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Proto-Suvonic -› Suvoon
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Sound Changes to Derive Suvoon
This public article was written by miles, and last updated on 21 Mar 2017, 02:39.

[comments] Menu 1. Archaic (To Derive Proto-Suvoon) 2. To Derive Suvoon 3. Words Derived Straight from Proto-Suvoon > Modern Suvoon 4. Notes on Meaning Shifts, Grammaticalization, Etc 5. Tense, Aspect, and Polarity 6. Climate Cheat Sheet 7. Phomo Code
?FYI...
This article is a work in progress! Check back later in case any changes have occurred.

[top]Archaic (To Derive Proto-Suvoon)

  1. Before /m, p, b, v/, unrounded vowels become rounded, so /e:/ > /o:/, /i/ > /u/, and /e, a/ both > /ɔ/. This only applies with some words or affixes, and occurred long before Proto-Suvoon.
  2. Intervocalic /s/ -> /h/ and /ss/ -> /s/. Initial /h/ already existed in the language. This is active only on somewhat older suffixes and compound words.

Still active in Proto-Suvoon:
  1. Any sequence of two consonants with the same manner of articulation (stop, nasal, fricative) assimilate in place and voicing with the second of the two, so e.g. *akta would become *atta or *apba -> *abba. Sequences like *asha (which -> *assa) in compound words reintroduce geminate /ss/ to the language.

[top]To Derive Suvoon

  1. /s/ between two vowels or beside a voiced consonant (e.g. /b d g m n l/) is [z]. /n/ before velar consonants is realized as [ŋ].
  2. Before a front vowel /e e: i i:/, /k g/ -> /tʃ dʒ/, introducing <c j>. This process is blocked by intervening consonants, so that e.g. *akli > *akli (> *akai) but *ki > *ci. Note that e.g. *kia becomes *cia, not *ca.
  3. After front vowels /e e: i i:/, /t d s z/ -> /tʃ dʒ/. This process is blocked by other consonants, so that *ilta > ilta but *ita > *ica.
  4. Vowels in hiatus involving ə smooth into a long form of the other vowel, e.g. /əu/ > /u:/. Where /ə/ was already beside a long vowel, /ə/ is simply deleted.
  5. Vowels in hiatus > diphthongs.
  6. Dipthongs /eu eo oi ui/ > /u: o: øy y:/, /io iu ea oa oe ue/ > /yø y a a ø yø/.
  7. Diphthongs /eu: eo: oi: ui:/ > /u: o: øy y:/ (same as above), but /io: iu: ea: oe: ue:/ > /yø: y: a: a: ø: yø:/ (they are simply long).
  8. Diphthongs /e:u e:o o:i ü:i/ > /ø: ø: øy y:/, /i:o i:u e:a o:a o:e u:e/ > /y: y: e: o: ø: y:/
  9. Short /e/ lowers to /ɛ/, short /o/ lowers to /ɔ/, and short /ö/ lowers to /ɶ/.
  10. The dipthongs /iɛ ɛi uɔ ɔu yɶ ɶy/ become high short /e e o o ø ø/ ⟨ei ou öy⟩. If any element was long, they become long /e: e: o: o: ø: ø:/.
  11. Diphthong flattening: Diphthongs /ae aɔ aɶ/ and /ia ua ya/ smooth into /æ: ɔ: ɶ:/ ⟨ae ao⟩
  12. Metaphony: before high vowels /i: i u: u/, the low mid vowels /æ: ɛ ɔ: ɔ/ are raised to <ee ie oo uo> /e: e o: o/. Before /a/, high vowels /i: i u: u ü: ü/ become high mid <ee ie oo uo> /e: e o: o/.
  13. Long /a:/ is pronounced further back (instead of central), /ɑ:/
  14. Diphthong flattening: /ai au/ > /e: o:/
  15. For the following two mergers, Final consonant effects are not blocked by an intervening consonant, giving e.g. *saolk > */sa:lʔ/ > *sāl but *saolp > */so:lʔ/ > *suāl as well as *souk > *sō vs *soup > *sū.
  16. Long vowel merger: /ɔ: æ: ɶ:/ ⟨ao ae aö⟩ become /ɑ: ɑ: ɑ:/ ⟨aa aa aa⟩ in most circumstances, but /o: ø: ø:/ after a bilabial consonant {m p b kʷ gʷ} and /ɔi ai ɶi/ before an alveolar or palato-alveolar consonant {t d s z n l c j}. Between a bilabial and palatal/alveolar consonant, they become /o:i ø:i ø:i/.
  17. Short vowel merger: /o e ø/ ⟨ou ei öy⟩ become /u i y/ ⟨u i ü⟩ except before a low vowel /ɑ: æ: a/, in which case they become /ɔ ɛ ɶ/ ⟨o e ö⟩.
  18. Before a velar consonant {k g ŋ}, /i: u: i u/ become /e: o: ɛ ɔ/.
  19. Assimilation of final CS clusters: word-final /ps ts ks/ become /s s s/.
  20. Loss of stops in final NC clusters: voiceless stops shift from /lt, nt, lk, nk, lp, mp/ to /lʔ, nʔ, lʔ, ŋʔ, lʔ, mʔ/, while voiced stops are deleted.
  21. LOWLAND SUVONIC
  22. Front round vowels lost: /ɶ ø: y y:/ > /ɔ io u iu/.
  23. Chain shift /b d g/ > /p t k/ > /ʔ/ at the end of words as word-final /p t k/ glottalize and word-final /b d g/ devoice.
  24. Initial tonogenesis. /ʔ/ in the coda (even as part of a cluster) causes a rising tone á, /h/ a falling tone à, and syllables with neither of these take on a low even tone. Coda /ʔ h/ are then lost; /h/ causes compensatory lengthening. /ə/ is a reduced syllable, and can only take the low tone.
  25. Loss of ungeminated glottal stops. Geminate glottal stops -> ungeminate /h/. Consonants that were next to a glottal stop are now geminate.
  26. Tone split: before a vowel, voiceless consonants cause ⟨á à a⟩ > ⟨ā ạ à⟩ and voiced consonants cause ⟨á à a⟩ > ⟨á â a⟩, resulting in six tones, ⟨ā à á â ạ a⟩, which are approximately /11 13 31 535 15 44/. /ə/ is still a reduced syllable with "no" (low) tone.
  27. Complete loss of voicing distinction.
  28. /kʷ gʷ/ > /k g/.
  29. OLD SUVOON
  30. Tone merger: Near a bordering high tone, ⟨à â ạ⟩ > ⟨ā ă ă⟩. Elsewhere (including in single-syllable words), ⟨à â ạ⟩ > ⟨á a ă⟩. The tones of Middle Suvoon will be only ⟨ā á ă a⟩.
  31. Diphthong shift: /ai/ -> /ɔi/ and /au/ > /ɔu/.
  32. /ɛ/ becomes /ə/. This introduces tonal schwa.
  33. Vowels next to a schwa cannibalize that schwa and become long vowels, e.g. /əi/ -> /i:/ or /aə/ -> /a:/. If the vowels involved had different tones, the second vowel's tone is preferred.
  34. Ungeminated stops /p t k/ lenit into /v, ð, h/ between two vowels.
  35. Intervocalically or beside a voiced consonant, non-geminate /s/ > /z/. Beside a voiced consonant, geminate /ss/ also > /z/.
  36. Between two vowels, geminate consonants are lost. Gemination of a stop beside a resonant, as in e.g. /amppa/, is preserved.
  37. Between two vowels or between a vowel and a resonant, ungeminate stops /p t k/ voice to /b d g/. Voiceless consonant clusters block this, so e.g. *apha or *aspa are preserved.
  38. All consonant gemination is lost.
  39. MIDDLE SUVOON
  40. /ɑ:/ ⟨aa⟩ is now pronounced /ɒ:/.
  41. For words of the form VNCVN, i.e. a final nasal following another final nasal, the last (word-final) nasal falls of.
  42. Loss of all schwas /ə/. Syllabic nasals and laterals take their place in many instances; these new syllabic consonants take on the tone of the previous syllable nucleus (e.g. /ə́mbà/ > /ḿ̩bà/, still written ⟨ēmba⟩). Where the loss results in a totally invalid cluster, e.g. a whole word */kt/ or a fricative nucleus, /ə/ becomes /a/.
  43. Coda /h/ (not intervocalic /h/!) makes the preceding vowel long if possible, and then is deleted, e.g. */paht/ -> */pa:t/
  44. /h/ beside any consonant is lost, e.g. */apha/ -> /apa/
  45. In onset, the cluster /ŋg/ simplifies to /ŋ/. This means that *⟨éndana⟩ /ň.dà.nà/ could be a word from Old Suvoon but not *⟨énggana⟩ /ŋ̌.gà.nà/.
  46. Any new geminate consonants introduced by the loss of /ə/ become plain.
  47. Long /o:, e:/ become /ua, ia/
  48. Long/short vowel distinction lost entirely; long vowels undergo diphthongization. /i: u:/ > /ai au/ in all instances, but /ɒ:/ becomes /ɔ/ when next to a bilabial consonant and /a/ elsewhere.
  49. After a word-initial syllabic nasal /m n ŋ/ and before a diphthong (rarely before any vowel), some /p t k s ʃ/ become /b d g z ʒ/. This is pervasive with /t s ʃ/ (the fricatives and alveolars), inconsistent with /p/, and rare with /k/, so *ntau > *ndau, *nsia > *nzia, *mpau may be *mbau or *mpau, and *ngkia is likely to stay the same. This phenomenon re-introduces some instances of initial /ŋg/, although it is still rare.
  50. All instances of /z ʒ/ > /ɹ/, introducing ⟨r⟩.
  51. /ɔ/ centralizes to /ɵ/
  52. MODERN SUVOON

Recent, Still Active:
  1. The sequences /ti di/ before another vowel become /tʃ dʒ/, and when /tʃ dʒ/ is followed by /ia io iu/ they -> /a o u/.
  2. Stopping of affricates following a sibilant fricative: The sequences /stʃ, ʃtʃ/ become /ʃt/ and /sdʒ, ʃdʒ/ become /ʃd/. (E.g. *asca > *ashta and *ashja > *ashda).
  3. Deaffrication of /tʃ/ preceding a stop, or preceding any consonant word-initially: This does not apply when it precedes a resonant such as /n l ɹ m ŋ/ in the middle of a word. /dʒ/ is affected only if followed by a voiceless stop or preceding a consonant at the edge of a word (*hájd > *háshd, *jban > *shban).
  4. Loss of stops in word-initial homorganic stop + resonant clusters: The clusters /tn, pm, kŋ, dn, bm, gŋ/ all lose their initial stop.


The final change means that sequences such as *tia, *dia are not possible. Because of the order in which changes occur, /h/ does not appear at the end of words in Suvoon, but voiced stops do.

[top]Words Derived Straight from Proto-Suvoon > Modern Suvoon

  • Currently, words can end with voiced stops, although it requires a proto-language word ending in -VCCe and is not exceptionally common.
  • Very old historic vowel harmony has decreased the number of front/back vowel combinations within a word -- however, vowel harmony has been inactive for some time, and a number of sound changes have since changed back sounds into front ones or vice versa (cf. /æ:/ > /a:/ and later /a:/ > /ɔ/). Additionally, after Lowland Suvonic new words have been permitted to use disharmonious combinations.


Tone will occasionally undergo random change within an individual word, and there are new words, derivations, and borrowings that occurred after tonogenesis. Words in Middle Suvoon may violate all of these tendencies as they please.

Very basic words, such as might appear on a Swadesh list, will tend to be older than words for technology, clothing, law, philosophy, etc.

[top]Notes on Meaning Shifts, Grammaticalization, Etc

In Proto-Suvoon, the four plural classes have slight patterns in their application.
  1. The 1st plural class (-'u) is the most common, and often encompasses things that are very large or very small.
  2. Very basic words for a wide variety of things take the 2nd (-me, rounds previous vowel).
  3. Abstract concepts most often take the 3rd (-no'), as do some objects.
  4. Relatives, some animals, and internal organs (including bone) tend to take the 4th (-to).


This is not supposed to be a system that makes sense, even in the proto-language, and it contains copious exceptions; a lot of large, flat, or amorphous objects are in the 3rd class, many animals are in the 1st class, and numerous exceptions exist in every class.

The most common suffixes, -'u and -no', may give rise to a more regular plural suffix in the daughter language resembling -u or -nó; that would be applied to less common words.

The Proto-Suvoon words for head, cup, and clay effectively take part in a chain shift -- old balk clay comes to be bál cup, clay, santak cup -> santák head, and enti' head -> ntí hair (Proto-Suvoon having not had separate words for head hair and other kinds). The old usages may survive in sayings, idioms, or compound words.

[top]Tense, Aspect, and Polarity

Before the proto-language, tense was marked by the auxiliary verb *at, and perhaps another, *bi. These gradually adhered themselves to the end of the verb as -bi and -et. Át has survived as a separate verb meaning "go"; *bi is unattested in any daughter languages. Negation has always been marked by -sa (-ha after vowels in the proto-language), which is placed before this tense marking.

At some point during the evolution of modern Suvoon, a perfect construction involving *toode tuað was developed. In modern Suvoon, this construction has become the standard way of forming the past perfective. However, the pluperfect and future perfect forms still carry a strictly perfect connotation.

The end result is verbal marking for past, present, and future in all imperfective senses which fuses in form with polarity marking, a past perfective involving an auxiliary verb, a pluperfect construction, and a somewhat rare future perfect construction. There is no perfective/imperfective distinction in the present or future.

[top]Climate Cheat Sheet

For reference when coining words, Suvoonthal has a tropical rainforest or tropical monsoon climate, depending on the area. The total annual precipitation of the country is in the 2475-4974 mililiter (0.7-1.3 gallon) and 1475-2474 mililiter (0.4-0.7 gallon) per year ranges depending on the area. Low-lying areas are almost exclusively rainforest; "highland" areas do not get above ~1,640 feet, and may be tropical rainforest (Af) or moonsoon (Am).

Real-world countries with similar climates include Indonesia (mostly Af, little to no Am), Malaysia (same), Guyana (similar to Suvoonthal, esp. wrt the coastal Af and inland Am, although it also contains Aw), the Philippines (same), Suriname (even closer), and French Guiana (same).

Climate-wise: if it exists in Suriname or French Guiana, Proto-Suvonic can absolutely have a word for it. If it exists in one of the other countries mentioned, it's very plausible.

If it exists in e.g. northern Mexico or southern California but does not exist in any of the aforementioned countries, don't. Don't do it.

[top]Phomo Code

Proto-Suvoon to Middle Suvoon
Use Proto-Suvoon categories.

a/á/_NK#
o/ó/_NK#
e/é/_NK#
u/ú/_NK#
i/í/_NK#
a/á/_K
o/ó/_K
e/é/_K
u/ú/_K
i/í/_K
ií/íí
aá/áá
oó/óó
eé/éé
uú/úú
K//C_#
K//C_K
K//K_C
p/v/A_A
b/v/A_A
t/ð/A_A
d/ð/A_A
k/h/A_A
g/h/A_A
s/z/A_A
s/z/G_A
s/z/A_G
ss/s
tt/t
dd/d
pp/p
bb/b
kk/k
gg/g
k/c/_J
g/j/_J
k/g/N_
t/d/N_
p/b/N_
c/j/N_
''/k
s'/ss
's/ss
'd/dd
'b/bb
'g/gg
't/tt
'k/kk
'p/pp
'//
a/á/H_
o/ó/H_
e/é/H_
u/ú/H_
i/í/H_
b/p/_#
d/t/_#
g/k/_#
t/c/J_
d/j/J_
ie/ii
ié/íí
íe/íí
ei/ii
eí/íí
éi/íí
éí/íí
ae/aa
áe/áá
aé/áá
ea/aa
eá/áá
éa/áá
oe/oo
oé/óó
óe/óó
eo/oo
éo/óó
eó/óó
ue/uu
ué/úú
eu/uu
eú/úú
íá/iá
úá/uá
úí/uí
íú/iú
úó/uó
íó/ió
áí/ái
áú/áu
óí/ói


Proto Suvoon > Modern Suvoon
Use Proto-Suvoon categories.

a/á/_NK#
o/ó/_NK#
e/é/_NK#
u/ú/_NK#
i/í/_NK#
a/á/_K
o/ó/_K
e/é/_K
u/ú/_K
i/í/_K
ií/íí
aá/áá
oó/óó
eé/éé
uú/úú
K//C_#
K//C_K
K//K_C
p/v/A_A
b/v/A_A
t/ð/A_A
d/ð/A_A
k/h/A_A
g/h/A_A
s/z/A_A
s/z/G_A
s/z/A_G
ss/s
tt/t
dd/d
pp/p
bb/b
kk/k
gg/g
k/c/_J
g/j/_J
k/g/N_
t/d/N_
p/b/N_
c/j/N_
''/k
s'/ss
's/ss
'd/dd
'b/bb
'g/gg
't/tt
'k/kk
'p/pp
'//
a/á/H_
o/ó/H_
e/é/H_
u/ú/H_
i/í/H_
b/p/_#
d/t/_#
g/k/_#
t/c/J_
d/j/J_
ie/ii
ié/íí
íe/íí
ei/ii
eí/íí
éi/íí
éí/íí
ae/aa
áe/áá
aé/áá
ea/aa
eá/áá
éa/áá
oe/oo
oé/óó
óe/óó
eo/oo
éo/óó
eó/óó
ue/uu
ué/úú
eu/uu
eú/úú
íá/iá
úá/uá
úí/uí
íú/iú
úó/uó
íó/ió
áí/ái
áú/áu
óí/ói
z/r
oo/ua
óó/uá
ee/ia
éé/iá
eh/ia/_C
éh/iá/_C
eh/ia/_#
éh/iá/_#
em/m/R_
ém/ḿ/R_
en/n/R_
én/ń/R_
er/r/R_
ér/ŕ/R_
el/l/R_
él/ĺ/R_
em/m/_C
ém/ḿ/_C
en/n/_C
én/ń/_C
er/r/_C
ér/ŕ/_C
el/l/_C
él/ĺ/_C
e//
e//
é//
é//
ah/aa/_C
ih/ii/_C
oh/oo/_C
uh/uu/_C
ah/aa/_#
ih/ii/_#
oh/oo/_#
uh/uu/_#
áh/áá/_C
íh/íí/_C
óh/óó/_C
úh/úú/_C
áh/áá/_#
íh/íí/_#
óh/óó/_#
úh/úú/_#
h//G_
ss/s
tt/t
dd/d
pp/p
bb/b
kk/k
gg/g
oo/ua
óó/uá
ee/ia
éé/iá
aa/o
áá/ó
ii/ai
íí/ái
uu/au
úú/áu
ti/c/_A
di/j/_A
oú/óu
oí/ói
aí/ái
aú/áu
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