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5 phonemes, was: Another phonological extreme

From:Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>
Date:Thursday, July 20, 2000, 18:33
Yes, I know I’m abusing a certain understanding of phonology... but
here is it: a system of only 5 phonemes, which sprang out while I
was revising Ija.

The name of the new language is Miituu - or, to use a transcription
more faithful to the original, <Mekprrp> :)

The explanation scheme is same as with Ija.

I look forward to your comments, folks!


1. Deep

C: p k m
V: r= e

Allowed syllable structures: (C)V(C)

No restrictions on syllable combinations within a word. Besides,
intervocalic _p_ and _k_ (but not _m_) can be geminated. Such 'true
geminates' are distinct from the combinations ...Vk.kV... and
...Vp.pV... that can appear on morpheme boundaries etc.

2. Surface realizations

C: /p t k s m n r j/

short - /a i u/
long - /aa ii uu/
diphthongs - /ai aw iw/
nasalized - /aN iN uN/

(No other vowel clusters are allowed within a word)

The nasal component of the nasalized vowels assimilates to the
following /p t k m n/, yielding /mp nt Nk mm nn/.

Word-initial clusters: /pj kj mj/ (i. e. dentals don't combine with

Medial clusters: a) same as in word-initial position; b) /p t k s/
can be geminated, also /p k/ when followed by /j/; c) combinations
emerging due to the assimilation of nasalized vowels (including
geminated /nn mm mmj/) - see above.

Only short vowels can appear before clusters not occurring in the
word-initial position.

Combinations /ji, jii, jiw, jiN/ are impossible.

No other restrictions on sound combinations.

3. Deep to surface

a) Vowel contraction and emerging glides

To avoid the mistake I made with Ija, for Miituu I state explicitly
that the contraction rules work right-to-left. The subordination of
rules is as follows:

r= (+V) /r/
eer= /ju/
   otherwise er= /a/; otherwise r= /u/
   otherwise ee /ja/; otherwise e /i/

b) Syllable-final consonant transformations

Syllable-final consonants (except _p_ and _k_ in 'true' geminates)
are treated as follows:

ap /aw/  ak /ai/  am /aN/
up /uu/  uk /aa/  um /uN/
ip /iw/  ik /ii/  im /iN/

c) Reforming the clusters with /r/

pr /t/   (ppr /tt/)
kr /s/   (kkr /ss/)
mr /n/   (Nmr /nn/)

d) Trivial: assimilation of nasals

Np /mp/ (also Npj /mpj/), Nt /nt/
Nm /mm/ (also Nmj /mmj/; also Nn /nn/, mentioned above)

4. Some examples (derivates of same roots)

/mussa/ mr=kkr=.e.r= (with a 'true' geminate)
/mukkuju/ mr=kkr=.e.e.r= (same)

See also the language's name above.