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Tesäfcüm phonology sketch (formerly S11)

From:Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Date:Monday, June 20, 2005, 16:30

My new conlang sketch with the project name S11 is now called

Especially for Arthaey's list: the phonemes are /te.s&f.kym/,
realisation is something similar to [tes&fcym]. :-)

I haven't worked out what it means :-), but it's a noun + affix

  tesäq + fûm   >(vowel harmony & metathesis & sandhi)> tesäfcüm
  noun    affix

To remind you of what I indend to implement: the language's clauses
will be (mainly) composed of serial verb constructions (SVC), and
there are intransitive verbs only, which could be interpreted as
postpositions, since they fuse with the noun.  The basic morphology
will be:

   (clitic)* + noun + (affix)* + verb + (affix)* + (clitic)*

Probably there will be another open lexical class that can take the
same position as such a noun-verb compound.  (Usually lexicalised
stuff that are adverbs like 'today' in English etc.)

There are *a lot* of sandhi and harmony rules, involving vowel and
consonant mutation as well as metathesis.  This is the fun part in
a language with a complex morphology. :-)

Only a few of the rules will be listed now, since a lot of stuff is
not properly worked out yet.  I'll start with the vowels:

    Grapheme         Phoneme
    i ü    ï u    |  i y    M u
    e ö    ë o    |  e 2    7 o
      ä    a      |    &    A

    y is used to represent an epenthetic schwa that hasn't yet
    decided how to realise.  It will be one of the vowels above,
    and not realised as [@] or something.

    (Originally I had y and ÿ, too, for [1] and [u\], resp., but
    I decided that I have enough vowels already.)

    I think there'll be neither diphthongs nor phonemic length.

Inside words, the phonemes may not be arbitrary, but are restricted by
surrounded context.  Here's a list of the three major harmony rules.

Harmony 1: front-back:

    Grapheme  Realisation
    í       i   ï
    ú       ü   u
    é       e   ë
    ó       ö   o
    á       ä   a
    k/q     k   q

    - H1 occurs in verb stems: vowels in verb stems in the lexicon are thus
      always given with acute accents to show they are subject to this type of

    - r adjusts to the vowels around it [x ~ X], but does not influence them.

    - The consonants k and q adjust according to a directly adjacent vowel.
      If available, k with acute accent is used to mark this, otherwise
      q is used adjacent to á,ú,ó and k is used adjacent to í and é.
      This k/q-vowel harmony is always obbeyed, even in lexicalised

       noun + verb
       kim  + ún    -> kimün
       kem  + ún    -> kemün
       ki   + qún   -> kikün
       ke   + qún   -> kekün
       qa   + kén   -> qaqën

Harmony 2: close-open:
   This usually occurs additional to harmony 1.

    Grapheme  Realisation
    î or ê    i   e      (in case of front harmony)
    î or ê    ï   ë      (in case of back  harmony)
    û or ô    ü   ö      (in case of front harmony)
    û or ô    u   o      (in case of back  harmony)

   - H2 occurs in derivational endings: thus in derivational
     endings, vowel have circumfixed vowels in the lexicon.

   - H2 occurs alone in clitic endings, i.e., without harmony 1.
     Lexicon entries of clitics do not mark this harmony.

   - a/ä do not participate in this harmony: they never change
     and don't effect vowels.
     Note that if there is *any* vowel in the preceding word that
     effects this harmony, vowels will adjust even if the directly
     preceding one in a or ä.  Because of a/ä, it is
     necessary to distinguish î from ê in the lexicon.

      noun    + affix               noun    + clitic
      ---------------------         ------------------------
      kim     + ûn    -> kimün      kim     + un    -> kimun
      kem     + ûn    -> kemön      kem     + un    -> kemon
      kam     + ûn    -> kamun      kam     + un    -> kamun
      kim     + ôn    -> kimün      kim     + on    -> kimun
      kem     + ôn    -> kemön      kem     + on    -> kemon
      kam     + ôn    -> kamon      kam     + on    -> kamon
      kintäm  + ôn    -> kintämün   kintäm  + un    -> kintämun

Harmony 3: unrounded-rounded:
     i    ü
     ï    u
     e    ö
     ë    o
     h    f
     ng < m   : ng is never changed, only m after unrounded vowel

   - a/ä do not participate in this harmony (thus not in the
     vowel/consonant harmony either)

   - Any stem or affix will always obey this type of harmony
     internally.  Therefore, it is not explicitly marked: the
     lexicon entries already reflect the realisation.  It
     is usually not triggered across morpheme boundaries.

   - However, this harmony always triggers consonant mutation
     if necessary.  This might change the word the affix
     is attached to and might trigger more changes inside that
     word.  See below.

- All harmonies propagate in the direction of affixation, i.e. mainly
  from left to right.  Only a few clitics are prefixed and then, the
  harmony direction is right to left.

- Vowel-consonant harmony only occurs in direct contact of the phones.

- A noun stem switches whether the word (without clitics) is front or
  back, i.e., noun stems and derivation will agree.  Noun stems also
  obbey all vowel-consonant harmonies internally.
  (This is not true for nounstem + l + nounstem derivation, for which
  no harmony occurs.)

- Roundedness of vowels and h/f consonants must always agree if
  directly adjacent and will change the affix/clitic in harmony
      h/f special effect          normal
      noun + affix          BUT:  noun + affix
      -------------------         ---------------------
      pü   + hîn -> püfün         pü   + sîn   -> püsin
      pë   + hîn -> pëhën         pë   + sîn   -> pësën
      pü   + fûn -> püfün         pü   + sûn   -> püsün
      pë   + fûn -> pëhën         pë   + sûn   -> pëson

That's it for now -- I think this is long enough.  Epenthetic schwa
and consonants will follow.

Oh, and before giving longer examples, I'll have to implement all this
in Perl or Lisp or something...  :-)


Bye, bye,