Satnímʔa, or more formally Satnímʔa lömi (The horse people language), is a language in the Western language family spoken around -1000 YP in the Peilaš steppe. Its ancestor language is Iŋomœ́ (Iŋ.), and it is thus one of the Steppe languages.
The people who spoke Satnímʔa lömi, called the Satnimʔa or the horse people, were a nomadic sheep-herding people.
The language has an agglutinative verb morphology, and a simpler, inflecting noun morphology mostly consisting of stress change.
- 1 Phonology
- 2 Morphology
- 2.1 Nouns
- 2.2 Modifiers
- 2.3 Pronouns
- 2.4 Verbs
The Satnímʔa lömi language consist of 25 consonant phonemes and 8 vowel qualities. It is characterized by a simple syllable structure and restricted consonant clusters. There is a +ATR/-ATR vowel harmony. There is a strong dynamic accent, which is phonemic, but there is no phonemic pitch or tone. The stress can fall on any syllable in the word, but most commonly on the first or the last syllable of the word.
- p t k ʔ /p t k ʔ/
- b d g /b d g/
- c ć /ʦ ʨ/
- dz dź /ʣ ʥ/
- m n ń ŋ /m n ɲ ŋ/
- s ś h /s ɕ h/
- z ź /z ʑ/
- v j /ʋ j/
- l ł /l ʎ/
Geminated consonants are marked orthographically by doubling the consonant letter (p > pp).
There are three sets of consonants: Hard consonants (consisting of alveolars and velars, except r), soft consonants (consisting of alveolo-palatals and palatals, except j) and neutral consonants (consisiting of labials and glottals, j and r).
Palatalized consonants are soft consonants + c and dz
|Close||i iː||u uː|
|Close-mid||e eː||o oː|
- i ü /i u/
- u /ʊ/
- e ö /e o/
- ə /ə/
- o /ɔ/
- a /a/
Long vowels are marked orthographically by doubling the vowel letter (i > ii).
Stress is marked on the vowel with an acute accent (a > á). Diareses change to circumflex (ö > ô).
There is a +ATR/-ATR vowel harmony, where all vowels within a word only contain vowels from one group. The -ATR vowels are a, o and u, and the +ATR vowels are e, ö and ü. The other vowels i and ə are neutral, and can occur with both -ATR and +ATR vowels. In affixes vowels from the right group has to be chosen: An affix might contain either a or e (noted A), o or ö (noted: O) or u or ü (noted: U).
All diphthongs are falling and closing, and abide to vowel harmony (at least theoretically, even though the difference between finishing element of /aʊ/ and /eu/ are small, and neither noticeable or of any practical importance (/aʊ/ doesn’t contrast with /au/ for instance.) The possible diphthongs are /ai aʊ ei eu Oi Oʊ oi ou/ ai au ei eü oi ou öi öü.
Syllable structure is fairly simple: (C)V(X), where C is any consonants, V is any vowel (short or long) or diphthong, and X is all consonants except voiced stops and fricatives, or /j/ (which alternates with /i/ in this position).
The number of possible medial clusters, which are never more than 2 consonants long, are quite limited, and the rules for possible medial clusters are:
- Voiced plosives or fricatives never occurs in clusters.
- The second element of a cluster is normally not palatalized, with the following exceptions:
a. –cc–, –nc– and –lc–
b. A soft consonant may follow another soft consonant
- Soft consonants only occur with other soft consonants or with neutral consonants (note however that the combination Neutral+Soft is outruled by rule 2.)
- Hard consonant only occur with other hard consonants or with neutral consonants.
- A nasal consonant and a plosive (except the glottal stop) in any order are always similar in point of articulation.
- Glottals, v and j do not occur geminated.
- s and ś only occur as first element before glottals (and when geminated), and never after plosives.
- v only occurs as first element before glottals.
- The only plosive+plosive or nasal+nasal cluster that occurs are clusters with glottals, geminates, and (rarely) -tp-, -tk-, -kp-, -kt-.
- The alveolar lateral and nasal does not form clusters with eachother, likewise does not the palatal lateral and nasal form clusters.
- j only occurs in the cluster -rj-
When two, short consonant phonemes come next to eachother because of morphology, there are significant simplifications to the outcoming clusters, according to the following chart:
Neutral consonants with a subscript 1 or 2 are instances of the consonants in words, where the 2 represents that the vowels in the word are +ATR, and that the vowel preceding the consonant are either i(i), ei or öi. When the preceding vowel is a diphthong, the diphthong monophthongize to e and ö before the palatalized consonant clusters.
In some instances tn and kŋ acts as single consonants, when meeting other consonants in clusters. They act as t and k respectively when being the first consonant, and as n and ŋ respectively when being the second. However tn + p/vB > tp, etc.
Realizations, distribution and allophony
Unvoiced plosives and affricates in isolation are generally unaspirated, or just slightly aspirated. Word initially, especially in words with initial stress, some speakers aspirate the unvoiced plosives. This is considered forceful, male speach.
Voiced plosives are fully voiced.
Word finally (unvoiced) plosives are often unreleased, and may even be softened to the corresponding nasal consonant, especially by women.
A plosive/affricate + glottal stop cluster is mostly realized as an ejective consonant, which might be geminated. In forceful speak sʔ is merged with cʔ, as is śʔ with ćʔ (to the affricates).
A plosive/affricate + h cluster is pronounced as a heavily aspirated consonant, which might be geminated. Sonorants before h start out voiced, but lose voicing during the pronunciation of the sonorant.
A plosive with a following nasal in a cluster has a nasal release.
Normal pronunciation of v is /ʋ/, but the pronunciation /w/ is not considered incorrect.
The alveolars are laminal. The rhotic r is trilled when geminated (/rː/), and tapped when short (vowel internally) (/ɾ/). Word initially the trill and the tap are in free variation, with the tap considered softer.
The alveolo-palatals sounds actually have a very varied pronunciation depending on speaker, ideolect and situation, varying from postalveolar /ʧ/ to palatal /cç/ (for ć). The postalveolar pronunciation is viewed as very forceful. In this male speach the palatal nasal and lateral are merged with their alveolar counterparts. The alveolo-palatal pronunciation is neutral. Not that /ɲ/ and /ʎ/ are actually also alveolo-palatals in this pronunciation "mode". The palatal pronunciation is considered very soft, even for people (women) normally using softened pronunciation.
A glottal stop in coda position causes the preceding vowel to be pronounced with creaky voice.
The pronunciation of coda h is depending on how forceful one intends to sound. In forced speak it may be pronounced as an uvular fricative (/χ/). In "normal" speak it is pronounced /x/ after back vowels and /ç/ after front vowels. In softened speak it is realized as in normal speak, and by pronouncing the vowel with breathy voice.
The vowels are normally pronounced with their cardinal values. The high front vowel i might be pronounced lowered (/ɪ/) or central (/ɨ/) in -ATR surroundings, with certain speakers. This is however considered non-standard.
In male speak ə might be dropped, when it results in a ʔ + C or h + C final cluster.
The voiced fricatives, and all palatalized consonants only occurs vowel internally, and the palatalized consonants most commonly after the vowels i, e or ö.
The distribution of short and long vowels are uneven. Long vowels only occur in initial syllables, in syllables following a syllable cluster or a voiced plosive/affricate or any of h, ʔ and ł. The final syllable of a polysyllabic word cannot contain a long vowel. Diphthongs are regarded as long vowels, with the exception that they can occur in the final syllable.
Also forbidden in absolute final position is ə, which neither can start a (content) word. This vowel can never stand before or after consonant clusters or voiced plosives/affricates, except over morpheme boundaries.
Sound changes from Iŋomœ´
- Final obstruents devoice word finally
- g > h (probably via ɣ > ɦ)
- k > ʔ
- Palatal stops > velar stops
- z > ɾ (via ɹ ?)
- Voiceless nasals > Preocclusive nasals (nh > tn, ŋh > kŋ)
- Vowels in hiatus are diphthongized/prolonged
- All diphthongs are falling
- Opening diphthongs > Long vowels (ex. ia > iː)
- Horizontal diphthongs > Long vowels (ex. ɯu > ɯ:)
- Long diphthongs are shortened, sometimes an epenthetic h breaks the long diphthong in two syllables.
- Unstressed short vowels disappear
Exception: when there would be a final consonant cluster, then short vowel > ə
- Unstressed long vowels shorten
- Unstressed diphthongs monophthongize
- Cluster simplifications. (Nasals assimilate in POA to a following or preceding stop, plosive+plosive simplify to a geminate plosive, s > h before another consonant...)
- Short voiced stops between sonorants weakened:
- b > β
- d > ð
- g > ɣ
- Homorganic sonorant + weakened voiced stop > Genimate sonorant:
- mβ, βm > mː
- nð, ðn > nː
- lð, ðl > lː
- ɾð, ðɾ > ɾː > rː
- ŋɣ, ɣŋ > ŋː
- In other positions the weakened voiced stops developed further:
- β > ʋ
- ð > z
- ɣ > j
- v > ʋ
- Geminate voiced stops shortened
- Development of back-front vowel harmony according to the stressed vowel:
(All developments below are understood to take place in accordance to the stressed vowel, if the stressed vowel is front, front vowels don’t change, and vice versa)
- i > ɯ
- ɯ > i
- y > u
- u > y
- e > a
- a > e
- ö > o
- o > ö
Long vowels alternate as their short counterparts
- Diphthongs altered to concur to vowel harmony (ex. ay > ai)
- ɯ > ɨ
- Front rounded vowels backing, pushing back vowels down, creating a +ATR/-ATR-harmony instead:
- y > u
- u > ʊ
- ö > o
- o > ɔ
- Palatalization of alveolar and velar stops and fricatives after i(ː) and j
- t > ʦ
- d > ʣ
- s > ɕ
- z > ʑ
- n > ɲ
- l > ʎ
- k > ʨ
- g > ʥ
- ŋ > ɲ
- ɨ(ː) > i(ː) (becoming a neutral vowel)
- Final preoclused nasals lose nasal (ex. tn > t)
Nouns have lost both the edibility distinction and the number distinction from I, and do now differ between two cases: the direct case and the oblique case. The direct case is mostly building off the old plural forms, while the oblique case is the old ergative. There are however several exceptions to this.
The direct case and the oblique case of regular nouns only differ in stress location, and possibly in vowel length: Where in the direct case the stress falls on any syllable but the last (in most cases on the first syllable), in the oblique case the stress regularly falls on the last syllable. The last syllable of regular nouns is always open. If there are long vowels in the direct case that vowel is often shortened. Diphthongs may also be monophthongized when they become unstressed.
There are some nouns whos direct case comes from I's singular absolutive, edible or inedible. These have irregular oblique formations, which may be to add a stressed vowel, or to shorten a long vowel or monophthongize a diphthong.
The reason might be that the plural forms was not very common, the stem might have been monosyllabic, or it might have been a very common noun. Some examples given below:
Sometimes there's a difference between old singulars and regular forms from old plurals:
Sometimes there's a difference of the (old) edibility that has been lexicalized:
Animate nouns representing humans, ancestors, spirits, demons etc. (but not animals) can be marked for collective plural, with the collective plural suffix -mʔA. This suffix is added to the direct or oblique form of the noun, and never takes stress. The suffix has the allomorph -AmʔA after a consonant. Nouns ending in -əC lose the ə, and the consonant cluster simplifies according to the table above.
The personal collective plural suffix can also be added to a noun that is not denoting humans. The marked word then means ’people assosciated with noun’. For instance the name of the cultural group speaking this language is satnimʔa (OBL: satnímʔa) meaning horse people.
To show possession there are possessional prefixes, one for each person, with no number distinction. The prefixes ”steal” stress in the direct case, but abides to the vowel harmony of the root. In the oblique case the vowel of the prefix is reduced to –ə, which disappears before vowels in all cases but for the third person, where it instead is extended to –əʔ.
Example with a word starting with a consonant, satni horse:
Example with a word starting with a vowel, usəŋ -í woman, wife
(Note that nó-usəŋ is pronounced with a diphthong ou. In words starting with A- the first person oblique possession prefix has the allomorph nÁ-)
The possessor of the head noun will precede it and be in the oblique case. When the possessor is an pronoun, an overt pronoun may (optionally) be given to show the number of the person. The honorific 2nd person pronoun triggers the 3rd person possessional prefix.
- nə-tinó á-usəŋ
my father's wife
There are 6 noun classes, based (losely) on semantic criteria. (Note however that noun class is a lexical property, and that not all nouns belong to the noun class that they should do logically. Most do though.) Noun class is not overtly marked on the nouns themselves, and agreement marking on verbs and modifying nouns present in the ancestor language have disappeared. There are still agreement markers on pronouns and numerals. The noun classes are arranged in an animacy hierarchy, whith NC.I highest on the animacy hierarchy, and NC.VI lowest.
The noun classes with their characteristic suffix are listed below:
|Noun class||Contains||Characteristic suffix|
|I||Humans, gods, spirits, demons...||-U|
|II||Animals, meat, foodstuff||-ː|
|III||Tools, bodyparts, trees, rivers, celestial bodies||-|
|IV||Liquids, fire, air||-i|
|V||Solid inanimates, insects||-k|
|VI||Mushy objects, granular masses, abstracts||-Uʔ|
ː is referring to the prolonging of a previous vowel, or that a schwa turns into a clear vowel.
Note that in words that take noun class suffixes where the stem ends in a high vowel (i, ü or u) that vowel gets lowered to e/a, ö and o before class suffix II, III, and IV, and U becomes i after a stem ending in -i.
The class of modifiers in Satnímʔa consist of adjectives and numerals. They modify a noun, even if their head noun doesn't always have to be overtly stated. Modifiers in Satnímʔa stand before their head noun, and agree with its noun class, but not with case or number.
Adjectives agree with their head noun's noun class as stated above, with the suffixes found here. I polysyllabic adjectives the stem vowel is lost in NC.III, and it appears short in NC.II. When the stem vowel is lost single v,z,ź and j is altered to b, d, dz and g respectively. v and j may also alter to U and i. NC.III may also end with -əC, in which case the ə disappears in all other noun classes, and a consonant cluster appears according to this.
Examples are given for the adjectives lino- green, ŋuuzi- blunt and kico- (kipəs) itchy
Adjectives that appear without an overt noun are interpreted as a special case of the noun class the adjective agrees with: ŋuuza is for instance interpreted as a blunt tool. The adjective in the abstact noun class is interpreted as an abstract linouʔ greenness.
Demonstrative adjectives show a three-way deixis: proximal ge(e)-, medial ru- and distal ta-. Note that the proximal stem vowel is long, but is shortened before vowels and in NC.III (that is the stem is ge- in all noun classes except NC.V.)
The numeral system of Satnímʔa is base 8, just like its ancestor language. Cardinal numbers are normal modifiers that agree with their head noun's noun class. Ordinal numbers however are invariant.
Higher numbers are generated by compounding:
- ŋuso-nousa kivo
fifteen (8+7) fruits
Multiples of eight are formed with ŋuso- preceeded by an ordinal indicated how many times it is to be multiplied.
- siś ŋuso kivo
twice eight.NC.II fruit.DIR
There are two sets of pronouns in Stanímʔa: Personal pronouns and phoric pronouns.
Subject and object personal pronouns are not obligatory in clauses, and not normally used in core position in the clause. The language is por-drop. Personal pronouns are instead used for emphaze, as topics and with postpositions.
The personal pronouns are invariable, but there are different pronouns depending on person and number. In the plural, there is an inclusive/exclusive distinction in the first person.
There is a second person honorific pronoun, which has no number distinction. This pronoun works like a normal noun, and has to be used in core position in the clause.
Personal pronouns are also a part of the animacy hierarchy. The full animacy hierarchy is:
- TOP > 2HON > 1 > 2 > NC.I > NC.II > … > NC.V > NC.VI
There are two sets of phoric pronouns: anaphoric pronouns that refers to participants already mensioned in the discourse, and cataphroic pronouns that refers to participants that is mensioned later in the discourse. They agree with the nounclass of their referent. The phoric pronouns can be used as core participants in the clause or together with a postposition, but they are invariant in form. They cannot stand as topics, and they cannot stand as a modifier to a head noun.
The anaphoric pronoun stem is –a(a)– , and the cataphoric pronoun stem is –ʔü–.
- Kə-tinó, ʔaʔkahuuʔən. ʔüü pamʔa tutnu au á-usəŋ riik ʔaʔkahuuʔ.
We were mocking your father. His wife, who is sleeping with everyone, was mocking him too.
- kə = tinó ʔaʔka - huu - ʔə - n. ʔüü pamʔa tutn - u au á = usəŋ riik ʔaʔka - huu - ʔ
2 = father.OBL mock - INV - EV.I - 1. CAT.NC.I everyone.DIR fuck - SUBJ ANA.NC.I - 3 = wife.DIR too mock - INV - EV.I
Satnímʔa verbs are inflected for voice, evidentiality, mood, directionality and participant reference. Voice and evidentiality are obligatory, directionality is optional, and participant reference is obligatory, but only used when at least one of the participant is first or second person.
The order of the markers are:
- root - voice marker - evidential/mood - directional - participant reference
All verb roots and some of the suffixes have a short and a long form. If the long form ends in a long vowel or a diphthong, the short form ends in the same shortened/monophthongized vowel. If the long form ends in a short vowel (which cannot be ə) the short form ends with ə, which is dropped if possible. When dropped the two consonants that come together makes a cluster according to this chart. A suffix always takes its long form if it is after a consonant cluster or a voiced plosive/affricate, and is also not in the last syllable of the word.
A suffix that forces the preceding root/suffix to take its long form is written with an initial -ː-.
The neutral/antipassive voices from Iŋ. have developed into a direct/inverse voice distinction. The direct voice is used when the participant that is highest on the animacy hierarchy is the agent of a transitive clause. The inverse voice in contrast is used when the participant that is highest on the animacy hierarchy is the patient of a transitive clause. In intransitive clauses there is no voice distinction.
The direct voice is unmarked, and the inverse voice is marked with the suffix -hU(U)-.
- lo ʔusi ugaa - ʔ
man.DIR wolf.DIR hunt - EV.I
A man killed a wolf.
- lo ʔusi uga - huu - ʔ man.DIR wolf.DIR hunt - INV - EV.I
A wolf killed a man.
The system with 8 evidentials have been inherited from the ancestor language. They are arranged in a evidentiality hierarchy. A speaker will not use an evidential that is lower on this hierarchy when a higher level of evidence is available. For example, if a speaker can both see and hear his mother, he will never use the hearing evidential to say "Here comes Mother", but always the visual.
I. -ːʔ(ə) internal/visual
This is the highest level of evidence, used for knowledge gathered visually, as well as for one's own thoughts and emotions.
- ʔusi eśe - ʔ
wolf.DIR come - EV.I
A wolf is coming (I can see it).
II. -və/vU- or -U oral/nasal
Knowledge gathered by taste or smell.
lam - və -k
fart - EV.II - 2
You farted (I can smell it).
III. -jə/ji- or -g touch/hear
Knowledge gathered by touch or hearing (i.e. actually hearing an event occur, not being told about it).
- Ká-tin rusakhujək
ká = tin rusaj - hu - jə - k
2 = father.DIR call - INV - EV.III - 2
Your father is calling you (I can hear it).
IV. -Us(i)- hearsay
Knowledge gathered by being told by someone else.
- Au lo ugaus.
au lo uga - us
ANA.NC.I man.DIR kill - EV.IV
They say he killed a man.
V. -líh(i)- physical evidence
Knowledge gathered by physical evidence (footprints, etc).
- Ge kavó, moli loŋhulíh.
ge kavó moli loŋ - hu - líh
PROX.NC.III tree.OBL bear.DIR scratch - INV - EV.V
A bear scratched this tree (I see the marks).
VI. -´i (stress on the long stem, which gets shortened if it's a long vowel, i > U after U) general knowledge
The assertion is something the speaker believes is obvious and known by everyone. It can also be used in a concessive sense ("that may be so, but...").
- Amó, müséi.
amó müsé - i
sun.OBL shine - EV.VI - The sun shines (obviously).
VII. -hə/hO- past experience
Knowledge based on past experience
- Naa, uhŋamʔa sirhuhən e.
naa uhŋ - amʔa sir - hu - hə - n e
1PL.INCL woman.DIR - COLL hear - INV - EV.VII - 1 not
In my experience, women don't listen to us.
VIII. -0- speculative/fictional
The speaker is merely speculating and does not claim the proposition is true. Also used in fictional narratives, questions, and as a polite imperative.
- Au ag.
au aj - 0
ANA.NC.1 die - EV.VIII
Maybe he died.
Subordinate clauses doesn't take an evidential, but instead takes a subjunctive suffix -və/vO-.
There are two directionality suffixes that marks a direction to -ʔUt(n)- or from -tOhm- something. The point from which the direction is referring to is the topic if there is one, or the speaker.
eś - 0 - ʔütn - ək
come - EV.VIII - to - 2
Come to me.
The participant reference suffixes have been very simplified from Iŋ. No participant reference is expressed on the verb for third person arguments. There is no longer any number distinction expressed on the verb on the participant references that do remain.
There is now only 3 participant suffixes left. One indicating a first person argument: -n, one indicating a second person argument: -k, and one indicating that one of the participants is first person, and that the other participant is second person: -nət. Note that the voice suffix decides if it is the first or second person argument that is the agent.
If the second person honorific pronoun is used it is not cross referenced on the verb as a second person argument.
- Moli keüzöʔən.
moli keüzö - ʔə - n
bear.DIR see - EV.I - 1
I see a bear.
keüzö - ʔ - nət
see - EV.I - 1>2
I see you.
keüt - hüü - ʔ - nət
see - INV - EV.I - 1>2
You see me.
- Lori keüthüüʔən.
lori keüt - hüü- ʔə - n
2HON.DIR see - INV - EV.I - 1
I see You.