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Re: Plural vowel change

From:Raymond A. Brown <raybrown@...>
Date:Friday, January 29, 1999, 20:28
At 7:43 pm +0100 29/1/99, Daniel Andreasson wrote:
>Daniel Andreasson wrote:
>Then Steg Belsky asked: > >> Then what kind of umlaut is it called when the vowel is >> raised? (/e/ >> /i/, /o/ >> /u/) > > >I suggest that we call it "Steglaut". Can we make that an official >Conlang-L term, or does anyone oppose that? :)
Why not?
>That logically leads to two other questions. Unrounding and backing of >vowels. I know that if you both front and unround, it's called I-umlaut >(goose - geese), because fronting is I-umlaut.
i-umlaut merely causes fronting and, if the vowel was rounded it will at first stay rounded, e.g. German /fus/ - /fys/. The unrounding in English, Yiddish & some German dialects is a _secondary_ feature and not strictly due to umlaut, but is a secondary development of an umlauted vowel in those languages.
>But if you just want to unround it (/gy:s/ - /gi:s/) or back it (one >/g=F8:s/ - many /go:s/), not combined with another umlaut, what's it called >then?
The change /gy:s/ -> /gi:s/ is simply called 'unrounding'. It is a common feature; we meet in Old English and, e.g. in Greek where the Classical /y/ has become /i/, and in modern borrowings of French words the Greeks regularly render French [y] as [i] and [=A6] as [E]. It happens in creolized versions of French. I've no doubt other conlangers can supply examples frok many other languages. The change /g=F8:s/ to /go:s/ is AFAIK a less common feature (indeed I can't think of any examples at the moment, but I expect some do exist); I guess it's just 'backing'.
>Or perhaps these are impossible ways of umlauting that I in my ignorance >don't know about.
Not all vowel gradations are caused by umlaut. Umlaut is a change in the root vowel(s) of a word cause by the effect of a vowel suffix is then (normally) dropped because its function is conveyed by the umlaut itself. This is, of course, the opposite of the feature known as 'vowel harmony' whereby the vowel(s) of the root word affect the vocalization of affixes (nearly always suffixes, tho I've found examples of single prefixes so affected also in some African langs). It's certainly difficult to see how the change /gy:s/ --> /gi:s/ would come about by umlaut. The change /g=F8:s/ --> /go:s/ could be caused by u-umlaut= =2E Ray.