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An Introduction to C'ali: Phonology

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Monday, August 5, 2002, 4:59
As many of y'all already know, the Phaleran universe is by no
means linguistically homogeneous.  There are hundreds of languages
and dialects on Phalera proper alone, not to mention the others
throughout the Upsilon Andromedae system.  The C'ali [ts']
languages are the second-largest language group on the planet,
with some 55 million speakers in total; most of the speakers
are descendents of the first wave of demic expansion in the first
centuries of colonization.  This post derives from some (very
brief) sketches I've made over the last year or so, consisting
mostly of the phonology and morphosyntax of C'ali proper, the
language that gives the family its name.


C'ali's consonant inventory is very similar to Phaleran in some
respects. In both, the opposition between simple voicelessness
and aspiration is more salient than voicing and voicelessness,
and in both glottalization, labialization, and lateralization
are important distinguishing features.  Both languages also
have nearly identical constraints on the quality of coda
consonants (both allowing /s x m n r l/), though C'ali also
licenses /h/ as a coda, and C'ali does not have as robust as
series of rhotics and liquids as Phaleran does (having only
a alveolar trill and a dental glide).  However, unlike Phaleran,
C'ali never lost the distinction between alveolar and dental
stops /t[/ and /t/ (the former in Phaleran becoming an
interdental fricative). C'ali also has a fairly robust series
of uvular stops /q q' q_w/, and a phonemic glottal stop /?/.
The only real oddity is that C'ali distinguishes between
aspirated and unaspirated glottalized stops; this is a feature
that shows up in Phaleran orthography regularly, but in that
language the aspirated glottalized stops are pronounced without
distinctive aspiration. The inventory thus looks something
like this:

  p   t[   t   k   q   ?
  ph       th  kh
           t'  k'  q'
           th' kh'
           tw  kw  qw

  Affricates and fricatives:
  pf  ts   tsh kx
      ts'  tsh'
           s   x       h

(<tsh> here represents a postalveolar affricate.)


  m        n

The vowel-system of C'ali is quite different from Phaleran.
Unlike Phaleran, length plays no role in C'ali, while rounding
does.  Also unlike Phaleran, /@/ <ë> is phonemic rather than in
free variation with /a/:

   i  y         u

     e  ö   ë  o

       æ      a

The canonical syllable structure of C'ali is rather
similar to Phaleran:  (s)CV(C);  that is, the only licit
cluster may consist of /s/ + some other consonant, which
in this case will always be a nonglottalized or lateralized
stop.  Like Phaleran, glottalized consonants may only surface
in the (unclustered) onset of a syllable. Unlike Phaleran,
all syllables must have onsets; any underlying representation
that does not start with one has a glottal stop supplied.
(Phaleran, it ought to be said, only allows onsetless
syllables only word-initially.)

Some phonological rules:

 [-voice, +obstruent] --> C' / _? (i.e., becomes glottalized)
 [-voice, +obstruent] --> Ch / _h (i.e., becomes aspirated,
                                   where possible)
 [+high, +vocalic] --> [-high] / _ [uvular consonants]

(more on Morphosyntax in next post)

Thomas Wier
Dept. of Linguistics  "Nihil magis praestandum est quam ne pecorum ritu
University of Chicago sequamur antecedentium gregem, pergentes non qua
1010 E. 59th Street   eundum est, sed qua itur." -- Seneca
Chicago, IL 60637


julien eychenne <eychenne.j@...>
Dirk Elzinga <dirk_elzinga@...>
JS Bangs <jaspax@...>