Another phonology

April 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

This is a phonology I thought up last night, intended for a close-to-monosyllabic isolating language I’m thinking about making. The consonants are shown below:


There are five simple vowels: /i e a u o/ which may occur short or long. The high vowels /i u/ may occur as glides, yielding both rising and falling diphthongs, as well as triphthongs. These are shown below:


The glides /i u/ are spelled <j> and <w> after a vowel and word initially, respectively.

All morphemes are mono- or bisyllabic. Monosyllables have the form V, VC, CV, or CVC where C is a consonant and V is a vowel or diphthong or triphthong. The initial C slot may be filled by any consonant, though there are some restrictions based on the following V. The labial fricative /f/ may only precede a rounded vowel or glide [u̯]. Before glide [i̯], the sibilant fricatives have all palatalized historically, leaving only /tɕ dʑ ɕ ʑ/. This does not occur before vowel [i].

Codas are much more restricted: only /h t k n ŋ/ occur. The voiceless finals /h t k/ only occur after the short vowels and rising diphthongs. The nasal finals may occur after the short, long, and rising diphthongs. The falling diphthongs and triphthongs only occur in open syllables. The glottal fricative does not surface as an actual coda, but instead lowers the tone of the preceding syllable nucleus. This is written as a grave over the vowel: kiè ‘room’ is /kieh/ [ki̯e˨].

Bisyllabic words consist of a main syllable of the form CV or CVC (limited by the above form rules) and a presyllable of the form (C)V(h, N), where C and V are both extremely limited. Only three underlying vowels occur in presyllables: /e u a/. These are realized [ɛ ʉ a], respectively, except before main syllables containing [i] or on-glide [i̯], in which case /u/ > [ɨ]. Presyllables may be open or begin in a consonant from the following set: /p t k s h m n l/. Presyllables may be open or closed by /h/ or a placeless nasal /N/. After open presyllables, all initials occur. After /h/, an obstruent must be voiceless. After a nasal presyllable obstruents must be voiced or /h/. The nasal assimilates to the following place of articulation.

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