| To Be Continued...|
Thedukeofnuke is still working on this article. The contents are incomplete and likely to undergo changes.
| Ishoʻu ʻOhu |
|Period||c. -450 YP|
|Total speakers||c. 90,000|
|Writing system||adapted Lukpanic script|
|Classification|| Western |
|Basic word order||head-final|
Ishoʻu ʻOhu is the Western language of the city-state of Ishe, spoken in the mid to late 1st millenium BP. Its vocabulary, and to a lesser extent its phonology and grammar, have been substantially influenced by the Lukpanic dialect that it replaced; it has also borrowed vocabulary from sister languages spoken in nearby areas.
At the time of this description (5th century BP) it was one of the most prestigious Coastal Western languages due to the military and economic power of Ishe, with about 60,000 native speakers and over 30,000 more second-language speakers. While land trade (principally with the Wañelinlawag Empire, and also with the Steppe and Hill peoples) was dominated by the eastern cities, Ishe remained one of the foremost maritime and military powers.
- 1 Phonology
- 2 Morphology
- 2.1 Morphophonology
- 2.2 Nominal morphology
- 2.3 Pronouns
- 2.4 Adjectival prefixes
- 2.5 Verbal Morphology
- 2.6 Derivational Morphology
- 3 Syntax
- 4 Sample texts
- 5 Lexicon
Ishoʻu ʻOhu's phoneme inventory comprises 18 consonants and 7 vowels, compared to 28 consonants and 5 vowels in PCW. It has also developed one more phonemic tone, creating a three-tone system.
|nasals||m /m/||n /n/||ny /ɲ/|
|stops|| p /pʰ/
| t /tʰ/
|affricates|| c /ʦʰ/
| ch /ʨʰ/
|fricatives||s /s/||sh /ɕ/||h /h/|
The glottal stop is represented by the ʻokina (although an apostrophe is also acceptable) but is unwritten word-initially for some words; see Morphophonology for details. Conventionally, words beginning with a glottal stop that would normally be capitalised in English have the first vowel capitalised, regardless of whether or not the ʻokina is present in writing. An example of this is present in the name of the language.
|high||i /i/||u /u/|
|high-mid||e /e/||o /o/|
|low-mid||ea /ɛ/||oa /ɔ/|
The low-mid vowels are transcribed with digraphs partly to simplify the orthography, and partly because they often derive from sequences of vowels in hiatus. Both are uncommon in words directly inherited from Proto-Coastal-Western.
There are three phonemic tones, traditionally described as mid, high, and low; in transcription the mid tone is unmarked, and the high and low tones are indicated with acute and grave accents respectively.
The mid tone is characterised primarily as a level tone and secondarily as a mid tone. It is pronounced with pitch 33; some speakers pronounce it with pitch 44 following a high vowel and 22 following a low vowel, but this is considered non-standard.
The high tone is a high rising tone, and is often pronounced with breathy voice. In isolation or following a low or mid tone it is pronounced with pitch 35. Following another high tone it is pronounced with pitch 45.
The low tone is a low or low falling tone. In isolation or following a mid tone it is pronounced with pitch 21. Following another low tone it is pronounced with pitch 11, and following a high tone with pitch 31.
Allophony and phonetic detail
There is relatively little allophonic variation in most varieties of the language.
Before /o/ or /u/, the phoneme /h/ generally becomes [ɸ]. It is also sometimes realised as [ħ], or even [χ] or [x]; this is most characteristic of speakers from the eastern Lukpanic coast.
After a back vowel, /l/ and /ɲ/ tend to velarise to [ɫ] and [ŋ] respectively.
Some speakers, particularly in poor districts of Ishe city, voice /s/ and /ɕ/ to [z] and [ʑ] intervocalically; however, this is considered 'lazy' and non-standard. The change of non-final /ɔ/ to [ɒ] is also associated with poor urban speakers.
Some minor rural dialects preserve features from an earlier stage of the language, being unaffected by mergers that have taken place in the standard - in particular a four-tone system and the retention of distinct tenuis stops.
Syllable structure is strictly CV. Any vowel hiatus is broken up by the insertion of /h/, and words that are underlyingly “vowel-initial” are pronounced with an initial glottal stop.
Behaviour of loanwords
Ishoʻu ʻOhu lacks some consonants that are common to the majority of languages - notably, it has no semivowels or rhotics - and has very restrictive phonotactics. As a consequence loanwords are generally phonetically adapted to fit the phonology.
The older Lukpanic dialect of Ishe also disallowed any consonant clusters, but word-final consonants borrowed into Ishoʻu ʻOhu required the addition of an epenthetic vowel. After continuants, an echo vowel was added; after stops, the epenthetic vowel was generally /a/. Vowels in hiatus were broken up with /h/. Borrowings from this early period also show signs that more of PCW's morphophonological processes were still active; for instance, vowels before nasal consonants generally acquired low tone. In addition, voiced stops tended to generate high tone in the following vowel.
Phonemes missing from Ishoʻu ʻOhu were replaced with the closest alternative. This is described by the table below.
|Loan phoneme||Native replacement|
|v, β, ʋ||b|
|j||ʥ, d, ɕ|
Sound changes from Proto-Coastal-Western
First phase (to c. -1000 YP)
- ʎ > i / C_, _C, _#
- ʎ > j
- ɫ > u / C_, _C, _#
- ɫ > l / (remains allophonically after back vowels)
2. CLUSTER SIMPLIFICATION
- pɬ > pʰ
- tɬ > ʨʰ
- dɬ > ʥ
- ɡɬ > ɣ
- V[+high] > [+rising] / _ʔ$
- V[+low] > [+falling] / _ʔ$
- ʔ > Ø / _$
4. CHANGES TO FRICATIVES
- ɬ > ɕ
- s > h / V_V, #_
- z > s
- tʰ t d > ʨʰ ʨ ʥ / _i, _u (persistent rule)
- ʦʰ > s / _i
- ʔ > p / _uV
7. LOSS OF /h/
- h[+stop] > [+stop +tenuis]
- h > ʔ / #_
- h > Ø / (aspirated stops unaffected)
Second phase (to c. -450 YP)
- ji wu > i u
- V > Ø / _VV
- Remaining two-vowel sequences were resolved into monophthongs, resulting in the appearance of /ɛ ɔ/ as phonemes.
- V[+high] > [+rising] / [+plosive +voiced]_
- V[+falling] > [+low] / [+plosive +voiced]_
10. MERGERS (not in all dialects)
- [+plosive +tenuis] > [+voiced]
- x ɣ > h
- ŋ > ɲ / (remains allophonically after back vowels)
- w > ɡ
- j > ʥ / _i, _u
- j > d
11. FURTHER CHANGES (not in all dialects)
- falling tone merges with low tone
- high tone becomes mid; rising tone becomes high
- vowel hiatus is broken up with /h/ (persistent)
Ishoʻu ʻOhu has a relatively simple inflecting nominal morphology, combined with complex agglutinative verbal morphology.
Ishoʻu ʻOhu has a simpler morphophonology than most of its immediate relatives; most of the processes of Proto-Coastal-Western have become unproductive, though remaining some instances and irregularities. However, it has inherited (and extended) the processes of I-affection and U-affection, and developed productive palatalisation and lenition.
I- and U-affection
These two related processes are a common feature of the Coastal Western group. Whenever a vowel is followed by etymological i or u, whatever the tone, it is subject to a change in basic quality. However, some cases of i or u do not cause affection, and in a few cases another vowel can cause affection. Where this is the case it is noted in the text.
I-affection is applied first, then U-affection. Vowels always trigger affection based on their original value, and affected vowels cannot trigger further affection - for instance, an i changed to u by U-affection will itself trigger I-affection, not U-affection. Note however that e changed to i by I-affection can trigger palatalisation - see below.
Before a vowel whose basic quality is i or u, an alveolar stop (t or d) turns into the corresponding alveolo-palatal affricate (ch and zh respectively). Other alveolar consonants are unaffected. This rule sometimes comes into effect as a result of I-affection, since in this environment e becomes i.
Due to the strict CV syllable structure of Ishoʻu ʻOhu, all words must begin with a consonant. "Vowel-initial" roots are pronounced with a preceding glottal stop. However, in some words (especially loanwords) this lenits to h when prefixes are added. Words with this property may be considered to by underlyingly vowel-initial, and are indicated in writing by the omission of the initial ‘okina.
Ishoʻu ʻOhu has retained the three cases of PCW - ergative, absolutive, and construct. Nominals also inflect for number and animacy; inanimate nominals lack an inflected ergative case.
The ergative suffixes trigger I-affection in the previous syllable, and the construct suffixes trigger U-affection.
The inanimate absolutive plural is marked by a change in tone: if the thematic vowel has a mid tone, it is changed to high. Otherwise, it is unaffected.
The animate ergative plural and construct plural suffixes change to –hi –hu when they follow a thematic back vowel or a. This is a relic of the formerly fully productive coronal backing process.
Example animate nominals
Example inanimate nominals
A handful of postpositions can cliticise to a nominal, in which instance they may cause affection processes in the case suffix. This can be thought of as a sort of extended case system; it is, however, restricted in use. Postpositions generally only cliticise to nouns in a semantic indirect object role (though frequently not a syntactic indirect object - a ditransitive verb with three ordinary arguments can, for instance, take a nominal in the benefactive as an adjunct).
It seems likely that this behaviour is due to influence from the Lukpanic languages, which are known for their large number of locative suffixes.
|Clitic||Triggers||Gloss||Allowed syntactic roles|
|–zé||–||dative||indirect object only|
|–li||I-affection||benefactive||adjunct or indirect object|
|adjunct or indirect object|
Like its parent Proto-Coastal-Western, Ishoʻu ʻOhu has two kinds of nominal: alienably and inalienably possessed. Either kind of nominal may be marked for possession by placing the possessor before it in the construct case, but inalienably possessed nominals must also have a prefix to mark possessor.
These agree with the possessing nominal in person, number, and animacy. Note that there are no longer first- or second-person prefixes for inanimate possessors; in the rare instances that these are required, the animate forms are used instead.
If prefixed to a nominal beginning with a nasal consonant, or whose initial syllable has low tone, the final syllable of the prefix gains low tone (regardless of what tone it has previously). This is a relic of PCW's tone sandhi.
Ishoʻu ʻOhu uses a set of independent pronouns for the first and second person that inflect for case and number. The distributive pronouns of PCW have fallen out of use.
The relatively complex system of phoric-demonstrative pronouns found in PCW has been simplified to just three basic morphemes. All of these must take a classifier suffix (see below for details) and a suffix for case and number agreement.
Diachronically, these derive from demonstrative pronouns indicating proximity to the speaker, proximity to the listener, and distance from either while remaining visible.
Perhaps to avoid the ambiguity that would otherwise be caused by the simplification of the pronoun system, all but one of PCW's classifiers have been retained, though some of their meanings have changed.
Several classifiers trigger affection processes in preceding syllables, and all of them are subject to these processes themselves. Most can only be used with referents of a certain animacy.
|–data–||inanimate||I-affection||limited areas, constructions, boats||II|
|–de–||inanimate||I-affection||liquid, incorporeal or gaseous nominals||III|
|–zi–||either||I-affection||mass nominals, collectives||IV|
|–da–||animate||–||solid, non-human nominals||V|
|–za–||inanimate||–||solid inanimate nominals||VI|
|–go–||either||U-affection||beings capable of speech||VIII|
|–si–||inanimate||I-affection||intangible or abstract nominals; unlimited areas||IX|
Some notes on usage:
- The distinction between classifiers II and IX is sometimes blurred. A good guideline is that a city is considered to belong to class II and anything larger is class IX. However, any expanse of open water is considered to belong to class IX.
- Classifier IV is used for things too numerous to count easily; it originally referred to granular masses only.
- In traditional religion, birds are considered capable of speech and therefore belong to class VIII. In stories or myths where other animals can speak, they are also treated as belonging to this class.
Cardinal numbers and non-numeral quantifiers must take classifier suffixes to agree with their nominal referent. Ordinal numbers may optionally do so when standing independently, but do not when part of a larger number; in most instances they only take a classifier suffix if the referent is omitted. Numerals always precede their referent.
In common with other Western languages, Ishoʻu ʻOhu uses a base eight number system.
Numbers above 10 8 are formed using the ordinal for the 8s place, then nyaho, then the cardinal or ordinal as appropriate for the 1s place. Numbers above 100 8 are formed in an analogous way, but the 64s place and above form a separate word. When forming high numbers, I- and U-affection do not occur.
The innovation of a numeral for zero (transparently derived from the older zero quantifier) may be linked to the development of place notation in the Lukpanic-Coastal writing system. As the script was logographic, it had a glyph for each numeral; around the time of the Coastal takeover in Ishe, older and less efficient systems of representing numbers started to give way to a positional notation system using the characteristically Western base eight.
Ishoʻu ʻOhu does not have adjectives as such. However, it has a number of modifying prefixes that can be applied to nouns; these are an open class and have the same function as adjectives in other languages.
Possessive prefixes precede adjectival prefixes.
Verbs in Ishoʻu ʻOhu obligatorily take suffixes for evidentiality and for participants, and may take additional suffixes in some instances.
Evidential markers are compulsory in Ishoʻu ʻOhu, as in PCW; the system has collapsed down to four possible suffixes.
|–zí–||I-affection||Observation, sensory perception|
|–zhu–||U-affection||Inference or assumption|
|–bà–||–||Hearsay or guess; fiction|
Participant marking is also compulsory; the markers follow the evidentiality suffix. Absolutive markers precede ergative markers.
The second-person despective forms are used to imply the inferiority of the listener.
The third-person markers in the table are used only for animate referents in the ergative. For referents in the absolutive, the appropriate classifier morpheme is used.
Additional verbal morphemes
Verbs may be made passive by the addition of the passivising suffix –sèʻade–, which precedes evidential and participant suffixes.
The participant markers may optionally be followed by additional morphemes expressing any of a number of meanings.
Ishoʻu ʻOhu uses a number of derivational methods. Most common is the addition of suffixes to derive new words from others; these are highly productive and can be combined to convey very specific meanings.
Noun to noun
|–ka||–|| related noun - can also
be used on modifiers
| zígá "yellow" > |
|–zhu||U-affection||abstraction, discipline|| nyahu "weapon" > |
|–lu||U-affection|| something made from the
| cèkà "earth" > |
cèkòlu "pot, ceramic"
Verb to noun
preceding vowel takes
low tone unless already high
|general nominaliser|| zéa "dance (v.)" > |
|–haba||–||agentive|| chishe "write" > |
|–sha||–||result of base|| ihaba "count" > |
ihabasha "number, tally"
|–zù|| U-affection; preceding vowel takes
low tone unless already high
|tool used for base|| páda "throw" > |
Noun to verb
|–ba||–||derives related verb|| datáda "slave" > |
Verb to verb
|–zá||–|| increases transitivity
| ʻùgoaba "eat (non-meat)" > |
|–ʻada–||–||general adjectiviser|| shida "snake" > |
shidaʻada- "snakelike, serpentine"
|–zu||–||general adverbialiser|| sìnyà "think" > |
One argument of a verb, almost always the patient, may be incorporated into it to reduce its valency by one. This is less commonly used in Ishoʻu ʻOhu than in PCW, but it is still a productive derivational process. The incorporated noun always precedes the verb and takes the form of the bare stem.
Ishoʻu ʻOhu makes some use of zero-derivation. The most significant form of this is that nominals may be used as determiners, in which instance they take no affixes at all. For example, the nominal pa "everything (inan.)" may be used as a determiner meaning "all".
Word order in Ishoʻu ʻOhu is SOV, or EAV if cases are considered. Indirect objects precede direct objects (as described in the VP section below).
In general, one-word modifiers immediately precede their head, while modifying phrases follow the head.
The verb phrase
A verb phrase (VP) in Ishoʻu ʻOhu consists of an inflected verb and its arguments. While all verbs must inflect for evidentiality and for the absolutive argument, and all monotransitives and ditransitives must inflect for the ergative argument, the arguments themselves are generally omitted (which is to say that Ishoʻu ʻOhu is a pro-drop language, like most of the Coastal Western languages). An exception to this is the indirect (recipient) object of a ditransitive verb, which must always be present.
The maximum number of arguments is three - one ergative, one absolutive for transitive verbs, and a second absolutive for ditransitives. All arguments must precede the verb, and the direct object of a ditransitive verb occurs after the other arguments.
A verb may take an additional adjuncts, which may be a postpositional phrase, an adverbial phrase, or an adverb. Adverbs precede the verb, while all other adjuncts follow it.
Example verb phrases
Intransitive with omitted argument:
Intransitive with adjunct (postpositional phrase):
Monotransitive with one omitted argument:
Ditransitive, using inference evidential and cliticised postposition:
The noun phrase
The noun phrase (NP) consists of a head nominal and any number of modifiers. Most single-word modifiers and prefixes precede the head, while modifying phrases follow it. Titles and epithets also follow the head.
Note that some nominals are inalienably possessed: they require a possessive prefix. Some other nominals change their meaning when a possessive prefix is added.
Example noun phrases
The postpositional phrase
The postpositional phrase (PP) consists of a head postposition and a complement NP. While PCW had two prepositions, in Ishoʻu ʻOhu all adpositions are postpositions and therefore form head-final PPs. The NP complement of a PP takes the construct case.
Note that some "postpositional phrases" used as verbal adjuncts may in fact consist of a single nominal (in the construct case) with a cliticised postposition.
Example prepositional phrases
Ishoʻu ʻOhu uses a zero copula, whether the predicate is a nominal, a modifier, or a modifying phrase. Both the subject and the predicate take the absolutive case.
Where the predicate is an adjectival prefix, it is prefixed to the classifier pronoun agreeing with the subject, and the absolutive case suffix is added.
A complement clause consists of a VP followed by the special subordinator desi, which was originally an inflected pronoun. A complement clause is always considered to be an inanimate nominal belong to noun class IX (intangibles); unlike in PCW, however, it may stand as any part of a sentence that could be filled by an ordinary NP, including any argument of a verb or postposition. However, postpositions never cliticise to a complement clause or its subordinator.
The subordinator may be changed to desí, originally a plural, which indicates that the verb in the VP refers to a repeated or habitual action.
Example complement clauses
A relative clause is a VP, one of whose arguments is the phoric pronoun zé agreeing with its antecedent in classifier, case, and number. It always follows its head noun. (This formation has been straightforwardly inherited from PCW, except that the position of the head noun has been moved to the beginning.)
Example relative clauses
A horse on a hill saw some sheep. A woman was cutting away the wool of the first sheep, a child was milking the second sheep, a man was slaughtering a third sheep. On their fire, a fourth sheep was being cooked.
The horse said this to a sheep: It pains me to see humans using sheep like this.
One sheep said this to the horse: I want you to listen to me. It pains me to see the horse who runs swiftly being shot and eaten. Humans do not know how to use your swiftness. But next year they will know. Then you too will be the slave of the humans!
Having heard this, the horse fled into the plain.
Shèsiʻi hedoʻu dabé sibogo mòhu zédábàdagé. ʻÀsìʻi dagógú mòhuʻu chula béabèzigé; gedeʻi suzhúda hoadabàdagé; deʻi nogugúda gozézábàdagé. Mèzogú mòhu gógúbàdagé gohu kadoʻu pazhé.
Shèsiʻi zézíbèsigé mòhuʻuzé: “Dàmadaʻehi mòhuhu tatezídagéshi zhú desi zedédesine desi ʻudazédanagé.”
Dagési mòhiʻi zézíbèsigé shèsuʻuzé: “Sidezínace desi zízhidesine.
“Shèsi zéda sezózu sezízúgo kubezúgogéshi dàʻabezúgogéshi desi zedédesine desi ʻudazédanagé.
“Dàmadaʻehi zéhogú tatozhisigéshi desi zédózhisigéshide.
“Gé zédózhisigéshi gezhùnòʻu à. Pa deʻi za dàmadaʻohu datáda chùgúzhugocoʻu!”
Shèsiʻi sidabèsigé desi gúgu, sezéʻogúbògo dagáboʻugèzí.
(Changes in circumstances affect everybody.)
(Children will end up like their parents.)