Monday, October 17, 2016

The Ŋʒädär Vowel Harmony and its Development

Ŋʒädär's vowel system is somewhat more complicated than that of Ćwarmin. The following system, in fact, is the basic layout:
front
unrounded
front
rounded
back
unrounded
back
rounded
iüɯ <ı>u
eöɤ <ə>o

ä
a

This originates with a slightly different system, the ancestor system of both Ŋʒädär and Ćwarmin:

front
unrounded
(neutral)
front
rounded

back
rounded
iü
u
eø
o
ɛœ
ɔ

ɶ
ɒ

The symbols used are somewhat misleading: ɒ is not necessarily fully rounded, nor is ɶ. The distinction of e vs. ɛ, ø vs. œ etc was only maintained in stressed syllables. The vowels of the neutral column were also retracted significantly in words with back rounded vowels.

This originally allophonic retraction became phonological with the loss of a number of vowels in various positions, such as unstressed final short vowels after sibilants.
/'gisu/ ['gɯsu] > /gɯs/ sling
/'gise/ ['gise] > /gis/ feather
/'keza/ ['kezɒ] > /kɤz/ thing
/'keze/ ['keze] > /kez/ straw of grass

/
ser'teʒi/ [ser'teʒi]> /ser'teʒ/ keep for later
/'sɛrteʒa/ ['sʌrtɤʒɒ] > /'sɤrtɤʒ/
Final vowels have thence reappeared due to loss of final -t, -p and -k after vowels. These have thence reappeared due to simplification of final clusters (-nk, -nt, -mp, -st, -sp, -sk, -rk, -rt, -rp). 

Another position where vowels have disappeared is unstressed initial ijV-, ıjV-, ıwV-, uwV-, etc. Of these, only uwV- and ar- affect vowel harmony.
/a'rik/ [ɒrɯk] > /rɯk/ knee
/rik/ [rik] > /rik/ shard
/u'wir/ [u'wɯr] > /wɯr/ dough
/i'wir/ [i'wir] > /wir/ soft
/u'jent/ [u'jɤnt] > /jɤt/ sleep (stem)
jent [jent] > /jet/ eyelid

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