Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Semi-official Tech presentation: I. Phonology

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 10, 2001, 3:09

The total number of consonant phonemes in Tech is controversial, and often
exaggerated, though the inventory is very large if secondary factors are taken
into account.  However, the historical phonology of the language of the Elves is
fairly traceable.  This paradigm corresponds roughly to the three stages of the
language, having three stages of consonantal development.

The primary stage are the phonemes of Old Tech, the language spoken up to 10,000
years before present.  Note the three-way system of stops/affricates, the
voiced, voiceless aspirated and voiceless ejective:

Labials: b p p' (p may also be written ph, etc.)
Dentals: d t t'
Velar: g k k'
Uvular: G q q'
Alveolar: dz ts ts' s
Retroflex: d. t. t.' s.
Palatal: dZ tS tS' S
Lateral: dl tL tL' (L = <lambda>, indicating voiceless lateral fricative)
Glottal: ? h
Pharyngeal: 6 H
NASALS: m n n. n~ ng (I had to use a digraph since there's a uvular N and I
forgot the ASCII-IPA for "eng")
SEMIVOWELS: w j (I *hate* using "y" for the semivowel /j/!)

The secondary stage is mutation:
Fortis: initially and when doubled, no change (dental nasal, rhotic and lateral
become alveolar)
Lenis ("aspiration" in Irish): medial/final position
  voiceless ejective > voiced implosive
  voiceless aspirate > voiceless fricative
  voiced > voiced fricative
  voiceless > /h/, or rarely /H/
  Nasal: m > v~ (nasalized v)
Nasalized ("eclipsis" in Irish)
  voiceless ejective > prenasalized voiced (implosive)
  voiceless aspirate > voiceless (aspirated) nasal
  voiced > "plain" nasal
  voiceless > voiced
  Nasals: doubled, therefore Fortis

There are other more specialized types of mutation, including the feminine
suffix -t > -h (as in Arabic and Hebrew).

The phonology of the mutations, and sorry for the _ad hoc_ notations:

Labials: b p p' ~ b' f v ~ mb mh m
Dentals: d t t' ~ d' D(<delta>) T(<theta>) ~ nd nh n
Velar: g k k' ~ g' x <gamma> ~ ngg ngh ng
Uvular: G q q' ~ G' X(<chi>) R ~ NG Nh N
Alveolar: dz ts ts' ~ dz' s z ~ ndz n_h n_
Retroflex: d. t. t.' ~ d.' s. z. ~ n.d. n.h n.
Palatal: dZ tS tS' ~ dZ' S Z ~ n~dZ n~h n~ (n tilde)
Lateral: dl tL tL' ~ dl' l L ~ ndl nlh nl (the voiced lateral fricative probably
merged with the lateral glide)
NASALS: m ~ v~ (a nasal v, also could be written "m" with an "ng" tail)

Finally the teritary stage: palatization and (labio)velarization, which is
called in Russian "soft" and "hard", and in Irish "slender" and "broad".  All or
almost all of the primary and secondary consonants are affected by this, the
result of vowel shifts:

Ci, Ce = C is palatized
Ca, C@ = C is neutral
Cu, Co = C is (labio)velarized
(Note: this does not include "secondary vowels", i.e. the front rounded and the
low vowels; see Vowels below.)

The total number of consonant phonemes, theoretically, is about 240, but in the
actual language the number is probably going to be a bit lower.

VOWELS (whew, finally)

There are six basic vowels in Tech, all short:

High: i u
Mid: e @ o
Low: a

There are eighteen total long vowels and diphthongs:

Vj > i: ei (> e:) ai @i ui oi
Vw > iu eu au @u u: ou (> o:)
V? > i@ e: a: @: (> i-: i-bar) u@ o:

Certain vowels can be fronted or backed, a result of rules of a form of vowel
Fronting: u > y, o > o/ (o-slash), a > ae (ae-ligature)
Backing: a > ao (a-ring, or inverted script a in IPA)
There may be others in both cases.

Finally, nasalization and "laryngealization" (actual quality varies among
dialects) results from mergers with syllable-final nasals and laryngeals.

The total number of vowels is unknown until I get some more words worked out.


Now I'll shut up.


Do You Yahoo!?
Get your free address at


Dan Jones <feuchard@...>