Thoughts on nasals and sound changes in Nyango

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Thoughts on nasals and sound changes in Nyango

Post by LinguistCat » Sat 01 Jul 2017, 09:34

This is mostly to get my own thoughts out and arranged but if I get any input to help me do that, I would appreciate it.

Old Nyango has nasals, prenasalized voiced consonants, and nasal+consonant combos (including nasal+prenasalized). Like Japanese which it is "related" to, it has long consonants - but not long voiced consonants - and long vowels. Long nasals at this point are less common than in Japanese because where Japanese took nasal+semivowels and turned them into long nasals (think of words like 天王/天皇 tennou), Old Nyango kept the semivowels (tenwau) at least in the beginning stages.

Now, the first step toward "Modern Nyango" I have for sure is that any form of nasalization in a consonant nasalizes and lowers the previous vowel (except /a/), but does not go across word boundaries. I'm not sure what I want to do next with nasals, aside from whatever next sound changes would affect the consonants and not the vowels. I have two ideas considered:

First being that /m n/, which in Old Nyango are palatalized basically by default, become /M\ j/. The prenasalized consonants /b d z g/ become /m n n N/ in at least some conditions. Syllable final "N" voices the following consonant if unvoiced, possibly dropping out. Later vowel deletion in certain contexts between nasals and other consonants (as well as between a few other consonants, at least some of which make a contrast between short and long r's) would bring "N" back into words but in very different places than Standard Japanese.

The second being that /m n/ becoming /b d/ while original /b d/ devoice except when preceded by "N". "N" plus /b d g/ would then become /m: n: N:/, which would later lengthen nearby vowels when they lose their own length. In this case, the vowel deletions above wouldn't affect nasals as much, but would still happen sometimes.

At this point in either case, nasal vowels would go through a few different shifts (lengthening when alone, losing nasalization then breaking into diphthongs or merging with other long vowels, etc).

I do want Nyango to be recognizably Not Japanese at this point, but I'd also like it to be easily written with hiragana with some usage tweaks (/C/ being written with the h-series kana unless I decide to change /C/ into something else, little tsu before an r-series kana making it /r:/ and the like). I'd also have some grammar changes of course, but after these sound changes I'd like for it to start having more influence from Standard Japanese again as well as other borrowed terms from other languages through Japanese.

I know I didn't go into every sound change that I could include, since some of the other changes I'm considering would be affected by these changes. But considering that I have reasons to keep Nyango slightly conservative, and Japanese itself seems pretty conservative in its changes from the time of Late Middle Japanese, would I "have enough time" for the top set of changes to happen (in addition to a hand full of others) if this brought Nyango from slightly before Late Middle Japanese to the late 1800's or early 1900's? This wouldn't get it to modern times proper but it would give me a chance to include some more recent borrowings from Standard Japanese in the modern form.
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