The phonology of Phoenician has been reconstructed, on account of its extinction, from transcriptions in Hebrew, Akkadian, Greek, and Latin sources, and the diachronic phonological patterns of related Semitic languages.
There is uncertainty over the precise pronunciation of many of the Phoenician consonants. The traditional graphemes will be written out, followed by the hypothesized actual phonetic quality:
|Standard Phoenician Consonants|
|Emphatic||ṭ (/t'/)||q (/k'/)|
|Voiceless||š (/s/)||ḥ (/ħ/)||h|
The proto-tongue "Northwest Semitic," which gave rise to Hebrew, Aramaic, Phoenician, and others, had 29 consonants while Standard Phoenician has 22. During the evolution of Proto-Northwest Semitic to Phoenician, several reductions and mergers occurred. First, the subgroup of Canaanite languages lost all of their interdental fricatives (θ, ð, and θ'); these merged into š, z, and ṣ, respectively. A velarized emphatic alveolar lateral approximate /ɫ'/ also merged into θ'.
When Proto-Canaanite transformed into Phoenician, several fricatives were lost. A voiced velar merged into /ʕ/, the voiceless velar merged into /ħ/, and a velarized alveolar lateral approximate merged into /s/.
In many Northwest Semitic languages, /n/ transforms into its following consonant, producing a geminate pair. The Phoenician script does not indicate doubled consonants, however, unless they have syntactic use. The voiceless glottal stop is often omitted. In Punic, the many pharyngeals were lost or confused on account of the Berber influence.
Vowel notation was rare until Late Phoenician, and even then it was unsystematic or only partial. Thus, knowledge of Phoenician vowels is incomplete. ...