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Introduction and Þēwthàj Phonology

From:Kevin Athey <kevindeanathey@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 19:38
Hello, all.  I'm more or less new to CONLANG, and I'm entirely new to
posting, so I'll introduce myself first.  I'm Athey.  I have an
undergraduate degree in linguistics, and I'm pushing towards dropping the
prefix in that clause.  I have been making up languages for literally longer
than I remember.  When I visit my mother's home, I still periodically find
notebooks filled with languages I don't remember making, dating from
elementary school.  None of them are actually good, of course, but they make
interesting and rather introspective reading.

I have several conlang projects cooking right now.  I'd like your input on
the one I'm most proud of.  (My non-languisticky friends are sick of me
talking about it.)  The name of this beast is Þ&#275;wthàj.  The
transliteration scheme may seem a little unwieldy at first, but the
alternative romanization is atrocious.  (Tho1taq4)

I'll toss you all the phonology, now.

Þ&#275;wthàj has, very roughly, bilabial, apical, laminal, velar, and
glottal places of articulation.  It has a full set of oral stops, a set of
fricatives not including the glottal, and a set of glides not including the
velar (/h/ is counted as a glide for sonority reasons).  The "velar
fricative" is actually uvular and the apical glide sounds like a
pharyngealized dental lateral in onset position.  There is also /s/ between
/þ/ and /&#351;/ and a nasal stop which is bilabial in onset position and
either homorganic (to the following consonant) or coronal in coda position.
The chart with my preferred transliteration looks like this:

p t - &#355; c '
f þ s &#351; j -
w l - y - h

All syllables must have an onset, which is either a single consonant, or an
oral stop plus a glide (excluding /ty/ and /&#355;l/, but including all the
combinations with /'/).  A coda may not contain an oral stop.  In
coda-position, /l/ is written |r|, and /m/ is written |n| to more accurately
represent pronunciation.  /h/ is actually [x] in coda position, but this is
not rendered orthographically.

In underlying form, Þ&#275;wthàj has three vowels, differentiated by height.
  I have rendered them /i/, /e/, and /a/.  Before most codas, they are
central.  However, the combination /iw/ is pronounced [u:], /iy/ is [i:],
/ew/ is [EU], and /ey/ is [EI].  /i/ is fronted to [I] before /h/, and there
are a couple other trivial allophonic variations of the vowels, but that
should do.

Þ&#275;wthàj also has tonal distinctions.  Syllables are either "clipped" or
"full".  All clipped syllables are open and have a low [2] tone.  Clipped
syllables must always be followed by a full syllable.  Full syllables are
normally closed, although those with the vowel /a/ may also be open.  Full
syllables have four possible tones:  mid [33], high [55], rising [35] and
falling [42].  There is very simple tone sandhi whereby 33+35 becomes 3324,
33+33 becomes 3322, 35+55 becomes 3544, 55+55 becomes 5544, and 42+2 becomes

All true roots, excluding inflections, are either a single full syllable
(most roots) or a clipped syllable followed by a full syllable (a few
roots).  The few inflections that exist are all clipped syllable prefixes.
As you may see, this can lead to a certain amount of homophony.  Most actual
words are bimorphemic or even trimorphemic, as in Chinese.  There are even
quite a few true roots which cannot occur free and are no longer even

That is all for now.  Tell me what you think.


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Kevin Athey <kevindeanathey@...>
Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>