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Proto-East-Mirarian phonology
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The reconstructed phonology of Proto-East-Mirarian
This public article was written by ava, and last updated on 24 Aug 2019, 03:29.

[comments] Menu 1. Consonants 2. Vowel inventory
This article is a work in progress! Check back later in case any changes have occurred.


m /m/
n /n/
(ñ /ɲ/)
ŋ /ŋ/
p /p/
t /t/
(ć /t͡ɬ/)
c /t͡ʃ~c/
k /k/
kʷ /kʷ/
q [ʔ~h]1
b /b/
d /d/
(j /d͡ʒ~ɟ/)
g /g/
gʷ /gʷ/
s /s/
ś /ɬ/
š /ʃ/
z /z/
y /j/
x /x/2
w /w/
r /r/
l /l/

1 while the segment *q was likely present, its status as a distinct phoneme has been challenged. It can usually only be reconstructed morpheme initially, which would make it in contemporary distribution with *x, which does not occur in that position. However, it appears to have existed intervocalically in some compound words.
2 while *x was phonetically most likely a velar fricative, it patterns with the glides *y *w.

The consonants in grey - *ñ, *j, *ć - are considered dubious, with few satisfactory roots to back them up. While the affricate *ć is reconstructed readily, there is limited evidence to support it as a distinct phoneme it from the fricative *ś, which does not appear geminated or in consonant clusters. *ñ was often reconstructed historically but many of the roots involved have now been put down to inter-branch loanwords, with the vast majority of the remaining examples being constructed as the cluster /nj/.

Consonant length is contrastive in Proto-East-Mirarian, though there are limitations on which consonants it applies to. As a general rule, neither voiced obstruents nor the glides may be lengthened. In environments where geminates would otherwise be expected, the voiced obstruents *b *d *z (*j) *g instead appear as nasal + stop clusters, i.e. *mb *nd *nz (*ñj) *ŋg. The glides *j *x *w are not affected by lengthening processes at all.

[top]Vowel inventory

The precise identities of Proto-East-Mirarian vowels has been difficult to assess. One interpretation reconstructs eight vowels in initial syllables along with a system of palatal vowel harmony.
i /i/
ü /y/
ı /ɯ/
u /u/
e /e ~ æ/
ö /ø/
a /ɑ/
o /o/

i, y, e, ø
ɯ, u, o, ɑ
i, e
ɯ, ɑ

A system of harmony based on retracted tongue root harmony has also been suggested.
i /i/
ü /u/
ı /ɪ/
u /ʊ/
ə /ə/
ö /o/
a /a/
o /ɔ/

i, u, ə, o
ɪ, ʊ, a, ɔ
i, ə
ɪ, a

These opposing interpretations agree on the reconstruction of four vowels in non-initial syllables, however - two high and two low vowels, all unmarked for roundness. These can be represented as two archiphonemic vowels |A| and |I|, which assimilate to [æ ɑ], [i ɯ] (or [ə a], [i ɪ]) based on the vowel in the initial syllable.

A minority of linguists do not reconstruct vowel harmony in Proto-East-Mirarian at all; rather, they claim that it developed independently in several daughter branches, by means of assimilation of the initial vowel to that of the vowel in the next syllable. Some evidence for this claim is given in the presence of vowel-harmony in other nearby language families, which may imply the existence of an ancient areal diffusion. Proponents of this view dispense with the idea of a initial-syllable constraint on rounded vowels; rather, the loss of rounded vowels would have occurred in Proto-East-Mirarian's daughter languages, while the claimed assimilation of non-initial unrounded vowels to rounded vowels in the Mahavic branch would instead be a retention.

Phonetic diphthongs are phonologically vowel-consonant sequences ending in *y or *w. Semivowels behave as consonants in clusters.
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