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Phonological Overview
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A brief phonological outline
This public article was written by [Deactivated User], and last updated on 18 Feb 2016, 12:46.

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Himmaswa has a relatively simple inventory of consonants: nasals, aspirated stops, and voiced stops can be found uniformly across four articulation points (bilabial, alveolar, palatal, and velar), the only variation being that palatal stops are realized as postalveolar affricates. This simple system is supplemented by three fricatives (/f s h/) and three liquids (/l j w/).

Allophonic variation
Various consonants are subject to allophonic variation in specific environments. Back vowels influence the realization of /b/, /d/, and /l/. Before back vowels, /b/ and /d/ are realized as implosives ([ɓ ɗ]). Following back vowels, /l/ is realized as retroflex [ɭ].

Alveolar/postalveolar stops (including affricates) cause /l/ to become flapped [ɾ].

All stops are unvoiced and unreleased in syllable-final position, but affricate /t͡ʃʰ/ simply loses its aspiration, being realized as [t͡ʃ].

Rhotic vowels induce retroflexion in the postalveolar affricates, resulting in /t͡ʃʰ d͡ʒ/ being realized as [ʈʂ ɖʐ].

There are 38 distinct vowel phonemes, all of which derive from seven base vowels ‹i u e œ ə o a›. These base vowels are variously modified by five types of phonation/other modification (tensing/laxing, lengthening, rhoticity, creaky voice, and breathy voice), and four types of blends (fronting diphthongs, backing diphthongs, centring diphthongs, and dipping triphthongs). These will be explained below.

Basic vowels are realized with lax pronunciation (with /ə/ generally realized as [ʌ], resulting in a basic short vowel inventory of /ɪ ʊ ɛ œ ʌ ɔ a/. These seven vowels are Romanized as ‹i ou e eu u o a›.

Lengthening generally coincides with tensing; however, this tensing has caused several long vowels to undergo diphthongization. Consequently, there are only three pure long vowels: /i: u: a̰:/. The vowels /ʏœ/ and /ɔo/, the long forms of /œ/ and /ɔ/ , though somewhat diphthongized, are nevertheless classified as long vowels, as their diphthong patterns are unique. The other two vowels, /ej ʌu/, are now classified among the diphthongs. Long /a/ is supplemented with creaky voice, which will be explained below. As can be seen, vowel length alone is never a contrastive feature. The five long vowels /i: u: ʏœ ɔo a̰:/ are Romanized as ‹ee oo euu oa aa›.

In Himmaswa, rhoticity, or r-colouring, is associated with open/back vowels. The full inventory of rhotic vowels is /ə̰˞: ə˞: ɔ̰˞: a̰˞:/. As can be seen, all the rhotic vowels are long, and three out of four are supplemented with creaky voice. In only one pair of vowels (/a̰: a̰˞:/) is rhoticity the only contrasting feature. The four Rhotic vowels are Romanized as ‹er ur or ar›.

Creaky voice
Creaky voice involves the tensing of the vocal cords to produce a distinctive phonation. Like rhoticity, creaky voice only occurs in vowels in the open/back range, and, as mentioned above, the two frequently overlap. In only two pairs of vowels (/ə˞: ə̰˞:/, /ɔ ɔ̰/) is creaky voice the only contrasting feature. Creaky voice appears in five monophthongs and three diphthongs: /ə̰˞: ɔ̰ ɔ̰˞: a̰: a̰˞: aj̰ ɔj̰ aw̰/. They are Romanized as ‹er au or aa ar ai oy ao›

Breathy voice
On the other end of the phonation spectrum from creaky voice is breathy voice, characterized by a relaxing of the vocal cords. There are six breathy voiced vowels (/ɪʱ uʱ ɛʱ ɔʱ aʱ iəʱ/), but unlike other vowel modifications, each breathy-voiced vowel is contrastive with standard (modal) voice in all cases. The close front vowels may be followed by [ç]. These six vowels are Romanized ‹ih ooh eh oh ah iah›

Over half of Himmaswa's vowel inventory comprises polyphthongs of various types. Each may be classified as belonging to one of four types; these will be explained below.

Raising/Fronting diphthongs
Five of the seven vowels (excluding /i œ/) form raising/fronting diphthongs. Additionally, /a/ forms both tense and lax diphthongs. There are a total of six of these diphthongs: /ʊj ej əj ɔj̰ aj̰ æj/. These are Romanized as ‹ui ey ay oy ai aiy›. (Note: /ʊj/ is written with ‹i› instead of ‹y› for reasons unknown, but I have been using this Romanization since 1998 and I do not want to change it now).

Backing diphthongs
Four of the seven vowels form backing diphthongs. Similar to the raising that occurs in fronting diphthongs, backing is generally also complemented by raising or lowering. The total inventory of backing diphongs is /a̰w œɔ̯ ʌw iɔ̯/. These are Romanized as ‹ao euo uoo io›.

Centring diphthongs
Centring diphthongs are those with a /ə/ offglide. There are four centring diphthongs, two of which contrast only through breathiness. The total inventory of centring diphthongs is /eə̯ iə̯ uə̯ i̤ə̯/. These are Romanized as ‹ea ia ua iah›.

There are two triphthongs which high and cross from front to back or back to front, with a dip to /ə/ in the middle. The only two triphthongs are /iə̯w uə̯j/, Romanized as ‹iau ooay›.

Syllable Structure
Most roots are either monosyllabic or sesquisyllabic. Many of the monosyllabic roots originate as contracted sesquisyllabic roots. Sesquisyllabic roots are those that have a restricted minor syllable followed by a full major syllable. A very small number of roots violate these conditions and are believed to be either archaic compounds or borrowings from other languages.

Coda consonants are limited to voiceless consonants nasals, and the liquid: /p t t͡ʃ k m n ɲ ŋ l/. Coda consonants may not occur after breathy vowels, while coda consonants are required after the vowels /ʌ ɛə/.

Standard syllables have the structure (C)(V1)(C)V2(C).
When V1 is included, the root is considered to be sesquisyllabic. V1 may only be a short vowel, and it must be preceded by a consonant.

When V1 is not included, the root is considered to be monosyllabic. The elimination of this vowel allows for the formation of a consonant cluster. There are a wide number of possible clusters, but there are also a several restrictions. The following table illustrates the full range of allowable initial clusters :

p ptpt͡ʃpk pdpd͡ʒ pn ps  pl 

A short, nonphonemic schwa may occur between consonants, particularly when voiced consonants or /s/ come before voiced consonants.

The origin of sesquisyllabic roots is understood to be the result of a root-final stress inducing vowel reduction on the preceding syllable, producing the distinctive iambic pattern characteristic of Western-Swamperian languages. This reduction can be seen in sesquisyllabic roots that are readily identifiable as archaic compounds of monosyllabic roots, such as soten "blanket", a compound of
suat "cloth" and the nominal suffix -en.

Monosyllabic roots with initial consonant clusters are understood to be fully collapsed disyllabic roots, which began to occur in various dialects of Seuongswa. The preservation of sesquisyllables in a minority of roots is typical of the compound words illustrated above, and also occurs in order to avoid the formation of disallowed consonant clusters (e.g. kakach cannot be contracted to *kkach). There exist a very small number of words of the pattern (C)(C)VNCV(C), which also do not contract (e.g. bondok "freshwater fish", stenggar "moss"). They are etymologically unclear and are believed to be either loanwords or archaic compounds. The remaining sesquisyllabic roots are preserved seemingly at random; their preservation is believed to be the result of some mixing of dialects in the capital area.

Lexical Stress
Monosyllabic roots naturally take stress on the nucleus vowel, while sesquisyllabic roots take stress on the main vowel (V2).

baláo - machine; device
godól - protect; safeguard; conduct
tobór - continue

A small number of exceptions occur. These are believed to have originated as compounds:

kíteen - tie; bind; fasten
ítui - 3rd person predicative pronoun

Compound words take stress on the first morpheme.

冬臾 léuok.muan - winter
心真感賦 há - be intuitive
機臓 baláo.jmot - contraption; engine
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