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Germanic-like Stops... Oh How Unexotic!!

From:Kristian Jensen <kljensen@...>
Date:Saturday, May 15, 1999, 20:57
As I hinted in an earlier post today, I had to do some reworking on
Boreanesian phonology.

I have long had a rough idea how the phonemic phonation of heavy
syllables developed from the phonation of syllable final consonant
segments. But recently I had a closer look at this phenomenon to
identify what exactly these segments were in Proto-B. It is now
clear to me that Proto-B had two series of consonants; a stiff voice
series, and a slack voice series of *b *d[ *d] *g *m *n[ *n] *N *B
*D *l *G.

The stiff voice involves a slightly tight glottis triggering a
vibration of the glottis - i.e., voicing. This can sometimes be
preceded by a glottal stop in word-initial position, or followed by
a glottal stop in word-final position. The slack voice involves a
more relaxed glottal stop, often with vibration ceasing.

The way I had originally composed the phonology, both the oral and
nasal stops come in a single series, while only the approximants and
fricatives together reflect dual series of of *B *D *l *G. The
syllable initial approximants evolved from the stiff series, and the
syllable-initial fricatives from the slack series. In syllable final
position, they are all preserved as stiff and slack voiced

But there is one other syllable-final consonant in my original
composition that I could not explain; the syllable-final nasal which
also comes in a stiff and slack voice. My options were either to
drop it or explain its existence. I chose the latter.

I did so by having both a stiff and slack voiced series for the
nasal stops. And since natlangs tend to be symetrical in their
phonology, I extended this dualist approach to the oral stops. In
syllable-initial position, the stiff voice evolved into a serie with
modal voice while the slack voice evolved into a serie with spread
glottis (i.e., aspirated oral stops, voiceless nasal stops). In
syllable final position, oral stops were lenited to approximants,
while the nasals survive as a single syllable-final nasal segment.

To summarize, the syllable-initial stops are now:

     STIFF  /b/        /d[/      /d]/      /g/
     SLACK  /p_h/      /t[_h/    /t]_h/    /k_h/

     STIFF  /m/        /n[/      /n]/      /N/
     SLACK  /m<-v>/    /n[<-v>/  /n]<-v>/  /N<-v>/

If the oral stops look vaguely familiar, that's cuz it is. It is a
lot like English stops. Quite un-exotic. I have tried to make the
language exotic with a crisp sound at first by having only one
series of oral stops. That certainly appeals to me. But if the
language takes on a life of its own and demands something else, I
guess i have to surrender. Well, at least aspirated stops give a
more crispier sound in certain cases, and two series of nasals is
also exotic enough, and my conlang is beginning to make demands of
its own making it breathing with life - so I suppose I should be
content, eh?

-kristian- 8-)