As some of you may know, I am a great admirer of the Algonquian languages of North America, and in particular of the Plains Algonquian languages - Arapaho, Blackfoot and Cheyenne. The diachronic histories of these languages contain some of the wildest sound changes I've ever come across, and they are a major inspiration for my Híí language family.
As I was working on the changes from Proto-Híí to modern Hííenununóóoþa using Arapaho as a guideline, I had a fun idea: What if I tweaked the sound changes from Proto-Algonquian to Arapaho so that they could be applied to Latin? And so Ni'ónotíín was born.
What is this all about, Des?
It's simple really. I encoded the sound changes as laid out in the Index Diachronica, and then used Mark Rosenfelder's Sound Change Applier (SCA2) to apply them.
The inventories of Latin and Proto-Algonquian are surprisingly similar.
/p t k kʷ/
/b d g/
/f s h/
/l j w/
/p t t͡ʃ k/
/θ* s ʃ/
*some analyses give /ɬ l/ for /θ r/
The main differences are:
- Latin has /f/ while PA has /θ/
- Latin has a voicing distinction
- Latin contrasts /r l/, whereas PA only had a single liquid
- PA has phonemic postalveolars
I decided to:
- treat /f/ as if it were /θ/
- retain the voiced stops and have them undergo changes parallel to those of the unvoiced stops
- merge /r l/
- ignore the postalveolars for now (more on that later)
I will spoiler this, but here are the rules. I copied them almost directly from the Index Diachronica, but made minor adjustments. The last few rules are basically rewrite rules.
The result is a language that looks and feels surprisingly like Arapaho. The phoneme inventory is somewhat larger than Arapaho's though, because of the voiced stops:
/t t͡ʃ k ʔ/ t c k '
/b d g/ b d g
/θ s h/ 3 s h
/j w/ y w
/e i o u/ e i o u
+ length (long vowels written double)
lector → net
doctor → dit
focus → 3ii
jocus → nii
districtus → di'3iti
cīvitatem → hiiwitoteb
adoptare → hodikt
opera → hic
secundus → nei'di
fīlium → 3iiyib
fīliam → 3iiyow
pōntem → ci'teb
diēs → dei
vacuum → nouw
mātrem → woo3eb
patrem → ko3eb
solus → nini
amīcum → howuuuw
lingualatīna → ni'onotiin
linguaromāna → ni'oniwoon
There are still several issues I haven't tackled:
- Arapaho has /ʃ/ that developed from PA /θ/ in consonant clusters and PA /t͡ʃ/. The latter doesn't occur in Latin, and /f/ doesn't really cluster in Latin either, so I have to think of a way to derive it
- Latin has clusters that PA simply didn't have, such as pt ct ps, etc., and I haven't really addressed this issue
- I want to derive an Arapaho-style pitch accent from the Latin accent; so far, I've just done this by hand, as in lingualatīna → ni'onotiin → ni'ónotíín, but it should be possible to encode this
This is obviously just for fun, and it really helped me gain a better understanding of exactly what happened between Proto-Algonquian and modern Arapaho. Hopefully, I'll be able to devise equally interesting stuff for Hííenununóóoþa.
Hope that somebody likes this. Feel free to ask for clarifications, make corrections, suggestions, etc.