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Enar-Cumainic
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History and Relation to Paleohispanic Languages
This public article was written by Yrieix Groulx, and last updated on 26 Jul 2017, 23:14.

[comments] Menu 1. Origins 2. Writing 3. Relationships with Paleohispanic Languages
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This article is a work in progress! Check back later in case any changes have occurred.


[top]Origins

Based on its similarities with Proto-Basque/Aquitanian and Iberian (see below), it is generally agreed that the Enar-Cumainic (EC) languages originated in north-central Iberia, most likely in what is now Asturias, Cantabria, and northern and eastern Castille. Migration of Indo-European groups, particularly Celts, pushed EC speakers eastward into present-day Galicia and northern Portugal, where they likely comprised the predominant ethno-linguistic group of the broader Castro Culture of the early Iron Age. By 500 BCE, however, they had been displaced by the Celtic Gallaecians, and sailed westward to the islands of Cumain, Gentina, and [whatever the Enari island is gonna be called]. Archeological evidence indicates that these islands were sparsely-populated by hunter-gatherers, who were largely assimilated or killed by the EC arrivals.

[top]Writing

Writing was first introduced to Cumain by Carthaginian traders and settlers, before spreading to Enar-Lentzic speaking areas. The earliest Cumainiesh and Enar-Lentzic scripts took the form of abjads, with somewhat inconsistent methods of rendering /f/ and /ɣ/; /ʒ/ and /v/ were represented with the same characters used for /j/ and /w/. Later Greek contact saw the introduction of new characters, most notably ɸ and vowels.

[top]Relationships with Paleohispanic Languages

Tavan Tsémmo's 1983 reconstruction of Proto-Enar-Cumainic, currently the most widely accepted, shows a number of similarities with Koldo Mitxelena's reconstruction of Proto-Basque, as well as surviving inscriptions in the Aquitanian and Iberian languages:
  • Absence of /p/ (Proto-Basque, Iberian)
  • Absence of final /l/ (Iberian)
  • Plosives always followed by vowels or semivowels (Iberian, Tartessian)
  • Contrast between two rhotics, most likely /r/ and /ɾ/
  • Genitive suffix -r (Iberian -ar)
  • Noun plural suffix -ki (Basque and possibly Iberian -k)
  • Possible contrast between apical and laminal alveolar fricatives and affricates (Proto-Basque)
  • A substantial number of loanwords from these languages, including elements of personal names


A substantial number of differences, however, suggest that Proto-Enar-Cumainic was unrelated to these languages, and was rather a member of the same Paleohispanic sprachbund. These include:
  • Addtion of /ə/ to the five-vowel system
  • Presence of /f/ and /x/
  • Presence of geminate nasals and sibilants
  • Presence of /m/
  • Extensive use of diphthongs and glides /j/ and /w/
  • A radically different number system (apart from PEC "bad" and Basque "bat", both meaning one)


Tsémmo tentatively suggested that the abundance of glides before and after consonants may have derived from plosives deleted in clusters that became illegal under the inlfuence of Tartessian and/or Iberian. The exact rules and patterns that would have governed this process remains unclear. Tsémmo himself also noted that this failed to account for the |hi| cluster, which is particularly common initially. A growing number of scholars, however, have cast doubt on Tsémmo's reconstruction of this as /xj~xʲ/, with many suggesting a palatal or alveolo-palatal fricative. A smaller number even hold that there were no stop-glide clusters in PEC, instead being palatal and labial stops whose varied outcomes in Cumainesh are the result of early dialect leveling.

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