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niKòmbá changes

From:David Stokes <dstokes@...>
Date:Monday, January 29, 2001, 19:31
        niKòmbá was designed to be the parent of another as-of-yet
language. It is the daughter language which is my real goal. The goal
is to be used in some fantasy fiction my fiance is writing. Consequently
final product must be something she is comfortable with, which is easy
type, and while looking "foreign" is not unpronounceable by your average
reader. Here are some of the changes I have in mind:

1. Get rid of the tones ! I wanted to experiment with tones, but they do
fit the criteria set out above in many ways. My current idea is to
change the
vowels into dipthongs where tone roughly maps onto placement in the
mouth. For
example rising á --> ai. The dipthongs might then colapse into an
expanded set
of pure vowels.
        I know almost nothing about the development of Swahili, but it lost its
while most other Bantu languages have them. Does anyone on the list know
development it went through ?

2. Get rid of palatalization ! Palatals crashed the party. I never
invited them
into niKòmbá but they got in any way (I've studied Russian too much I
So they are going to go in its future evolution. I'm thinking of turning
to affricates:
ty --> ts, dy --> dz
ky --> ch, gy --> j
py, by --> I don't know yet (help?).
There may be some switching from voiced to voiceless and vice-versa
since I
like ts and j better but I have more dy and ky in niKòmbá.

3. Shortening the number of syllables in words. I am going to free up
forms in the new language, allowing syllables to end in more consonants.
Then I
can grind down the sufixes to a single letter (lose the final vowel).
That cut
a syllable off just about every word. May also do some syncope on vowles
in the
middle of words.

4. Change the focus construction. After developing the system for
niKòmbá I
noticed a problem (just as I was about to post). Sentences about
between people are very close to ambiguous. Actually, whenever there are
multiple nouns from the same category it is hard to tell which noun is
since I show focus primarily by having the verb agree with the focused
So I may have to change how focus is shown in the future language.

And then the normal changes of meanings, borrowings, maybe some other
shifts as things develop.

What do you think ? Comments, advice, etc on any of these ideas would be


David Stokes