Friday, May 26, 2017

Ćwarmin: The Phonology, pt I

The basic consonant inventory:



The voicing of /b/, /d/ and /g/ sometimes borders on stiff voice rather than modal voice, especially word-initially.  In previous transcriptions, I've used <h> for <ǧ>. I prefer  ǧ over ǵ due to ˇ being easier to spot. Sequences of stop + fricative even over word boundaries are rendered as affricates if possible. Otherwise, one part of the sequence is  lost. Generally, voiceless stops win over voiced fricatives, so ts → t, pf → p, but voiced fricatives win over voiceless stops, so dz → z, bv → v. A light lengthening of the resulting segment may occur in some idiolects, giving ...Vd zV.... → ...V z:V, ...Vp fV... → Vp: V...

Since this is the only position where consonant length has any significance for obstruents in Ćwarmin, and the distribution of this is rather the same as the distribution of stop+fricative, length is not considered a distinctive feature for stops.

Historically, /ts/ has also existed in the phonemic inventory, but has merged with /t/ and /s/ depending on position in the word – /s/ favoured in the end and onset, /t/ favoured elsewhere.

ń and ň are very marginal phonemes. Ń and n are only distinguished over morpheme boundaries; ...-ńć... would come out distinct from ....n-ć... This situation sometimes appears in some verbal inflections. ň and n are distinguished in a few words before and after /ž/. Minimal pairs and near minimal pairs are /kažna/ (snow drift), kažňa (accident), uňžo (friend), unžon (to sharpen), ižňət (important), ižnel (reject, leave, abandon). These are not distinguished in the orthography.

/n ń ň/ do not assimilate to ŋ before velars. /m n ŋ/ all three go back to proto-ĆŊD. The only assimilation that has occurred is n, ŋ > m / _labial obstruent.

A cluster cannot contain both palatals and postalveolars in sequence. The leftmost sound's place of articulation wins out in cases where such sounds somehow get stuck together. Postalveolars and palatals also tend to win over alveolars. Rhotics and laterals only ever appear in postalveolar or palatal versions as allophones of /r/ and /l/ in such clusters.

The maximal syllable would be CCVVCC. It is unusual for three or more consonants to occur in a row. The sonority hierarchy is rather strictly observed, except that fricatives, affricates and stops are tied. Rather peculiar clusters do occur even initially, such as xpan (rake), ǧdisən (to sieve), fkarul (badger), but these are not very common. Clusters of fricatives also occur, such as lašxur ('to peel'), "ǧzin yə ǧvin" ('this and that'), vǧum ('to yawn'), vžuk ('a tick'), vźuc ('a thread'). Word initially, labials do not cluster with each other, except mw- and a few bw-.

Stress is almost invariably on the initial syllable, after which every other syllable has secondary stress. However, if the final syllable would carry stress and there is a following word, the final syllable's stress is weakened. The language is roughly speaking syllable-timed, with stressed syllables being slightly longer. Some styles of poetic recital, however, seem to intentionally go for something more like stress-timed rhythms.

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