LotM - Dec 18: Jáhkarrá
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Our last language of the month, but certainly not our least, is Hastrica's fantastic Jáhkarrá! Jáhkarrá is a gorgeous and inspired a priori, with Sámi-esque consonant gradation, loads and loads of cases, and a verb morphology so complex that single verbs can replace most subordinate clauses!
This public article was written by [Deactivated User] on 2 Dec 2018, 00:50.
[comments] jhklotm dec 18lotm Jáhkarrá! Jáhkarrá is a gorgeous and inspired a priori, with Sámi-esque consonant gradation, loads and loads of cases, and a verb morphology so complex that single verbs can replace most subordinate clauses!
[top]Phonology and orthography
Jáhkarrá phonology is very clearly inspired by Sámi, with lots of length contrasts, opening diphthongs, palatalization, and consonant gradation. There are four POAs for nasals and stops: bilabial, alveolar, palatalized alveolar, and velar. There are also alveolar and postalveolar affricates, and fricatives at the dental, alveolar, postalveolar, and glottal places of articulation. Finishing off the consonant inventory, we have alveolar and palatalized alveolar laterals, an alveolar trill, a labiodental approximant, and a palatal glide. There are no voicing or phonation contrasts among any phonemes, but each consonant has a length contrast.
Jáhkarrá has 7 distinctive vowel qualities, /i e æ a ɑ o u/. Short /i/ contrasts with /i:/, which is always long. The vowels /a e o/ are underlyingly long—they usually appear long unless followed by a geminate consonant.
The true complexity of Jáhkarrá phonology is in the consonant gradation system, which has a whole article dedicated to it. Consonant gradation causes consonants to undergo lenition in a closed syllable (grade 2), and even further lenition in a closed syllable with a long coda (grade 3). For single short consonants, grades 2 and 3 are the same, and usually are a fricative or approximant at the same POA as the original consonant (or just the original consonant again, if it was already a fricative or approximant). As an example, grades 2 and 3 of /p/ are /ʋ/. For single long stops or nasals, grade 2 is the original consonant, and grade 3 is the short version, e.g. p: ~ p: ~ p. For single long fricatives and approximants, grade 2 and 3 are both shortened, e.g. ʋ: ~ ʋ ~ ʋ. Each type of consonant cluster has its own gradation patterns. For instance, stop-nasal clusters shorten in the second grade, and delete the stop in the 3rd grade, producing a pattern like p:m ~ pm ~ m. Another example is preaspirated stops and affricates, which shorten in the second grade and become fricatives or approximants in the third grade, e.g. h:p ~ hp ~ ʋ. These patterns produce a rich array of morphophonological variations, since they are triggered every time a suffix is added that changes the number of consonants in the syllable coda.
In addition to its North Sámi-inspired romanization, Jáhkarrá also has a featural alphabetic conscript, in which consonants of the same place or manner share visual elements.
Jáhkarrá's phonological complexity is only exceeded by its rich morphology. In the noun department, it has 3 numbers (singular/dual/plural) and 5 core grammatical cases, plus an additional seventeen local cases. The grammatical cases are nominative, accusative, and ergative, plus a genitive and vocative case. The core alignment of Jáhkarrá is nominative-accusative, with no splits; the ergative case is used to mark the agent in a passive clause. For each of the grammatical cases, the singular and dual trigger grade 1 consonant gradation, while the plural triggers grade 2, forming alternations like česppováhpa /t͡ʃesp:ɔʋah:pɑ/ "rowboat", but česppováhppin /t͡ʃesp:ɔʋa:hpin/ "rowboats." The local cases in Jáhkarrá are simply too many to overview here, but they can be organized into upper, lower, outer, inner, and static cases, plus the comitative and abessive. Read all about them in this article!
The verb in Jáhkarrá can take one of 4 stems, each of which indicates a different valency (transitive, intransitive, passive, or antipassive). After this come sixteen different slots for suffixes. The verb agrees with both subject and object, and person marking distinguishes not only inclusive and exclusive first person, but also has a separate fourth person for a third person object that is distinct from a third person subject. Both the third and fourth persons have deictic variants which are used where other languages might use separate demonstrative pronouns, and there are also separate third person markings for indefinites, both animate and inanimate.
In addition to the complex agreement, there is a large combinatorial set of TAM markings, with 5 primary moods, 2 secondary moods, 2 tenses (plus an additional future tense in the indicative), and many, many aspects, which are usually treated as purely derivational.
There's much more to say about Jáhkarrá morphology, so make sure to check out the articles and grammar tables!
Most of the heavy lifting of Jáhkarrá grammar is done by the impressive morphology. Intriguingly, the basic word order of a transitive clause is OSV. The language as a whole is strictly left-branching to boot. Many common constructions are formed via verbal morphology; for instance, predicative nouns and adjectives are simply verbalized instead of using a copula, as in Čodjini "it's too long." Even conjunctions are formed with adverbial participles, such as bealbi riivurá áistale turn-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument.3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee other.DUDual (number)
'to, onto' ask-TRANSTransitive (valency)
has two arguments-PCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb.INDIndicative mood (mood)
a common form of realis-ADVAdverbial
e.g. English '-ly' "one turns to the other and says." That concludes our journey into Jáhkarrá; for more cool syntax tidbits, check out the Jáhkarrá translations!
[top]More on Jáhkarrá
That wraps up our tour of Jáhkarrá! There's loads more to read, so check out Jáhkarrá's LexiBuild sets, grammar tables, translations, and many articles!
[top]A Note on Jáhkarrá
Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Jáhkarrá that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Feel free to shoot us (protondonor) 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 last language of the month, but certainly not our least, is Hastrica's fantastic