CHAT: Vowel harmony (was: CHAT: Another NatLang i like)
|From:||BP Jonsson <bpj@...>|
|Date:||Monday, July 19, 1999, 20:10|
John Cowan wrote:
>Qyrgyz (Kirghiz) is perhaps the most difficult sort of vowel harmony
>known: every vowel in a given word must agree on both front/back and
>rounded/unrounded scales, and there are 8 vowels, i e =FC =F6 y a u o.
>So if the first vowel is either =FC or =F6, *all* the other vowels
>must be either =FC or =F6. Ditto for y and a, u and o, i and e.
>Note that y is not /y/ but barred-i.
I don't find that very difficult -- the rules are easy to remember --
though very restrictive!
=46unus vowel harmony is of a kind that AFAIK doesn't exist in any natlang.
The lang has the following 9-vowel system*:
Front Ctrl Back
High j u w (i =FB u)
Mid i y o (e y o)
Low e v a (=EA =E2 a)
(*There are two partly incompatible Romanization systems, of which the one
using diacritics perhaps gives better clues to pronunciation, while the
7-bit ASCII based one reflects the fact that the Funus script uses the same
letters for syllabic and non-syllabic [i] and [u].)
The rules for vowel harmony state that the two vowels of a Funus word must
belong to the same row or column, i.e. the combinations *j-y, *i-v, *e-y,
*i-u, *u-o, *y-a, *v-o, *y-w (and their reversals -- *y-j...*w-y -- but
native grammar takes this for granted and doesn't list those) are NOT
allowed, but all other possible pairs of vowels are. Two identical vowels
in the same word is allowed, with the notable exception of *y-y. This
exception has to do with the fact that Old Funus had distinctive stress,
and it is thought that /y/ first arose as a result of non-high vowels
merging in unstressed initial syllables. It seems that Old Funus didn't
have central vowels at all, but the exact changes leading to the classical
vowel system and vowel harmony are not well understood, since Old Funus
orthography indicated vowels only very defectively if at all.
Incidentally Funus grammarians use the otherwise illegal vowel sequence y-y
to "name" triliteral roots according to the scheme "CyCyC", but outside
this artificial usage this combination of vowels doesn't occur in the lang.
/BP (Biqty.fylip Juqson)
B.Philip Jonsson <bpj@...> <melroch@...>
Solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant!