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LotM - May 2020 - Srekhil
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For May, the LOTM crown is taken by Srekhil, by alexis! Whether you want an interesting take on prosody, complex syntactic operations, topic-comment sentence structure or base-18 numerals, this one delivers. Let's look into it!
This public article was written by Admin Sheep on 5 May 2020, 19:01.

[comments] Menu 1. Phonology and orthography 2. Grammar 3. Background 4. More on Srekhil 5. A Note on Srekhil For May, the LOTM crown is taken by  Srekhil, by @alexis! An analytic topic-comment language with an interesting take on prosody, a trigger system, loads of auxiliaries and some neat syntactic tricks, it also continues the trend of having an extensive conculture behind it.

[top]Phonology and orthography

Srekhil has a simple five-vowel system with the common /a e i o u/ distribution, plus the diphthongs /aɪ̯ aɔ̯/ which are incompatible with syllable-final consonants and can thus be analysed as /aj aw/. Length is not distinctive, and there are no tones. In closed syllables, /e i o u/ have the lax equivalents [ɛ ɪ ɔ ʊ] unless the coda consists of /ɾ/. The consonant inventory contrasts aspiration but not voice and maintains a distinction between laminal and apical alveolar consonants; the latter are grouped together with the palatal consonants /ɲ j ʎ/. One notable characteristic is the absence of labial fricatives and, in turn, the presence of a pharyngeal fricative /ħ/, which contrasts with /h/. The glottal stop is also phonemic but only ever occurs as a coda consonant; its presence shortens a preceding vowel significantly.

Stress is on the last root element, which means Srekhil stress is predictable only if you know what is a suffix and what is a nominal compound, since the latter count as roots. Multiple suffixes may leave a word with effectively inital stress, while complex compounds will have final stress. In fact, word stress in Srekhil is not as prominent as in other languages, since prosodic groups of multiple words are of greater importance.

The prosody of Srekhil assigns high pitch to the focus element, which interacts with its topic-comment structure in a way that reverses the common “declaratives falling, questions rising” intonation. In questions, focus is on what is asked after, so it appears at the beginning of the sentence, with the pirch subsequently dropping. In declaratives, the important part is the comment on an established topic, which is positioned at the ens of the sentence, so the intonation rises.

[top]Grammar

There is a complex pronominal system based on social group that mainly distinguishes close vs. distant and also encodes gender and number, although not all combinations are expressed. Possessives form their own set and aren’t always transparently derived from the personal pronouns. Srekhil makes use of a fourth person to disambiguate third person references.

Two different number system are in use, both of which will appear odd to most of us who are used to decimal systems. The native numbers only go up to six, while the more common ones are base 18; the were borrowed from Kižīwiš, another in-universe language.

Srekhil is a quite analytic language where learners spend little time on memorising paradigms. Most words are mono-or bisyllabic, although compounding is possible. Nouns do not inflect for case or number, although there is an optional associative plural that means “X and their group”. Verbs can be marked for resultativity and pluractionality. A pluractional verb expresses that, in some way, the action was carried out multiple times, but it’s left to context whether that was repeatedly or done to multiple objects. There is no agreement marking with any arguments. Most TAM information comes from a wide range of auxiliary verbs which generally enforce a dependent clause.

Srekhil word order is based on a topic-comment structure. The topic is what is being talked about and always begins a sentence, followed by the verb, which will indicate the syntactic role (by means of a trigger prefix) of the topic in the sentence. In dependent clauses, the verb appears in final position. What makes the topic-comment structure particularly interesting is that Srekhil can topicalise parts of a phrase, effectively breaking it apart since the verb remains in v2 position. Clauses that share a topic can be coordinated with the particle čwe, which amounts to turning one of the verbs into an adverbial. This strategy is fairly important, lending a hand in expressing ditransitives as well as location adverbials. The former effectively adds an intransitive verb to a transitive; the latter is necessary because locatives are verbs in Srekhil. The syntax article really goes into a lot of detail (with wonderfully colourful examples), so be sure to check it out.

[top]Background

Srekhil is one of those conlangs blessed with a fair bit of conculturing to back it up, all gathered in its own huge article. The Sretsor are a matrilineal, tribal society of horse warriors and raiders whose religion is centered on ancestor worship. Women form their own social group apart from warriors and shamans and wield quite a bit of authority when it comes to matters that affect the clan, especially because warfare and hunting tends to be the main occupation of the men.

[top]More on Srekhil

That wraps up our tour of Srekhil! There's loads more to read, so check out the LexiBuild sets, articles and translations!

[top]A Note on Srekhil

Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Srekhil that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Feel free to shoot me (@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!

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