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Re: Nur-ellen mutations (was: Re: Animacy in active languages)

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg.rhiemeier@...>
Date:Thursday, August 24, 2000, 22:20
daniel andreasson wrote:
> > Jörg Rhiemeier skrev: > > > well-known-to-be-inanimate noun (such as **_tring_ as an agentive of > > _dring_ "hammer" - if there really was such an animate noun, its > > objective would indeed be _dring_) in order to force it into an agentive > > slot. Some of these "poetic agentives" might be irregular or even > > suppletive. > > This just made me come up with a question on Nur-ellen mutations. > > Are there mutations for every phoneme that a noun may begin > with? And if so, does it sometimes produce a result that is > the same as a non-mutated noun begins with? > > Examples: > > i) _r_ mutates to _r_, i.e. not at all.
Only if followed by another consonant which would then be considered next. Otherwise it becomes _rj_. More see below.
> ii) Agentive _caur_ -> objective _gaur_ which in turn > is also an agentive form _gaur_ of a completely > different word, which in turn mutates to - i don't > know - _ghaur_?
It would be _jaur_.
> Are there such cases?
I could not give one because the lexicon is yet very sketchy, and unless I fail to remember one, there are none yet.
> Or perhaps agentive forms always start with a voiceless > phoneme and objective always with a voiced?
> And in that > case, what happens with words beginning with vowels?
The rule is this: the first mutable consonant in the word gets mutated. Mutable consonants are the following: 1) stops and fricatives, 2) nasals and liquids immediately preceding a (full or auxiliary) vowel, 3) nasals and liquids in word-final position. Voiceless stops and fricatives are voiced; voiced stops become voiced fricatives; voiced fricatives become semi-vowels. The phonemes /g/ and /h/ (the latter having the allophones [x] and [C] depending on context the same way as German ch) are somewhat irregular that they mutate into /j/ (palatal semi-wovel) if followed by a vowel and are deleted elsewhere. Mutable nasals and liquids are palatalized, i.e. /j/ inserted after them. If this happens in word-final position, an auxiliary vowel is added behind it. The only words where there is nothing to mutate are such that consist only of vowels and semi-vowels, but such nouns and adjectives do not exist in Nur-ellen. (Or at least, I haven't invented any, and have designed no mutation rule to account of them.) The auxiliary vowel is a very short, always unstressed schwa-like sound which is not really a phoneme itself but inserted in order to break up consonant clusters which would otherwise violate phonotactic rules. In the Roman transcription it is represented by a back quote (` - now you know how to pronounce words such as _Men`l_ and _el`l_); in the Elvish script it is not marked at all. The above is the regular pattern in Nur-ellen which applies to well over 90% of all animate nouns and adjectives (which agree with the noun in case and number and are inflected the same way). I have already started thinking of irregular objective case formation patterns which could exist in Nur-ellen. One that sprang to my mind is that some words with initial voiced stops which have evolved from earlier nasal-stop clusters, prefix a nasal instead of mutating the stop. One such word is _goldir_ "scholar", whose objective is _nggoldir_ (the digraph <ng> represents the velar nasal for which there is a separate letter in the Elvish script) rather than **_joldir_. Some words such as "water" could have suppletive agentive and objective forms. (In quite a number of active languages, there are two words for it, one animate - water as an "active" phenomenon - and one inanimate - water as a substance. In Nur-ellen, these two words would have spawned the suppletive agentive and objective forms.) Syld, Joerg.