The Et'hula language can usually be transliterated into the standard Terranglo (English) alphabet, but Et'hula phonology includes a few sounds that are exceptionally rare in Terran languages, and some sounds that Terrans can only approximate with great difficulty. The Et'hula understand this, and try to be as accommodating as possible.
The Et'hula language uses phonetic symbology for writing, so they prefer to transliterate with a single letter for each sound, whenever possible. After being introduced to Terranglo, they searched the lingual database for letters to indicate sounds they could not reproduce with the standard alphabet, and established standards for transliteration. As a result, Et'hula words and names of people/places/things often have non-standard special characters.
- This is the Latin "Eng" letter, used in some Earth languages. It always follows an "i", and the "iŋ" combination should always be pronounced the same as the English "-ing" sound, same as in wing and listening. When writing Et'hula names and words, this letter should always replace the usual "ng" digraph.
- This is just an "o" with a macron diacritic. It represents the long-O sound, as in show and go and boat. It is preferred to use this letter instead of letter combinations; a lone "o" should be assumed a short vowel (as in pot and song), even when traditional English spelling rules would normally make it long.
- This rare letter is used in very few Earth languages, and can be confusing to read. It is pronounced the same as the Spanish "ñ" (as in señior and piñata).
- This letter is notoriously difficult for native English speakers to pronounce in speech, and is entirely foreign as part of their language. The sound (which could also be rendered as "ǁ", but this is not preferred by Et'hula) is found in only a handful of African languages, and is called a lateral click. Those familiar with horse care have the advantage of knowing how to pronounce this sound: the cheek click used to urge horses along is the same sound. Et'hula produce the sound differently, but this is the closest and easiest way for Terrans to replicate what it sounds like.
The Et'hula language lacks both voiced and unvoiced versions of the "th" sound (originally written with the Thorn (Þ) letter), so this sound will never appear. "Et'hula" is pronounced "et-hoo-la".
Et'hula naming conventions are somewhat different than the norms of most Federation member races (though with their homeworld 47,000 light-years from Federation space, it's not surprising they're quite different). Et'hula society is matriarchal instead of paternal, so family names follow the female lineage instead of the male. The first name is given for the individual; the last name indicates family group (technically a clan or tribe, of sorts), and the middle name is the mother's name.
Names also contain the individual's gender, as a "ni-" (females; pronounced "nih-") or a "to-" (males, pronounced "taw-") prefix to the mother's name.
- Eɲar to-Karn Siŋ — could be read as "Eɲar, son of Karn, of the Siŋ clan"
- Kamil ni-Palonk ʖon — could be read as "Kamil, daughter of Palonk, of the ʖon clan"
- Tamrin ni-Kariŋ Shō — could be read as "Tamrin, daughter of Kariŋ, of the Shō clan"
Infants do not receive a given name until they begin to talk and self-identify. Until then, they are simply known as a child of their mother, and part of their family group.
First-name changes are allowed on their hatchday, at any age, any number of times... but most individuals have picked a permanent name in early childhood, and settle with that name for the remainder of their lives... unless a truly massive change fundamentally alters their self-identity. An exception is made for individuals with amnesia or brain damage, who may change their name immediately, rather than waiting for their hatchday.
Personal names are typically short, consisting of two syllables (rarely three, but never more). Clan names are even shorter, usually only a single syllable.