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Some Boreanesian Phonological History

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg.rhiemeier@...>
Date:Monday, November 5, 2001, 23:21
Kristian Jensen <kljensen@...> writes:

> [...] > > Proto-B had a phonemic system of consonants and vowels like the > following: > > *p *t *c *k *q > *b *d *j *g *G > *f *L *S *x *X > *B *l *y *Y *R > *u *r *i *@ *a > > That is, a system with the following phonemic places of articulation (POA): > labial, apical, palatal, dorsal, and radical. Each of these with a series > of voiced and voiceless obstruents and continuants, and vowels roughly > matching the POA of consonants.
This looks neatly symmetrical, though somewhat unnatural. [Some of the lines in the following text were a bit long, hence I reformatted it.]
> Modern standard Boreanesian has > merged dorsal and radical consonants, and *r and *@, while the palatal > series are now laminal (except for *y which is still > palatal).
What has become of the apicals? I assume that they remained intact except *r which became /@/.
> Nasality was suprasegmentalized so that the voiced > segments became coresponding nasals or nasalized segments.
By which rules?
> Nasal harmony was certainly a part of Proto-B. But as the time went by, > nasality was not the only thing that was suprasegmentalized. > Vowel features of rounding and fronting became compatible with > peripheral (labial, dorsal/radical) and laminal/palatal consonants > respectively.
While the apicals remained neutral, thus co-occuring with both sets. And if I understand it correctly, *a and *@ evolved front unrounded and back rounded allophones (something like [E]/[O] for /a/ and [e]/[o] for /@/)? Or am I completely misled here?
> Notice that the POA of vowels match the POA of > consonants, and this has certainly influence how the > suprasegmentalization of vowel features is applied in the > language. In the present language, one may profitably speak of vowel > harmony for both frontness and roundness.
I.e., they are all either front unrounded or back rounded, or what?
> However, the vowel harmony > in Boreanesian is complicated by the fact that peripheral consonants > are hosts to roundness but blockers of fronting, while laminal/palatal > consonants are hosts to fronting but blockers of rounding.
Now I am completely lost. Which factors govern the quality of vowels? Are vowels phonemic at all? For some reason, all this sounds as if the quality of vowels was determined by the adjacent consonants according to some kind of rules, but I might be entirely off the mark.
> All of these developments must have already occured some time before > the Austronesian influx. Austronesian and Japanese loanwords are > subject to the whims of nasal and front/rounding harmony -- at least > in the standard language. > > If it sounds complicated, well... that's because it is.
Indeed! A few examples would help. Jörg.


Kristian Jensen <kljensen@...>