Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Cwendaso: when two diphthongs collide

From:Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>
Date:Tuesday, September 23, 2003, 19:46
> > The most notable thing is that two like diphtongs coalesce into one instead > > of the high vowel in the first vowel becoming a glide. > >You could explan this as haplology: the reduction of adjacent identical >parts of a sentence. Otherwise, this looks good.
Thanks for the explanation and terminology. I suspect that some other dialects of the language may not reduce them to a single diphthong, but I'll be dealing mainly with the dialect spoken in one particular village, and that dialect does have pretty uniform haplology in V+V sequences.
>Except, that don't you have <ai-eu> for example, behaving differently from ><ai-e>?
Can't remember :-) I'd really have to go back and look; I put down such a mass of information that I can't remember it all. Here, let me take a look at what I put down in my notebook, since I'll never find what I want in my mailbox quickly. Here it is: <ai-eu> --> <ayeu> and <ai-e> --> <ai>
> That doesn't really seem right to me.
You're right; it seems odd. I've been thinking of things like <ai-e> --> <ai> in terms of the <e> being raised to assimilate with the preceeding <i> and then being absorbed into it because the language doesn't have geminates. If a <Vi-e> sequence causes the <e> to rise, then we'd expect <ai-eu> --> <ai-iu> --> <aiu> --> <ayu> (which is also considerably shorter and easier to pronounce than <ayeu>.)
>But maybe it can work. Here's a thought: perhaps syllable weight plays a >part in vowel reduction? Consider a hypothetical word like /kai-edu/, >which IIRC reduces to [kai.du].
Correct, it does reduce to that.
> Before reduction, we have / >we can look at this as reducing the syllable /ye/ to /i/ by dropping the >/e/.
Or by first raising the /e/ (assimilation) and then absorbing it (whatever the proper tecnical term for that is -- deletion?) to prevent a geminate, as I demonstrated in one of the above examples. This raising followed by deletion could account for the slightly abnormal behavior of V+ei combinations, where that medial /e/ simply drops out and you get a V+i diphthong. But how would this effect the rest of the system? Shouldn't the other mid-vowel, /o/, then do likewise in the the /ou/ diphthongs? But this is exactly what is happening in <a-ou> --> <au>. OTOH, I curently have <e-ou> --> <you> from the /e/ rising to become a glide as it does everywhere else. I suppose this could simple be a matter or rule-ordering. But OTOH again, my notebook shows <pra-ois> --> <prais>. There seems to be something irregular about the behavior of /a/ combined with a diphthong. And I just *now* realized that I completely forgot to run test cases of all the vowels followed by /ai/! Without using actual example words, here's what I think they should do. <i-ai> --> <yai> <e-ai> --> <yai> <a-ai> --> <ai> <o-ai> --> <oi> <u-ai> --> <wai> The only doubtful member of this set is <o-ai> --> <oi>. If /o/ rises to [w], then it should be <o-ai> --> <wai>, but if the /a/ and /o/ phonemes sort of "pull on each other", trying to assimilate to each other when they end up next to each other (and another vowel is also involved), then that could account for both <o-ai> --> <oi> and <pra-ois> --> <prais>. (And if this dialect, as I mention below, has something of an aversion to overly-long strings of vowels and semi-vowels and attempts to reduce them, it might choose to assimilate the two vowels to each other and then drop the middle one.) There's still the problem of the behavior of /eu/, which is a difficult sound for me to produce. <i-eu> --> <yeu> or would the /e/ be likely to rise, giving us <yu>? <e-eu> --> <eu> obviously <a-eu> --> <ayu> if the /e/ rises. If not, we could end up with the /e/ pulled downwards toward the /a/ and get <au>, which seems less likely to me. The /e/ seems to be inclined to rise. <o-eu> --> <oyu> <u-eu> --> <weu>
> Now, in the word /kai-eudu/ we have /ka.yeu.du/ before reduction--but >in this word reduction doesn't happen. That's because the middle syllable >/yeu/ is heavy (has a coda), and so cannot be reduced.
What is the coda, the /u/? (I guess it must be, since it has turned into a glide, which is a type of consonant. I had never been taught to think of it in terms of such a syllable having a coda. I was always told that a syllable containing a diphthong was heavy, or "long" in the case of Latin, and so was one with a vowel followed by two consonants. If the second half of the diphtong is a consont, then the syllable is closed, I guess.)
> Perhaps this >explains the different behavior of diphthongs?
Probably I'll go back over my data and reduce <ai-eu> to <ayu> and other similar things instead.
>And you can still use haplology to account for the exceptions.
Which I probably will, at least in this dialect. As I said in a previous post, certain other dialects prefer to split final diphthongs into two syllables, either that or pronounce a stressed diphthong extra long with a falling intonation pattern on the final vowel that implies that it does not really belong to the same syllable as the first portion of the diphthong. (Sorry, can't give you a sample of what I mean since I can't transcribe the subtleties of intonation.) This implies that something like /kai-ekka/ doesn't reduce to [kaik.ka],
>but remains [ka.jek.ka]. Essentially, it boils down to a prohibition of >superheavy syllables, which contain both a diphthong and a coda consonant
I'll have to give careful consideration to a rule like this, in some form or another, because I already sense that the language doesn't like the codas to get too crowded (e.g. /rm/ is an illegal syllable coda, meaning that /lm/ would be similarly illegal, and I have one example of /rd/ being an illegal coda requiring the insertion of an epenthetic [a] to break up the cluster. By extension, this would make virtually any /r/+stop sequence illegal in the coda and might make any liquid+stop sequence illegal in the coda.) But I have also sensed that the particular dialect that I am working with is not overly fond of long sequences of vowels and semi-vowels and will do what it can to condense them to a more reasonable length. (Other dialects don't have this hang-up.) Something else that could be going on in this language instead of syllable weight is stress. Cwendaso has free stress, and which part (if any) of a pair of combining diphthongs or vowel and diphthong receives stress could possibly cause variant outcomes for certain of the combinations. When I was combining those vowels and diphthongs, I was working with actual *words* and saying them aloud to myself repeatedly to try to hear and feel where the combinations would naturally want to end up. Those words did not have identical stress patterns, and that may have affected how I felt that the diphthongs should meld in certain situations. (The orthography of the language has the stressed syllable in each word maked, but I didn't mark it in my examples because I hadn't found the way to do it yet from my keyboard. And I still can't do every word, because sometimes it is a syllabic sonorant that receives the stress, and I am not yet fully Unicode enabled -- and neither is everone on the list.) So when I was prefixing <apai> to <outhú>, it was under different stress conditions than in the same set where I prefixed <koi> to <óufl>, and that same set contained a third stress pattern because the prefix <nggéi-> unlike most prefixes has it's own stress and therefore steals stress from the root. So this could have possibly caused some varied outcomes in that set. I didn't think about it until afterward.
>Do with this as you'd like.
I truly appreciate your responses to my post. It's been great working together with you to get these aspects of the phonology up and running properly. Now I need to go back over my data and your comments, think everything through, then go through my notebook and correct the paradigms where I have chosen to revise them. I think that I do need to come up with a cohesive set of phonological rules to account for all the variations so that this dialect has good internal consistency. (Though I may still allow it to do a somewhat irregular thing here and there since natural languages do that; I'm aiming at good internal consistency, not absolute, unbroken regularity.) Gotta run. My daughter has to go to a skating lesson and a violin lesson in very quick succession: the skating lesson runs from 4:30 to 5:30, and violin is from 5:30 to 6:10!) Isidora