Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Evidence of a Substrate in Inraj Sargalk

Inraj island is a relatively large island with a population of Sargalk speakers isolated from the main bulk of Sargalk. There are temporary Sargalk settlements in closer vicinity, but the archipelago chain linking Inraj to the rest is not very suitable for long term settlement. The location is east of the main Sargalk homelands.

There are a few indications of a linguistic substrate:

  • Nom-acc alignment, with the lative serving as accusative and dative. For some nouns, the pegative has become nominative, for most, the absolutive has become nominative.
  • Personal names use a simpler phonology, consisting of CV syllables (with word final C permitted as well), and only the vowels /i a e u/. The consonant system also is somewhat simplified in the naming system. Names include Kalit, Rukan, Melas, Nisa, Mase, Vinus, Mepus, Kisis, Venut, Lanut, Xenut, Lak, Karan.
  • The verbal system has been reorganized to use a fair share of auxiliaries.
  • In addition to personal names, more than 180 words without cognates in any SDB language.
    • Out of these some 80 are names for places, and 80 designate animals, plants, social status, mythic beings, verbs and nouns related to subsistence and ritual, as well as astronomical phenomena. Two dozen are different profanities.
    • Many of these words have a pitch accent system in place.
    • Some of these words have unusual morphophonology going on, including vowel harmony.
  • Some early loans from Proto-Cwarmin have gone through different changes than in other branches of Sargalk, hinting at being mangled by a different phonology.
  • The indefinite pronoun system is significantly different.
  • Loss of gender, despite no sound changes eradicating gender markers; animacy is much more central.
  • A number of constructions that are not attested anywhere else in the Sargalk area, nor do they have cognates elsewhere.
There are also some ethnological and anthropological reasons to suggest the Inraj Sargalk are partially an assimilated population:
  • different houses
  • different pottery and techniques for weaving baskets
  • certain differences in customs, superstitions and religion
  • dogs are only semi-domesticated
  • different boat designs

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