Czech Phonology

In Czech, as in Slovak, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian, there are many words that do not have vowels: zmrzl (frozen solid), ztvrdl (hardened), scvrkl (shrunk), čtvrthrst (quarter-handful), blb (dimwit), vlk (wolf), or smrt (death). The consonants l and r can be the nucleus of a syllable in Czech. Examples of this which Czechs share among themselves are strč prst skrz krk ‘stick a finger down [your] throat’ and smrž pln skvrn zvlhl z mlh ‘morel full of spots was dampened by fogs’. The same phenomenon occurs in English, for example in the second syllable in the word ‘bottle’. In Slavic languages, /l, r/ as syllabic nuclei are usually the result of the disappearance of [ɛ], [o], or [a] (contrast for example the Russian cognates for vlk and smrt, ‘volk’ and ‘sm’ert”).

Czech features a phoneme that is said to be unique to the language, the consonant ř. The phonetic description of the sound is a raised alveolar non-sonorant trill. Its IPA transcription is [r̝].

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