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[COMMENT] Zhyler Vowel Harmony Update [LONG]

From:David Peterson <digitalscream@...>
Date:Thursday, April 18, 2002, 8:32
    This e-mail is long and involved.  Fairly warned be ye says I!
    Awhile back, Jesse Banks remarked that he tried to do some
reconstructions on my underspecified vowels in Zhyler, but couldn't come up
with anything cohesive.  I replied that you'd have to look at the surrounding
consonants to tell, but then realized that I hadn't paid attention to such a
thing myself.  So, I took a look at it, and tried to reconstruct some proto
forms, and ended up constructing proto forms which gave rise to my vowel
harmony such that I didn't have to change anything.  This is the solution I
came up with:

[First, this is the way the vowel harmony looks now, synchronically.  Don't
be surprised if it looks familiar; I've posted it before.  This is just for
easy reference.  Also, as with last time, [a] shall be considered a low,
back, unrounded vowel, as the correct symbol [A] will be doing other work.
Oh, the capital letters (save /M/) will stand for different underspecified
vowels.  Oh, this is also best viewed with a mono-space font, like Courier.]

A.) Vowel Harmony: The following are underspecified vowels, and the forms
they take
in which environments.  They'll be listed in the order that they'll be listed
in the dictionary.  Also, underspecified vowels always look to the previous
vowel to gain their specification.  Now, here they are:

    i.) /A/ >   [a] / V(CC)_, V=back
                >   [e] / V(CC)_, V=front
    ii.) /B/    >   [M] / V(CC)_, V=high
                >   [a] / V(CC)_, V=-high
    iii.) /F/   >   [i] / V(CC)_, V=high
                >   [e] / V(CC)_, V=-high
    iv.) /E/    >   [e] / V(CC)_, V=front, unround
                >   [9] / V(CC)_, V=front, round
                >   [a] / V(CC)_, V=back, unround
                >   [o] / V(CC)_, V=back, round
    v.) /I/ >   [i] / V(CC)_, V=front, unround
                >   [y] / V(CC)_, V=front, round
                >   [M] / V(CC)_, V=back, unround
                >   [u] / V(CC)_, V=back, round
    vi.) /J/    >   [u] / V(CC)_, V=high, round
                >   [M] / V(CC)_, V=high, unround
                >   [o] / V(CC)_, V=-high, round
                >   [a] / V(CC)_, V=-high, unround
    vii.) /R/   >   [i] / V(CC)_, V=high, unround
                >   [y] / V(CC)_, V=high, round
                >   [e] / V(CC)_, V=-high, unround
                >   [9] / V(CC)_, V=-high, round
    viii.)/Y    >   [y] / V(CC)_, V=high
                >   [9] / V(CC)_, V=-high
    ix.) /W/    >   [M] / V(CC)_, V=back
                >   [i] / V(CC)_, V=front
    x.) /N/ >   [M] / V(CC)_, V=high, unround
                >   [y] / V(CC)_, V=high, round
                >   [a] / V(CC)_, V=-high, unround
                >   [9] / V(CC)_, V=-high, round
    xi.) /Q/    >   [u] / V(CC)_, V=high
                >   [o] / V(CC)_, V=-high
    xii.) /U/   >   [u] / V(CC)_, V=back
                >   [y] / V(CC)_, V=front
    xiii.) /X/  >   [o] / V(CC)_, V=-high, round
                >   [e] / V(CC)_, V=-high, unround
                >   [i] / V(CC)_, V=high, unround
                >   [u] / V(CC)_, V=high, round
    xiv.) /O/   >   [o] / V(CC)_, V=back
                >   [9] / V(CC)_, V=front

[Now here's my proposed method of reconstruction.  Bear in mind, I haven't
ever seen a reconstruction for any language that shows vowel harmony; I used
intuition to surmise how it could come about.]

7.) History: Modern Zhyler derives from Ancient Zhyler.  The most interesting
part is the vowel change and development of vowel harmony.  Here's a rundown:

i.) Ancient Zhyler had the following vowel phonemes: /a, e, i, o, u, @, i-,
u-/.  It also had no vowel harmony, but fixed suffixes with single vowels.

ii.) Ancient Zhyler underwent a process to replace the vowels /@, i-, u-/.
At the same time, though, the vowel quality of the vowels in suffixes began
to change depending on what vowels came before them.  Thus, underspecified
vowels were produced.  For the three oddball vowels, though, two sets of
vowels were produced: Three stable phonemes, and separate sets of
underspecified vowels for the suffixes they appeared in.

iii.) So, it came to be that /@/>/9/, /i-/>/M/ and /u-/>/y/ in the phoneme

iv.) Meanwhile, in the underspecified vowels department, different things
were going down.  Here's what happened:

    a.) /a/     >   /B/ / C[+velar]_
                >   /A/ / elsewhere
    b.) /o/ >   /O/ / C[+labial]_
                >   /Q/ / elsewhere
    c.) /e/ >   /R/ / C[+liquid]_
                >   /E/ / C[+palatal]_
                >   /F/ / elsewhere
    d.) /@/ >   /E/ / C[+palatal]_
                >   /X/ / elsewhere
    e.) /u/ >   /U/ / C[+labial, -lab.velar]_
                >   /W/ / C[+lab.velar]_
                >   /J/ / C[+palatal]_
                >   /Q/ / elsewhere
    f.) /i/ >   /W/ / C[+lab.velar]_
                >   /J/ / C[+palatal]_
                >   /Y/ / C[+labial, -lab.velar]_
                >   /R/ / C[+liquid]_
                >   /I/ / elsewhere
    g.) /i-/    >   /J/ / C[+palatal]_
                >   /N/ / elsewhere
    h.) /u-/    >   /J/ / C[+palatal]_
                >   /N/ / elsewhere

    So, there it is.  Possible?  Is this what happens in real vowel harmony
languages?  I rather like it, personally.


"fawiT, Gug&g, tSagZil-a-Gariz, waj min DidZejsat wazid..."
"Soft, driven, slow and mad, like some new language..."
                    -Jim Morrison