Boreanesian phonology (was: Re: Allophones or Separate
|From:||And Rosta <a.rosta@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, March 23, 1999, 17:43|
> >> Good Idea!! Maybe if I describe the Boreanesian writing system
> >> then maybe you can identify what's going on with the non-similar-
> >> sounding-but-in-complementary-distribution-and-historically-
> >> identical sounds of Boreanesia.
> >> The Boreanesian script is a syllabary script. Or perhaps we
> >> should call it a moraebary script in that every letter represents
> >> a mora. In the grammar I have divided them formally into two
> >> types, onset mora letters and offset mora letters.
> >> There are 16 onset mora letters representing a CV sequence. The V
> >> segment is inherently a schwa /@/, but this can be modified into
> >> /i/ /a/ or /u/ by using diacritics (just like the Indic scripts
> >> of Asia). The complete grid is as follows:
> >> k@ N@ t@ n@ t[@ n[@ p@ m@ ?@ j@ l@ w@ h@ s@ L@ x@
> >> ka Na ta na t[a n[a pa ma ?a ja la wa ha sa La xa
> >> ki Ni ti ni t[i n[i pi mi ?i ji li wi hi si Li xi
> >> ku Nu tu nu t[u n[u pu mu ?u ju lu wi hu su Lu xu
> >What are the realizations of /x/, /h/, and /L/?
> /x/ = voiceless velar fricative
> /h/ = voiceless glottal fricative
> /L/ = voiceless lateral fricative
I have read a claim (based on Maddieson's 1984 report of UPSID
(UCLA phonological segment inventory database) in his _Patterns
of sounds_) that [x] and [h] are never primary allophones of
contrastive segments. I don't have Ladefoged & Maddieson to hand
to check whether they report any such contrasts.
Certainly I would have thought such a contrast rather vulnerable.
> >> Thus, the first row represents the inherent onset mora letters,
> >> the other rows represent modified letters.
> >> There allophones in the chart palatalizing the dental oral and
> >> nasal stops (_t[_ and _n[_ and _s_ before _i_.
> >> There are 5 offset mora letters representing the coda of closed
> >> syllables, represented here as X. This X segment is inherently a
> >> stiff phonation ending in a glottal stop (ie., X?). But this can
> >> be modified into slack phonation, or X ending in voicelessness of
> >> h (ie., Xh), by the use of a diacritic. The complete grid is as
> >> follows (I'll represent the oral velar approximant by _@_ and the
> >> nasalized counterpart by _N_):
> >> @? j? l? w? N?
> >> @h jh lh wh Nh
> >Do similarities between shapes of Boreanesian characters reflect
> >similarities in phonological properties (as is the case with the
> >tengwar, and with Livagian scripts)?
> Not really, the script was borrowed from the ancient Kawi script of
> Indonesia via the Philippines and then was modified to fit
> Boreanesian phonology. Most of the original shapes were already
> established when borrowed. Syllable final consonants were originally
> a grapheme (representing the C@ syllable) with the virama (vowel
> killer). These have turned into ligatures since only 4 graphs were
> used with the virama. Thus, the onset graphs for j@ l@ w@ ?@ are
> similar in shape with offset graphs for -j -l -w -@ respectively.
> BTW, do you have a website displaying the Livagian scripts?
No. I hope to finish the alphabet within the next 12 months, and then
pass it on to someone willing to put it on their website. The
syllabary is altogether a more taxing endeavour.
I would actually consider abandoing the syllabary altogether were it
not that its extrafictional origins are older than even the language
itself, and the two are intimately bound up together. But I suspect
that the syllabary vs. alphabet opposition is a bit like kanji vs
kana in japanese, whereby everyone knows the alphabet/kana, but not
everyone knows all the syllabary/kanji.
> >If so, then although your inventory of discrete graphemes strikes
> >me as optimal (given what I have previously learnt of Boreanesian
> >morpheme structure), similarities between shapes might, for
> >example, reflect such patterns as
> > onset @ i u a
> > offset @ j w l
> > [re. a::l - this is not as far-fetched as it sounds: it has been
> > suggested that coronality is the consonantal/nonnuclear
> > manifestation of lowness in vowels.]
> >et cetera.
> Actually, I have discovered such patterns too. However, it can be
> extended to include onset and offset consonants. Here is my version
> below (where G will henceforth represent a velar approximant):
> nucleus -i- -a- -u- -@-
> voiced onset j- l- w- ?-
> stiff offset -j? -l? -w? -G?
> voiceless onset s- L- x- h-
> slack offset -jh -lh -wh -Gh
> The parallels are maybe not that clear in the present language, but
> if we repeat the table above with the onsets and offsets of
> *Proto-Boreanesian, we get (where h marks a voiceless variant, and R
> marks a pharyngeal approximant):
> nucleus -i- -a- -u- -@-
> voiced onset j- l- w- R-
> voiced offset -j -l -w -R
> voiceless onset hj- hl- hw- hR-
> voiceless offset -jh -lh -wh -Rh
> This is basically what I was trying to describe when we first
> discussed these sounds and their complementary distribution. It is
> exactly this distribution that poses the problem when I have to
> decide about orthography. Say I want to be very minimalistic and
> represent all the sounds of the first column by <i>, the second by
> <a>, the third by <u>, and the fourth by <@> - (phonation could be
> marked by diacritics, but for simplicity's sake I'll ignore them).
> Then I can have syllables like <iau> for [jaw], and <aua> for [lul].
> But then what about [lal] which would then be represented as <aaa>?
> Something again tells me to represent onsets, nucleus, and offsets
> by different graphs even if they belong to the same melodic sound
> across segments.
I think the "logical" approach would be to use different but
systematically similar symbols, a la tengwar. The "naturalistic"
approach would probably to make the writing system a bit of a mess,
reflecting (a) an earlier stage of the language, (b) various
half-arsed reforms, (c) influences from culturally prestigious
> >> Even though the offsets _-@?_ and _-@h_ are in complementary
> >> distribution with the onsets _?-_ and _h-_ respectively, and
> >> evolved historically from the same phoneme in the protolanguage
> >> (voiced and voiceless pharyngeal approximants), they are not
> >> represented by letters that resemble each other in any way. The
> >> same goes for_-j?_ and _j-_, _-jh_ and _s-_, _-l?_ and _l-_, _-
> >> lh_ and _L-_, _-w?_ and _w-_, _-wh_ and _x-_. The script
> >> represents onsets and rhymes by different symbols altogether.
> >Are you interpreting all this as revealing about the nature of
> >Boreanesian phonology? Or do you allow that the writing system
> >might be somewhat "imperfect"?
> Well, I may have exagerated a little. Some of the Boreanesian
> letters I claimed having no resemblance to each other do in fact
> resemble each other, but are reagarded as separate letters. Like I
> just wrote, offset letters evolved as standardized ligatures of a
> letter with an added diacritic. What I should have said is that
> these letters are regarded as different letters even if some may
> look the same.
> >But the IPA is for representation of phonetics, not phonology.
> True. But I like to use IPA letters to represent specifically
> Boreanesian sounds which a Romanization scheme would fail to
> represent. Some African languages use some IPA symbols in their
> official orthography. Why not Boreanesian?
Presumably some Boreanesians have advocated use of the roman
alphabet, and presumably various protestant missionaries have created
such schemes from time to time.
> >I think it is beyond dispute that a decent description of
> >Boreanesian phonology must be formulated in terms of structural
> >units such as onsets, etc. The remaining unresolved issue is
> >whether the elements forming the content of these structural units
> >are the same for the different sorts of unit. E.g. is /j-/::/-
> >i/::/-j/ an element "I" located in onset, nucleus and coda
> I think this is one of those disputable linguistics issues that
> might arise if Boreanesian was a real natlang studied by real
> linguists. Hmmm... sorta gives Boreanesian that naturalistic feel,
> don't you think?
Yes. I thought that was what you were doing.
> >I don't see why you can't use the roman alphabet - with a few
> >diacritics here and there it would be up to the job, as your
> >asciification shows. I rather dislike the use of IPA symbols in
> >phonological notation.
> A matter of taste, I suppose. Using digraphs would ruin that
> practical orthographical rule I discovered of two letters per mora.
> Besides, the IPA symbols I AM using are few and not much different
> from some roman letters - like diacritics on roman letters. These
> are: <t> and <n> with the dental diacritic, the <l> with the loop
> through it, the barred <i>, and the velar <n>. The only exceptions
> are my use the symbol for a velar approximant and the glottal stop
> which has no counterpart in the roman alphabet. But my use of these
> non-roman symbols are no different than the use of non-roman symbols
> used by other languages like some African languages, and Danish too
> with its <ae> ligature, its crossed <o>, and its <a> with the <o>
> diacritic. The rest of the other letters I'm using in the
> Boreanesian grammar have their exact counterparts in the Roman
> alphabet: <a> <h> <i> <j> <k> <l> <m> <n> <p> <s> <t> <u> <w> <x>.
Is Boreanesia on the internet? If so, what do they do in email? Are
they sufficiently technologically advanced that they can, like the
Japanese, have their own writing system represented?
[BTW, if anyone else is reading this: What do places with other
writing systems do with email, etc.?]
> >I look forward to hearing how the meeting went. I hope you'll be
> >persistent in trying to get what you want. Remember that most
> >university teachers are only too pleased to have students who are
> >both talented and enthusiastic, and their desire to teach such
> >students generally overcomes the
> >favour-by-having-anything-to-do-with-you attitude prevalent in
> I spoke to them and it seems that there is talk of combining the two
> subjects together in the future, but nothing has happened yet.
I don't know what the system in Denmark is like, but if there is
a modular system then you could construct yourself a study programme
that includes modules from both linguistics and anthropology, even if
your degree course is nominally in only one of the subjects. Be
tactfully pushy; try to force the institution to give you the education
> Anyways, I have applied to both. I'm a bit cheezed-off by how
> impersonal the applications are so I have spiced it up with a copy
> of the first chapter of my Boreanesian grammar, its phonology! I
> hope that works!
I hope you included a bibliography of the (real-world) works that
you consulted. As we on this list all know, conlanging is viewed with
disdain by nonconlangers, and it is not unlikely that a linguist
would not bother giving it the modicum of scrutiny necessary to
ascertain the amount of linguistic knowledge that went into the
description, but I doubt that any undergraduate admissions tutor
would view a list of your reading in linguistics with any disdain
> If you want, I could send you a copy too! I have
> already sent the applications, which are due tomorrow. Now all I
> have to do is wait patiently until the 28th of July when all the
> applicants in Denmark get an answer in the mail.
I am confident that you could have got yourself a less impersonal and
more enthusiastic reception in Britain. But on the other hand,
students in Britain these days get given far far less money than
students in Denmark. Plus, you get only three years here, whereas in
Denmark you can take ten or so, can't you.