Nìmpyèshiu Phonology

In the charts below, phonemes are listed with their romanisation on the left and followed by their IPA transcription on the right.


Nasalm /m/n /n/   
Voiceless stopp /p/t /t/ k /k/ 
Voiced stopb /b/d /d/ g /g/ 
Voiceless affricatepf /p̪͡f/ts /t͡s/ch /t͡ɕ/  
Voiced affricatebv /b̪͡v/dz /d͡z/j /d͡ʑ/  
Fricativef /f/s /s/sh /ɕ/ h /h/
Approximant r /ɹ/y /j/w /w/ 
Lateral l /l/   


  • /k/ and /g/ become palatal before /j/
  • /m/ becomes /ɱ/ before /p̪͡f/, /b̪͡v/, and /f/.
  • /n/ becomes [ɲ] before palatals
  • /n/ becomes [ŋ] before velars

In syllables with the breathy tone, voiced consonants have a breathy phonation.


Monophthongs in Nìmpyèshìu


  • ia /ɪɐ/
  • ai /ɐɪ/
  • ei /ɛɪ/
  • iu /ɪu/
  • au /ɐu/


There are four tone registers: mid, breathy, rising and falling. Pitch levels are numbered 1-5, 5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest.

Breathy4 (5)FlatBreathyRegular
Rising24 (15)RisingModalLong
Falling42 (51)FallingModalLong

Short monophthong vowels are lengthened in the Rising and Falling tones.

Stress can cause the pitch to change slightly (indicated in the brackets in the chart above). Stress always falls on the first syllable which is not a mid-tone.

Tone Sandhi

Three falling tones in a row become falling-low-rising (42-22-24). Likewise, three rising tones in a row become rising-high-falling (24-44-42). These changes can take place across multiple words.


The general rule is (C)(l,r,y,w)V(m,n).

Syllable structure:

  • Any consonant is allowed in the onset.
  • Stops and fricatives may be followed by an approximant.
  • Approximants, nasals and affricates can not occur in a consonant cluster.
  • Only nasals are allowed in the coda.

Across syllable boundaries:

  • Hiatus between vowels in the same word is not permitted.
  • Codas cannot be followed by a syllable with the same phoneme in its onset
  • A syllable with an onset must begin with a labial consonant (including /w/) if the previous syllable has a /m/ in the coda
  • Coda /n/ cannot be followed by a syllable with a labial consonant (except /w/) in the onset.
  • /w/ can be preceded with either /m/ or /n/ in the previous syllable’s coda.