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Adzamasi Phonology
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This public article was written by [Deactivated User], and last updated on 10 Aug 2020, 00:00.

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Menu 1. Phonemic inventory 2. Orthography and Romanization 3. Allophony 4. Phonontactics 5. Stress

[edit] [top]Phonemic inventory

 Adzamasi has a moderately large consonant inventory, and quite a large number of vowels. The below tables show the phonemes (between //s) and their practical orthography for Modern Standard Adzamasi; some dialectical variations will also be explored.

Nasalm /m/n /n~ɳ/ń /ɲ/ŋ /ŋ/
Pulmonic stopsp /p/t /t~ʈ/c /tʃ/k /k/q /q/' (ʔ)
b /b/d /d~ɖ/j /dʒ/g /g/
Ejectivesṫ /t'~ʈ'/ḳ /k'/q̇ /q'/
Fricativesf /f/ŧ /θ/s /s~ʂ/š /ʃ/ś /ç/x /x/h /h/
v /v/đ /ð/z /z~ʐ/ž /ʒ/ź /ʝ/
Liquidl /l/y /j/w /w/r /ʀ/

The consonants occur in nine POAs (condensed somewhat in the above table for space). Stops occur in three phonations (voiced, voiceless, and ejective) and fricatives in voiced/voiceless. The plain alveolar series alternates with a retroflex series following consonant harmony rules (see Allophony section).

The glottal stop /ʔ/ has semi-phonemic status in the Standard dialect, occurring in only a few words, all of which are either particles, or loan words.

The Kuyilasri dialect of working-class Mehyarani has phonemic retroflex consonants /ɳ ʈ' ʈʂ ɖʐ ʂ ʐ/ in place of palatal /ɲ/ and postalveolar /tʃ' tʃ dʒ ʃ ʒ/. This retroflex series is fully distinct from the alveolars, unlike the Standard dialect. It also has phonemic /r/ in place of /ʀ/, and /ʔ/ in place of /q'/.

Meshaari, an upper-class Mehyaran dialect, is quite similar to the Standard in consonants, although it uses /ʎ/ in place of /ʝ/, and in some words has /k k' g/ in place of /tʃ tʃ' dʒ/. As in Kuyilasri, /q'/ has become /ʔ/. /ʁ/ exists in place of /ʀ/.

Adzamasi additionally has a small series of click consonants, which appear only in loanwords from  Osuri or other Kõ languages, and are not used consistently between dialects or individual speakers.

Loan consonantsBilabialAlveolarDorsal
Oral clickẃ /ʘ/ý /ǃ~‼/ć /ǂ/
Nasal clickḿ /ʘ̃/ń /ǃ̃~‼̃/ñ /ǂ̃/

In most dialects, especially those in eastern and southern Tabiqa, speakers are less likely to use the loan words that contain these sounds, and even if they do, often pronounce them as ejectives (adding /p'/ and /c'/ for some speakers). These speakers may also fail to distinguish the alveolar clicks from the palatal, or nasal from oral. As with pulmonic and ejective consonants, the alveolar clicks (in those who pronounce them) alternate with retroflex phones.

In the Kõzamasi dialect spoken in Osuria (sometimes considered a creole instead of an Adzamasi dialect), these clicks have true phonemic status. (The system is, however, still simplified from the true Kõ click systems, which have four to five places of articulation, and three or more phonations.)



ī /i/û /y/ū /u/
i /ɪ/ü /ʏ/u /ʊ/
e /ē/ô /ø/ō /o/
e /ɛ/ö /œ/
o /ʌ/ [ɔ]
a /a/
ā /ɑ/ [ɒ]

Vowels occur at five heights with front, front-round, and back placements. The front-round vowels, distinct phonemes in  Old Adzamian and the Standard dialect, have become allophonic in most colloquial varieties.

The Meshaari dialect maintains the full, phonemic inventory of front round vowels, but has also split the tense vowels /i e y ø u o/ into diphthongs /ij ej yɥ øɥ uw ow/. /ʌ/ has moved to /ə/.

The Kõzamasi dialect seems to retain /y ø/ as phonemes, but has lost both phonemic and allophonic [ʏ œ]. It has also gained nasal vowels at five places (/ɪ̃ ɛ̃ ɑ̃ õ ũ/) from Osuri loans.

Most other dialects, including Kuyilasri, have lost the phonemic front-round vowels, which survive only as allophones from word harmony (see Allophony).

[edit] [top]Orthography and Romanization

Adzamasi uses is natively written with an Adzamic script. When that's better-implemented it'll be here nicerly. In the meantime the romanization/practical orthography is indicated alongside the IPA in the above tables.

[edit] [top]Allophony

Adzamasi features vowel and consonant harmony. It also has some more typical allophonic alternations.

Vowel harmony.
There are two typical vowel harmony systems at play: those used by dialects that maintain the front-round vowels phonemically (e.g. Standard, Meshaari) and those that now have them only, or mainly, as allophones (most others). (Note that the exact quality of the vowel phonemes and allophones indicated below are not necessarily accurate for all dialects (e.g. Standard /y/ to Meshaari /yɥ/ to Kuyilasri /i~u/), but the overall pattern holds.)

In the former group ("Standard"), words are either front, back, front-round, or neutral, decided by the first vowel in the stem (prefixes must follow the word's harmony but do not assign it). /i ɪ e ɛ/ are front, /y ʏ ø œ/ are front-round, and /u ʊ o ʌ/ are back. Words where the first stem vowel is neutral /a ɑ/ seek check all following vowels in order, eventually assigning word harmony; only if there are no non-neutral vowels is the word assigned neutral. Based on these rules, the following changes occur:

  • Front words
    • all instances of the back vowels /u ʊ o ʌ/ become front-round vowels [y ʏ ø œ]
  • Back words
    • all instances of the back-unround vowels /ʌ ɑ/ become back-round [ɔ ɒ]
    • all instances of the front vowels /i ɪ e ɛ/ become front-round [y ʏ ø œ]
    Front-round words
    • all instances of the back vowels /u ʊ o ʌ/ become front-round [y ʏ ø œ]
    • all instances of the front vowels /i ɪ e ɛ/ remain unchanged
  • Neutral words
    • no harmony applies

The other group ("Colloquial") has a similar set of rules, but only assigns words as front, back, or neutral. In those that maintain a small number of phonemic front-round vowels, these are considered neutral.

  • Front words
    • all instances of the back vowels /u ʊ o ʌ/ become front-round vowels [y ʏ ø œ]
  • Back words
    • all instances of the back-unround vowels /ʌ ɑ/ become back-round [ɔ ɒ]
    • in prefixes, the front vowels /i ɪ e ɛ/ become back-round [u ʊ o ɔ]
    • stem and suffix /i ɪ e ɛ/ remain unchanged (most speakers) or become front-round [y ʏ ø œ]
  • Neutral words (including front-round)
    • no harmony applies

In the Kuyilasri dialect, some speakers maintain colloquial, allophonic vowel harmony, while others have simply eliminated front-round vowels.

In Kõzamasi, there are phonemic oral /y œ/, which are neutral. Allophonic [ỹ ø̃] also occur.

Consonant harmony
Adzamasi has a somewhat peculiar sort of consonant harmony. This is more limited in scope than the vowel harmony, with the vast majority of consonants being neutral, and applies at a sub-word level (although in some cases this may entail the entire word).

For this rule, consonants that are immediately adjacent (in a cluster), or separated only by one or more vowels, may harmonize.

When an alveolar /n d t t' s z/ or uvular /q q' ʀ~χ/ sound appears, the following segments, until any other type of consonant is hit, are assigned as either alveolar or uvular. In some language varieties, the post-alveolar sounds also assign the 'alveolar' type. Velars may become uvular when adjacent (see below) and therefore also trigger consonant harmony. All other consonants are neutral and opaque, blocking subsequent consonant harmony spread.

  • Alveolar sequences
    • the uvular trill /ʀ/ becomes alveolar [r]
    • for many speakers, this does not occur in adjacent /[alveolar]ʀ/ sequences
    • dialects with /χ~ʁ/ in place of /ʀ/ may not change this sound
    • /q q'/ are unchanged
  • Uvular sequences
    • the alveolar sounds /n d t t' s z/ become retroflex [ɳ ɖ ʈ ʈ' ʂ ʐ]
    • for some speakers, post-alveolar /tʃ dʒ ʃ ʒ/ become retroflex [ʈʂ ɖʐ ʂ ʐ] as well

In some language varieties, 'retroflexing' of the alveolars is actually realized as a secondary articulation, either uvularization [◌ʶ] or pharyngealization [◌ˤ].

In the Kuyilasri dialect, which has a phonemic retroflex series in place of the palatals and postalveolars found in other dialects, and has additionally lost most of its uvular sounds, no consonant harmony occurs.

In the Kõzamasi dialect, consonant harmony extends to the loaned click consonants, where the alveolar clicks will appear as a retroflex, and both retroflexed and palatal clicks in uvular-harmony sequences will take uvular closure rather than velar.

Cluster assimilation
Beyond the consonant harmony indicated above, some other immediately adjacent consonants will assimilate.

  • voicing assimilation is regressive e.g. /gp/ → [kp], /tv/ → [dv], /qz/ → [ɢʐ]
  • non-ejective stops will become (voiceless) ejectives in contact with ejectives
  • /ʀ/ assimilates to /χ/ in contact with voiceless or ejective obstruants

Other changes
  • /x/ voices to [ɣ] between two vowels
  • /t d/ become the affricates [ts dz] before /i ɪ/

[edit] [top]Phonontactics

Adzamasi allows maximally CCVC or CVCC syllables. The majority of consonant clusters actually occur across syllable breaks (i.e. VC.CV), but complex codas are sometimes followed by another onset, and are quite frequent word-finally; complex onsets are rarer, and usually word-initial.

Adzamasi words are assigned one of 3 or 4 (depending on dialect) vowel harmony types, restricting the types of vowels that can co-occur within words. (See Allophony section for more detail).

[edit] [top]Stress

Stress is lexical, and has largely been inherited from  Old Adzamian, where heavy syllables (those with long vowels and/or codas) attracted stress. Primary stress is most often final or penultimate, (although there are many exceptions) and it is iterative.
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