable