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Kash phonology I

From:Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Date:Sunday, January 28, 2001, 6:13
Bear in mind that the Kash resemble humans only in being upright and
bilaterally symmetrical.  Larger skull, heavier bones, larger/wider mouth
and tongue, thinner and less mobile lips, differently shaped sinus cavities,
thicker vocal folds etc. -- their voices would hardly sound like ours.

Most of the phonology is pretty well settled and unlikely to change.

There are 20 consonant phonemes (one of limited occurence) and 5 vowels.  In
the order of the Kash alphabet (Romanization in quotes, the approximate IPA
if necessary,  and description):

1. "h" [x] voiceless velar fricative-- varies somewhat depending on
surrounding vowels, but not so noticeably as Germ. ach-/ich-laut.  .
2. "k" voiceless velar stop, unaspirated.
3. "ng" [Ng] voiced prenasalized velar stop, or a cluster, as in 'bingo'.
All 4 nasalized stops are considered units; they are syllable-initial, and
written with a single character.  But they only occur medially; and they
affect vowel allophony and reflect historic clusters.
4. "-ñ" [N] velar nasal, word final only; reverts to palatal [ñ] if a vowel
is suffixed--probably the result of spelling pronunciation.. The "ñ"
character for /-N/ was adopted long ago to simplify type-fonts (it would not
otherwise be used in final position).  An "N" char. exists in the general
Kash alphabet, and is used in those related langs. that still retain /N/ in
all positions.
5. "sh" [S] voiceless alveo-palatal fricative, Engl. "sh"
6. "c" [tS] voiceless alveo-palatal affricate, unasp., Engl. or Span. "ch"
7. "nj" [ndZ]  voiced prenasalized a-p affricate, as in "banjo"
8. "ñ" alv-palatal nasal, Span.ñ (as [N] in word final, see above)
9. "y" [j] voiced alv-palatal approximant/semi-vowel, like Engl. "yes" with
perhaps a bit more friction.  As a transitional glide in i/e_V, or (writing
convention) a_i it is barely enunciated.
10. "s" voiceless alveolar (for some, dental) fricative, closest to Engl.
/s/ though can be mis-heard as /T/, from which it descends, historically.
11. "t" voicless alveolar/dental stop, unasp., closest to Span. /t/
12. "nd" voiced alveolar (seldom dental) prenasalized stop, cf. Engl.
13. "n" alveolar nasal.
14. "r" voiced alveloar trill (in fast speech, just a tap) like Span. /rr/
or /r/
15. "l" voiced alv. lateral, "bright l" as in Spanish-- never  velarized as
in Engl. "law, full".  In / i_i / it is palatalized [lj] (or is the correct
symbol [L]-- in any case, Castillian /ll/, Italian "-gli-")
16. "f" [P] or [f] voiceless bilabial or labio-dental fricative.  If
bilabial, the lips are quite close together and tensed; if lab-dent., the
lower teeth contact the _inner_ surface of the upper lip (different mouth
17. "p" voiceless bilabial stop, unasp.
18. "mb" voiced bilabial prenasalized stop
19. "m" bilabial nasal
20. "v" [B] or [v] voiced bilabial or lab-dental fricative.  See comments
sub "f".
(20a. "w" non-phonemic; transitional glide separating /u/o/ from a following
vowel, or to separate /a/ from a following /u/o/.  A writing convention; it
is barely enunciated.

VOWELS  (generally equivalent to Spanish vowels, except as noted):
1."a" low central ~ back, unrounded.  May be reduced to schwa or [V] (US
cup, but, sofa) in word or phrase final.
2. "i" high front close.  (Lips slightly spread for both /i/ and /e/)
3. "e" mid front close [e] in open syllables; lower open [E] in closed
syllables, before /r/, the NC, and stop+r clusters; so mesa ['mesa] 'one',
keli ~ ket ['keli] ~ [kEt] 'six', lero ['lEro] 'day', engol ['ENgol] 'hull
(boat)', cetre ['tSEtre] 'married', yendren ['jEndrEn] 'to spin'.  Open
syllable [E] in ende ['EndE] 'and then..., and so...' is an exception.
4. "u" high back close.  Both /u/ and /o/ "sound like" our rounded vowels
[u] and [o], but they are not rounded.
5. "o" mid/low back, somewhat open-- approx. as in US Engl. more, for,  and
IMO Span./..orC../, cf. como vs. corte-- thus, between pure [o] and [O].  By
default, better [o] then [O].

Long enough for now.  More, much more, to come.