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Var 'Béig iae Conéig nis Unan „a-“ Uin
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About a-Dropping Nouns and Verbs
This public article was written by argyle, and last updated on 4 Jan 2016, 05:18.

[comments] Menu 1. History of a-Dropping Nouns and Verbs 2. a-Dropping Nouns 3. a-Dropping Verbs
[top]History of a-Dropping Nouns and Verbs

There is one class each of nouns and verbs that lose the initial /a/ in certain morphological contexts. This is due to a quasi-systematic sound change that occurred in Middle Edievian. From around 1700 CE to 1800 CE, Middle Edievian was a time of upheaval for the Edievian language. The imperfect aspect of the verbal system stabilized during this period (having changed from the conjugated verb + sji to a full-fledged affix), the nominal pluralization system stabilized (from any vowels in the noun changing in quality to just the vowel in the final syllable), many nominal compounds and verbal derivations arose to fill lexical gaps (due to semantic shift and homophony), and a process began of dropping unstressed, initial /a/ many words.

The loss of initial /a/ occurred almost across the board for all applicable words, sparing only some particles and common verbs. But in the 1800s, Edievian nationalists (the Etageman, literally "Landsmen") began to favor the use of more "pure" speech, i.e. language that more closely resembled its Colian roots. The result of their campaigning was that the written language returned to the state it was in before the loss of /a/ in many words.

Edievian now exists in a state of mixed presence of initial /a/ and absence of initial /a/, with more common words lacking the /a/, and more learned or uncommon ones maintaining it; simultaneously, short words that would have lost the /a/ have now regained it, and longer words tend to be /a/-less. However, these are trends, not hard-and-fast rules.

[top]a-Dropping Nouns

To give further context, a-dropping in nouns is a dichotomy between the singular and plural forms of the nouns. a-Dropping nouns lose the /a/ in the plural form of the noun, since in all noun plurals, the stress shifts from the penultimate syllable to the final one, along with any applicable vowel and consonant changes. Orthographically, the elided /a/ is replaced with a <'>. See below for a regular and an a-dropping noun:

otter
  • oton /'o.t̪on̪/
  • otun /o't̪un̪/


snake
  • atrot /'a.t̪ɾot̪/
  • 'trúit /tɾutʃ/


a-Dropping only occurs in nouns that are natively Edievian and disyllabic, so modern borrowings like advans /ad̪van̪s̪/, "credit card/cash advance", have regular plurals (in this case, adváins, as opposed to *'dváins). Not all words that meet the criteria actually are members of the a-dropping class, such as arocs ("plow", plural arúics) and acel ("heel [of the foot]", plural acil).

[top]a-Dropping Verbs

a-Dropping in verbs occurs when any suffix is added to the verb, which occurs in all tenses and aspects except for the singular gnomic forms of the verbs. This means that every other verb form drops the initial /a/. a-Dropping verbs are a small, closed class (like the nouns), and consist of native, disyllabic verbs (this syllable-count includes the verbal ending <-ae> /ɛ/). Here is a sample of the present gnomic of a typical a-dropping verb, alae, "to touch".

alae
1First person (person)
speaker, signer, etc; I
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
al
2Second person (person)
addressee (you)
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
al
3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
al
1First person (person)
speaker, signer, etc; I
.PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
lam
2Second person (person)
addressee (you)
.PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
lab
3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
lan

Click here to see a typical a-dropping verb's full conjugation. Note that, unlike a-dropping nouns, a-dropping verbs do not use <'> to mark the dropped /a/.

a-Dropping verbs also have a small issue with non-permitted final consonant clusters. There are only two of these verbs, aslae ("to fall"), and aprae ("to step"). These words, in the singular gnomic, would be *asl and *apr, so the default epenthetic vowel is thrown in, /ɔ/ <ao>. This then generates *asaol and *apaor. However, due to the overwhelming a-dropping nature of the verb paradigm, these forms of the verbs were "regularized" to saol and paor.

aslaeaprae
1First person (person)
speaker, signer, etc; I
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
saolpaor
2Second person (person)
addressee (you)
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
saolpaor
3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
saolpaor
1First person (person)
speaker, signer, etc; I
.PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
slampram
2Second person (person)
addressee (you)
.PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
slabprab
3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
slanpran

a-Dropping verbs also drop the /a/ during derivation. The nominalizing suffixes, -iat and iáit, trigger a-dropping, as well as the present participle suffixes -ales and -alis. The past participle suffixes, -or and -ur only trigger a-dropped in the plural, -ur. This is because the singular past participle (ending in -or) still retains the stress on the initial /a/, while the plural (-ur) shifts the stress to the final syllable.

The past participle is viewed as an adjective and therefore it is thought of as an a-dropping adjective class, where the singular form maintains the /a/, and the plural drops it. These are the only a-dropping adjectives, though they are technically derived from verbs and therefore are covered here are verb forms. See below for the participles and nominatives of alae:

SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
NMZNominaliser
makes other word a noun
liat
touching, bout of touching (n)
liáit
bouts of touching (n)
PRESPresent tense (tense)
current
.PARTUnknown code
lales
touching (adj)
lalis
touching (adj)
PSTPast (tense)
action occurred before moment of speech
.PARTUnknown code
alor
touched (adj)
'lur
touched (adj)
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