In his section on euphony Jespersen (Novial) notes that:
“While all nations find it easy to pronounce series of sounds in which vowels alternate with single consonants, and while almost all nations accept certain groups of consonants that are easily combined (tr, sp, bl, etc., before vowels), there are other and heavier groups which a great many nations find it extremely difficult to pronounce, especially at the end of words”
An example of this can be seen with romaji transliterations of Japanese morae. The majority of morae have the format CV, where C represents a consonant and V a vowel, bearing in mind that some of these consonants are digraphs in romaji. There are also five standalone vowels and one standalone consonant, “n”. There is also a character that doubles the succeeding consonant to act as a standalone. Thus in morae “Nissan” has four parts =ニッサン or “ni-s-sa-n”, the second character doubling the following “s” of “sa”. A native English speaker generally treats “nissan” as two syllables. Interestingly Japanese loanwords tend to end in “n” or a vowel.
A non-Japanese speaker seldom has trouble producing a relatively reasonable pronunciation of long Japanese words such as “wakizashi”, “naginata”, “manrikigusari” and “kusarigama”. One breaks the word into syllables after each vowel or “n” after a vowel.
One of the earliest principles of Diinlang was to attempt to have words of a CVN format, where C was a consonant, V a vowel and N a nasal, specifically “m”, “n” or “ng”. It should be appreciated that each of these represents a phoneme rather than a single letter and may be a digraph or even a trigraph.
How many potential words this offers us depends on which consonant and vowel phonemes are deemed acceptable. English has many more vowel sounds than some other languages. The number of people that manage English as a second language suggests this is not an insurmountable problem. Japanese traditionally noted to have problems with “l/r” sounds. The greater familiarity of current generations with English may be reducing this obstacle. Native speakers of some European languages have trouble with “w”. “sh” seems to have a wide usage but what of “ch”, “th”, “dh” or even “h”?
Readers of this blog may notice that relatively few of the Diinlang words I have suggested so far actually have a CVN format! This is because so far I have mainly concentrated on words that serve as pronouns, articles, conjunctions, affixes and prepositions. These frequently used words serve as the bone and sinew of a language so I have aimed for brevity in creating them. Many are of a CV or VC format. Many of the affixes are VCV. My plan is to use CVN format mainly for the “muscle” words, the nouns and verbs and their derivatives. Even with this restriction there are likely to be numerous nouns and verbs of a CVC or CVCV format, particularly those of an onomatopoeic nature.
An underappreciated trait of English is its large number of single-syllable words. Since compounding words is intended to be an important mechanism of Diinlang it is desirable that the most commonly used and most useful words be single syllable. Many of these English words are widely understood, even by non-native speakers so it is desirable that such words also be used in Diinlang where they are compatible. What constitutes compatible? The native English speaker treats “strength” as a single syllable but this must cause problems to some language students. Jespersen notes that some consonant clusters cause problems and cautions against using them in the creation of Novial words.
If possible, Diinlang “muscle” syllables should be of CVN or CVC. Typically C or V will be no longer than digraphs, although “tsh”, “ayr” and “iyr” are potential exceptions. N will, of course, be either “m”, “n” or “ng”. This gives us a range of single syllable words from three to six letters. In a multi-syllable word the breaks between syllables can be recognized by a vowel or nasal ending or a “non-digraph” consonant cluster. Hence, if encountering the word “fiyrzhan” a reader with a basic knowledge of Diinlang would recognize that “rz” is not a Diinlang digraph but that “zh” is and pronounce the word as “fiyr.zhan” and deduce it means “able to fire/ burn”.