Proto-Dumic

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For the description of this language as reconstructed in the 2011-2014 Relay, see Proto-Dumic (reconstructed).
Also available: Proto-Dumic (reconstructed)/Lexicon
Proto-Dumic
Period c. -2000 YP
Spoken in western
Great Bay
Total speakers unknown
Writing system none
Classification Dumic
Typology
Basic word order SOV
Morphology agglutinating
Alignment ergative
Credits
Created by WeepingElf
 Basilius
 brandrinn

Proto-Dumic is a language spoken in the hills to the west of the Great Bay (Tagimī) during the early Bronze Age. It is significant as the ancestor of the Dumic languages.
The term Dumic is derived from the Trinesian word for "people", dum.

Background

The speakers of Proto-Dumic lived in the warm, hilly lands to the west of the Great Bay around the start of the second millennium BP. They were a largely settled, agricultural people organised into loose chiefdoms. Authority was passed down patrilineally, and was both temporal and religious; each chief was expected to intercede with the gods and the ancestors, who resided in a parallel spirit world, for the benefit of their subjects.
In this and other ways, material and spiritual power were thoroughly intertwined in Proto-Dumic culture. Metal – a rare commodity – was especially viewed as having supernatural properties, and the ideas of lustre and radiance were associated with power. Notably, the symbols of rulership were an inalienably possessed bronze axe and spear.

Phonology

Phoneme inventory

Consonants

 labial   dental   alveolar   velar 
nasal m n
voiceless p t s k
voiced w ð r ɣ

Vowels

 front   back 
high i u
low a

Phonotactics and morphophonology

Syllable structure is CV(N). Most roots are bisyllabic, although a few are of the form CVN and a few are trisyllabic.
Voiceless and voiced (non-nasal) consonants alternate: a voiced consonant following a coda nasal is changed to its voiceless counterpart. (However, nasals do not assimilate in place of articulation.) Hence the only permissible form of cluster is a nasal followed by an unvoiced consonant or another nasal.

Suprasegmentals

Proto-Dumic has a dynamic stress that falls on the penultimate syllable of the word. Postpositions may carry secondary stress, although there is no clear rule governing its assignment.

Morphology

Proto-Dumic is a highly regular, mostly suffixing, agglutinative language.

Nominal morphology

Declension

Nouns decline for four numbers (singular, dual, trial, plural) and three cases (absolutive, ergative, postpositional), which are indicated by suffixes. The number suffix precedes the case suffix.

singular -Ø
dual -ta
trial -ri/-si
plural -mu
absolutive -Ø
ergative -kan
postpositional -ni

Possession

Possession can be indicated by the addition of a prefix – transparently identical to the corresponding pronoun – to the possessum. Prefixes ending in a nasal trigger the voiced-to-voiceless change in initial consonants as normal.
Some nouns are inalienably possessed, and cannot occur without a possessive prefix.

singular dual trial plural
1st inclusive ti- tita- tiri- timu-
exclusive ku- kuri- kumu-
2nd ma- mata- mari- mamu-
3rd masculine kan- kanta- kansi- kanmu-
feminine tum- tumta- tumsi- tummu-

Pronouns

Personal pronouns distinguish inclusivity in the first person and gender in the third, and decline as regular nouns.
Note that the demonstratives ('this, that') are fully distinct from the interrogatives ('who, what').

singular dual trial plural
1st inclusive ti tita tiri timu
exclusive ku kuri kumu
2nd ma mata mari mamu
3rd masculine kan kanta kansi kanmu
feminine tum tumta tumsi tummu
singular dual trial plural
demonstrative proximal si sita siri simu
distal mu muta muri mumu
interrogative personal win
impersonal ram

Verbal morphology

Conjugation

Verbs take suffixes for reflexivity, aspect, mood, evidentiality, and voice, in that order (although the reflexive is properly a derived form and is not described here). A verb in a subordinate clause also takes the subordinating suffix after all other suffixes.

Aspect
imperfective -Ø
perfective -wa/-pa
Mood
indicative -Ø
subjunctive -sa
optative -ði/-ti
imperative -kim
Evidentiality
factual -Ø
inferred -mu
hearsay -ka
hypothetical -si
Voice
active -Ø
antipassive -ðanta/-tanta
Subordinator
subordinator -ki

Adjectives

There is no separate class of adjectives in Proto-Dumic; verbs fill the same function. A verb used attributively takes the subordinator -ki.

Derivational morphology

Derivational affixes

Noun → Noun
diminutive -kin, -tam, -miri
augmentative -wu/-pu, -taku
a kind of X -niri
sth. related to X -pini
mass of X -tumka
singulative -kiki
Noun → Verb
to make an X -kanti
to be an X -miði
to have an X -ðuði/-tuði


Verb → Noun
ABS doer / done thing -ða/-ta
ERG doer -ðira/-tira
location -pa
result of action -ninta
verbal abstract -kasi
gerund -kin
Verb → Participle
imperfective -tini
perfective -kaɣa


Verb → Verb
to begin X -timi
to stop X -mumpi
to continue X -rini/-sini
to repeat X -ririn/-sirin
Verb → Verb
(valency change)
causative I -ku
causative II -taka
de-causative -sun
reflexive -ma

The valency-adjusting suffixes merit special attention. They work as follows:

  • Causative I, -ku, also works as transitivizer. The argument in ABS remains, the old argument in ERG (in transitives) is demoted (but can be re-introduced using an appropriate postposition), and a new argument in ERG is added which denotes the one who causes, initiates or controls the whole situation.
    • 'X(abs) is_red' → 'Y(erg) makes X(abs) red'
    • 'X(erg) sees Y(abs)' → Z(erg) shows Y(abs) (to X(obl))
  • Causative II, -taka, is applied to transitives only and can be viewed as causative I from antipassive: the argument in ABS is demoted (can be reintroduced), the old argument in ERG is put in ABS, a new argument in ERG denotes the causator.
    • 'X(erg) makes Y(abs) red' → 'Z(erg) makes X(abs) make things red'
    • 'X(erg) sees Y(abs)' → 'Z(erg) makes X(abs) see (e. g. cures X's blindness)'
  • De-causitive/detransitive, -sun, is applied to transitives (including causatives), the argument in ABS remains, the argument in ERG is demoted together with the idea that the situation was caused/initiated/controlled by anyone.
    • 'X(erg) opens Y(abs)' → 'Y(abs) is open'
    • 'X(erg) sees Y(abs)' → 'Y(abs) is visible'

Applicatives

In an applicative construction, an oblique argument is promoted to the position of absolutive, while the former absolutive is demoted (but can be reintroduced with a semantically appropriate postposition). The morphological marking for such applicatives is based on the postposition taken by the original oblique argument. The marker can be derived from the respective postposition by a prefix tim- (with standard consonant alternations), and the whole derived marker is then prefixed to the verb.

A-kan
A-kan
A-ERG
B
B-Ø
B-ABS
timsanaram
tim-ra-naram
APPL-DAT-burn
A burns things for B
A-kan
A-kan
A-ERG
B
B-Ø
B-ABS
timtinnaram
tim-ðin-naram
APPL-GEN-burn
A burns B's things
A-kan
A-kan
A-ERG
B
B-Ø
B-ABS
timsumaɣu
tim-ru-maɣu
APPL-on-sit
A uses B to sit on
A-kan
A-kan
A-ERG
B
B-Ø
B-ABS
timkinsiðumma
tim-kinsi-ðumma
APPL-from_under-take
A takes things from under B

Compounding

Compounding is highly productive and head-final.

Syntax

Basic word order

The basic word order is SOV, although any of the six orders is possible. The language has a strong tendency towards being head-final.

Tuɣikan
tuɣi-kan
dog-ERG
rum
rum-Ø
man-ABS
kapampa.
kapam-wa
bite-PFV
A dog bit a man.
Ðimiki
ðimi-ki
be_young-SUB
timtukan
timtu-kan
person-ERG
kaðaki
kaða-ki
be_big-SUB
ɣamma
ɣamma-Ø
ɣamma-ABS
wantawa.
wanta-wa
hunt-PFV
The young person hunted a big deer.

Noun phrases

Appositions

Appositions are used in the postpositional case and precede their head noun.

tinaðini
ti-naði-ni
1SG-country-POST
sumpu
sumpu
island
the island, my country (the island that is my country)

Possession

To express attributive possession between two alienable nouns, the genitive postposition ðin is used following the possessor, which is in the postpositional case, and before the possessum.

ramsani
ramsa-ni
woman-POST
ðin
ðin
GEN
kuɣin
kuɣin
shadow
the woman's shadow

Some nouns - mostly body parts or social relations - are inalienably possessed. (They are identified in the lexicon.) Inalienably possessed nouns can only occur with a possessive prefix.

titaðani
ti-taða-ni
1SG-father-POST
ðin
ðin
GEN
kansipa
kan-sipa
3SG.M-name
my father's name

If the possessor is a pronoun, the possessive prefixes alone are normally used, whether the possessum is inalienably possessed or not.

tikami
ti-kami
1SG-axe
my axe
titaɣi
ti-taɣi
1SG-face
my face

However, it is possible to emphasise the possessor by using the personal pronoun with ðin. The possessive prefix is also used if the possessum is inalienable.

tini
ti-ni
1SG-POST
ðin
ðin
GEN
kami
kami
axe
my own axe
tini
ti-ni
1SG-POST
ðin
ðin
GEN
titaɣi
ti-taɣi
1SG-face
my own face ("my my face")

See also