Ru Negwẽ

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Ru Negwẽ
[ʀu nəgʷə̃]
Period c. -900 YP
Spoken in Naəgbum
(Lukpanic coast)
Total speakers unknown
Writing system Lukpanic script
Classification Lukpanic
 Naəgbum dialect
Basic word order head-initial
Morphology agglutinating
Alignment unknown
Created by Dunomapuka;
this dialect: Alces

This is a brief, primarily phonological sketch of the Naəgbum dialect of Lukpanic, which was spoken in the peripheral city of Naəgbum (known as Negwẽ [nəgʷə̃] to its members). It describes it at the time of around -900 BP. Naəgbum was one of the earliest cities to be captured by Coastal Western peoples, of the Ìletlégbàku tribe--it was already starting to be overrun at this time.

Sound changes from Proto-Lukpanic

  1. /v/ disappears everywhere except initially where it becomes /ʋ/. If two identical vowels come together as a result of this, they dissimilate into a glide: /ii/ > /iə/, /uu/ > /uə/, /aa/ > /aə/.
  2. Non-initial nasals disappear, nasalising the previous vowel. The labial-velar /ŋm/ becomes /m/, while still nasalising the previous vowel.
  3. /i u/ > /ə/ when unstressed, but not before /a/ or /ə/.
  4. /iə uə/ > /ɨ/ when unstressed.
  5. Nasalised /i u/ shift to /ɨ/ too.
  6. /aə/ merges into /ə/.
  7. /h/ shifts to /ʀ/.
  8. Labial-velars shift to labialised velars.


Naəgbum was the easternmost of the principal Lukpanic cities, and the first to be captured by Coastal Western peoples. It was rather backward compared to some of the authors, and was ruled by an autocratic king (whose title was metĩea 'all the elders', in reference to the councils of elders which ruled some of the other cities). In -985 YP, the city was invaded by Coastal Westerners speaking Ìletlégbàku. The old king was deposed and one of the Coastal Western chiefs proclaimed himself the mutĩea (in Ìletlégbàku, mutìnge).

The city's population was not affected greatly, however. Instead, the Lukpanics actually prospered for a short while; in-fighting among the Westerners allowed the city to occasionally restore indigenous rule under the councils of elders. The Coastal Western speakers were only a small proportion of the population, though increasing: there were about 15,000 of them, out of a total population in Naəgbum of 75,000, in -900 YP. By this time, however, Coastal Western rule under a single mutìnge had been firmly established. Gradually, the Naəgbum dialect speakers shifted to Ìletlégbàku. By -400 YP, the language was pretty much dead.



Labial Alveolar Velar Uvular
plain lab.
Voiceless stop p /p/ t /t/ k /k/ kw /kʷ/
Voiced stop b /b/ d /d/ g /g/ gw /gʷ/
Fricative s /s/
Trill r /ʀ/
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ ŋ /ŋ/ ŋw /ŋʷ/
Approximant v /ʋ/ l /l/
  • /ʀ/ becomes /ʁ/ in non-careful speech.
  • The nasals only appear word-initially, except /m/ which occasionally appears elsewhere.


Front Central Back
plain nasalised
Gliding ie /iə/ ue /uə/
Close i /i/ ĩ /ɨ̃ / u /u/
Mid e /ə/ /ə̃/
Open a /a/ ã /ã/
  • The sequences of /ia/ and /ua/ are realised as [ea] and [oa], and are spelled to reflect this.
  • /iə/ and /uə/ become [ɨ] allophonically when unstressed.
  • /i/ and /u/ only appear in stressed syllables; elsewhere they have become /ə/, but this /ə/ has become phonemic due to the shift of former /aə/ to /ə/.
  • /ə/ and nasalised /ə̃/ are often rounded to help distinguish it from /a/ and [ɨ].
  • When nasalised vowels precede an identical (though not necessarily nasalised) vowel, an epenthetic [n] is inserted in between, which is also written.

Syllable Structure

Many vowel combinations are permitted: /ia/, /ua/, /au/, /ai/, /əu/, /əi/. Only /p b m l/ may occur finally, and there are no clusters.

Stress usually goes on the antepenultimate, or penultimate in two-syllable words or when the penultimate contains /iə/ or /uə/. In a few cases it falls on penultimate /ə/ irregularly; with these words I mark the stressed /ə̃/ as é.