I always heard a lot about the iconicity of sign languages. I also heard that the iconicity could vanish through historical processes. So, in the western continent of my conworld, the sign languages are more common than spoken languages. They have a long diachronic history. However, there are also some visually handicapped people, who can't communicate using sign languages. Those people speak the spoken languages (also called 'blind languages', 'mouth languages' or 'ear languages'). These languages have a high degree of iconicity. Here is a quick overview about on of those 'mostly nameless' languages.
The phoneme inventory is rather symetric, if you adjust some things. This symetry is important for some morpho-phonological processes. The vowel inventory is sometimes also called the vowel space. '~'s indicate free variations.
The archiphoneme /N/ assimilates in place to a preceding consonant, if there is one. Syllable finally it nasalizes the preceding vowel. If it appears word initial or between vowels, it assimilates in place to the following vowel. All in all the realizations include [Ṽ], [m], [ŋʷ], [ŋ], [n], [ɲ].
Code: Select all
alveolar velar labial /t~c/ /k/ /kʷ~p/ voiceless plosives /d~ɟ/ /g/ /gʷ~b/ voiced plosives /s~ɕ/ /x/ /xʷ~f/ voiceless fricatives /z~ʑ/ /ɣ/ /ɣʷ~v/ voiced fricatives /l~j/ /N/ /w~ʋ/ sonorants /i/ /ɨ/ /u/ high vowels /ɛ/ /a/ /ɔ/ low vowels
Code: Select all
Lengths/Volume normal loud shortened ă ˈă normal a ˈa lenthened aː ˈaː
There are several morphophonological processes in this language, most of them can be viewed as iconic.
- Ultimate Vowel Shortening: The vowel of the last syllable is shortened.
- Ultimate Vowel Lengthening: The vowel of the last syllable is lengthened.
- Phrase Reduplication:A phrase is reduplicated. The result is a new phrase.
- Word Reduplication: A word stem is reduplicated. The result is a new word.
- Word Final Consonant Lenition: The last consonant of a word is lenited using a certain hierarchy.
- Word Final Consonant Fortition: The last consonant of a word is lenited using a certain hierarchy.
- voiceless plosives <-> voiced plosives <-> voiced fricatives <-> sonorants <-> ∅
- voiceless plosives <-> voiceless fricatives <-> voiced fricatives <-> sonorants <-> ∅
This is probably also the best place to mention the vowel space. Vowel space is used for pronouns and obviative-proximate-distinctions. Front vowel indicate proximity and back vowels indicate obviative positions. Low vowels are used for first person and high vowels are used for non-first person. (The distinction between PROX1/PROX2 and between OBV1/OBV2 is discussed later in detail.)
Code: Select all
/i/ /ɨ/ /u/ 3.PROX2 2SG 3.OBV2 /ɛ/ /a/ /ɔ/ 3.PROX1 1SG 3.OBV2
Nouns are inflected for number and proximity. Proximity is indicated by the OBV2 and PROX2 marker taken from the vowel space. Whereas this is obligatory, the number marking is optional and indicated by word reduplication.
Verbs are inflected for aspect. In addition some of theme are inflected for person of the object, others for the person of the subject and there are also some which are said to be inflected for location instead.
Aspects are the following:
- Durative: indicated by either word reduplication or ultimat vowel lengthening
- Iterative: indicated by word reduplication
- Habitualis: indicated by phrase reduplication
- Perfective: indicated by ultimat vowel shortening and word final consonant fortition
- Progressive: indicated by ultimat vowel lengthening and word final consonant lenition
The general word order is (X)SV(O)(X), but a topic can be fronted, and a focus can be moved in a poition directly left to the verb.
The language is pro-drop and copulas are optional.
Wh-words do occur either at the beining or at the end of a sentence. Yes/No-Questions can be indicated by intonation, by a interrogative particle or by a pronoun refering to the subject and occuring at the end of the sentence.
What do you think about this? What do you like about this? What do you hate about it? What did you have trouble understanding with? What do you want to know more about?