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THEORY: A possible Proto-World phonology

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 28, 2000, 14:19
Okay.  Let's suppose, as the Bible and other religious texts say, that all
the world's languages came from one common ancestor.  I compared the
reconstructed phonology for Nostratic, all three kinds, and Starostin's
reconstructed phonemes for Proto-North Caucasian (thanx for the Ubykh
list!).  I also remember vaguely the possible inventory of Proto-Salishan
and even less of Proto-Na-Dene.  A little about Proto-Sino-Tibetan as well.

It is my opinion that languages become phonemically simpler but
syntactically more complex as languages age.  After comparing large
consonant phonologies (which tend to have small vowel inventories), I
decided to take a wild guess at what might result from a speculation of the
very roots of human speech, many millennia ago...

Of course this is far from exact science.  This is radical theory and I'm
not a big time linguist by any means.  At least this could be used as the
basis of a conlang (like my "Nine", or "Ini" which Nicole came up with, but
in the opposite direction).

So here is a possible "Proto-World" (or "Proto-Language", "Proto-Human",
"Proto-Earth" etc.) consonant and vowel system:

          Stops/Affric   Fricative Nas  Aprx
          +voc -voc ejct +voc -voc
Labials   b    p    p'   (v)  (f)  m    w
Dentals   d    t    t'   (T)  (D)  n    r (alv.)
Hisses    dz   ts   ts'  z    s
Hushes    dZ   tS   tS'  Z    S
Palatals  dz`  tS`  ts`' z`   s`   (n`) j
Laterals  dL   tl.  tl.' L    l.        l
Velars    g    k    k'   (g.) (x)  (n.)
Uvulars   G    q    q'   (R)  (X)
Pharyng             h.'  3    h.
Glottals            ?    H    h
(consonants in parentheses are more likely allophones)

     Unround   Rounded
     Frnt Cntr Frnt Back
High i    (1)  y    u
Mid  e    (@)  8    o
Low  &    a

My apologies for the unconventional "conventions" I used for phonetic

Secondary features are not listed, but a C ~ Cw (labialized) dichotomy
likely developed early on.  Palatized and pharyngealzed/"emphatic"
consonants arose in some cases (e.g. North-West Caucasian).  Vowels likewise
gained length distinction first; it probably resulted mostly from accent
shifts and unstressed vowel epenthesis (don't certain Semitic languages form
plurals with CVCVC > CCV:C ?).

Next on the Danny Wier Show: a little-known East African script being taken
under consideration by the Techian government.  It may be adopted and
modified to produce a semi-native script.

Daniel A. Wier  ¶¦¬þ
Lufkin, Texas USA

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