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Itakian - Yes, I chose that name :)

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 19, 2000, 12:38

        I finally managed to order my ideas better for the new project I'm
currently in (tentatively called Itakian :) ). Thanks to Vasiliy whose
critics helped me very much to find the relation between the deep phonemes
and the actual pronunciation. So here is the new version of my project
(scripts and phonology-morphology).


        The native script of this language uses cursive letters and ligatures for
the vowels (V) and liquids (L), as well as diacritics for the consonnants
(C). It is a good representation of the deep phonemic structure of the
language, not of the actual pronunciation. Tones are not represented in the
script however.

        The Latin transcription uses a one-to-one relation with the script. Each
diacritic corresponds to one consonnant, each letter to one vowel or
liquid. The transcription is (corresponding deep phoneme between slashes,
in SAMPA):
V: a /a/, e /e/, o /o/
L: n /n/, l /l/, r /r/ (generally apical, can be also retroflex), i /j/, u /w/
C: p /p/, t /t/ (alveolar), c /k/, ' /?/
   f /P/, s /s/,            x /x/, h /h/

        The tones can be represented too, if needed, as diacritics over a letter
(the first L or V of a written syllable). In ASCII, I will represent them
as signs after the syllable that carries the corresponding tone:
T: low: generally not marked, can be marked as umlaut (: after the syllable)
   high: macron (| after the syllable)
   raising: acute accent (/ after the syllable)
   falling: grave accent (\ after the syllable)


        In deep structure, the following syllables (which correspond to written
syllables) are permitted:

        The following rules are to be used to know the surface pronunciation from
the deep structure which is the written words. The rules are ordered by
number (different rules under the same number just take place at the same
moment as they have different contexts). Those rules have the form A -> B /
C except if D: A becomes B in context C except if D. In those rules, C, V
and L correspond to the deep phonemes (except for C in 7.), N to "V or L",
# to a word frontier, S to a syllable as shown above. V and V' can be the
same or different. The pause happens when you want to breathe (generally
shown in English by a punctuation mark). The parentheses indicate optional
parts (in order to put various rules into one).

        The different rules in the right order are:

1. #'V -> #V except if # corresponds to a pause
   'L -> L
   hL -> L_0

2. CV# -> C# except if -#C

3. C#N(_0) -> CN
   CN(N')#(N'')N''' -> CNN'''

4. CL -> CL= / -C or -#
   #L -> #L= / -C or -#
   LL' -> LL'= / -C or -#

5. S#S' -> SS' except if # corresponds to a pause

6. Cn -> C_n
   Cl -> C_l
   Cw -> C_w
   Cj -> C_j except: tj -> t_S, kj -> k_C
                     sj -> S,   xj -> C

NOTE: in the dialects where 'r' is retroflex, you can add the change Cr -> C_r

7. VV -> V:
   L(=)C ->L(=)C_v
   CL= -> C_vL=

   NOTE: those last two rules voice the actual consonnants, whether they
correspond to deep phonemes or they have been modified by 6.

The last rule of 7. is difficult to explain by a simple law of
transformation. It says simply that the actual pronunciation of 'n'
(whether it is syllabic, voiceless or voiced) greatly depends on its
environment. The following hierarchy says which part of its environment
influences exactly this nasal:
following consonnant > preceeding consonnant > following vowel > preceeding
vowel (the liquids have no effect on it)
If the influent part is a consonnant, 'n' simply takes the PoA of the
consonnant. If it's a vowel, 'n' stays the same with 'a', becomes /m/ with
'e' and /N/ with 'o'.

        With all those rules, you have the following distribution of surface phones:
V: a  e  o
   a: e: o:
L: m   n   N   l   r   j   w
   m_0 n_0 N_0 l_0 r_0 j_0 w_0
   m=  n=  N=  l=  r=  i   u
C: p   t   k   ?   P   s   x   h
   p_m t_n k_N     P_m s_n x_N
   p_l t_l k_l     P_l s_l x_l
   p_w t_w k_w     P_w s_w x_w
   p_j t_S k_C     P_j S   C
   b   d   g       B   z   G
   b_m d_n g_N     B_m z_n G_N
   b_l d_l g_l     B_l z_l G_l
   b_w d_w g_w     B_w z_w G_w
   b_j d_Z g_J     B_j Z   J

NOTE: In dialects where 'r' is retroflex, add the retroflex series:
   p_r t_r k_r     P_r s_r x_r
   b_r d_r g_r     B_r z_r G_r


        Tone is a rather complex feature. At the same time semantic (words have a
definite tone pattern) and grammatical (tone changes sometimes note
grammatical categories), it also has some phonetic constraints:
- one surface syllable can have only one tone, whatever kind of syllable it
may be (so when the morphological rules conflate two syllables in one,
there must be also conflation of the corresponding tones).
- two following tones must have their contact point at the same height
(semantic tone always follow this pattern, but there may be problems when
two syllables meet without conflating, whether it is by affixation
processes or by simple contact between two words).

        Thus there are three kinds of tone changes:
- conflation of two tones: this is a very easy one: when two tones
conflate, the resulting tone is simply the tone formed with the starting
point of the first tone and the ending point of the second tone.
- contact of two tones with a contact glitch: the first tone stays the
same, whereas the second tone changes, its starting point taking the same
height as the ending point of the preceeding tone.
- disappearance of one tone: when a syllable disappears (before a pause),
the tone disappears with it without modifying the environment.

NOTE: this last rule may have exceptions in case of affixation, but I'm not
sure of it.


        To show you the result of all this, here the process that goes from the
written deep structure "ta\ 'il|ce\" to the actual pronunciation [d_Zl=|g]:
ta#'ilce -> ta#ilce -> t#ilc -> tilc -> til=c -> t_Sl=c -> d_Zl=g
The tone carried by 'e' disappears, while the tones of 'ta' and ''il'
\ + | -> |

        The result is [d_Zl=|g] (high tone).

        Okay, that's all I have about Itakian for now. Later I will concentrate on
the grammar and the culture associated. You will see more of its class
system and trigger system later :) .

                                                        Christophe Grandsire
                                                |Sela Jemufan Atlinan C.G.

"Reality is just another point of view."

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