This is a family I’ve been working on a little for several years now without getting anywhere. If I start a thread, I'll feel obliged to add stuff, so that's what I'm doing (also it's the 1,500th thread). To begin with, a preliminary family tree:
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Proto-Nomadic | +–––––––––––––––––+–––––––––––––––––+ | | True Nomadic False Nomadic | | +–––––+–––––+ +–––––––––+––––+–––––+––––––––+ | | | | | | Eastern Central Fisherman Pig-farmer Settlers Bushman =A =E =H =M-N =P =S =B =F =I =O =Q =T =C =G =J =R =D =K =L
The “Nomadic” languages are spoken by around 30,000 people on an as-of-yet unnamed island. The climate is hot and dry, with very little rainfall. Only in coastal areas are there any trees; the island is fringed almost entirely by a belt of bushland. The trees are similar in appearance to eucalypts. Inland, there is dry invariable scrub with only small bushes less than two feet high. The land rises very slowly, except for one very steep-edged tabletop mountain about 4,000 feet high. There is one seasonal river flowing from this mountain to the sea, as well as dozens of dry creek-beds which fill only after the very rare rains. The one major city of 23,000 people is situated on the estuary of the river, while there are numerous small villages of 50 to 1000 people. The Settler Languages are the most populous, with about 22,000 native speakers overall. The next-most populous are the Pig-Farmer languages, with 6,000, then the Fisherman (3,000), then the Eastern True Nomadic (1,500), then Eastern True Nomadic (1,000), then Bushman (300). Many people are native speakers of several languages.
All the Nomadic languages are characterised as being tonal and having a very small phonemic inventory (mostly ranging between nine and a dozen phonemes). Nasals only occur phonemically in the Central True-Nomadic languages, arising from older voiced stops. Only seven of the twenty languages are spoken by nomads, but these were the first to be described. Proto-Nomadic is characterised by an inventory of four consonants (/*t *d *k *g/) and five vowels (/*i *u *e *o *a/) with length and tone. Proto-Nomadic was inspired by Proto-Lakes Plains, with a simpler phonemic inventory.
Proto-Nomadic uses the following nine phonemes (one less than PLP).
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Consonants: | Coronal | Dorsal ––––––––––+–––––––––+––––––– Voiceless | /t/ | /k/ Voiced | /d/ | /g/ ––––––––––+–––––––––+––––––– Vowels: | Front | Central | Back –––––––+–––––––+–––––––––+–––––– Clouse | /i/ | | /u/ Mid | /e/ | | /o/ Open | | /a/ |
/d g/ were likely [ɾ ɣ] in many, if not all positions
Tones and length
Basically, there are two tones, high and low (written with an acute and plain). These were lexically distinctive. Vowels could also be doubled (/ii uu ee oo uu/) or formed into diphthongs (/ae̯ ao̯ ei̯ ou̯ oi̯/). Each element of a doubled vowel or diphthong could take either tone. This means that “two-mora” vowels could take one of four tones: low, rising, high or falling. These are written as if each vowel took a separate tone; thus /ae̯/ with rising tone is aé.
Syllable and word structure
The basic proto-Nomadic syllable structure was C(d)VC, where C is a consonant and V is a vowel, doubled vowel or diphthong. The second /d/ was almost certainly [ɾ]. This was the form of most reconstructed monosyllabic lexical roots (taking tone into account, there are 320 possibilities).
ddaák “to identify, understand”
tóit “to hit/slap”
Bisyllabic lexical roots were of two types. These were of the C(d)VC(d)V(C) structure or reduplicated monosyllables. There were theoretically exactly 800,000 possible two-syllable words; plenty enough. Reduplicated forms could either be derived from a monosyllabic root with a different meaning, or standalone, with either no corresponding monosyllable or an unrelated one.
kdigdút “a religious person, a priest”
tóittóit “to stab with a knife”
gákáa “large flat leaf”
Grammatical roots, of which there were many, are almost entirely CV, V or CdV in form (with thus 500 possibilities). They could carry tone, although there are few minimal pairs.
goo “same day marker”
tdi “transitive postparticle”
guú “indefinite pronoun”
Sound changes of major branches
These haven’t been worked out at all. However, the main distinction between True and False Nomadic is the treatment of /g/. In True Nomadic, it was retained as *g~ŋ, while in False Nomadic it was lenided always to *h. The Eastern True Nomadic languages underwent a chain shift similar to Grimm’s Law, wherein */t k d g/ became *θ,*s *h *t,*r *k. The Central True Nomadic languages shifted */d g/ to *n *ŋ, thus gaining the only phonemic nasals on the island.
The Fisherman languages are characterised by debuccalising *k to *ʔ, and chain-shifting *s *h to *h *ɸ. Proto-Pig Farmer gained a voiced sibilant from *d before /i/, as well as an intervocalic allophone of *k, both phonemicised later. Proto-Settlers palatalised *t to *dʒ, changed *ɾ to *l and gained *ʔ. Finally, proto-Bushman gained ejective forms of *t *k, changed *d to an implosive *ɗ and shifted *ɾ to *ɠ.
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Proto-Nomadic *t *k *d *g -Proto-True Nomad *t *s *k *d *ɾ *g -Proto-Eastern TN *θ *s *h *t *r *k -Proto-Central TN *t *s *k *n *ɾ *ŋ -Proto-False Nomad *t *s *k *d *ɾ *h -Proto-Fisherman *t *h *ʔ *d *ɾ *ɸ -Proto-Pig-farmer *t *s *k *ɣ *d *ɾ *z *h -Proto-Settlers *dʒ *s *k *d *l *h *ʔ -Proto-Bushman *t *s *t’ *k *k’ *ɗ *ɠ *h