Otto Jespersen, who devised Novial, was a professional linguist. He carefully designed the spelling and pronunciation of Novial to be as easy as possible for people of different language backgrounds while using West-European root words as the basis of the vocabulary.
Novial uses the standard 26 letters of the modern Roman alphabet. There are no accents which makes it easy to write on any Roman alphabet keyboard. The letter Z occurs only in foreign names (proper nouns). There are only five vowels: A, E, I, O and U which are generally pronounced with their continental values, i.e. similar to Spanish and Italian. However, their very distinct sounds allow some leeway for speakers of different backgounds while still avoiding miscomprehension.
Three digraphs are used: CH, SH and QU. C occurs only in the combination CH, and Q only in QU. As in English S is pronounced differently from SH but the use of a hyphen between S and H when they are two separate sounds prevents any ambiguity. Every word is pronounced as spelled according to the pronunciation rules: Novial spelling is therefore phonemic (commonly called phonetic).
The stress generally lies on the vowel before the last consonant. If there is no vowel preceding a consonant it is on the second from last vowel. One exception is words ending in -ee where the stress is on the second from last -e.
Examples with stressed sylalble in bold: abandona, fala, egal, vie, musee
Note that where alternative pronunciations are given, all are correct allowing easier pronunciation for people of different language backgrounds.
|A||a||a as in English father||abandona||abandon|
|B||b||b as in bet||bebe||baby|
|C||s or k||foreign names only. Generally: s before e and i
as in Celsius, otherwise k as in Cairo
|CH||tʃ or ʃ||ch as in church or sh as in shine||chanse||chance|
|D||d||d as in deep||defini||define|
|E||e||é as in French fiancée or e as in in English pet||egal||equal|
|F||f||f as in food||fala||fall|
|G||g||g as in get||garda||guard|
|H||h||h as in hot||helpa||help|
|I||i||ee as in seen but shorter or i as in French petite||impeda||impede|
|J||dʒ or ʒ||j as in jet or s as in pleasure||jirafe||giraffe|
|K||k||k as in ski (not aspirated)||kioske||kiosk|
|L||l||l as in let||lande||land|
|M||m||m as in moon||magnetisa||magnetise|
|N||n||n as in never||nature||nature|
|O||o||o as in Spanish no or o as in English on||observa||observe|
|P||p||p as in sport (not aspirated)||papa||daddy|
|QU||kw or kv or ku||qu as in question or qu as in German Quelle or cu as in Spanish cuesta||questione||question|
|R||r or ɹ||rolled r as in Scots English
or English r
|S||s or z||s as in summer or s as in rise||sune||sun|
|SH||ʃ or tʃ||sh as in shine or ch as in church||shuta||shoot|
|T||t||t as in step (not aspirated)||teknike||technique|
|U||u||u as in put||unik||unique|
|V||v||v as in victory||variatione||variation|
|W||w or u or v||w as in west or ou in French ouest or w as in German West||watt||watt|
|X||ks or gz||x as in axe or x in example||auxiliari||auxiliary|
|Y||j||y as in you||yuna||young|
|Z||z or s||foreign names only. Generally: z as in Zambia
or as in original language if different
When writing if you do not know or remember whether CH or SH is the usual form simply use either.