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New Conlang: S4

From:Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Date:Thursday, October 4, 2001, 12:15

These are some impressions from my new Conlang, which does not yet
have a name.  The working title is S4.

In short:
   - extreme amount of consonant phonemes

     Currently over 700 including 150 click phonemes.  The vast
     majority are plosives, fricatives and affricates (modifiers:
     nasalised, aspirated, pharyngealised, length, voice, etc.)

   - only three vowels (a, i, u), no phonemic length, /a/ tends to be
     pronounced [@] only or may tends to be dropped.

   - two tones high and low (with downstep)

   - monosyllabic stems

I wanted to adapt Arabic triconsonantal roots to this, but my roots
are too short: only one consonant phoneme.  But still, because of the
extreme amount of consonants, instead of inserting a second vowel,
stems can be derived from roots by modifying features and the position
of articulation.  Roots are restricted to two positions for clicks and
three positions for other phonemes, while stems may use all five
positions of clicks and all ten positions for other phonemes.

This is the table:

root pos.     |              stem position
              | -2       | -1         | 0         | +1
--------------+----------+------------+-----------+---------------------------     | bilabial | dental     | alveolar  | alveolopalatal
lateral click | alveolar | alv.pal    | lateral   | lateral +postaspiration
alveolar      | labial   | dental     | alveolar  | postalveolar
uvular        | palatal  | velar      | uvular    | pharyngeal -postaspiration
glottal       | uvular   | epiglottal | glottal   | alveolar +postaspiration

Some irregularities are intented here.  Further, to make a nice
looking table that looks more natural, one column modifies the
postaspiration feature of the root, too.

So in order to get a stem from a root, you add the following:
   - a vowel (a, i, u)
   - a tone  (L or H)
   - a position offset (-2, -1, 0, or +1)

That was it for stems.  I left out the tables that are needed to
perform the position shifts.  Naturally, not every position has all
possible feature of any other position.

Now, morphology changes the features of stems (vaguely in a way
Finnish and other agglutinating languages do).  The stems in the
lexicon have the highest `grade', and by morphological rules they may
degrade to other forms.  The following tables lists the stems I have
done so far just to give an impression.  The top-most matching line is
used to perform one step of degradation:

Feature                           | Degraded by one Step
+pharyngealised                   | -pharyngealised
+preaspirated                     | -preaspirated, +prenasalised (clicks: non-velar)
+prenasalised (clicks: non-velar) | -prenasalised, +postaspirated
+postaspirated, +voiced           | +postaspirated, -voiced
+postaspirated, -voiced           | -postaspirated
type=affricate                    | type=fricative (for post-features of clicks, too)

What do you think?  Lexicon lookups will be aweful I suppose!  HAHAHA!


PS: I'm affraid I promised to make and read a poem in this new
    language to a friend.  My goodness...  Practice...


Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>