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CONLANG  March 1999, Week 3

CONLANG March 1999, Week 3

Subject:

Re: Boreanesian phonology (was: Re: Allophones or Separate Phonemes?

From:

Kristian Jensen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 14 Mar 1999 18:31:47 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (248 lines)

And Rosta:

>Kristian:
>>
>> Good Idea!! Maybe if I describe the Boreanesian writing system
>> then maybe you can identify what's going on with the non-similar-
>> sounding-but-in-complementary-distribution-and-historically-
>> identical sounds of Boreanesia.
>>
>> The Boreanesian script is a syllabary script. Or perhaps we
>> should call it a moraebary script in that every letter represents
>> a mora. In the grammar I have divided them formally into two
>> types, onset mora letters and offset mora letters.
>>
>> There are 16 onset mora letters representing a CV sequence. The V
>> segment is inherently a schwa /@/, but this can be modified into
>> /i/ /a/ or /u/ by using diacritics (just like the Indic scripts
>> of Asia). The complete grid is as follows:
>>
>> k@ N@ t@ n@ t[@ n[@ p@ m@ ?@ j@ l@ w@ h@ s@ L@ x@
>> ka Na ta na t[a n[a pa ma ?a ja la wa ha sa La xa
>> ki Ni ti ni t[i n[i pi mi ?i ji li wi hi si Li xi
>> ku Nu tu nu t[u n[u pu mu ?u ju lu wi hu su Lu xu
>
>What are the realizations of /x/, /h/, and /L/?

/x/ = voiceless velar fricative
/h/ = voiceless glottal fricative
/L/ = voiceless lateral fricative

>> Thus, the first row represents the inherent onset mora letters,
>> the other rows represent modified letters.
>>
>> There allophones in the chart palatalizing the dental oral and
>> nasal stops (_t[_ and _n[_ and _s_ before _i_.
>>
>> There are 5 offset mora letters representing the coda of closed
>> syllables, represented here as X. This X segment is inherently a
>> stiff phonation ending in a glottal stop (ie., X?). But this can
>> be modified into slack phonation, or X ending in voicelessness of
>> h (ie., Xh), by the use of a diacritic. The complete grid is as
>> follows (I'll represent the oral velar approximant by _@_ and the
>> nasalized counterpart by _N_):
>>
>> @? j? l? w? N?
>> @h jh lh wh Nh
>
>Do similarities between shapes of Boreanesian characters reflect
>similarities in phonological properties (as is the case with the
>tengwar, and with Livagian scripts)?

Not really, the script was borrowed from the ancient Kawi script of
Indonesia via the Philippines and then was modified to fit
Boreanesian phonology. Most of the original shapes were already
established when borrowed. Syllable final consonants were originally
a grapheme (representing the C@ syllable) with the virama (vowel
killer). These have turned into ligatures since only 4 graphs were
used with the virama. Thus, the onset graphs for j@ l@ w@ ?@ are
similar in shape with offset graphs for -j -l -w -@ respectively.

BTW, do you have a website displaying the Livagian scripts?
>
>If so, then although your inventory of discrete graphemes strikes
>me as optimal (given what I have previously learnt of Boreanesian
>morpheme structure), similarities between shapes might, for
>example, reflect such patterns as
>
> onset @ i u a
> offset @ j w l
>
> [re. a::l - this is not as far-fetched as it sounds: it has been
> suggested that coronality is the consonantal/nonnuclear
> manifestation of lowness in vowels.]
>
>et cetera.

Actually, I have discovered such patterns too. However, it can be
extended to include onset and offset consonants. Here is my version
below (where G will henceforth represent a velar approximant):

nucleus -i- -a- -u- -@-
voiced onset j- l- w- ?-
stiff offset -j? -l? -w? -G?
voiceless onset s- L- x- h-
slack offset -jh -lh -wh -Gh

The parallels are maybe not that clear in the present language, but
if we repeat the table above with the onsets and offsets of
*Proto-Boreanesian, we get (where h marks a voiceless variant, and R
marks a pharyngeal approximant):

nucleus -i- -a- -u- -@-
voiced onset j- l- w- R-
voiced offset -j -l -w -R
voiceless onset hj- hl- hw- hR-
voiceless offset -jh -lh -wh -Rh

This is basically what I was trying to describe when we first
discussed these sounds and their complementary distribution. It is
exactly this distribution that poses the problem when I have to
decide about orthography. Say I want to be very minimalistic and
represent all the sounds of the first column by <i>, the second by
<a>, the third by <u>, and the fourth by <@> - (phonation could be
marked by diacritics, but for simplicity's sake I'll ignore them).
Then I can have syllables like <iau> for [jaw], and <aua> for [lul].
But then what about [lal] which would then be represented as <aaa>?
Something again tells me to represent onsets, nucleus, and offsets
by different graphs even if they belong to the same melodic sound
across segments.

>> Both onset and offset mora letters are combined to form
>> syllables. A light syllable with only a mora in length is
>> represented by an onset mora letter, a heavy syllable with two
>> mora in length is represented by a onset mora letter followed by
>> a offset mora letter. An offset mora letter by itself cannot form
>> a word. Three types of syllables can be thus be represented
>> schematically as:
>>
>> CV - light syllable
>> CVX? - heavy syllable with stiff phonation
>> CVXh - heavy syllable with slack phonation
>>
>> More allophones arise when onset mora letters are combined with
>> offset mora letters. A _-@?_ or _-@h_ following a V segment with
>> a central vowel _@_ or _a_ is "monophthongized": _C@:?_, _C@:h_,
>> _Ca:?_, or _Ca:h_ depending on the combination. Similarly, _-j?_
>> and _-jh_ "monophthongizes" following a front vowel: _Ci:?_ and
>> _Ci:h_. Similar for _-w?_ and _-wh_ after a back vowel _u_.
>>
>> Even though the offsets _-@?_ and _-@h_ are in complementary
>> distribution with the onsets _?-_ and _h-_ respectively, and
>> evolved historically from the same phoneme in the protolanguage
>> (voiced and voiceless pharyngeal approximants), they are not
>> represented by letters that resemble each other in any way. The
>> same goes for_-j?_ and _j-_, _-jh_ and _s-_, _-l?_ and _l-_, _-
>> lh_ and _L-_, _-w?_ and _w-_, _-wh_ and _x-_. The script
>> represents onsets and rhymes by different symbols altogether.
>
>Are you interpreting all this as revealing about the nature of
>Boreanesian phonology? Or do you allow that the writing system
>might be somewhat "imperfect"?

Well, I may have exagerated a little. Some of the Boreanesian
letters I claimed having no resemblance to each other do in fact
resemble each other, but are reagarded as separate letters. Like I
just wrote, offset letters evolved as standardized ligatures of a
letter with an added diacritic. What I should have said is that
these letters are regarded as different letters even if some may
look the same.
>
>> I suppose some kind of native Boreanesian language tendencies has
>> developed so much in me that the Boreanesian in me tells me to
>> represent onsets, rhymes, codas, and phonation by different
>> symbols altogether - even when I know that Romanized scripts like
>> the IPA doesn't but represents things as segments.
>
>But the IPA is for representation of phonetics, not phonology.

True. But I like to use IPA letters to represent specifically
Boreanesian sounds which a Romanization scheme would fail to
represent. Some African languages use some IPA symbols in their
official orthography. Why not Boreanesian?
>
>I think it is beyond dispute that a decent description of
>Boreanesian phonology must be formulated in terms of structural
>units such as onsets, etc. The remaining unresolved issue is
>whether the elements forming the content of these structural units
>are the same for the different sorts of unit. E.g. is /j-/::/-
>i/::/-j/ an element "I" located in onset, nucleus and coda
>respectively?

I think this is one of those disputable linguistics issues that
might arise if Boreanesian was a real natlang studied by real
linguists. Hmmm... sorta gives Boreanesian that naturalistic feel,
don't you think?
>
>> Currently, in the grammar I'm writing, I am in fact representing
>> the Boreanesian language through a version of the IPA where
>> digraphs represent a mora - much like digraphs in the two charts
>> I have just made. That is; a CV sequence represents one onset
>> mora, and a X? or Xh sequence represents stiff or slack offset
>> moras repsectively. Its practical in the sense that every mora
>> can easily be identified - every mora represented by two letters.
>> The result may look cluttered and long, but once you understand
>> the allophonic rules involved its quite easy (for me at least).
>> What do you think about that?
>
>I don't see why you can't use the roman alphabet - with a few
>diacritics here and there it would be up to the job, as your
>asciification shows. I rather dislike the use of IPA symbols in
>phonological notation.

A matter of taste, I suppose. Using digraphs would ruin that
practical orthographical rule I discovered of two letters per mora.
Besides, the IPA symbols I AM using are few and not much different
from some roman letters - like diacritics on roman letters. These
are: <t> and <n> with the dental diacritic, the <l> with the loop
through it, the barred <i>, and the velar <n>. The only exceptions
are my use the symbol for a velar approximant and the glottal stop
which has no counterpart in the roman alphabet. But my use of these
non-roman symbols are no different than the use of non-roman symbols
used by other languages like some African languages, and Danish too
with its <ae> ligature, its crossed <o>, and its <a> with the <o>
diacritic. The rest of the other letters I'm using in the
Boreanesian grammar have their exact counterparts in the Roman
alphabet: <a> <h> <i> <j> <k> <l> <m> <n> <p> <s> <t> <u> <w> <x>.
>
>> -----<snip>-----
>>
>> >> >> Comments, please!
>> >> >
>> >> >My comment is that I very much hope that you *will* study
>> >>
>> >> >linguistics at university.
>> >>
>> >> We'll see about that. I have 'til after summer to make a final
>> >> decision. 8-)
>> >
>> >Have you checked whether it is possible to do Anthro + Lx
>> >together?
>> >
>> I've been pretty busy lately, but I have set a date this week to
>> talk with the people at the university.
>>
>> -kristian- 8-)
>
>I look forward to hearing how the meeting went. I hope you'll be
>persistent in trying to get what you want. Remember that most
>university teachers are only too pleased to have students who are
>both talented and enthusiastic, and their desire to teach such
>students generally overcomes the
get-lost-and-stop-taking-up-my->valuable-time,
I'm-doing-you-a-massive-and-inadequately-rewarded-
>favour-by-having-anything-to-do-with-you attitude prevalent in
>academia.

I spoke to them and it seems that there is talk of combining the two
subjects together in the future, but nothing has happened yet.
Anyways, I have applied to both. I'm a bit cheezed-off by how
impersonal the applications are so I have spiced it up with a copy
of the first chapter of my Boreanesian grammar, its phonology! I
hope that works! If you want, I could send you a copy too! I have
already sent the applications, which are due tomorrow. Now all I
have to do is wait patiently until the 28th of July when all the
applicants in Denmark get an answer in the mail.

-kristian- 8-)

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