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Gzarondan: Phonological Review

From:Adrian Morgan (aka Flesh-eating Dragon) <dragon@...>
Date:Friday, October 15, 2004, 4:52
OK, as far as I can tell, the idea that Gzarondan once had three
categories of fricative - unmarked, labialised and voiced - which then
changed so that /f/ and /S/ developed from labialised fricatives, is

In reply to Jeffrey Jones, the reason only unvoiced fricatives had
labialised forms is because it's a neat way of explaining why my
phonology has more unvoiced fricatives than voiced ones and minimises
the extent to which I need to modify the existing phonology. The real
reason I have more unvoiced than voiced fricatives is, not
surprisingly, because I prefer the sound of the language that way.

I have been revising the entire Gzarondan phonology. Several changes
have occured during this revision, for example syllables can no
longer begin with /fl/ or /fr/ which means I'll have to change some
words, but there's no problem there.

The main thing I'd like to know is, how does the following stack up
from a naturalistic perspective? By the standards I'm aiming for,
"interestingly unusual" is good, but "mindblowingly weird" is not.
All of it is based on my own aesthetic taste and not on linguistic
principles, but I'd like to know what changes might be suggested to
get everything out of the "mindblowingly weird" category that might
inadvertantly be there.

Once I'm happy with the revised phonology, I'll revise the spelling.
But that's still one step ahead for now.

Anyway, Gzarondan phonology, draft revision, follows for your
comment and enjoyment.


*********************   Vowels and Diphthongs   **********************

|   Front    |  Central   |    Back    |
| /I/   /E/  | /@/   /a/  | /U/   /O/  | Short Vowels   |
| /i:/  /e:/ | /8:/  /a:/ | /o:/  /O:/ | Long Vowels    |
| /aI/       |            | /aU/       | Closing Series |
| /I8/  /E8/ |            |            | Rhotic Series  |
| /Il/  /El/ | /8l/  /al/ | /l=/  /0l/ | Lateral Series |


  * /E/ is pronounced [&] after a velar or palatal consonant, except
    in an unstressed syllable that is preceded by a syllable which
    also contains /E/.

  * /a/ is not distinguished from /@/ at the beginning or end of a

  * /I/ is not distingued from /i:/ at the end of a word.

***************************   Consonants   ***************************

|          FRICATIVES          |      STOPS       |     OTHER      |
| Unmarked  Labialised  Voiced | Unvoiced  Voiced | Nasals  Trills |
|                              |                  |                |
| /T/       /f/         /D/    | /p/       /b/    | /m/            |
| /s/       /S/         /z/    | /t/       /d/    | /n/     /r/    |
| /x/       /x_w/              | /k/       /g/    |                |

                                 |    MISCELLANEOUS CONSONANTS     |
                                 | Voiced palatal approximant: /j/ |
                                 | Voiced lateral approximant: /l/ |
                                 | Unvoiced lateral fricative: /K/ |


  * /r/ is ordinarily [r] (aveolar trill) but after /n/ it is [r\`]
    (retroflex approximant). Note that this can only occur at a word

  * /l/ is velarised at the end of a syllable and within the lateral
    series of diphthongs and vowels.

  * Although the category of labialised fricatives cannot be taken
    literally in the modern phonology, it does have a historical

***********************   Syllable Structure   ***********************

Syllables are essentially CVC, bearing in mind that the vowel section
may contain any vowel or diphthong, the consonant sections may be
empty, and other possible values for the consonant sections are
detailed below.

Syllable-Initial Position:

  * All consonants are permitted at syllable-initial position, as are
    the following structures:

    | L-Series   | R-Series   | S-Series | Affricates |
    | /pl/  /bl/ | /pr/  /br/ | /sp/     |            |
    |            | /tr/  /dr/ | /st/     | /ts/       |
    | /kl/  /gl/ | /kr/  /gr/ | /sk/     | /gz/       |
    |            |            | /sf/     |            |
    |            |            | /sl/     |            |

Syllable-Final Position:

  * The following consonants cannot occur in syllable-final position:
    voiced fricatives, trills, non-lateral approximants, /K/ and /x_w/.

  * The following structures can occur: /mp/, /nt/, /nd/.

****************************   Stress   ******************************

Stress is not regular, but some generalisations can be made:

When syllables are LIKELY to be stressed:

  * The first syllable that can be stressed usually is stressed.

  * Stress gravitates toward syllables in which an approximant, velar
    fricative, lateral or trill is followed by a vowel other than /l=/
    or /@/.

When syllables CANNOT be stressed:

  * /l=/ and /@/ can never be stressed

  * A word cannot be stressed on the final syllable if it contains a
    short vowel.

  * Stress cannot appear on consecutive syllables in the same word.

Other stress rules:

  * Prefixes and suffixes do not modify the stress on the root, but an
    infix will often do so.

********************   Phonological Constraints   ********************

Constraints that apply within syllables only:

  * /r/ cannot be followed by a member of the rhotic series unless the
    syllable is stressed.

  * /t/ and /d/ cannot be followed by /l=/, and /l=/ can only appear
    in syllables where the syllable-final position is empty.

  * A member of the L-series or R-series cannot be followed by a
    member of the lateral series unless the syllable-final position is

  * /l/ cannot appear after /i/, /u/, /o:/ or /O:/.

Constraints that apply anywhere within a word:

  * Consecutive vowels and diphthongs are illegal.

  * Three consonants in a row are illegal unless both of the following
    apply: (a) the first is a nasal or velar stop, and (b) the
    following vowel is not /@/.

  * Consecutive stops are illegal unless the first is velar.

  * Consecutive fricatives are illegal unless place of articulation
    contrasts. Note that for this purpose, fricatives listed as
    labialised in the phonological inventory are deemed not to
    contrast with their non-labialised equivalents.

  * A nasal cannot be followed by /r/.

  * An alveolar stop may not appear between a member of the lateral
    series and /l/ or /l=/, nor may /tl/ be followed by /@/.

  * There are no geminated consonants. For a similar reason, /l/
    cannot appear after a member of the lateral series, nor can /l=/
    appear after /l/