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Jáhkarrá: Consonant gradation
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Consonant gradation in Jáhkarrá
This public article was written by Hastrica, and last updated on 10 May 2019, 09:57. Editing of this article is shared with Jáhkarrá Čirŋiduháža.

[comments] [history] Menu 1. What is consonant gradation? 2. Environments of application 3. Gradation patterns
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Consonant gradation is a pervasive feature of Jáhkarrá morphology. It applies in many grammatical contexts where suffixes are attached to a stem, which, given that Jáhkarrá is a highly inflected suffix-agglutinating language, happens rather frequently. However, its occurrence is largely predictable from the phonological shape of the suffix, which helps with memorising where it needs to be applied.

[top]What is consonant gradation?

Simply put, consonant gradation means that the last consonant or consonant group in a word may undergo changes determined by the grammatical environment. As an example, consider the following forms of the Jáhkarrá noun orgŋo "man":

orgŋo /ˈɔr:kŋɔ/ "man"orknin /ˈɔrkŋin/ "men"orŋáin /ˈɔrŋa:jn/ "men's"


The last consonant group changes when the verb is inflected: from the first grade (which here takes the shape /rːkŋ/) to the second grade (/rkŋ/, with a short /r/) and the third grade (/rŋ/). This affects most J´ahkarrá consonants, although not all of them have three distinct grades.

[top]Environments of application

Without listing all the contexts where gradation is at work, three simple rules can be identified that easily cover 90 percent of the cases:

  • If the consonant or consonant cluster is the onset of an open syllable, it is in the first grade.
  • If the consonant or consonant cluster is the onset of a closed syllable, it is in the second grade.
  • If the consonant or consonant cluster is the onset of a closed syllable with a long coda, it is in the third grade.


The example above illustrates this nicely: the /ɔ/ after the /rːkŋ/ cluster leaves the syllable open, so gradation does not apply. /n/ closes the syllable, resulting in second grade, and the /a:jn/ suffix has a long consonant (or more precisely, closes the syllable and follows up with another consonant), so we have the third grade.

These rules have exceptions, although most of them are that gradation does not apply despite the suffixes having the required shape. Some examples:

FormIPAExpected gradeActual gradeMeaningNotes
čirgŋainˈt͡ʃirːkŋɑjn31"learner"Human agent noun suffix -in causes no gradation
čirŋidusˈt͡ʃirŋitus13"school"Place suffix -dus causes the third grade
čirgŋalváˈt͡ʃirːkŋɑl:ʋa:31"having learned"Participles never undergo gradation
čirgŋosˈt͡ʃirːkŋɔs21"(learned) knowledge"Result suffix -os causes no gradation
čirŋujaidˈt͡ʃirŋujɑjt13"learn more and more"Incremental suffix -uj causes the third grade
čirkŋaiˈt͡ʃirkŋɑj12"the two of us learn"Dual forms always take the second grade



[top]Gradation patterns

The following is a description of all gradation patterns that occur in Jáhkarrá. The examples are given in Jáhkarrá orthography, for which there will be a separate article too.

All examples use the forms from above: the indicative present active of a transitive verb with a 3rd person singular object, with a 1st person singular, 2nd person singular and 3rd person plural subject respectively.

Single consonants

Single consonants are, for the most part, not subject to gradation. The exception are the plosives (including affricates) and nasals, which turn into fricatives or approximants in the second and third grade - thus, there is only a two-way distinction.

The gradation of /n/ is irregular, having fallen together with the weak grades of /m/ into /ʋ/.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
pvv
tŧŧ
tjjj
khh
css
čšš
mvv
nvv
njjj
ŋhh
ŧŧŧ
sss
ššš
hhh
lll
ljljlj
vvv
jjj
rrr


Geminate consonants

With geminate, or long, consonants, a distinction needs to be made between plosives/affricates and the other consonants.

Non-plosives/affricates change into short consonants in the second and third grade. This includes the nasals. Plosives and affricates are pronounced identically in the first and second grade (voiceless long), but in the third grade they become fricatives. In writing, the first grade is distinguished from the second in that the former is written with a voiced consonant letter (bb, dd, ddj, gg) and the latter with a voiceless one (pp, tt, ttj, kk). To a certain degree, this also holds for affricates (zz, žž and cc, čč), but these can be irregular: a number of words with žž gradate like fricatives, for example mižža ~ mižin "face - faces", and cc/čč can appear in the first grade as well, in which case the second grade is indistinguishable from the first: haččá - haččin "summer - summers".

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
bbppv
ddttŧ
ddjttjj
ggkkh
ccccs
ččččč
zzccs
žžččč
mmmm
nnnn
nnjnjnj
ŋŋŋŋ
ŧŧŧŧ
ssss
šššš
hhhh
llll
lljljlj
vvvv
jjjj
rrrr


Consonant clusters

The true complexity of Jáhkarrá consonant gradation lies with its consonant clusters, where the following groups of combinations need to be distinguished:

  • Homorganic plosive-nasal: bm, dn, dnj, gŋ /pm/, /tn/, /tʲnʲ/, /kŋ/
  • Liquid-nasal: rm, rn, rnj, rŋ, lm, ln, lnj, lŋ /rm/, /rn/, /rnʲ/, /rŋ/, /lm/, /ln/, /lʲnʲ/, /lŋ/
  • Liquid-fricative: rv, rj, lv /rʋ/, /rj/, /lʋ/
  • Liquid-plosive: rb, rd, rdj, rg, rc, rč, lb, ld, ldj, lg, lc, lč /rp/, /rt/, /rtʲ/, /rk/, /rts/, /rtʃ/, /lp/, /lt/, /lʲtʲ/, /lk/, /lts/, /ltʃ/. After liquids, z/ž is almost never found and behaves identical to c/č.
  • Preaspirated consonants: hp, ht, htj, hk, hc, hč /ʰp/, /ʰt/, /ʰtʲ/, /ʰk/, /ʰts/, /ʰtʃ/. After h, only voiceless letters are written; see below for how gradation is indicated.
  • /k/ with sibilant or affricate: ks, kš, kc, kč /ks/, /kʃ/, /kts/, /ktʃ/. Like with h, only voiceless letters are written next to s.
  • /j/ with plosive or affricate: ib, id, idj, ig, ic/iz, ič/iž /jp/, /jt/, /jtʲ/, /jk/, /jts/, /jtʃ/
  • /s/ with plosive: sp, st, stj, sk /sp/, /st/, /stʲ/, /sk/
  • /ʋ/ with liquid or alveolar nasal: vr, vl, vn /ʋr/, /ʋl/, /ʋn/
  • /j/ with homorganic plosive-nasal cluster: ibm, idn, idnj, igŋ /jpm/, /jtn/, /jtʲnʲ/, /jkŋ/
  • Liquid with homorganic plosive-nasal cluster: rbm, rdn, rdnj, rgŋ, lbm, ldn, ldnj, lgŋ /rpm/, /rtn/, /rtʲnʲ/, /rkŋ/, /lpm/, /ltn/, /lʲtʲnʲ/, /lkŋ/
  • /j/ with /k/ and sibilant or affricate: iks, ikš, ikc, ikč /jks/, /jkʃ/, /jkts/, /jktʃ/
  • /ʋ/ with /k/ and sibilant or affricate: vks, vkš, vkc, vkč /ʋks/, /ʋkʃ/, /ʋkts/, /ʋktʃ/
  • Liquid with /k/ and sibilant or affricate: rks, rkš, rkc, rkč, lks, lkš, lkc, lkč /rks/, /rkʃ/, /rkts/, /rktʃ/, /lks/, /lkʃ/, /lkts/, /lktʃ/
  • /j/ with /s/ and plosive: isp, ist, istj, isk /jsp/, /jst/, /jstʲ/, /jsk/
  • ps /ps/


The gradation of consonant clusters follows predictable rules for the first and second grade. In the first, the initial element of the cluster will be long, while the second will be short. In the second grade, both are short. It is mostly in the third grade that the various patterns differ.

Homorganic plosive-nasal combinations

Pattern: P:N - PN - N

In the third grade, the plosive disappears.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
pːmpmm
tːntnn
tʲːnʲtʲnʲ
kːŋŋ


Liquid-nasal combinations

Pattern: L:N - LN - N

Similar to the plosives. The liquid disappears in the third grade.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
rːmrmm
rːnrnn
rːnʲrnʲ
rːŋŋ
lːmrmm
lːnrnn
lʲːnʲlʲnʲ
lːŋŋ


Liquid-fricative combinations

Pattern: L:F - LF - L

In the third grade, it is the fricative that gets deleted.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
rːʋr
rːjrjr
lːvlvl


Liquid-plosive combinations

Pattern: L:P - LP - L:

The plosive disappears with compensatory lengthening on the liquid in the third grade.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
rːprp
rːtrt
rːtʲrtʲ
rːkrk
lːplp
lːtlt
lʲːtʲlʲtʲ
lːklk


Preaspirated consonants

Pattern: h:P - hP - F

Preaspiration can be seen as a consonant of its own based on its behaviour. In the first grade, it is long; in the second it is short. In the third grade, the preaspirated plosive changes to a homorganic fricative.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
hːphpv
hːthtθ
hːtʲhtʲj
hːkhkh
hːtshts
hːtʃhtʃʃ


/k/ with sibilant or affricate

Pattern: k:S - kS - S:, k:A - kA - A:

In the third grade, the sibilant or the affricate is long; /k/ disappears.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
kːsks
kːʃʃː
kːtsktstsː
kːtʃktʃtʃː


/j/ with plosive or affricate

Pattern: j:P - jP - j:, j:A - jA - j:

In the third grade, all combinations fall together in /j:/.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
jːpjp
jːtjt
jːtʲjtʲ
jːkjk
jːtsjts
jːtʃjtʃ


/s/ with plosive

Pattern: s:P - sP - s:

In the third grade, all combinations fall together in /s:/.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
sːpsp
sːtst
sːtʲstʲ
sːksk


/ʋ/ with liquid

Pattern: ʋ:L - ʋL - L:

/ʋ/ disappears in the third grade; the liquid is long.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
ʋːrʋr
ʋːlʋl


/j/ with homorganic plosive-nasal cluster

Pattern: j:PN - jPN - jN

Just as with the plosive-nasal combinations without /j/, the plosive disappears in the third grade.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
jːpmjpmjm
jːtnjtnjn
jːtʲnʲjtʲnʲjnʲ
jːkŋjkŋ


Liquid with homorganic plosive-nasal cluster

Pattern: L:PN - LPN - LN

The plosive disappears in the third grade.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
rːpmrpmrm
rːtnrtnrn
rːtʲnʲrtʲnʲrnʲ
rːkŋrkŋ
lːpmlpmlm
lːtnltnln
lʲːtʲnʲlʲtʲnʲlʲnʲ
lːkŋlkŋ


/j/ with /k/ and sibilant or affricate

Pattern: j:kS - jkS - jS, j:kA - jkA - jA

Similar to simple combinations of /k/ with sibilants or affricates, but here they are short in the third grade.

s
Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
jːksjksjs
jːkʃjkʃ
jːktsjktsjts
jːktʃ jktʃjtʃ


/ʋ/ with /k/ and sibilant or affricate

Pattern: ʋ:kS - ʋkS - ʋS, ʋ:kA - ʋkA - ʋA

The same pattern as with initial /j/.

s
Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
ʋːksʋksʋs
ʋːkʃʋkʃʋʃ
ʋːktsʋktsʋts
ʋːktʃ ʋktʃʋtʃ


Liquid with /k/ and sibilant or affricate

Pattern: L:kS - LkS - LS, L:kA - LkA - LA

The same pattern as with initial /j/ or /ʋ/.

s
s
Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
rːksrksrs
rːkʃrkʃ
rːktsrktsrts
rːktʃ rktʃrtʃ
lːkslksls
lːkʃlkʃ
lːktslktslts
lːktʃ lktʃltʃ


/j/ with /s/ and plosive

Pattern: j:SP - jSP - jS

Similar to combinations of /s/ with plosives, all combinations fall together in /s/.

Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Example
jːspjspjs
jːstjstjs
jːstʲjstʲjs
jːskjskjs


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Edit history
on 10/05/19 09:57+12Hastricasharing edited
on 04/12/18 13:15+211Hastricamoar fixxin
on 04/12/18 13:12-47Hastricabetter example
on 04/12/18 13:080Hastricaminifix
on 04/12/18 09:53+946Hastricamore on exceptions
on 04/12/18 09:33+4Hastricafixed ood stuff
on 14/11/18 10:32+115Hastricabeen applying the wrong grade for hundreds of words, gotta roll with it now
on 07/11/18 17:29+2Hastricaupdated
on 31/08/18 07:180HastricaTypo
on 31/08/18 07:17-149HastricaAnd tables again
on 31/08/18 07:16+2890HastricaTables again
on 31/08/18 07:14+8345HastricaTables
on 31/08/18 06:44+3149HastricaCluster gradation patterns
on 30/08/18 14:250HastricaTypos
on 30/08/18 14:07+1526HastricaClusters
on 30/08/18 13:12+2014HastricaMore patterns
on 30/08/18 13:04+2457HastricaPatterns
on 30/08/18 12:35-179HastricaFixed broken IPA
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