Latgalian phonology

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This article is about the phonology of the Latgalian language.



Monophthong phonemes of Latgalian[1]
Front Central Back
short long short long short long
Close i ⟨i⟩ ⟨ī⟩ (ɨ) ⟨y⟩ u ⟨u⟩ ⟨ū⟩
Mid ɛ ⟨e⟩ (ɛː) ⟨ē⟩ ɔ ⟨o⟩ (ɔː) ⟨ō⟩
Open æ æː a ⟨a⟩ ⟨ā⟩
  • Phonologically, /ɨ/ is a back counterpart of /i/. As they occur in complementary distribution, they can be regarded as allophones of a single /i/ phoneme.[2]
  • Long /ɛː, ɔː/ are rare and occur only in interjections. The phonological long counterparts of the short /ɛ, ɔ/ are the diphthongs /iɛ, uɔ/.[1]
  • There are very few minimal pairs for the /ɛ–æ/ opposition. In some dialects, [æ] is simply an allophone of /ɛ/.[3]
  • /a, aː/ are phonetically central [ä, äː].[1]


Diphthong phonemes of Latgalian[4]
Ending point
Front Back
Close (ui) iu ɨu uɔ
Mid ɛi (ɔi) (ɔu)
Open æi ai au
  • In contrast to other diphthongs, /iɛ, uɔ/ are monophonemic.[2]
  • /ui, ɔi/ occur only in some words.[3]
  • /iu, ɨu, ɛi, æi, ai, au/ are very common.[5]
    • Some dialects merge /iu/ and /ɨu/ into [ɛu].[6]
    • Some dialects merge /au/ and /ɔu/ into [ɔu].[6]
  • /ɔu/ occurs only in onomatopoeias and loanwords.[6]


Consonant phonemes of Latgalian[7]
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
hard soft hard soft hard soft hard soft hard soft
Nasal m n
Stop voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ ɡʲ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡sʲ t͡ʃ (t͡ʃʲ)
voiced d͡z d͡zʲ d͡ʒ (d͡ʒʲ)
Fricative voiceless (f) s ʃ (ʃʲ) (x)
voiced v z ʒ (ʒʲ)
Approximant l j () w ()
Trill r ()
  • /m, mʲ, p, pʲ, b, bʲ/ are bilabial, whereas /f, v, vʲ/ are labiodental.
    • /f/ occurs only in some loanwords, such as ortografeja 'orthography'. In other loanwords, it is replaced by /p/, as in kopejs 'coffee'.[8]
    • /v, vʲ/ are traditionally classified as approximants [ʋ, ʋʲ] which phonetically may be fricatives [v, vʲ].[8]
  • /t͡ʃʲ, d͡ʒʲ, ʃʲ, ʒʲ/ occur only in some non-standard dialects, with the fricatives /ʃʲ, ʒʲ/ being more common than the affricates /t͡ʃʲ, d͡ʒʲ/.[6]
  • /x/ occurs only in some loanwords, such as tehnologeja 'technology'. In other loanwords, it is replaced by /k/, as in kokejs 'hockey'.[8]
  • /w, wʲ/ are labialized velar.[9]
  • The phonemic status of /wʲ/ and especially /jʲ/ is questionable.[9]
  • /rʲ/ occurs only in a minority of non-standard dialects.[6]



The stress is most often on the first syllable.[9]

Tonal accents[edit]

There are two phonemic tonal accents in Latgalian, which appear only on long syllables, i.e. those with a long vowel, a diphthong, or a sequence of a short vowel and a sonorant. These are falling (also called level) and broken (also called sharp). However, there are only a handful of minimal (or near-minimal) pairs, such as [rɛ̀itʲ] 'swallow' and [rɛ̂it] 'tomorrow', both written reit.[9]

Phonetically, both of the tonal accents are falling; the falling accent is realized as an even decrease in intensity and pitch, whereas the broken accent is realized as a sudden decrease in intensity and pitch.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Nau (2011), p. 9.
  2. ^ a b Nau (2011), pp. 9–10.
  3. ^ a b Nau (2011), p. 10.
  4. ^ Nau (2011), pp. 9–11.
  5. ^ Nau (2011), pp. 10–11.
  6. ^ a b c d e Nau (2011), p. 11.
  7. ^ Nau (2011), pp. 11–13.
  8. ^ a b c Nau (2011), p. 12.
  9. ^ a b c d e Nau (2011), p. 13.


  • Nau, Nicole (2011), A short grammar of Latgalian, Munich: Lincom Europa, ISBN 978-3-86288-055-3