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Costanice Phonology Sketch

From:JS Bangs <jaspax@...>
Date:Friday, April 15, 2005, 3:43
As some people had requested, here's a sketch of the phonology of
Costanice. I have grammar sketches underway and an outline of the
sound changes, but those will have to wait until later.


The various regional dialects of Koine Greek begin to break up early
into Hellenic and Byzantine groups. When the Turks sacked
Constantinople in 1452, several hundred refugees speaking Byzantine
dialects were offered shelter by the Aragonese king, and set up a
community in Barcelona. From this point on the language was heavily
influence by Spanish. About 150 years later their descendants began to
emmigrate to South America where, after some oppression and a few
failed revolutions, they eventually got their own state speaking their
offshoot of Greek, now called Costanice ( < konstantinike:).


Pronounce everything as in Castillian Spanish, except that |c| is [tS]
before a front vowel, not [T]. [T] is always spelled |z|. Stress is
always penultimate unless marked with an accent.

(Actually, there's some difference with the vowels--see below.)

 p  t  k
 b  d  g
 f  T  x
 m  n
   l  r

Pronunciation is basically as in Spanish. Voiced stops are spirantized
between vowels, /r/ is a trill, etc. /v/ is marginal--it only occurs
intervocalically, and for most speakers is [B], i.e. identical to
intervocalic /b/.

/k/ and /g/ before front vowels become [tS] and [x] respectively.
Unlike in Spanish, this actually creates alternations within a
paradigm: /igo/ > [iGo], /ige/ > [ixe]. (That's "house" in the
nominative and dative, respectively.)

Sounds are spelled with their phonetic symbols (including /x/), except
that /T/ is spelled |z|. /k/ and /g/ are spelled |c| and |g| even when
alternating, so |cada ce igo giro| is ['ka.Da tSe 'i.Go '].


The only vowel phones are [i u e o a]. However, there are three
morphophonemic alternations involving [e] and two involving [o]. Each
of these morphophonemes has three allophones: one when in pre-tonic
syllables, one when in tonic (stressed) syllables, and one when in
post-tonic syllables. The alternations are:

/e/   i     e     e
/e:/  e    ie     e
/ei/  e     i     e
/o/   u     o     o
/o:/  o    ue     o

The symbols given in slashes represent the etymologies of each
alternation, although synchronically that's completely arbitrary.

Here's where the spelling gets weird. The vowels /e/ and /o/ are
always spelled |e| and |o|--therefore |e| and |o| should be pronounce
[i] and [u] when they occur before the stressed syllable. The vowels
/ei/ and /e:/ in pre-tonic syllables are spelled |ê|, and /o:/ is
spelled |ô|. (That's e-circumflex and o-circumflex in case you don't
see it correctly.) Thus, for example:
 docó   [du'ko]
 edoce  [i'Do.tSe]
 duego  ['dwe.Go]
 dôgano [do']
etc. I hope you get the idea.


This is my favorite part. Costanice abhors hiatus between vowels at
word-boundaries, and always resolves it either through epenthesis or
vowel-dropping. The nice part is that this process is lexical: some
words add a consonant, others drop a vowel.

The most usual epenthetic consonant is _n_. For example:
 to zruebo   the person
 ton igo     the house

But some words add a different, lexically determined consonant, such
as _huesga(r)_ which adds an /r/:
 Huesga sí    because you (sg)...
 Huesgar imas because you (pl)...

Other forms drop the vowel. The 2pl verbal conjugation is among these:
 poyide tudo   you (pl) do this
 poyíd arte?   you (pl) do what?
Note that the stress remains on the same syllable, so an accent mark
has to be written in the forms lacking final /e/.

Most interesting, though, is that some words alternate completely
based on liason. Most propositions and the present conjugation of _to
be_ are this way. Thus "from" is either _ap_ or _po_ depending on
whether or not the following word begins with a vowel:
 po tudos  from this one
 ap otos   from him
 sti tudo  It is this one.
 est oto   It is he.

For even more fun, these alternations can create a domino effect,
since the pre-vocalic form of the prepositions and "to be" do
themselves begin with a vowel. Eg:
 Arte sti po tudos?  What is from this one?
 Arten est ap otos?  What is from him?

JS Bangs

"I could buy you a drink
I could tell you all about it
I could tell you why I doubted
And why I still believe."
 - Pedro the Lion


Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>