Denasalization of nasal vowels

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TwistedOne151
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Denasalization of nasal vowels

Post by TwistedOne151 » 30 Oct 2016 10:10

So, I was looking at how a language might lose phonemic nasal vowels. From what I read, the most common seems to be simple loss of nasality: V[+nas] > V[-nas]. The rest seem to be formation of a nasal consonant coda, like, say, Ṽ > Vŋ (/ŋ/ seems common); or else a mixture of these two, such as formation of a nasal consonant homorganic to a following plosive and straight denasalization in another position.

Slightly more interesting are the nasal diphthongs, as the less prominant component can be interpeted as a nasal glide (nasalized semivowel), which can become a nasal consonant (nasal stop). (I tried looking into the outcomes of the denasalization of Old Portuguese nasal vowels in Galician, but couldn't find much with specific details). For diphthongs ending in [ɪ̯̃], the corresponding nasal glide [ȷ̃] seems that it would clearly become /ɲ/; I have found several examples of languages with either [ȷ̃] as allophone of /ɲ/ or (in languages where most consonants have oral and nasal forms) with [ɲ] as a nasal counterpart of /j/. However, for [w̃], I found some alternations with /m/, and some with /ŋʷ/.

Most interesting though, was looking at what Quebec French does with the French nasal vowels /ɛ̃ œ̃ ɑ̃ ɔ̃/. First, there's a "clockwise" shift in the places of articulation, and diphthongization in /ɛ̃ ɔ̃/. Specifically, /ɛ̃/ raises and diphthongizes to [ẽɪ̯̃], /ɑ̃/ fronts to [ã] (or, according to one source, as far as [æ̃] in closed syllables), and /ɔ̃/ lowers and diphthongizes to [ɒ̃ʊ̯̃]. Most interesting, though, is what happens to /œ̃/. First, it is more centralized than oral /œ/, closer in place to non-elided /ə/, which is usually rounded (one source has Quebec /ə/ as [œ̈]). More notable, is that more than one work describes it as being "r-colored"; one describes it as [ɚ̃], another as [œ̃˞].

So, using these as a base, the most straightforward would be
/ɛ̃/ > [ẽɪ̯̃] > [eȷ̃] > /eɲ/
Similarly, I can have:
/ɔ̃/ > [ɒ̃ʊ̯̃] > [ɑw̃], with [w̃] becoming /m/ or /ŋʷ/; in the latter case, I'd expect merger with /ŋ/, but not before, pehaps, something like triggering rounding of a following unrounded vowel.
For /ɑ̃/, which remains monophthongal, the place for a following nasal consonant seems less clear. Based on the reading, /ɑ̃/ > [ã~æ̃] > /æŋ/ isn't implausible, but neither is [æ̃] > /æn/, or even just denasalization of [æ̃] > /æ/.
For all three of these vowels, a resulting coda nasal consonant would be subject to the usual nasal place assimilation to a following plosive or affricate.
I have not found details on how exactly the rhotic coloring of /œ̃/ is implemented, so a number of possibilities come to mind:
  1. If the rhotic nature is via retroflection, we can have /œ̃/ > [ɚ̃] > [əɻ̃] > /əɳ/. The problem with this is that my language has no retroflex consonants at this stage; thus, wouldn't [ɳ] be unlikely, and if present, likely to become /n/?
  2. The rhotic consonant is a uvular, /ʁ/, so I can have /œ̃/ > [ɚ̃] > [əʁ̃]. But what, then, can I do with the resulting [ʁ̃]? Possibilities:
    1. I could have it simply become a uvular nasal /ɴ/. But /ʁ/ is the only other uvular consonant, so I don't expect it to be stable, and would likely just become /ŋ/ in short order, yes?
    2. It could simply denasalize, [ʁ̃] > /ʁ/, so that /œ̃/ > /əʁ/ (Rhoticity "winning" over nasality).
    3. A third option was by considering having [ʁ̃] become /ʁ/+nasal stop. The first problem would be the place of that nasal (see /ɑ̃/ above; [ŋ], [n], [ɴ] all seem plausible). Second though, would be before a non-semivowel consonant (or word-finally), as this would require the nasal to be in the syllable coda with /ʁ/, and as currently set up, the phonotactics don't allow liquid+nasal coda clusters (nor nasal+liquid onsets; the nasals and liquids are treated as too close in sonority). A possible resolution, would be that before at least a voiced plosive, the resulting nasal, homorganic to the plosive, replaces the plosive: /œ̃b œ̃d œ̃g/ > [əʁ̃b əʁ̃d əʁ̃g] > [əʁᵐb əʁⁿd əʁᵑg] > /əʁm əʁn əʁŋ/. (In all other positions where producing a nasal consonant would be "blocked" by phonotactics, I'd expect denasalization [ʁ̃] > /ʁ/.)
  3. I could ignore the r-coloring of /œ̃/, and go with diphthongization instead (as one source reports for allophonically long [œ̃ː]): /œ̃/ > [œ̃ʏ̯̃] > /əɥ̃/ or /œɥ̃/. /ɥ̃/ would, clearly, go to /ɲʷ/, which would then almost certainly merge with /ɲ/ (though possibly with the same rounding effect as with the /ŋʷ/ < [w̃] possibility above).
So, thoughts? Suggestions? Places to look for further reading on historical processes and outcomes of vowel denasalization? Thanks.

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Re: Denasalization of nasal vowels

Post by Creyeditor » 30 Oct 2016 16:39

Just some of my thoughts:
TwistedOne151 wrote: However, for [w̃], I found some alternations with /m/, and some with /ŋʷ/.
Some people believe that all vowels are dorsal (just as palatals). This would fit with the second alternation
TwistedOne151 wrote:More notable, is that more than one work describes it as being "r-colored"; one describes it as [ɚ̃], another as [œ̃˞].
Keep in mind here that r-colored vowels are generally something like vowel + retroflex tongue shape. There is no general rhotic property.
TwistedOne151 wrote:So, using these as a base, the most straightforward would be
/ɛ̃/ > [ẽɪ̯̃] > [eȷ̃] > /eɲ/
Similarly, I can have:
/ɔ̃/ > [ɒ̃ʊ̯̃] > [ɑw̃], with [w̃] becoming /m/ or /ŋʷ/; in the latter case, I'd expect merger with /ŋ/, but not before, pehaps, something like triggering rounding of a following unrounded vowel.
For /ɑ̃/, which remains monophthongal, the place for a following nasal consonant seems less clear. Based on the reading, /ɑ̃/ > [ã~æ̃] > /æŋ/ isn't implausible, but neither is [æ̃] > /æn/, or even just denasalization of [æ̃] > /æ/.
For all three of these vowels, a resulting coda nasal consonant would be subject to the usual nasal place assimilation to a following plosive or affricate.
This looks all nice [:)] You might want to think about an uvular nasal for nasalized low vowel since e.g. in German there is an alternation between low vowels and a uvular approximant.
TwistedOne151 wrote:I have not found details on how exactly the rhotic coloring of /œ̃/ is implemented, so a number of possibilities come to mind:
  1. If the rhotic nature is via retroflection, we can have /œ̃/ > [ɚ̃] > [əɻ̃] > /əɳ/. The problem with this is that my language has no retroflex consonants at this stage; thus, wouldn't [ɳ] be unlikely, and if present, likely to become /n/?
A neutralization doesn't seem to unlikely here.
TwistedOne151 wrote:[*]The rhotic consonant is a uvular, /ʁ/, so I can have /œ̃/ > [ɚ̃] > [əʁ̃]. But what, then, can I do with the resulting [ʁ̃]?

This seems unlikely to me, given what I said above.
TwistedOne151 wrote:[*]I could ignore the r-coloring of /œ̃/, and go with diphthongization instead (as one source reports for allophonically long [œ̃ː]): /œ̃/ > [œ̃ʏ̯̃] > /əɥ̃/ or /œɥ̃/. /ɥ̃/ would, clearly, go to /ɲʷ/, which would then almost certainly merge with /ɲ/ (though possibly with the same rounding effect as with the /ŋʷ/ < [w̃] possibility above).[/list]
This looks also fine to me [:)]
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Re: Denasalization of nasal vowels

Post by Frislander » 30 Oct 2016 18:44

Don't forget your ever-dependable compensatory lengthening as in theHistory of Lithuanian.

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Re: Denasalization of nasal vowels

Post by TwistedOne151 » 31 Oct 2016 09:33

Thank you for your time and effort in replying, Creyeditor.
Creyeditor wrote:Just some of my thoughts:
This looks all nice [:)] You might want to think about an uvular nasal for nasalized low vowel since e.g. in German there is an alternation between low vowels and a uvular approximant.
Sure, but then what happens to the resulting /ɴ/, besides likely merger with /ŋ/?
Creyeditor wrote:
TwistedOne151 wrote:I have not found details on how exactly the rhotic coloring of /œ̃/ is implemented, so a number of possibilities come to mind:
  1. If the rhotic nature is via retroflection, we can have /œ̃/ > [ɚ̃] > [əɻ̃] > /əɳ/. The problem with this is that my language has no retroflex consonants at this stage; thus, wouldn't [ɳ] be unlikely, and if present, likely to become /n/?
A neutralization doesn't seem to unlikely here.
I did realize upon further thought that I could have a use for [ɳ], even if it later becomes /n/. I've been looking for a way to create a phonemic /ɨ~ɯ/ vowel. There's generally a cross-linguistic tendency to restrict contact between retroflex consonants and front vowels (and some languages have even developed their retroflexes via back vowels), and there are examples of both Dravidian (Kodava, Iruḷa), Australian (Rembarrnga), and Chinese (Pingding) languages which have some backing of front vowels either before or after retroflex consonants (and consider also the "retraction rule" of Polish). So, much as I have [ŋʷ] < [w̃] rounding following vowels (before merging with /ŋ/), I could have [ɳ] backing a following front vowel (or at least high-front vowel) before merging with /n/, yes?

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Re: Denasalization of nasal vowels

Post by Creyeditor » 31 Oct 2016 23:58

TwistedOne151 wrote:Thank you for your time and effort in replying, Creyeditor.
Creyeditor wrote:Just some of my thoughts:
This looks all nice [:)] You might want to think about an uvular nasal for nasalized low vowel since e.g. in German there is an alternation between low vowels and a uvular approximant.
Sure, but then what happens to the resulting /ɴ/, besides likely merger with /ŋ/?
Maybe it lowers following high vowels before neutralization.
TwistedOne151 wrote:
Creyeditor wrote:
TwistedOne151 wrote:I have not found details on how exactly the rhotic coloring of /œ̃/ is implemented, so a number of possibilities come to mind:
  1. If the rhotic nature is via retroflection, we can have /œ̃/ > [ɚ̃] > [əɻ̃] > /əɳ/. The problem with this is that my language has no retroflex consonants at this stage; thus, wouldn't [ɳ] be unlikely, and if present, likely to become /n/?
A neutralization doesn't seem to unlikely here.
I did realize upon further thought that I could have a use for [ɳ], even if it later becomes /n/. I've been looking for a way to create a phonemic /ɨ~ɯ/ vowel. There's generally a cross-linguistic tendency to restrict contact between retroflex consonants and front vowels (and some languages have even developed their retroflexes via back vowels), and there are examples of both Dravidian (Kodava, Iruḷa), Australian (Rembarrnga), and Chinese (Pingding) languages which have some backing of front vowels either before or after retroflex consonants (and consider also the "retraction rule" of Polish). So, much as I have [ŋʷ] < [w̃] rounding following vowels (before merging with /ŋ/), I could have [ɳ] backing a following front vowel (or at least high-front vowel) before merging with /n/, yes?
Sounds fine.
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