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language of the Mandai: phonology

From:Tom Little <tom@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 13, 2002, 19:23

The proto-language had bilabials, alveolars, and velars, each of which
could be normal, labialized, or palatalized -- for a total of 9 series of
consonants. The labialized and palatalized bilabials do not survive in the
present language, but have left their effect on the quality of following
vowels. The original voiced fricatives merged with their plosive
counterparts, except for /z/, which merged with /s/. The labialized
alveolar approximants, /r\_w/ and /l_w/, became the approximant/vowel
combinations /r\u/ and /lu/. Likewise /r\_j/ and /lj/ became /r\i/ and /li/.

The result is a total of 30 consonant phonemes:


p /p/, b /b/

ph /p\/

m /m/


t /t/, d /d/

s /s/

n /n/

r /r\/

l /l/

Labialized Alveolars

tw /t_w/, dw /d_w/

sw /s_w/

nw /n_w/

Palatalized Alveolars

tj /t_j/, dj /d_j/

sj /s_j/

nj /n_j/


k /k/, g /g/

kh /x/

ng /N/

Labialized Velars

kw /k_w/, gw /g_w/

khw /x_w/

ngw /N_w/

Palatalized Velars

kj /k_j/, gj /g_j/

khj /x_j/

ngj /N_j/


The vowels are a /A/, i /i/, e /V/, o /o/, ù /U/, and u /u/. The vowel /A/
forms both rising and falling diphthongs with both /i/ and /u/: ai, au, ia,
ua. In the early language, /A/ followed by any nasal consonant at the end
of a word came to be pronounced /A~/, which speakers hear as /An/.


All syllables are of the form (C)V (or (C)VV if the consonant is an
alveolar approximant), except that the final syllable of a word may be
(C)VC, derived from (C)V + Ce in the proto-language. Stress usually, though
not always, depends on the vowel, a receiving the strongest stress,
followed by u, i, o and ù, with e receiving the weakest stress.

Tom Little         
Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA)
Telperion Productions


Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Tom Little <tom@...>