(Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Thu 26 Oct 2017, 22:50

Oh, wow, I think if you go via progressive constructions it totally makes sense. Maybe you could even make the nominative marker have different etymologies (but being formally the same) depending on the aspect/tense. Think that maybe i.e. English 'has' and 'is' could neutralize to '-s'.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » Thu 26 Oct 2017, 23:28

Could a sound change undergo phonemicization even if its environment doesn't change? This is a problem I have with developing certain phonemes, such as affricates, in environments like "intervocalic" and "before back vowels".
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 » Thu 26 Oct 2017, 23:37

If other processes introduce contrasting phones, then yes. For example, if a language's plosives are /p t k/ and they voice intervocalically, the resulting are not phonemic. But if that change stops being productive in the language's morphophonology, things like derivation (or borrowing) could well create new instances of [p t k] between vowels. As soon as you get minimal pairs, voilà, a new phonemic contrast.

Let's have these hypothetical words change like so:
[aka] > [aga]
[ak] > [ak]

Then [ak] takes the suffix [a], giving [aka] and creating a phonemic contrast with [aga].
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 00:16

Dormouse559 wrote:If other processes introduce contrasting phones, then yes. For example, if a language's plosives are /p t k/ and they voice intervocalically, the resulting are not phonemic. But if that change stops being productive in the language's morphophonology, things like derivation (or borrowing) could well create new instances of [p t k] between vowels. As soon as you get minimal pairs, voilà, a new phonemic contrast.

Let's have these hypothetical words change like so:
[aka] > [aga]
[ak] > [ak]

Then [ak] takes the suffix [a], giving [aka] and creating a phonemic contrast with [aga].


Additionally, later sound changes could create a new phonemic contrast, which can be seen with the first and second palatalisation in Proto-Slavic.

At first, velars become palatalised before short and long *i and *e as well as before *j, which is common enough, but at this point the resulting sounds were only partially phonemic thanks to the loss of *j after the new palatal sounds. If you ignore the instances involving *j however, this means you've got velars before back vowels and palatals before front vowels.

After this, diphthongs are simplified, e.g. *oj and *aj to *i and *e which created new instances of velars before front vowels contrasting with palatals before front vowels...

Although I get the feeling I might not have answered the question that was actually being asked.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 00:33

Well see, I have S/A/_B where S=stop and A=affricate before B=back vowels, but there aren't really any situations where that environment changes, especially word-initially.

For example, there is the aspect prefixes *śu- and *tu- that go before the tense prefixes *ā- *ō- respectively (and the tense affixes drop eventually). They're supposed to undergo affrication in descendant languages but they can't become affricate phonemes because the back vowel in that environment doesn't become non-back.

I wonder if they can be phonemicized through the process of analogy where the allophone is carried over to a different environment, as, for example, a proto-verb in non-past tense, *ō-lḗtu is supposed to eventually become lutsats
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 02:41

Well, my "other processes" list was by no means comprehensive. Analogy is also a valid way to add contrasts. I think your idea sounds fine.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 02:53

Do back vowels become non-back in any environments at all in the language after triggering affrication?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 02:59

sangi39 wrote:Do back vowels become non-back in any environments at all in the language after triggering affrication?
Yes, long /uː/ becomes /əw/in open syllables while short /ɔ ʊ/ become /ə ɨ/ in closed syllables in Old Takshian. Although Old Takshian and Himoshian also tend to have open syllables which is where most of the affricates are found.

Old Takshian derives /ts͡ dz͡ tɬ͡ dɮ͡/ from Himoshian /t d ɬ ɮ/ through back vowels, but no large-scale elision is supposed to occur between the ancestor and descendant.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 04:04

And do those sound changes create any instances where, say, /tə tɨ/ might contrast with /tsə tsɨ/? (perhaps through non-back vowels merging into /ə ɨ/ as well)
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 04:23

sangi39 wrote:And do those sound changes create any instances where, say, /tə tɨ/ might contrast with /tsə tsɨ/? (perhaps through non-back vowels merging into /ə ɨ/ as well)
Yes, /tæ tɛ tɪ/ becomes /ta tə tɨ/ while /tɑ tɔ tʊ/ becomes /tsa tsə tsɨ/ but both cases are only in closed syllables, which are rare. I would only have affricates word medially in a CVCVC type word and initially in a CVC type word, but not have them word finally or initially.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 04:39

That's really not that bad. A number of languages have phonemes restricted to certain environments, even restricting them to the interiors of words. I can't remember an example off the top of my head, but I seem to recall a language that has both /r/ and /l/ but /r/ cannot appear word-initially while both are able to appear as syllable onsets word-internally.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Frislander » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 13:45

Creyeditor wrote:Oh, wow, I think if you go via progressive constructions it totally makes sense. Maybe you could even make the nominative marker have different etymologies (but being formally the same) depending on the aspect/tense. Think that maybe i.e. English 'has' and 'is' could neutralize to '-s'.
*furiously scribbles down ideas for future-English conlang*
sangi39 wrote:That's really not that bad. A number of languages have phonemes restricted to certain environments, even restricting them to the interiors of words. I can't remember an example off the top of my head, but I seem to recall a language that has both /r/ and /l/ but /r/ cannot appear word-initially while both are able to appear as syllable onsets word-internally.
Maybe Basque perhaps? Or maybe an Australian language (this kind of thing is ridiculously common in those languages).
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 23:50

The Australian languages were the ones I was thinking of initially, but I couldn't remember what restrictions they had. I think it was something to do with the plosives
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Sumelic » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 23:58

sangi39 wrote:The Australian languages were the ones I was thinking of initially, but I couldn't remember what restrictions they had. I think it was something to do with the plosives
I think many Australian languages, which often have large coronal inventories with things like distinct dental, alveolar, retroflex and alveolopalatar series, don't allow the retroflex plosives to occur word-initially. Not allowing the rhotic liquid to occur word-initially actually seems to show up fairly widely (although not all that commonly as a synchronic constraint in present-day languages) in various Eurasian languages: I think it's been postulated for PIE and Proto-Japonic, and as a feature of the "Altaic" languages in general. The following paper about "r" in Japanese mentions some typological comparisons: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs ... 5/document
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » Sat 28 Oct 2017, 02:33

Sumelic wrote:
sangi39 wrote:The Australian languages were the ones I was thinking of initially, but I couldn't remember what restrictions they had. I think it was something to do with the plosives
I think many Australian languages, which often have large coronal inventories with things like distinct dental, alveolar, retroflex and alveolopalatar series, don't allow the retroflex plosives to occur word-initially. Not allowing the rhotic liquid to occur word-initially actually seems to show up fairly widely (although not all that commonly as a synchronic constraint in present-day languages) in various Eurasian languages: I think it's been postulated for PIE and Proto-Japonic, and as a feature of the "Altaic" languages in general. The following paper about "r" in Japanese mentions some typological comparisons: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs ... 5/document
This was what I was thinking about (suddenly remembered it):

"Australian languages typically favour peripheral consonants word- and syllable-initially, and they are not allowed or common word- and syllable-finally, unlike the apicals."

... which seems to support the non-initial retroflex plosive idea (might vary from language to language, or course, since I'm sure I've seen <rt> occur word-initially, possibly in Western Desert).

Oo, and let's not forget the prohibition against root-internal clicks in some languages (ǃXóõ, for example, has a strict limit on this, with only /b j l m n ɲ/ occurring within a root).
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » Sat 28 Oct 2017, 04:04

This way could work to create phonemic distinctions in environments where they would have been allophonic?
tun > tsun
taun > tun
xin > shin
xain > xin
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » Sat 28 Oct 2017, 04:26

Ahzoh wrote:This way could work to create phonemic distinctions in environments where they would have been allophonic?
tun > tsun
taun > tun
xin > shin
xain > xin
Seems reasonable enough [:)]

IIRC, there's a term along the lines of "minimally phonemic" or "restricted phonemicity" which refers to a set of sounds that, in some or most environments, are distinct and phonemic, but in others are in complementary distribution. In the case of this language, the affricates would indeed be phonemic, since they do contrast with plosives in certain environments, but they just wouldn't, for historical reasons, appear in all environments that the plosives could (and vice versa). In other words, you might have words where /tu/ and /tsu/ contrast, but others where you might find that [tu] alternates with [tsu]. A good example of this might be Russian. For example, in roots, you can and do find contrasts between /d/ and /ʐ/ that don't alter at all, but in other words, like second conjugation verbs, /d/ alternates with /ʐ/ somewhat regularly.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » Sat 28 Oct 2017, 07:12

I remember that chart for determining phonemicity and I wonder if palatal consonants (derived from palatalized velars) could be considered "phonetically distinct" enough from velars even if they are in complimentary distribution.
And what are some environments that cause vowels to shorten other than closed syllables and, conversely, what are environments that lengthen vowels other than open syllables, stress, and compensatory lengthening?
I wonder if there are also consonants that change based on the length of vowels.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Porphyrogenitos » Sat 28 Oct 2017, 07:43

Ahzoh wrote:And what are some environments that cause vowels to shorten other than closed syllables and, conversely, what are environments that lengthen vowels other than open syllables, stress, and compensatory lengthening?
I wonder if there are also consonants that change based on the length of vowels.
Shortening: Probably not what you're looking for, but unstressed syllables. Also, apparently in Middle English, "shortening occurred in stressed syllables followed by two or more unstressed syllables, whether or not the stressed syllable was closed."

Lengthening: Before voiced codas (or certain voiced codas, anyways), or before specific consonant sequences (notably, in Old English, before homorganic sonorant-initial clusters). Nasal vowels can denasalize as long vowels.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » Sat 28 Oct 2017, 11:22

Porphyrogenitos wrote: Shortening: Probably not what you're looking for, but unstressed syllables. Also, apparently in Middle English, "shortening occurred in stressed syllables followed by two or more unstressed syllables, whether or not the stressed syllable was closed."

Lengthening: Before voiced codas (or certain voiced codas, anyways), or before specific consonant sequences (notably, in Old English, before homorganic sonorant-initial clusters). Nasal vowels can denasalize as long vowels.
More generally, languages can have tendencies toward certain rhythmic patterns or word shapes, and these patterns can be reinforced by lenghtening or shortening vowels in aberrent words.

In English, a lot of things can be explained by assuming moraic motivations. For instance:

- high vowel loss was conditioned moraically and rhythmically: it occured either after one heavy syllable, or after two light syllables, but not after one heavy syllable and one light syllable. This latter constraint suggests what you might call a 'moraic foot' of three morae: vowels in the first syllable of a new foot were preserved, but those at the tail end of a foot tended to be reduced.

- trisyllabic laxing is a good approximation of maintaining a trimoraic foot: a long vowel followed by two more syllables is shortened, to force over-long words to fit the pattern

- open-syllable lengthening is also an approximation to a trimoraic foot. Trimoraic "tanta" remains, while bimoraic "tata" becomes trimoraic "ta:ta".
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