Syllabification in Dothraki depends only on the phonetic structure of the word, compound words and affixes are attached seamlessly. All syllables have exactly one vowel as a nucleus. Onset of the syllable always carries a maximal consonat cluster, if such is available. Coda takes consonants only if they are word final or if the onset of the next syllable can't carry them all.
Dothraki syllables have no consonant clusters bigger than two phonemes. Of two consonant pairs, for onset the first consonant must be less sonorant than the last.
- Phoneme groups, from most sonorous to least sonorous:
w, y, r, l > m, n > th, s, sh, z, zh, kh, f, v > j, ch, q, t, d, g, k
There are two exeptions: Fricatives (th,s,sh,z,zh,kh,f,v) can't precede nasals (m,n), and h can come either before or after nasals (m,n) and approximants (w,y,r,l).
For codas the same rules apply, but in reverse.
Examples: a·chra, am·mi·thrat, ag·gen·dat, ath·nith·me·nar, at·thi·ra·ri·de, a·thas·tokh·de·ve·shi·zar, as·fa·vir·zeth, a·nho·on, ma·hrazh
Dothraki allows for sequences of vowels in a word. Each such vowel represents a separate syllable. Furthermore, Dothraki allows for two of the same vowel to appear one after other. These are never long vowels. As with all other vowels, each represents a separate syllable. Note, though, that no such device as eg. glottal stop is used to separate the syllables, so if neither syllable is stressed, the difference to a long vowel may be small.
- kha·le·e·si·so·on, re·a·es
Word stress in Dothraki is quite simple and predictable.
- Words that end in the consonant (ie. the final syllable is heavy) will have the stress on the final syllable.
- Words that end in a vowel (ie. the final syllable is light) will most often have the stress on the first syllable, but there is one exception: When a word ends in a vowel and a penultimate syllable ends in consonant (ie. the ultimate syllable is light but penultimate is heavy) the stress will be on the penultimate syllable.
- Things like complementizers that attach to a word do not change the stress. For example the subordinante clause complementizer /me-/ often attaches to a word like me (he, she, it). The stress will still be on the original word rather than on the complementizer (so it's memé rather than méme).
- tolorro breaks down as to·lor·ro. As we see the final syllable is only -CV while the penultimate syllable is -CVC. This means the exception applies and the stress is on the middle syllable, to·lór·ro.
- Á·nha tih ma·hra·zhés fin ká·sha cha·kát kar·lín.
- E·yél vár·tha·so·e she i·le·ka·án rí·kho·ya ar·re·ka·án vé·kha vó·si ye·ro·ón vós·ma to·lór·ro!
Epenthesis is the addition of a sound to a word in order to help pronunciation. When words are declined, they can lose their final vowel. This happens with verbs in past singular and with inanimate nouns in accusative.
- Words can't end in /w/, /g/ or /q/. If a word were to end in one of these consonants a /-e/ is added to the end.
- Words can't end in a consonant cluster bigger than what the coda of the last syllable can handle. Some two-consonant clusters are disallowed (see syllabification rules above), and so are all geminates and clusters bigger than two consonants. Generally all these situations are handled by adding an epenthetic /-e/, but with of geminates there are some irregular cases. In these cases the geminate is simplified into a short consonant. Since these words are irregular they simply need to be learnt.
- If the last syllable of an inanimate noun is a vowel following another vowel, and would thus be completely lost in accusative, an epenthetic /-e/ will mark it.
Examples of verbs using epenthetic /-e/ (nominative and past singular):
- laqat → laqe
- kaffat → kaffe
- ammithrat → ammithre
Examples of inanimate nouns using epenthetic /-e/ (nominative and accusative):
- khewo → khewe
- mawizzi → mawizze
- alegra → alegre
- kendra → kendre
- zhalia → zhalie
Examples of irregular nouns (nominative and accusative):
- enossho → enosh
- jedda → jed
- tolorro → tolor
Other Irregular Use of /-e/
There are instances where Dothraki use /-e/ as an inanimate noun accusative ending even though the pronunciation does not demand it. These must be regarded as irregularities. Usually this is to differentiate a word from another.
Example: Khogar is a word for clothing, and its accusative is, as general rules dictate, khogar. So khogari, a word for box or cask, has an irregular accusative khogare to differentiate it from the former.
Special Case of Tat
With the verb tat ("to do") the past singular would, if conjugated by general rules, be just a single t, so to make a word out of it an /e-/ is added so that the past singular becomes et.