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Historical phonology of Ngeyvic
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Vaahʔleh Luluo, 1918
This public article was written by protondonor, and last updated on 19 Oct 2019, 19:07.

[comments] Menu 1. Historical phonology of Ngeyvic languages 2. Inventory of sounds of Proto-East Mirarian 3. Inventory of sounds of Ngeyv 4. Correspondences 5. Complex correspondences: the velar series 6. Sound changes from Proto-East Mirarian to Ngeyv 7. Footnotes The following article is a translation of Ngeyv linguist Vaahʔleh Luluo's seminal 1918 article linking Ngeyv to the East Mirarian family. Luluo's prolix and somewhat distracting footnotes and asides, omitted by previous translators of his work, have been translated as well. The appendix, which contains about 250 Ngeyv etyma with their Proto-East Mirarian correspondences, is much too large to fit within this paper. A translation is forthcoming, but in the meantime I would recommend Taamargeh Baadseiķaa's excellent Etymological Dictionary of the Ngeyvic Inherited Lexicon (2012, University of Rehleysa Press).

Note that the information in this article is based on a very old reconstruction of Proto-East Mirarian. It does not closely resemble the  Proto-East-Mirarian reconstructions used in modern Mirarian linguistics; in particular, it restricts vowels in post-initial syllables, and many of its symbols, such as *tł and *h, are no longer in use.

This reconstruction was proposed by the Achiyitqan linguist Téenolagiwniɥ nauSíyahs, who vanished completely from Sahar in 1896 in an expedition in northeast Koize, in an attempt to document a purported East Mirarian genus restricted to that area. When future linguists and anthropologists successfully scouted the area, they found only North Mahavic, Eastern Ngeyvic, and Maakpauean peoples, and a Vodholk population who communicated only via manual language and a Mahavic-based pidgin (which has since been supplanted by standardized North Mahavic varieties). The history of linguistic and anthropological research in this region is no doubt fascinating, and readers interested in that area are encouraged to purchase or borrow a copy of The nauSíyahs Affair (1986) by Areuhatz Menazoneu (Menazoneu Areuhatz in the traditional order).

[top]Historical phonology of Ngeyvic languages

The Ngeyvic languages are a small language family of Northwestern Miraria. Prominent among them is the Ngeyv language, of official status in Ngeyvger and in some subdivisions in western Koize. Seeing as there is a great amount written in the Ngeyv language, and very little else written in its sisters, this language will form the core of my argument, although other Ngeyvic languages are of course of key import to the historical study of this family.1 The status and affiliation of the Ngeyvic language has been debated; some scholars have considered them to be isolated, with any resemblance to East Mirarian due to areal influences and substantial contact, while others have proposed an affiliation with the East Mirarian family2. Even others have proposed a relation to Maakpauean, or to the languages of the Vodholk, but these have mostly originated from sources of little philological sophistication and gained very little traction. In this paper, I aim to conclusively prove that the prior associations of Ngeyvic with the East Mirarian family are correct.

Rather than compare Ngeyv directly against Mahavic, Hedretic, et cetera, this study will compare Ngeyv directly against the most complete reconstruction available for Proto-East Mirarian.3 This is an unfortunate necessity, since as has been mentioned, the state of the literature on Ngeyvic outside Ngeyv is quite poor, and a reconstruction of Ngeyvic itself is not available.

[top]Inventory of sounds of Proto-East Mirarian

As a reminder, the sounds of Proto-East Mirarian are as follows:


The reconstructed vocalic inventory differs between the first syllable and subsequent syllables of the word. In the first syllable, the permitted vowels are numerous:
Vowels of the initial syllable

In subsequent syllables, only the vowels a ə are permitted.

[top]Inventory of sounds of Ngeyv

For those unfamiliar, an overview of the sounds of modern Ngeyv:


And as to the vowels:
Vowels of Ngeyv

There is, as with Proto-East Mirarian, a distinction of length as well; however, only the cardinal vowels i a u make this distinction. The other vowels, when phonologically long, appear in "broken" form, usually as opening diphthongs, e.g. ie uo ʉə, but sometimes as the reverse.

The Ngeyv language has an unusual form of harmonization between the vowels, in which the vowels of a root are all either back, front, or central (with the exclusion of a, which may act as a member of each of these categories). When a suffix (or in those rare occasions, prefix) is attached to the word, its vowels match the vowels of the root. However, when a compound is formed between two roots, or between derivatives of the two roots, the first root keeps its vowel quality, and if the second root is of a different quality, its quality becomes central. This can be seen in compounds such as guɂlķʉʉd, which is formed with the stems guɂl and ķiid. Understanding of this harmony is not necessary for the argument presented, but the relation between Ngeyvic vowel harmony and East Mirarian vowel harmony is often considered suggestive of a relationship.


To verify that Ngeyv is a genetic member of the East Mirarian family, as opposed to one merely adopted by its heavy use of loanwords, we must assemble a series of regular correspondences between their phonemes. As follows is a table of these correspondences, together with an example. A full list of Ngeyv words of direct East Mirarian ancestry, and the correspondences thereof, shall be detailed in the appendix.

*mmmiraggəŋ ~ miraagŋ 'claw'biima ~ biema 'day'niigʷəm ~ nieģm 'nose'
*nnniigʷəm ~ nieģm 'nose'maanapə ~ maanaap 'bark'kʷelən ~ ķieɂln 'fish'
*nņnüsəŋ ~ ņiesŋ 'bed'
ŋŋuugəŋ ~ ŋuogŋ 'noise'maŋa ~ maŋa 'tundra'miraggəŋ ~ miraagŋ 'claw'
*jyjuubən ~ yuuvn 'snowflake'tujəŋ ~ tuoyuŋ 'acorn'
*wvwütłə ~ voķ 'mountain'
*pp appa ~ ŋaapa 'mother'hiigʷəp ~ ɂiegp 'baby'
*bbbiima ~ biema 'day'
*tttujəŋ ~ tuoyuŋ 'acorn' mehət ~ mieɂt 'sun'
*ddduuhla ~ duoɂla 'breeze'üdən ~ ŋʉədn 'ski'läŋgʷəd ~ laaŋgd 'air'
*kkkiilləŋ ~ kielŋ 'tongue'ıkkəsə ~ ŋʉəks 'rope'
qkussəh ~ quosh 'tail'
*gggillə ~ giel 'tooth'ŋuugəŋ ~ ŋuogŋ 'noise'gʷuug ~ guog 'wife'
hgusaamə ~ husaam 'aurora'kügəs ~ kʉəhs 'neck'
*kʷqkussəh ~ quosh 'tail'kaakt- ~ qaaqt 'sleep'
ķkʷelən ~ ķieɂln 'fish'
*gʷggʷomə ~ guom 'husband'hiigʷəp ~ ɂiegp 'baby'
ģgʷümmə ~ ģiem 'breast'niigʷəm ~ nieģm 'nose'
*sssiihas ~ sieɂas 'mouth'kussəh ~ quosh 'tail'siihas ‣ sieɂas
*zrzäpəmə ~ raapm 'lip'mizəta ~ mierta 'wind'üz ~ ŋʉr 'flower'
s mıłəŋŋəŋ ~ mʉəɂs 'blood'
s nušamə ~ nusaam 'skin'spuš ~ pus 'elder'
*hɂhiigʷəp ~ ɂiegp 'baby'leehčə ~ lieɂķ 'dog'
*hh kussəh ~ quosh 'tail'
*tłķtłisəttəŋ ~ ķiestŋ 'club'wütłə ~ voķ 'mountain'
ķ leehčə ~ lieɂķ 'dog'
*llläŋgʷəd ~ laaŋgd 'air'kʷelən ~ ķieɂln 'fish'ŋool ~ ŋuol 'pinecone'
*rrrıınə ~ rʉən 'ice'miraggəŋ ~ miraagŋ 'claw'meehar ~ mieɂar 'valley'
∅-ŋappa ~ ŋaapa 'mother'

As one can see plainly, the similarities between the reconstructed forms and the modern Ngeyv forms are uncanny. I postulate that the recognition of Ngeyvic as an East Mirarian family has been hindered by a failure to properly compile basic vocabulary from a single Ngeyvic variety and carefully investigate the correspondences therein; for too long have some scholars viewed these as mere loanwords in an isolated language, rather than the backbone of the language around which a variety of substrata or novel etyma (perhaps Vodholk, perhaps Maakpauean, perhaps even Qgamic or from some family which left us no other trace) have gathered themselves.

[top]Complex correspondences: the velar series

A special note must be made about the correspondences between the Proto-East Mirarian velars and the modern Ngeyv forms. These are complicated correspondences, to be sure, which have hitherto baffled many a would-be philologist. Key to their reconstruction is the recognition of other Ngeyvic languages (or dialects, or varieties), a keystone to the Ngeyvic puzzle which, as I have elaborated on, has eluded many of my colleagues and predecessors, especially those who have not had the good fortune to work directly on Ngeyvic minority languages in the field. To wit, some Ngeyv words of East Mirarian origin, such as ŋielt "eagle", from Proto-East Mirarian *giltə, are neither loanwords from other East Mirarian languages (as is commonly supposed), nor part of the direct Ngeyv inheritance from East Mirarian. Instead, these are borrowings from other Ngeyvic languages, such as in this case, from Kyorek ielt (this word was borrowed before a sound change which added a prothetic ŋ- to each vowel-initial word of Ngeyv). There are several such words which complicate and confound attempts at reconstruction, and I hope to expound upon them all in a forthcoming article4.

As can be seen from the above table, each of the original velars, *k *g *kʷ *gʷ, has two reflexes. These reflexes are conditioned by proximity to a palatal or non-palatal vowel (usually following, but in some cases preceding, as when the velar occurs in the medial position). Ngeyv q is the non-iotated reflex of both *k *kʷ. This is the only reflex which can be produced under the same environment by the same ancestral phoneme, a situation which makes it exceedingly hard to reconstruct without the careful aid of other East Mirarian languages. Fortunately, the other velar reflexes do not pose the same conundrum. The Ngeyv consonant g can be a reflex of *g and *gʷ both, but in the former case it only occurs before a palatalizing vowel, and in the latter case only before a back vowel. The modern Ngeyv palatals, ķ ģ can only be found as iotated reflexes of the labiovelars, and the non-iotated reflexes of the ordinary velars are q h. Presumably, at one point h, or at least the one arising from this context (and not from *h) was in fact a voiced post-velar consonant of some variety, which has both become devoiced and moved forward to a velar position.

[top]Sound changes from Proto-East Mirarian to Ngeyv

Now, having expounded on the respective phonological systems of Proto-East Mirarian and Ngeyic and their consonant correspondences, and having illuminated the most deceptive and difficult of those correspondences, we are ready to demonstrate the sound changes, in total, that have transformed the ancient language of East Miraria into the modern Ngeyv tongue. This segment shall conclude the paper, and it is my humblest and most fervent hopes that this essay shall increase the understanding of East Mirarian philology, and grant greater cooperation between my own country and the esteemed countries of my fellows of the East Mirarian culture.

1. Laryngeal fortition
h → ɂ except word-finally

2. Deaffrication and shift of the coronal affricates, and delateralization of the lateral spirants
tł, č → ķ
ł → s

3. Dissimilation of liquids and rhotacization
r → l % _Vz
z → r
w → v

4. Metathesis of low vowel and liquids
a{l, r}a → aa{l, r} (unless the first vowel was already long)

5. Lengthenings and shortenings
ə: → ə
V → V: / _C*ə (only applies to monophthongs)
V → V: / _C² (only applies to monophthongs)
ə → ∅ in second and later syllables
C: → C

6. Simplification of initial clusters
C → / _C word-initially

7. Outcome of the velars
kʷ, gʷ → k, g in a cluster with ŋ
kʷ, gʷ → ķ, ģ / _C, eiü
k, g → q, h / _{u, ı, o, a}
kʷ, gʷ → k, g

8. Outcome of the nasals, including prothetic initial velar nasal
n → ņ / _ü
∅ → ŋ / _V word initially
sŋ → ɂs / _#

9. Outcome of the vowels
ı → i / {ķ, ņ, ģ}_
ä → a
uu, oo → uo
ee → ie / _
ii → ie / _
ıı → ʉə / _
üü → ie / {ķ, ņ, ģ}_
üü → ʉə / _
ü → ʉ / _
ı → i / _


1 As a native of Ngeyvger and a linguist, the neglect of Ngeyvic's smaller languages, frequently characterized as "dialects" or "patois", pains me; however, the project of comparative historical reconstruction of a language family necessitates a certain amount of lexical data, with great confidence in that data, an amount and surety which could not at present be gained by studying the smaller languages of Ngeyvic, without the aid of substantial fieldwork. Students take note—there may yet be an opportunity here for fieldwork, not at all lucrative materially, but lucrative to the mind and spirit, and gainful to the collective understanding of the Mirarian nations.

2 For the view that Ngeyvic is an isolate, see "A Survey of the Languages of Northern Miraria, Including Koize, Achiyitqana, and Ngeyvger, With Special Emphasis on the Family Known as Hedreto-Mahavic" Eironeu O., 1867. For the view that Ngeyvic is East Mirarian, see "The East Mirarian or Hedreto-Mahavic Family", Aneha Z., Annals of the Mirarian Philological Society, 1912. For the view that Ngeyvic is Maakpauean or Vodholk, I shall not dignify sources by a citation, but instead instruct you to look to your local purveyors of vulgarized sciences. The editors of this fine publication have informed me that to expound on my true opinion of this idea and those who propound it would be most unprofessional, so I shall refrain from commenting further.

3 I am referring, of course, to Téenolagiwniɥ nauSíyahs's seminal reconstruction, of which the most complete publication is the posthumous A Reconstruction of Hedreto-Mahavic, published by Nällenk University Press in 1900. While later publications have improved on the fashionability and trendiness of this reconstruction, such as giving it the new name Proto-East Mirarian (reflecting the increased understanding of the potential geographic center of the origins of this family), none have matched its quality and scholarship. Even this publication, should I manage to prove what Téenolagiwniɥ merely conjectured, is unlikely to substantially shift the reconstruction in any way, such is their thorough scholarship.

4 Translator's note: this article would eventually be published in 1920 in Achiyitqan as "Ngeyv etymological frustrations," in the journal Mirarian Philology.

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