3.7. Initial Consonant Pairs

The set of consonant pairs that may appear at the beginning of a syllable (excluding cmevla) is far more restricted than the fairly large group of permissible consonant pairs described in Section 3.1. Even so, it is more than English allows, although hopefully not more than English-speakers (and others) can learn to pronounce.

There are just 48 such permissible initial consonant pairs, as follows:

bl br
cf ck cl cm cn cp cr ct
dj dr dz
fl fr
gl gr
jb jd jg jm jv
kl kr
ml mr
pl pr
sf sk sl sm sn sp sr st
tc tr ts
vl vr
xl xr
zb zd zg zm zv

Lest this list seem almost random, a pairing of voiced and unvoiced equivalent consonants will show significant patterns which may help in learning:

pl pr fl fr
bl br vl vr

cp cf ct ck cm cn cl cr
jb jv jd jg jm
sp sf st sk sm sn sl sr
zb zv zd zg zm

tc tr ts kl kr
dj dr dz gl gr

ml mr xl xr

Note that if both consonants of an initial pair are voiced, the unvoiced equivalent is also permissible, and the voiced pair can be pronounced simply by voicing the unvoiced pair. (The converse is not true: cn is a permissible initial pair, but jn is not.)

Consonant triples can occur medially in Lojban words, straddling the boundaries of syllables. They are subject to the following rules:

  1. The first two consonants must constitute a permissible consonant pair;

  2. The last two consonants must constitute a permissible initial consonant pair;

  3. The triples ndj, ndz, ntc, and nts are forbidden.

A more limited set of consonant triples can appear at the beginning of syllables:

cfr cfl sfr sfl jvr jvl zvr zvl
cpr cpl spr spl jbr jbl zbr zbl
ctr str jdr zdr
ckr ckl skr skl jgr jgl zgr zgl
cmr cml smr sml jmr jml zmr zml

Clusters four consonants long appear where a syllable ending with a consonant comes before one beginning with an initial triple. In addidtion, cmevla can begin or end with any permissible consonant pair, not just the 48 initial consonant pairs listed above, and can have consonant triples in any location, as long as the pairs making up those triples are permissible. In addition, cmevla can contain consonant clusters with more than three consonants, again requiring that each pair within the cluster is valid.