Lesson 1: The Transemilian Alphabet
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Lesson 1: The Transemilian Alphabet

Transemilian is not normally written in the same alphabet as English. Instead, it is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, common to much of Eastern Europe. You may recognize it as the same writing system used in Russian, though some letters are different and it is not pronounced the same. Learning a whole new way of writing can be daunting, but the Transemilian alphabet is easier than it may seem at first glance. To begin with, some letters have very similar shapes and pronunciations as in English:
  • А а (pronounced a as in father)
  • І і (pronounced i as in machine)
  • К к (pronounced k as in like)
  • М м (pronounced m as in many)
  • Т т (pronounced t as in stop)
These letters are pronounced roughly as in English, though care should be taken to ensure that they sound properly Transemilian. They are pronounced only as described above: while (for example) the Transemilian а is similar to the a in father, it is never pronounced as the a in cat or take.
Even with these few letters, you can already learn some Transemilian words:
  • аім "sleep"
  • каі "girl"
  • тіка "roof, ceiling"
  • ма́та "family"
As you may have noticed, some of these words are two syllables long. Words with multiple syllables are usually stressed—that is, said with greater emphasis—on the final syllable. Thus, тіка is pronounced ti-KA. Words with stress on a syllable other than the last one will be indicated in this book with an accent on the stressed syllable: ма́та. This is done to help you learn the stress patterns; you will not see these accent marks in written Transemilian outside this book!

Our next set of letters, nine in total, also look like English letters, but are not pronounced the same. Some of these are fairly simple:
  • Ѕ ѕ (pronounced dz as in beds)
  • Н н (pronounced n as in nice)
  • С с (pronounced s as in same)
  • У у (pronounced u as in rude)
Here are some more Transemilian words to practice these new letters with:
  • ѕім "ice"
  • нана́са "pineapple"
  • сау "boy"
  • тум "young"
  • тісан "believe"
Some require a little more explanation to really get the pronunciation right.
  • В в (similar to v as in victor, but where the English v places the teeth on the lower lip, Transemilian в uses only the lips, similar to a b)
  • Е е (somewhat like ay as in day, but without the off-glide at the end; similar to the last sound in French tournée)
  • О о (a pure o, as found in Spanish or Italian; not the diphthong found in English note or go)
  • Р р (a rolled r, as in Spanish or Scottish)
  • Х х (a kh sound, as in Scottish loch or German Bach; similar to a k, but drawn out)
Practice these sounds until you are confident in producing them. Here are some words to help you get familiar with them:
  • вем "give"
  • ѕоро "gray"
  • ірсе "father"
  • роман "novel"
  • хтор "pear"
Once you are comfortable with these letters, it's time to move on to our next set of letters. Unlike the letters learned above, these do not closely resemble English letters, but the sounds are all similar to English sounds, so they can be learned quickly.
  • Б б (pronounced b as in boy)
  • Г г (pronounced g as in gift)
  • Д д (pronounced d as in dog)
  • Ж ж (pronounced zh, as the s in pleasure)
  • З з (pronounced z as in zebra)
  • Л л (pronounced l as in lift)
  • П п (pronounced p as in spin)
  • Ц ц (pronounced ts as in cats)
  • Ч ч (pronounced ch as in chess)
  • Џ џ (pronounced j as in juice)
  • Ш ш (pronounced sh as in shape)
  • Щ щ (pronounced shch as in fresh cheese)
  • Э э (pronounced e as in bed)
Here are some words for you to practice:
  • аутомобіл "automobile, car"
  • глэн "short"
  • діскэ́та "floppy disk, flash drive"
  • жэлда "urban, municipal"
  • злэран "basket"
  • пу́ча "kiss"
  • џунсе "brother"
  • штам "animal"
  • щам "a thousand"
Already we can see that some Transemilian words are very similar to English ones, such as "automobile" and "diskette".

There are two other letters that many English speakers have trouble pronouncing. Fortunately, they are both similar to sounds you have already worked with above.
  • Ғ ғ (pronounced gh; as Х х is a drawn out К к,, Ғ ғ is a drawn out Г г)
  • Ф ф (someone like f as in frank, but with both lips and no teeth, as with В в)
Some words to practice with:
  • ғла "good"
  • ғэн "lake"
  • фотогра́фа "photograph"
  • фрэм "house"
Lastly, we have a group of letters called the "soft vowels", along with two related letters that have no pronunciation of their own. You have already learned six Transemilian vowels: а е э і о у. These are called the "hard" vowels, and each one of them has a corresponding "soft" vowel.
А аЯ я
Е еЄ є
Э эӬ ӭ
І іИ и
О оЁ ё
У уЮ ю

The soft vowels are pronounced the same as the hard vowels, but with a y sound in front of them. For example, Э э is pronounced like the e in bed, while Ӭ ӭ is pronounced like the ye in yes. You have probably already noticed that many of these letters, hard and soft, look very similar to the English letter E e—including Ё ё, which is pronounced more like yo than ye! Be sure to study them until you are comfortable recognizing which one is pronounced in which way.

The two remaining letters of the Transemilian alphabet are Ъ ъ, called the "hard sign", and Ь ь, called the "soft sign". They do not represent sounds of their own, but serve to indicate changes in how certain consonants are pronounced. The soft vowels also sometimes serve this function. You will learn about this in a later lesson.

Here are some more vocabulary words to familiarize you with the soft vowels:
  • янтэ "think"
  • вє́ла "cat"
  • ӭлкан "apple"
  • зислам "marry"
  • стадён "stadium"
  • юџэм "previous"
Now that you have learned all the Transemilian letters, here is the complete alphabet in the standard order. (The word for "alphabet" is абэвэ.)
А ааa
Б ббэb
В ввэv
Г ггэg
Ғ ғғаgh
Д ддэd
Е ееê
Є єє
Ё ёёyo
Ж жжэzh
З ззэz
Ѕ ѕѕэdz
И ииyi
І ііi
К ккаk
Л лэлl
М мэмm
Н нэнn
О ооo
П ппэp
Р рэрr
С ссэs
Т ттэt
У ууu
Ф ффэf
Х ххаkh
Ц ццэts
Ч ччэtsh
Џ џџэdzh
Ш шшаsh
Щ щщаshtsh
Ъ ъхъчэм бакан
Ь ьхъчэм црань
Э ээe
Ӭ ӭӭye
Ю ююyu
Я яяya

The romanization was officially adopted by the Transemilian government in 1966 for use in international documents, and will be used to indicate pronunciations throughout this book. Be careful with the transcriptions e and ê, which correspond to э and е, respectively. Notice also that ч and џ are transcribed as tsh and dzh, rather than what would seem to be more intuitive, ch and j; these transcriptions are instead used for sounds which you will learn later.

Don't worry about how to pronounce the names of the hard and soft signs; this will be covered in a future lesson.

When you feel comfortable pronouncing the words you've learned, you'll be ready to move on to lesson 2.