Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Vowelless languages

From:Brian Betty <bbetty@...>
Date:Thursday, April 8, 1999, 21:03
Patrick wrote: "Mmm.  Tell me more about these vowelless languages.  I like
the idea a lot."

Well, I need to get a book out to cite, so check out "The Papuan Languages
of New Guinea."

Basically, vowels in non-vowel languages of the Sepik Basin arise from 1.
semivowels (y,w) or are inserted to break up consonant clusters. They are
highly conditioned by surrounding consonants, so (for example) the word tk
is /t@k/, but tw is /tuw/ and ty /tiy/ and the like. These vowels vary
under stress, too.

It's possible to imagine pace Lehman such a thing happening in PIE:
anaptyctic @ in stress environments becomes e under stress, then that e > o
when the stress shifts. That makes sense given the paucity of vowels. Check
out Lehmann - he even explains the different stages of PIE, which is what
makes his book neat, even if a little 'pushy.'

"You know what I blame this on the breakdown of? Society!!"
        - Moe, "The Simpsons"
Everyone thinks I'm psychotic, except for my friends deep inside the earth.
Only 270 shopping days left before the end of the world.
James E Johnson, 1920-1999