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Night Speech Orthography


IPA Romanization
/ɱ/ ⟨m⟩
/ɱː/ ⟨mm⟩
/n/ ⟨n⟩
/nː/ ⟨nn⟩
/k/ ⟨c⟩
/t/ ⟨t⟩
/d/ ⟨d⟩
/v/ ⟨v⟩
/vː/ ⟨vv⟩
/θ/ ⟨th⟩
/θː/ ⟨thh⟩
/ð/ ⟨dh⟩
/ðː/ ⟨dhh⟩
/s/ ⟨s⟩ by itself or adjacent to a nasal or approximant, ⟨z⟩ otherwise
/sː/ ⟨ss⟩
/z/ ⟨z⟩
/zː/ ⟨zz⟩
/ʃ/ ⟨sh⟩ by itself or adjacent to a nasal or approximant, ⟨zh⟩ otherwise
/ʃː/ ⟨shh⟩
/ʒ/ ⟨zh⟩
/ʒː/ ⟨zhh⟩
/x/ ⟨c⟩ immediately preceding /t/, ⟨ch⟩ otherwise
/xː/ ⟨chh⟩
/χ/ ⟨h⟩ by itself, ⟨r⟩ otherwise
/ʁ/ ⟨r⟩
/ʁː/ ⟨rr⟩
/l/ ⟨l⟩
/lː/ ⟨ll⟩
/i/ ⟨y⟩ between two consonants, ⟨i⟩ otherwise
/iː/ ⟨ii⟩
/ɯ/ ⟨u⟩
/ɯː/ ⟨uu⟩
/ɪ/ ⟨e⟩ at the end of a word, ⟨y⟩ otherwise
/ɪː/ ⟨yy⟩
/ɪ̯ɛ/ ⟨ie⟩
/ɤ/ ⟨u⟩
/ɤː/ ⟨uu⟩
/ɤ̯ä/ ⟨ua⟩
/ɤ̯ɪ/ ⟨uy⟩
/ɛ/ ⟨y⟩ between two consonants, ⟨e⟩ otherwise
/ɛː/ ⟨yy⟩
/ɛɪ̯/ ⟨ae⟩
/ʌ/ ⟨u⟩
/ʌː/ ⟨uu⟩
/ä/ ⟨a⟩
/äː/ ⟨aa⟩
/äɪ̯/ ⟨ai⟩

There is some overlap in the romanization of consonants, which can make reading Night Speech a little tricky. The following rules should help:

  • If a lone consonant has variable voicing (i.e., ⟨m n l⟩), it is unvoiced
  • In consonant clusters:
    • If both consonants have the same voicing, use that voicing
    • If one of the consonants has variable voicing (i.e., ⟨m n l r⟩), use the other consonant’s voicing (e.g., ⟨mv⟩ is pronounced /ɱv/, but ⟨ms⟩ is pronounced /ɱ̥s/)
    • If both consonants have variable voicing, they are unvoiced (e.g., ⟨ml⟩ is pronounced /ɱ̥l̥/)
    • If the cluster is a syllable onset, use the first consonant’s voicing (e.g., ⟨dri⟩ is pronounced /dʁi/, ⟨tri⟩ is pronounced /tχi/)
    • If the cluster is a syllable coda, use the second consonant’s voicing (e.g., ⟨yvd⟩ is pronounced /ɪvd/, ⟨yvt⟩ is pronounced /ɪft/)
    • ⟨h⟩ only appears in clusters as part of a di- or trigraph (e.g., ⟨dh⟩ is pronounced /ð/)

Similarly, the heavy use of ⟨y u⟩ blurs a lot of vowel distinction. But in the case of those two letters, it doesn’t really matter how one reads them, since the differences between the phones they represent are almost never used to distinguish words.

Writing Direction

Native Night Speech is written from right to left, top to bottom. However, for convenience, all examples in this guide are written from left to right, as in English.


The following are capitalized:

  • First word in a sentence
  • Every word in the name of a specific entity (e.g., a person, place, time, creative work, etc.)

Take special note of the term specific entity. Night Speech is far more conservative with its capitalization than English, using it almost exclusively for denoting a unique instance of a thing. For example, ⟨America⟩ would be capitalized because it refers to a specific country, but ⟨american⟩ is not capitalized because it refers to a subgroup of people, not a specific person.

Capitalization of times can be a little trickier for English speakers, although they follow the same rule. The word ⟨day⟩ would not be capitalized, of course, but neither would ⟨sunday⟩ or even ⟨easter⟩. All of those terms refer to subgroups; there’s a new Easter every year, after all. But a one-time event, such as a particularly memorable Easter, may be given a name (e.g., ⟨Great Easter⟩), and that name would be capitalized.

Although it is not a rule, pronouns and other references to deities are often capitalized. A variation on this tendency is that divine references are capitalized only when the speaker is not a deity themself.

Names of languages are not capitalized.

This guide will use English capitalization rules except when presenting Night Speech examples.


You can generally use English conventions for punctuation, with a few exceptions:

  • Commas are usually reserved for separating clauses
  • Punctuation marks only go inside quotation marks if they are themselves part of the quotation
  • Semicolons are never used; form separate sentences instead
  • Exclamation points are rare and viewed similarly to all-caps in English

Alphabetical Order

Night Speech uses an alphabetical order that differs from English:

⟨m v n t d th s sh dh z zh l c ch h r y i e u a⟩

Alphabetical Order

This order reflects some phonological awareness. Consonants come first, followed by vowels. Consonants are arranged first by position, then closure, and finally voicing. Note that the dental, alveolar, and postalveolar positions are collapsed. Vowels are arranged first by height, then frontness, with ⟨i e⟩ treated as variants of ⟨y⟩.

For convenience, this guide will use English alphabetical order.