The orthography of Arve is very conservative, and is complicated somewhat by its romanization: <ch> is to be regarded as one consonant, but is written as a digraph due to its shortening effect on the preceding vowel. (Diachronically, the consonant it represents, /x/, was the geminate equivalent of /h/, hence the shortening effect, but note that /h/ behaves as a resonant for the lengthening law. As geminate consonants do not occur in clusters in written Arve, it is impossible to say whether /x/ would act as a resonant.) <u> in some cases is a consonant.
The dialect presented here is an idealized and slightly artificial construction, maintaining the curious diphthongs of the rural Midland region but abstracting away from the many mergers, particularly in the vowels, which, naturally, go radically different ways across the dialects. Attempting to give any account of the vowels of the dialects would only complicate things, especially if the particularly divergent ones of the smaller islands and the Kett-controlled regions are considered.
The main diachronic processes of note is the reduction of clusters and the concomitant diphthongization of clusters originally beginning with one of the resonant consonants m n l r v j u h
. Synchronically, the vowel system may be interpreted as having three lengths: short, long, and diphthongized, or 'overlong'. Short vowels are represented by the doubling of the following consonant, except, as previously noted, in the case of the glottal resonant; however, this should be familiar to the reader.
No explanation of the vowels would be particularly useful toward an understanding of Arve as it is actually pronounced; the dialects are too divergent in their vowel systems for any explanation to be of use. Some southern dialects have monophthongized the diphthongs; some more remote dialects never developed them. The dialect of Raston, the capital, has seemingly reversed the qualities of o
: the former is a front rounded vowel and the second is a diphthong with a strongly backed first element. This is a common feature of the western coast of the Midland region, though the precise realizations, of course, vary; as such, it will be retained in the idealized transcription.
Note that no mergers are present here, except of short ä
, present in all Arve dialects. Not all of the remaining vowels are contrastive in spoken Arve, of course; /ʏ/ in particular is never maintained.
The standard dialect of Raston is described in the phonology section.
The consonant mutations of the auxiliaries and some of the applicative particles will not be described here.
Spoken Arve has no consonant clusters, but written Arve has many. Long vowels do not appear before orthographic clusters in native vocabulary; a vowel before a cluster is short if the cluster does not begin with one of the aforementioned resonants and long otherwise. (Note that a vowel followed only by <h> is overlong with no following consonant.)
All word-final voiced plosive letters represent /h/, except in cases where /h/ has become another consonant. The plosives are otherwise invariant, and, with the exception of /b̥ ɡ̊/, represented by the sequences <lb lg>, there are no cluster representations for them.
All sC sequences are /ç/, except <sp>, which is /xʷ/. All Cj sequences are palatals: resonant+j sequences are /j/ and plosive+j sequences are /cʰ/ or /ɟ̊/ (merged with /j/ in most positions in the Raston standard).
As for the rest: (rare clusters have been omitted)
/ts/ <tl dl lt ld>
/cʰ/ <tk kt pj tj kj>
/ɟ̊/ <dg gd bj dj gj>
/s/ <s sl ls>
/ʂ/ <rs str nz>
/ç/ <st sz sk chs>
/xʷ/ <sp sv gv vs chv su us rp>
/χ/ <rk rch>
/v/ <vp vb rv mb>
/j/ <rj lj>
/ʀ/ <rg ng>
/r̥/ <tr nt nz rt>
/r/ <nd rd dr>
There is variance across dialects in the realization of some of these clusters. It should be noted that <rp rk> is unpredictable in the Raston standard: the former may be either /xʷ/ or /r̥/, and the latter may be either /χ/ or /r̥/.