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Phonology sketch

From:John Vertical <johnvertical@...>
Date:Thursday, August 10, 2006, 14:49
With all the overall phonology discussion goïng on, here's one I've started
recently. Comments welcome, altho it's pretty unfinished. I'm posting this
more to show my working techniq.

/p p_l t t_w tK  tS tS_w k k_w/
/b b_l d d_w dK\ dZ dZ_w g g_w/
/P P_l T T_w s s_w K h/
/m m_l n n_w  n_l/

/N k h/

(You can see I'm endorsing here /P/ for the v.less blb. fric; /v\/ already
does the job just well for the lab-dnt. approximant, no need to waste two
symbols for it, and /P/ goes better with /p b B/ than /p\/.)

Allophony includes at least nasal coda assimilation, and intervocal lenition
of /P P_l T K s dZ g/ > /B B_l D K\ z Z G/ (plus the same w/ labialized
phonemes); the fricativs also before the nasal coda. The rest of the voiced
plosivs might undergo similar lenition, too, but I'm not sure.

I might add more codas; or maybe replace coda /k/ with /?/. If there'll be
only one plosiv coda, I think it would probably be /?/. I've considered
making it antiharmonic, too - maybe [k] with dorsal onsets, [t] with others?

/h/- or nasal-initial medial clusters are fun and shall be fairly freely
occuring, but the plosiv will have to do with more restricted distribution,
possibly only word-finally?

Anyway, this part still needs work. At the moment it doesn't really have
flavor as much as random ingredients.

-I got the basic idea of labials with lateral release from Hmong. Coronals
regularily come in 3+ series, and more than one dorsal series isn't rare
either, but more than one labial series is. This sketch aims exactly to fill
that hole among conlangs. A /tK/ series, then, was a natural addition (Hmong
itself does not have one!)

Next I decided to add labialized postalveolars - something I've wanted to
implement for quite some time now. Labialization contrast occurs commonly in
velars and front vowels both, so it shouldn't be too much of a stretch in
*palatals > postalveolars. So far this was independant of the whole
lateralization system, but then I remembered that I had wanted to install a
labialization contrast in interdentals, too. Palatalization of those I've
seen in Ugric languages, and pharyngealization in Semitic, but labialization
nowhere. So that was yet another hole filled.

As you can see, the initials system is pretty regular by now. I might even
add a rounded /tK/ series, but then again, I might not, depending on the
diacronical origins of the labialization. I'm not too fond of /t_w d_w/ so I
could try to work those away instead. /s_w/ is OK, but if I am to make the
interdentals independant of the dentals/alveolars (haven't settled yet)
it'll probably have to go too.

Yep, no approximants. How's that for a change?

I'm also thinking a third stop series might fit in, but I can't think what
it could be. Hmong has prenasalization, but I'm not trying to make a clone
of it. Ejectivs don't feel like they'd fit well together with
lateralization, and I've got aspirates in way too many other phonologies
already; but what does that leave? Voiceless presibilated? That might look
too IE-ish... but indeed, I don't have those yet anywhere.

Vowels, then. The basic idea here was consonantal, so I'll have to think up
a vowel system independantly. I'm thinking of the system having gone thru a
bottleneck not too long ago (which could also have caused the lack of /j
w/), so it would have to be fairly regular; also, labialization could be
contrastiv only before certain vowels, maybe either those that are rounded,
or those that do not themselves contrast by labialization. I initially
thought about this:
short /i y e E~ 6 6~ o O~ u/
long /ei 2y E: a: O: ou/
difthongal /ai ay Au/
But I could also import that old system of /i e E a O o u ai aE aV au VM/
for which I already have much history worked out, but no consonants to go

About stress / intonation I have no idea yet. A tonal system or a pitch
accent could fit the flavor, but I already have those elsewhere; maybe it
would be time for phonemic stress this time? I'll have to decide the vowel
system before that, however.

John Vertical


Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>