Heichi: introduction and phonology
|From:||Tommaso R. Donnarumma <trd@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, January 23, 2001, 21:36|
Heichi ['heItSI] is a language I developed during 1999, while I was
not subscribed to this list. I am going to add a Heichi grammar to
my website, so I thought to also present the language here in daily
bits. Today, I'll start with a short introduction and an account
of the phonology -- tomorrow, we'll talk about the nouns.
As with all my languages, Heichi is a "personal language" or "model
language" project with an embedded fictional setting (although I
must admit that I did very little in this field).
My first source of inspiration for the Heichi language was Japanese
(while the Heichi as a civilization will bear little or no
relationship to the Japanese culture). I know very little about
Japanese (I've got a photocopy of the reprint of a very old --
perhaps late 1800s -- conversation guide with sketchy grammar notes),
but I've always liked it very much, and I've cuddled the dream to
make a Japanese-like language for long time.
Heichi is designed to resemble Japanese in its look, more than in
the actual sound, and mimics some of its allophonic patterns (for
example /tu/ -> [tsu], although Heichi /u/ is rounded). A few other
details of the language are also influenced by Japanese: the use of
postpositions and the fact that adjectives are stative verbs come to
my mind. All in all, though, I wanted (and hope to have achieved)
to refrain from just reproducing Japanese.
Other prominent features of Heichi include:
- split accusative/ergative marking for core cases
- minimal inflectional morphology for both nouns and verbs
- widespread use of (productive) compounding
But enough for an introduction: let's get to the phonology!
Heichi counts five short vowels and seven long vowels.
i u ii uu
e o ee oo
(Doubled vowels should really be single letters with a macron)
Both short and long /e/ and /o/ are open: [E(:)], [O(:)].
Long /ei/ and /ou/ are generally pronounced as [eI], [oU],
although [I:] and [U:] are found in some dialects.
Short /i/, /u/ and /a/ are generally tense [i], [u], [a]
except in unstressed final syllables, where they are
pronounced as [I], [U] and [@] respectively.
Contrary to what is found in Japanese, back vowels are always
The following consonantal phonemes are found:
b f m w
t d s n r
k g y
Most of the letters are pronounced more or less as if they
were the corresponding IPA characters; note that <y> is the
palatal glide [j].
Some consonants and clusters have allophonic variants in
front of certain vowels. These cases are also written
differently in the standard romanizations (but not in the
native script). They are:
t in front of i, ii --> ch [tS]
t " " " u, uu --> ts
g " " " i, ii --> j [d3]
f " " " i, ii, ei --> h
s " " " i, ii --> sh [S]
w " " " u, uu, ou --> h
kw " " " u, uu, ou --> ch
ky " " " i, ii --> cch [ttS]
gw " " " u, uu --> j
In general, the Heichi romanization patterns to the so-called
"Hepburn system" for Japanese, although the actual phones of
Heichi are at times different from that of Japanese.
<heichi> = /f ei t i/ = ['heItSI]
<muucchim> = /m u: k y i m/ = [mu:t'tSim]
Stress falls on the last syllable if it ends in /m/, /n/ or
/r/; on the penultimate syllable otherwise. Note that this
rule allows for such minimal pairs as atay ['at@j] (two
syllables) vs. atai [a'taI] (three syllables).
In compounds, the first element receives a weaker stress
than the second element.
The structure of Heichi words is (items in brackets are
[initial nex] + vowel + [middle nex + vowel]... + [final nex]
Any single consonant or the clusters /ky/ and /ry/ can appear
in word initial position. The middle nex can be zero (which
result in a hiatus), any single consonant, geminated /tt/, /kk/
or /nn/, a cluster of /n/, /y/ or /w/ plus any non-equal
consonant, or one of the clusters /mb/, /mr/, /ky/, /ry/, /kw/
or /gw/. In final position, only /m/, /n/, /w/, /r/ and /y/
Word-final /r/ is only pronounced if followed by a word
beginning in a vowel, otherwise it is dropped (although it
still causes the stress to shift rightwards). Contrast:
ikur eman [i'kur E'man]
ikur mae [i'ku 'mae]
That's all for today. Tomorrow, the nouns...
GLOSSOPOIESIS, "The hidden art of tongue making"
E-mail: email@example.com ICQ: Glossopoietes (#24209008)