Fu Pitão

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Fu Pitão
[ɸu piˈtʰão̯]
Period c. -750 YP
Spoken in Kpitamoa
(Lukpanic coast)
Total speakers c. 50,000
Writing system Lukpanic script
Classification Lukpanic
 Kpitamoa dialect
Basic word order head-initial
Morphology agglutinating
Alignment unknown
Created by Dunomapuka;
this dialect: Cedh

This is a short description of the Lukpanic dialect spoken in and around the city of Kpitamoa (local Pitão), east of Siŋmeasita and south of Naəgbum, in the eighth century BP. Within the language family, the dialect of Kpitamoa belongs to the East Lukpanic subgroup along with Siŋmeasita Lukpanic and Naəgbum Lukpanic. None of these, however, carried as much prestige as the variety spoken in the strongest and richest of the Lukpanic city states, Isi, whose dialect is part of the West Lukpanic grouping.



Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p · b t · d k · g
Fricative ɸ s h
Nasal m n ŋ
Approximant w l j
  • /ɸ j/ are written f y.


Front Central Back
High i · ĩ u · ũ
Mid e · ẽ o · õ
Low a · ã

Phonetic detail and phonotactics

Syllable structure was generally (C)V. Word-finally, p b m were permitted as coda consonants (pronounced [ʔ p m] respectively].

Vowels in hiatus were common. Sequences of two vowels were usually pronounced as falling diphthongs; in longer vocalic groups one of the medial vowels was usually converted to a semivowel.

The diphthongs ai au (and their nasalised counterparts) were distinguished from ae ao not just by the height of their offglide; rather, the nuclear vowel was also somewhat influenced by the nonsyllabic component: ai au [æi ɒu] vs. ae ao [ae̯ ao̯].

Vowel nasalisation spread both forward and backward up to the next consonant; this was, however, not written.

b d g w l were subject to nasal harmony, which was triggered whenever they came into contact with a nasalised vowel through affixing or compounding. Under this process, the above consonants changed into m n ŋ m n respectively.

The voiceless plosives p t k were aspirated in stressed syllables.

s h were palatalised to [ʃ] before i ĩ.

Sound changes from Proto-Lukpanic

The phonological developments in the Kpitamoa dialect show some similarity to the dialect of Naəgbum to the east, and to the dialect of Siŋmeasita to the west. The most distinctive features of Kpitamoa are lenition of earlier voiced stops, vowel and consonant nasalisation, and the spirantisation of Proto-Lukpanic *p.

  • Non-initial [m n ŋ] disappear, nasalising the previous vowel. [ŋm] also causes nasalisation, but is not deleted. Some instances of [m n ŋ] are irregularly retained, typically in words which originally had two or more nasal consonants in consecutive syllables.
  • [β] becomes [m] when immediately followed by a nasalised vowel. Remaining [β] are deleted everywhere except word-initially.
  • [b d ɡ] lenite to [β ð ɣ] between vowels.
  • [p] lenites to [ɸ] between vowels and word-initially.
  • [ea oa] (phonemically /ia ua/) become [e o].
  • [iə uə] merge with [e o] when preceded by a voiced consonant, and become [ja wa] word-initially and when preceded by a vowel. Otherwise, [aə iə uə] are contracted to [a i u].
  • [β] and word-final [l] shift to [w].
  • [ð] shifts to [j] after [i e] and between [a] and a back vowel [a o u], and is deleted elsewhere.
  • [ɣ] shifts to [w] after [u o] and between [a] and a front vowel [a e i], and is deleted elsewhere.
  • [h] becomes [ɸ] before [u o].
  • [ku ɡu ŋu] before another vowel merge with [kp ɡb ŋm].
  • [kp ɡb] become [k ɡ] before [u o], and [p b] elsewhere, with a few exceptions where historical [ɡbũ] becomes [bũ] instead of the expected [ɡũ], e.g. *gbum ‘city’ > *bũ (later ). [ŋm] becomes [m] unconditionally.
  • [w] is lost before [u], and [j] is lost before [i]. Intervocalic [i u] then become semivowels [j w].
  • Sequences of two identical vowels coalesce to a single vowel. In addition, [ei ea ou oa] become [i e u o] if another vowel follows. After this, any remaining or resulting instances of [ei ou ia ua] become [ai au ea oa].
  • Vowel nasalisation spreads all the way through vowel sequences. [b d ɡ w l] then become [m n ŋ m n] when adjacent to a nasalised vowel.
  • [h s] palatalise to [ʃ] before [i].

Example phrases

  • *gbagba lukpani "the people facing toward the sea" > baba lupãi
  • *mitalai iəta "the river flows" > mitalai yata
  • *hupusi sumi "it's raining" > fufusi sũi
  • *gbiusi liŋmili "[they] are building the wall" > biusi nĩmili
  • *tukuigba vinitali "[they] are performing a ceremony" > tupiba mĩtali
  • *ŋanaigba... "[someone] is saying..." > ŋãima
  • *gbikiŋibita neamali "He builds boats [apparently; so I heard]" > bikĩmita nẽani
  • *gbiusiŋmaukeab "one who isn't going to build a boat." > biusĩmaukeb
  • *haŋmoausigilip daəb disili "I don't think the woman will stab her husband" > hãmausilip dab disili
  • *naəpal nali "the vomiting baby" > nafau nali
  • *daəb huəsadai "the woman [that I see is] singing" > dab fusayai
  • *pamigbaul ŋma tuipili "I witnessed the hunting" > fãimau ma tuifili

Verbal Morphology

Slot 1

The first slot for suffixes combines information about agency and aspect:

  • gnomic states: -ai-
  • physical actions and events: -usi-
  • habitual actions: -ĩ- (triggers progressive and regressive nasalisation)
  • communication and mental processes: -iba-, -ĩma-

Slot 2

The second slot marks information about tense, aspect and mood.

  • present, recent or ongoing past: unmarked
  • completed past: -u, -ul-
  • irrealis: -(i)u, -(i)l-, -i-
  • intentional: -mau (triggers regressive nasalisation)

Slot 3

The third slot marks evidentiality.

  • general knowledge or unspecified: unmarked
  • witnessed: -(y)a-
  • inferred or hearsay: -wita-, -mita-

Slot 4

The fourth slot marks negation.

  • affirmative: unmarked
  • negative: -ki
  • hypothetical: -ip

Verbal nouns

  • agentive: -(a)b, -(a)m
  • gerund: -i (negative -pi)

Nominal Morphology

  • nominative: unmarked
  • accusative: -li, -ni
    • used for the direct object: *hagausiul kumoab simipili "the priest ate the spleen" > hausiu kõab sĩfili
    • also used for the indirect object: *abupusiul ŋma sasali u tuəm "I gave my father some buckwheat porridge" > aufusiu ma sasali u tũ

Personal Pronouns

Kpitamoa Lukpanic has lost the gender distinction in personal pronouns.

singular plural
1sg 2sg 3sg 1pl incl. 1pl excl. 2pl 3pl
nominative ma gi sa mau mãma gu su
accusative mali gili sali mauli mãni guli suli
possessive mãu ŋĩu sãu mãu mãmãu ŋũ