LotM - Sep 19: Mikyoan
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Our language of the month is StrawberryMilk's wonderful Mikyoan, a Japonic language spoken in an alternate history of the Ryukyu islands in which the Yaeyama archipelago constitutes an independent state. Read on to learn all about it!
This public article was written by Admin Sheep, and last updated on 7 Sep 2019, 19:46.
[comments] [history] mkylotm sep 19lotm Mikyoan, a Japonic language spoken in an alternate history of the Ryukyu islands in which the Yaeyama archipelago constitutes an independent state. Read on to learn all about it!
[top]Phonology and orthography
Mikyoan has a fairly simple phoneme inventory, similar to Japanese but with a few more distinctions, and a very different and very cool set of allophones.
Let's start our tour with the stops. The stops are /p t k b d g/, just like Japanese. Unlike Japanese, these can occur in coda position, where they are merged as unreleased voiceless stops. (Actually, all Mikyoan consonants can occur in coda position.) The voiceless stops are usually aspirated initially, and may also be aspirated between vowels. Between vowels, /b g/ are frequently lenited (to [β, ɣ]), nasalized (to [m n]), or even turned into labial-velars. The nasals, /m n ŋ/, can occur as prenasalized stops [ᵐb ⁿd ᵑɡ] word-initially. In addition to the stops, there are also three phonemic affricates, /t͡s t͡ɕ d͡ʑ/. There are two phonemic fricatives /s x/, which palatalize similar to Japanese fricatives (/x/ may be realized as [h] in some dialects). Finally, there are three approximants. The glides, /j w/, occur mostly in combinations with vowels, which we'll describe below. The most interesting of the approximants is the liquid, /r ~ l/. Sometimes this is realized and transcribed as a rhotic, and sometimes as a lateral. Much like Korean, it can occur at the end of a syllable, where it is usually pronounced and transcribed as [l], although as with most allophony in Mikyoan, this varies based on dialect. In most dialects, including the Ishagagi city standard, it is pronounced as a rhotic [ɾ] intervocalically, and as [ɾ] or [ɹ] in the onset. In loanwords, other realizations may occur (such as [l] in an onset or [ɾ] in a coda).
Mikyoan vowels are much more complex than the Japanese 5-vowel system. The vowel qualities are /i e ɛ a ɯ o ʌ/, and may be preceded by /j/ or /w/. Older stages of Mikyoan had a vowel harmony system, of which relics remain in some dialects in the nominal and verbal morphology. For instance, in the Ishigagi dialect, the negative suffix may appear as -kai, -kei, or -koi. Loanwords into Mikyoan typically violate vowel harmony constraints, as do many native words.
Finally, Mikyoan has a pitch accent system. This varies from dialect to dialect; for instance, in Gullu city, it consists of high tone on the stressed syllable and low tone everywhere else. Some dialects lack pitch accent or tone, and some dialects have other realizations of pitch accent, such as the Gohama dialect, which places high tone on the primary stress and low tone on secondary stress.
While it can be transcribed in Latin, Mikyoan is written natively in a Hangul based orthography, or in kanji. The Hangul orthography faithfully indicates the pronunciation of words, whereas the pronunciation of a single Mikyoan kanji character can vary based on whether you are using a native Mikyoan or a Chinese reading (much like Japanese kanji). Loanwords from languages other than Chinese or Japanese, such as 콤바인 "combine harvester" or 구링고 "foreigner", are written in Hangul only.
[top]Morphology and syntax
Mikyoan, like its Japonic relatives and many of its mainland East Asian neighbors, is a predominantly SOV language with agglutinating tendencies. Based on pragmatic factors, elements before the verb may be rearranged, but the verb has a strong tendency to stay final. The verb can take a large number of suffixes for modals, voice, polarity, and tense (including future, remote and non-remote past), but many of the functions within the language, such as pronominal possession and reflexives are formed through particles, and there is no nominal case.
The most intriguing feature of Mikyoan grammar is that many of its constructions and words have different forms depending on politeness. This applies to both verb morphology, and many verbal conjugations, and functions similar to Japanese or Korean.
The majority of the core vocabulary of Mikyoan is Japonic, since it is a Japonic language. However, the language also takes loanwords from a variety of other languages, including some you might not expect if you don't know about the demographics and history of Mikyo. Due to immigration into Mikyo, different dialects of Mikyo have absorbed many words from languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Tagalog, Taiwanese Mandarin, Hakka, Hokkien, Japanese, and English.
[top]Culture and society
Not only is Mikyoan a fascinating language, it is part of a scintillating alternate history. There are so many articles detailing the culture of Mikyo society in this alternate history, including history, politics, demography, and pop culture. Make sure to read them all to learn all about the world of Mikyo!
[top]More on Mikyoan
That wraps up our tour of Mikyoan! There's always more to read, so check out Mikyoan's LexiBuild sets, translations, and many, many articles!
[top]A Note on Mikyoan
Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Mikyoan that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Feel free to shoot us (protondonor, Hastrica) a PM with your questions, comments, and/or concerns. Also feel free to drop by the LotM clan if you have other feedback, want to join in the voting process, or nominate a language! Our language of the month is StrawberryMilk's wonderful
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