Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Mbasa Vowels

From:David Peterson <digitalscream@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 3, 2001, 23:36
    Up until recently, all the words I come up with for Mbasa featured CV
syllable structure (where C could be a consonant or a consonant
cluster/prenasalized segment, as the [mb] in Mbasa).  I intended to have
words begin with vowels, but I didn't know what to do when these initials
vowels came in contact with syllable final vowels that were next to it.  I
came up with an answer that led me to a dialectical debate.
    So, the idea is that some affix that ends in a vowel will come in contact
with a word that begins with a vowel, and what we're interested in is the two
vowels coming together.  So, here's a chart I've made as to what happens when
each of the five vowels comes in contact with each of the other five:

1.) Lengthening:  When two like vowels come together it produces one long
vowel, such that:
[a]+[a]=[a:], [e]+[e]=[e:], [i]+[i]=[i:], [o]+[o]=[o:] and [u]+[u]=[u:]

2.) Glides with [i]: When [a], [u], [o] or [e] come after [i], a [j] is
inserted between them, resulting in [ija], [iju], [ijo] and [ije].  Also,
when [a], [u], [i] or [o] come after [e], it produces [eja], [eju], [eji] and

3.) Glides with [u]: When [a], [i], [o] or [e] come after [u], it produces
[uwa], [uwi], [uwo] and [uwe].  When [a], [u], [i] and [e] come after [o], it
produces [owa], [owu], [owi] and [owe].

    That's pretty standard; here comes the interesting part.

4.) When [e], [o], [i] and [u] come after [e], the same glide insertaion rule
applies, with the glide associated with [a] (that being the backwards [?]
glottal stop symbol, often erroneously referred as a voiced, pharyngeal
fricative).  [Note: [?/] is what I'm using for the backwards glottal stop
symbol]  So, it renders [a?/e], [a?/o], [a?/i] and [a?/u].

    Looking at those, they seem kind of difficult to make.  So I imagined to
dialects in which one set of speakers insists on keeping the medial [?/],
while others make them diphthongs, such that [a]+[e] or [i]=[aj], and [a]+[o]
or [u]=[aw].  Similarly, they have [o]+[i] or [e] becomming [oj] (as in
Latin), and high front+close mid vowels rendering long close mid, so
[e]+[i]=[e:] and [o]+[u]=[o:].

    Anyway, that was how I solved my problem; thought I'd share it with the
list.  :)



Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>