West Saxon Grammar Sketch v 0.0.1

A forum for all topics related to constructed languages
Post Reply
User avatar
Herra Ratatoskr
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu 28 Dec 2017, 23:22

West Saxon Grammar Sketch v 0.0.1

Post by Herra Ratatoskr » Fri 20 Jul 2018, 23:08

This is the first part of a sketch of the standard contemporary form of West Saxon (natively <Wessaxisc> /wɛs.ˈæks.ɪʃ/), the conlang spoken in my alt-history version of the Kingdom of Wessex which retained independence from (Norman) England until the late 1600s, and then regained it in the early 20th century.

West Saxon is a West Germanic language descended from the West Saxon dialect of Old English (called Old West Saxon in the alt-history), and is a sister language of English.

These posts will represent my attempt to compile literally years worth of evolving, sometimes contradictory, notes into the bare bones start to a reference grammar. Any feedback, both on the ideas contained within, and on the presentation would be appreciated. Especially useful would be letting me know when things seem confusing, or where you wished I went into more detail. Hope you enjoy!

PHONETIC INVENTORY
Consonants
Standard West Saxon has a total of 33 consonant phonemes. Voicing is contrastive in stops, affricates, and fricatives (except for the lateral fricative / ɬ / and the palatal, velar, and glottal fricatives). The consonant system is summarized in the table below:

Code: Select all

+------------+---------+---------+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+--------+---------+
|            | LABIAL  | DENTAL  | ALVEOLAR  | POST-ALV  | PALATAL   | VELAR   | UVULAR | GLOTTAL |
+------------+---------+---------+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+--------+---------+
| STOPS      | / p b / |           / t d /               |           | / k g / |        |         |
+------------+---------+---------------------------------+-----------+---------+--------+---------+
| NASALS     | / m  /  |           / n /                 | / ɲ /     | / ŋ /   |        |         |
+------------+---------+---------+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+--------+---------+
| AFFRICATES |         |         | / ts dz / | / tʃ dʒ / |           |         |        |         |
+------------+---------+---------+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+--------+---------+
| FRICATIVES | / f v / | / θ ð / | / s ɬ z / | / ʃ ʒ /   | / ç /     | / x /   |        | / h /   |
+------------+---------+---------+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+--------+---------+
| LIQUIDS    | / w /   |         | / ɫ /     | / ɹ /     | / j ʎ /   |         | / ʁ̞ /  |         |
+------------+---------+---------+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+--------+---------+
Monophthongs
Standard West Saxon is quite rich in monophthongs, with a total of 15 in stressed syllables (in the most commonly accepted analysis), as well as three inflectional "schwa" vowels, They distinguish 5 heights, roundedness, and a front-back distinction for tonic vowels. Schwa vowels only distinguish two heights and are all pronounced in the center of the mouth. West Saxon's vowel inventory is as follows:

Code: Select all

+----------+--------+-------+-----------+--------+-------+
|          | F-URND | F-RND | CENTRAL   | B-URND | B-RND |
+----------+--------+-------+-----------+--------+-------+
| HIGH     | / i /  | / y / |           |        | / u / |
+----------+--------+-------+-----------+--------+-------+
| MID HIGH | / ɪ /  | / ʏ / |  / ɨ ʉ /  |        | / ʊ / |
+----------+--------+-------+-----------+--------+-------+
| MID      | / e /  | / ø / |           |        | / o / |
+----------+--------+-------+-----------+--------+-------+
| MID LOW  | / ɛ /  | / œ / | / ə | ɐ / |        | / ɔ / |
+----------+--------+-------+-----------+--------+-------+
| LOW      | / æ /  |       |           | / ɑ /  | / ɒ / |
+----------+--------+-------+-----------+--------+-------+
In addition, there is also a phonemic length distinction, with all vowels having long equivalents. Some use this to justify doubling the count of West Saxon monophthongs to 30, but most instead consider the length to be an allophone of /ɹ/ and /ʁ̞/ before dental, alveolar, and post-alveolar consonants, and of /ð/ before voiced consonants. This can be seen most commonly in alterations found in verbs whose stem ends in <r>. For instance, the verb <werje(n)> (meaning "to protect") has a first person present form <werje>, pronounced /wɛɹi/, but has a first person preterite form of <werde>, pronounced /wɛːd/. Most analyses treat it as having an underlying stem of /wɛɹ-/ in which the final /ɹ/ is realized as /ː/ before the dental suffix.

Diphthongs
Contemporary West Saxon has a large number of diphthongs (15 in total) combining 8 possible onsets and 7 possible codas. Like monophthongs, diphthongs can come in long varieties when followed by a /ɹ/, /ʁ̞/, of /ð/ realized as /ː/. West Saxon’s diphthongs are summarized in the following table.

Code: Select all

+----+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
|    |   -j   |   -w   |   -a   |   -ɥ   |   -ɔ   |   -ɛ   |   -u   |
+----+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
| ɪ- | / ɪj / | / ɪw / |        |        |        |        |        |
+----+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
| ɛ- | / ɛj / | / ɛw / | / ɛɑ / |        |        |        |        |
+----+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
| ɔ- | / ɔj / | / ɔw / | / ɔɑ / |        |        |        |        |
+----+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
| œ- |        |        |        | / œɥ / |        |        |        |
+----+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
| æ- | / æj / |        |        |        |        |        |        |
+----+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
| ɑ- |        | / ɑw / |        |        |        |        |        |
+----+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
| j- |        |        |        |        | / jɔ / | / jɛ / | / ju / |
+----+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
| w- |        |        |        |        | / wɔ / |        |        |
+----+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
Weak N/R
In quite a few of the coming paradigms there will be either an "n" or an "r" written in parentheses. These letters will sometimes drop off depending on the sounds that follow them, much like the "n" at the end of English’s indefinite article, the final "n" in those German dialects subject to the Eiffler Regel, or the mobile nu of ancient Greek.

In West Saxon, Weak N is dropped when followed by a nasal consonant, /ɫ/, /ɹ/, /ʁ̞ /, or a voiced fricative. Weak R is dropped much more frequently, being dropped whenever the following word begins with a consonant sound of any kind. At the end of an utterance Weak N and Weak R are retained.


Next Time: West Saxon's Orthography
Nachtuil
sinic
sinic
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed 20 Jul 2016, 23:16

Re: West Saxon Grammar Sketch v 0.0.1

Post by Nachtuil » Sat 28 Jul 2018, 00:09

I am interested to see where this goes. I hope to see an update at some point :) Orthographically I am interested in how you'll go about it and how much you'll derive from historical Old English for everything else. Will the spelling conventions have been "reset" in the last few centuries (like Dutch) or be very historical?
Ælfwine
greek
greek
Posts: 753
Joined: Mon 21 Sep 2015, 00:28
Location: New Jersey

Re: West Saxon Grammar Sketch v 0.0.1

Post by Ælfwine » Sat 28 Jul 2018, 03:26

Playing with a couple myself, I am very much a fan of well made germ-langs.
Salmoneus
MVP
MVP
Posts: 1418
Joined: Mon 19 Sep 2011, 18:37

Re: West Saxon Grammar Sketch v 0.0.1

Post by Salmoneus » Sat 28 Jul 2018, 10:58

"v. 0.0.1"

Woah, I've been caught in a time-eddy and transported back to 2005!
User avatar
Herra Ratatoskr
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu 28 Dec 2017, 23:22

Re: West Saxon Grammar Sketch v 0.0.1

Post by Herra Ratatoskr » Sun 29 Jul 2018, 06:23

Should be posting an update soon. I've got the consonants worked out, now I'm trying to figure out how to get the vowels documented. I'm almost there (I think).
Salmoneus wrote:
Sat 28 Jul 2018, 10:58
"v. 0.0.1"

Woah, I've been caught in a time-eddy and transported back to 2005!
v. 0.0.1 of this grammar sketch. The language itself is probably on v 6.x at this point.
Salmoneus
MVP
MVP
Posts: 1418
Joined: Mon 19 Sep 2011, 18:37

Re: West Saxon Grammar Sketch v 0.0.1

Post by Salmoneus » Sun 29 Jul 2018, 12:27

Herra Ratatoskr wrote:
Sun 29 Jul 2018, 06:23
Should be posting an update soon. I've got the consonants worked out, now I'm trying to figure out how to get the vowels documented. I'm almost there (I think).
Salmoneus wrote:
Sat 28 Jul 2018, 10:58
"v. 0.0.1"

Woah, I've been caught in a time-eddy and transported back to 2005!
v. 0.0.1 of this grammar sketch. The language itself is probably on v 6.x at this point.
But,
Spoiler:
if you re-wrote the grammar sketch, surely that would be v. 0.0.1 of itself too? I get how to have version numbers of a language, because a language is a concept that persists through many depictions, but how can you ever have a later version of a specific document? [unless you define documents of a certain type as all being different instantiations of the same platonic document - but since this is 0.0.1, you're clearly not doing that - so what's the difference between two different grammar sketches of west saxon and two very substantially (since '0.0.1 suggests up to three orders of magnitude of difference!) different versions of the 'same' grammar sketch of west saxon?)
Sorry, bad 'philosophy graduate' habit there... but seriously, it's great to see that WS is still going. As I've said before, I've always found it intriguing and fruitful.
User avatar
Egerius
mayan
mayan
Posts: 2412
Joined: Thu 12 Sep 2013, 20:29
Location: Not Rodentèrra
Contact:

Re: West Saxon Grammar Sketch v 0.0.1

Post by Egerius » Mon 30 Jul 2018, 22:09

I'm definitely subscribing.
I saw an older version of this on the ZBB and directly took some inspiration from it for my own Wínlandisch [ˈwæɪ̯nˌlandɪʃ] (Gothic -> “West Saxon” -> “English”), but I'm stuck in between Old and Middle Wínlandisch and didn't pick it back up since 2015 or so…

Anyways, I'd like to see more (particularly stuff on dialects and sound changes)!
Languages of Rodentèrra: Buonavallese, Saselvan Argemontese; Wīlandisċ Taulkeisch; More on the road.
Conlang embryo of TELES: Proto-Avesto-Umbric ~> Proto-Umbric
New blog: http://argentiusbonavalensis.tumblr.com
shimobaatar
darkness
darkness
Posts: 10034
Joined: Fri 12 Jul 2013, 22:09
Location: PA → IN

Re: West Saxon Grammar Sketch v 0.0.1

Post by shimobaatar » Mon 06 Aug 2018, 04:02

Herra Ratatoskr wrote:
Fri 20 Jul 2018, 23:08
This is the first part of a sketch of the standard contemporary form of West Saxon (natively <Wessaxisc> /wɛs.ˈæks.ɪʃ/), the conlang spoken in my alt-history version of the Kingdom of Wessex which retained independence from (Norman) England until the late 1600s, and then regained it in the early 20th century.

West Saxon is a West Germanic language descended from the West Saxon dialect of Old English (called Old West Saxon in the alt-history), and is a sister language of English.
Looking forward to hearing more about all aspects of this! Was Wessex conquered (not sure if that's exactly the right word) by England similarly to how Scotland was? How did it regain its independence?
Herra Ratatoskr wrote:
Fri 20 Jul 2018, 23:08
These posts will represent my attempt to compile literally years worth of evolving, sometimes contradictory, notes into the bare bones start to a reference grammar.
I admire your perseverance!
Herra Ratatoskr wrote:
Fri 20 Jul 2018, 23:08
Standard West Saxon has a total of 33 consonant phonemes. Voicing is contrastive in stops, affricates, and fricatives (except for the lateral fricative / ɬ / and the palatal, velar, and glottal fricatives). The consonant system is summarized in the table below:
If possible, could we see at least some of the sound changes leading up to contemporary West Saxon from Old West Saxon? It'd be interesting to see how some of these consonants became phonemic!

This is nit-picky, but I only count 32 consonants in the chart. Maybe I miscounted?
Herra Ratatoskr wrote:
Fri 20 Jul 2018, 23:08
Standard West Saxon is quite rich in monophthongs, with a total of 15 in stressed syllables (in the most commonly accepted analysis), as well as three inflectional "schwa" vowels, They distinguish 5 heights, roundedness, and a front-back distinction for tonic vowels. Schwa vowels only distinguish two heights and are all pronounced in the center of the mouth. West Saxon's vowel inventory is as follows:
Sorry to nit-pick again, but while you said that there are 15 monophthongs in stressed syllables and three "schwa" vowels, I count 19 vowels in the chart below. Are there really four "schwa" vowels, /ɨ ʉ ə ɐ/? In either case, what more can you tell us about them?
Herra Ratatoskr wrote:
Fri 20 Jul 2018, 23:08
In addition, there is also a phonemic length distinction, with all vowels having long equivalents. Some use this to justify doubling the count of West Saxon monophthongs to 30, but most instead consider the length to be an allophone of /ɹ/ and /ʁ̞/ before dental, alveolar, and post-alveolar consonants, and of /ð/ before voiced consonants. This can be seen most commonly in alterations found in verbs whose stem ends in <r>. For instance, the verb <werje(n)> (meaning "to protect") has a first person present form <werje>, pronounced /wɛɹi/, but has a first person preterite form of <werde>, pronounced /wɛːd/. Most analyses treat it as having an underlying stem of /wɛɹ-/ in which the final /ɹ/ is realized as /ː/ before the dental suffix.
All stressed vowels can be long? Because of my experience with German, I'd assumed that length was already part of the distinction between, for example, /i ɪ/. I like that length comes from consonants, though.
Herra Ratatoskr wrote:
Fri 20 Jul 2018, 23:08
Contemporary West Saxon has a large number of diphthongs (15 in total) combining 8 possible onsets and 7 possible codas. Like monophthongs, diphthongs can come in long varieties when followed by a /ɹ/, /ʁ̞/, of /ð/ realized as /ː/. West Saxon’s diphthongs are summarized in the following table.
There are as many diphthongs as there are stressed vowels? Wow!

For /ɛɑ ɔɑ/, I assume that the low components are non-syllabic?

Also, if I didn't count wrong earlier, is /ɥ/ supposed to be the 33rd consonant above?
Herra Ratatoskr wrote:
Fri 20 Jul 2018, 23:08
Next Time: West Saxon's Orthography
I really like the look of this language so far!
Post Reply