So, a concept based on some things I learned about in some recent classes. A while ago I read about tone sandhi, and how in many Sinitic tone sandhi systems, you'll have a thing where every syllable in a syntactic phrase takes the sandhi-tone except for the last, and how each tone essentially has one sandhi form that it switches to
when in a sandhi position.
The other day a professor of mine was talking about French stress and how it's phrase-level, with no stress at all except the last syllable in a phrase. And that got me thinking, combine that with a vowel reduction system, and that's almost like a stress-based vowel sandhi system: Every vowel in a phrase takes its reduced form except the last, which bears stress.
So I thought about applying that with this vowel reduction system I thought of a while ago: (S- strong/stressed, W - weak/unstressed/reduced)
Code: Select all
So if you had a noun phrase made up of some words like /kaprau̯me do osimula/ it would look like: [kəpromidusimuˈlaː] (with likely contraction of the do
and lengthening of the stressed vowel).
Now, that's where the sensible part of the idea ends.
I also had a very silly idea recently of making a languages whose lexicon consisted of just 80-120 CV monosyllables and nothing more. Not an oligosynthetic conlang - there would be homophones, and I would just force the language to deal with it. Oh, and no concatenating morphology. Maybe some genitive phrases like 'X of Y' to reduce ambiguity (proto-compounds, essentially, not yet lexicalized).
Then I thought, oh, what if I combined this with the vowel-reduction sandhi idea? Then I could have whole sentences consisting of nothing but stuff like /ki po ta vai̯ nu lo na nau̯ sa ne/ which gets broken up into maybe two syntactic phrases like: [kiˈpoː | təvenulunənoˈsaː | ˈneː ‖] (no idea what the actual syntactic structure would be there)
But then I remembered this would necessarily be very syntax-heavy, and that I hate syntax (well, kind of). So to at least take some of the burden off of the syntax, I would want some apophonic inflectional morphology. The vowels aren't a very good choice, since a bunch of the contrasts get erased in non-final position. So it must be the consonants. But that would decrease the number of distinct lexical items if I have to dedicate some consonant contrasts to apophonic inflection. So basically I can either abandon the strict CV template, or use a fairly large consonant inventory to ensure I have plenty of possible contrasts for both inflection and the lexicon. This would also detract from the goal of only having 80-120 possible syllables.
I don't really want to use tone, since the whole idea of the vowel sandhi thing was to do a tone thing without tone, but maybe perhaps a prominent lexical category, like person/number on verbs, could bear a floating tone that migrates to the stressed final syllable of the verb phrase. Or is distributed across the verb phrase. If there is a verb phrase? Not all languages have verb phrases. So I don't know. I also thought about maybe introducing phonemic gemination, but I almost feel that would ruin the rapid-fire mumbly rhythm of the language (as I imagine it).
Any other ideas for this crazy scheme are welcome.