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Gweydr and English Lax Vowels

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Saturday, February 28, 2009, 23:57
A curious solution occurred to me to a problem I'd been having
with Gweydr tense suffixes.

In Gweydr, there's an ATR vowel harmony system where, for
example, you have vowel correspondences such as the following:

i ~ I
e ~ E
u ~ U
o ~ O
y ~ Y


I'd run into a problem with certain verbs and tense suffixes.  So,
for example, you have verbs like this (present tense singular
forms shown):

rIn "I sleep"
rInl= "you sleep"
rInt "s/he/it sleeps"

Due to regular phonological rules, though, the vowel of the
stem changes in, for example, the first person plural present,
and first person singular past I:

riniks "we sleep"
rini "I slept"

Here, the stem vowel has changed from [I] to [i], on account
of the open syllable.  This occurs for *all* verb stems like this.

On the face of it, there's nothing wrong with this, of course: I
simply don't want it.  I'd like it to remain this way for a number
of older, irregular verbs, but not for *every* verb stem of the
form CVC.  Instead, I'd like there to be a bit more regularity--
especially for verbs that come into the language at a stage
when this isn't so much a synchronic phonological sound change,
but a morphological rule.  (Oh, and, of course, this is also a
problem with regular noun pluralization in various cases.)

It occurred to me that there was a solution, and that it came
from English: The orthography!

In a number of languages, I have a ruler that destroys geminates
(they existed at one point in time, but they do no longer).  If
enough time has passed that the idea of an actual geminate
is no longer available to a speaker, they might use the orthographic
geminate to create a [-ATR] vowel, much the way English does
in a word like "sin":

Present: sin [sIn]
Past: sinned [sInd]
Past Part.: sinned [sInd]
Gerund: sinning [sInin]

Phonologically, "sin" is a completely regular verb.  Orthographically,
though, it is irregular: it belongs to a class of words that double
the final consonant in the past, past participle and gerund forms.
Not only that, but if the orthography were to change, the pronunciation
would change:

Present: sin [sIn]
Past: sined [sajnd]
Past Part.: sined [sajnd]
Gerund: sining [sajnin]

The irregular orthography, then, produces a regular phonological
pattern.  And it occurred to me that the same might be done
with Gweydr:

rIn [rIn] "I sleep"
rInl [rInl=] "you sleep"
rInt [rInt] "s/he/it sleeps"
rInnIks [rInIks] "we sleep"
rInnI [rInI] "I slept"

On an English note, it occurred to me: I don't recall learning this
rule about consonant doubling in school (e.g. sin > sinning, not
sining).  Since it's a purely orthographic rule, though, I would
have *had* to have learned it in school (if not there, where else?).
Plus, I don't recall having trouble with this.  Every English-speaking
child goes through the inappropriate regular past tense phase
("hurted", "hitted", "cutted", "keeped", etc.), but I don't recall
having trouble with the consonant doubling.  It seems like a
pretty solid rule.  Does this gel with other English speakers'

"sunly eleSkarez ygralleryf ydZZixelje je ox2mejze."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison


Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Paul Kershaw <ptkershaw@...>