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Re: Babel Text in Obrenje

From:Christian Thalmann <cinga@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 19, 2002, 17:47
--- In conlang@y..., jesse stephen bangs <jaspax@U...> wrote:

> Besides, Star Trek langs are bland because they're mostly ad-libbed > nonsense, and any language with some structure will do better.
Often, we only hear a few sentence of a given language, which doesn't give us much chance to see a structure. At least the phonologies could be more creative. They all sound like Spanish. Then again, the concept that aliens speak Spanish is just natural to Americans. ;-)
> > > Voiceless schwa? > > This is as good of a description as I can think of, given the information > that you have. Under a more sophisticated phonological analysis it might > turn out differently. With that in mind, though, consider where the > voiceless schwa can occur--all of your examples in the Babel text are > word-final. What, then, is its phonemic status?
It's not phonemic, and neither is the voiced schwa. The letter <e> is simply pronounced as schwa in unstressed syllables, and naturally loses its voice in a voiceless environment.
> Then think about > syllable onsets and codas, to decide whether it's systemically a consonant > or a vowel.
I see it as a vestigial vowel. It used to be pronounced as /E/ in Ancient Obrenje, and may still be nowadays if one wants to sound "Shakespeary". Even using the voiced schwa /@/ throughout will make you sound posh or overly formal.
> Actually, looking at the data in the Babel text, I have an analysis to > make: there is no underlying voiceless schwa. Rather, it's a rescue > strategy for taking care of unsyllabifiable final consonants. Based on > the examples in the Babel text, it appears that the only valid syllables > are CV, CV:, and CVC; there are no CV:C syllables and no coda > cluster--i.e. no syllable may have more than two morae.
Obrenje syllables are strictly (T)(S)V(C), where T is a stop, S a non-stop, V a vowel and C any consonant (though the syllable-final C may only be a stop if it's word-final or geminate). Vowel length is assigned to stressed vowels in open syllables, it's not phonemic. Minimal pairs like *mon /mOn/ and *mone /mo:n/ might appear to suggest a phonemic distinction, but the o in the second word is really only long because it's in an open syllable (* The final e may frequently not be pronounced, but still counts as a syllable of its own. In Obrenje, syllables and vowels have a one-on-one correspondence. Diphtongs are formed with the consonants j and w.
> However, there > are words in Obrenje that violate this principle in their underlying > lexical forms, and on the surface these are rescued with the voiceless > schwa: > > Underlying Surface > /s/ [s#] > /tS/ [tS#] > /varo:S/ ["varo:S#] > /ni:s/ [ni:s#] > /vikk/ ["vikk#]
Hmmm, I guess it's a valid theory, but not what I intended. I've always seen final -e as a residue from an older age where it was still pronounced as /E/ (which also explains why it palatizes consonants: *kos /kOs/ versus *kose /ko:S/). So the underlying form of /varo:S#/ is really / -- the schwa losing its voice due to the unvoiced /S/. Anyway, thanx for the interest. It sure helps against the feeling of talking against a wall that I get sometimes. ;-) -- Christian Thalmann