| To Be Continued...|
Thedukeofnuke is still working on this article. The contents are incomplete and likely to undergo changes.
| Ayčasamo |
|Period||c. 300 YP|
|Spoken in|| northwestern|
|Classification|| Western |
|Basic word order||EVA|
Ayčasamo is a language spoken in the northwestern Xōron Eiel (Ayč. Qułunmifi) in the early first millennium. It is a descendant of Óhylvídós, and therefore a member of the Lake branch of the Western languages.
As a result of long contact with the other peoples of the Xōron, the language is somewhat divergent from the other Lake and Steppe languages, showing a strong Habeo influence on its vocabulary, phonology, and syntax. The name of the language itself is an adopted exonym deriving from the Hill Habeo ayatša-(patɨ)-samo, meaning "sky (mountain) speech".
- 1 Background
- 2 Phonology
- 3 Morphology
- 3.1 Morphophonology
- 3.2 Classifiers
- 3.3 Nominal morphology
- 3.4 Pronouns
- 3.5 Verbal morphology
- 3.6 Modifiers
- 3.7 Derivational morphology
- 4 Syntax
- 5 Texts
The speakers of Ayčasamo, who mainly referred to themselves as the Ayčalixuq, split from the Óhylamja in the first half of the first millennium BP, crossing the mountains (Ayčapati) eastward into the western fringes of the Xōron Eiel. They lived as semi-nomadic or transhumant herders in the rugged, defensible mountain valleys and foothills.
As they were relatively poor and few in number, they did not play a major role in the succession of wars and nomad empires that characterised the region in the Dark Ages and preclassical period. Nonetheless, they interacted with a number of the steppe peoples to a greater or lesser extent.
At the time they entered the Xōron, it was controlled by nomadic Mohudza, who occasionally demanded tribute but otherwise did not show much interest in them. From about 700 BP Mohudza power began to wane, and the Ayčalixuq, seeing which way the wind was blowing, sided with the Habeo and Damak against them. This improved their prestige somewhat and led to increased contact with the Habeo, though they remained restricted to the marginal mountain country.
By 300 BP the situation had swung to the other extreme, with Habeo hegemony reaching its height, and the Ayčalixuq were again subject to demands of tribute and fealty. Sometimes they acceded; sometimes they resisted, using their growing familiarity with the terrain, archery, and cavalry (supplemented by their adoption of saddles and stirrups) to maintain their independence. The situation fluctuated constantly as chieftains alternately allied and feuded.
At the time of this sketch (300 YP) Habeo power too had ebbed, and the settled Ndok and Dāiadak states were flourishing. The Empire of Athalē was on the rise: its wealth and power had caught the imagination of the steppe nomads, while Dāiadak adventurers had begun to explore the upper reaches of the Aiwa, Thabīa, and Meshi rivers. It was in this period that the first written record of the Ayčalixuq appears - in a third-century work by Saphamīx, mentioning the Aithialixuk as one of the peoples of the high Xōron.
|plosives||p · b||t · d||ʧ · ʤ||k · ɡ||q||ʔ|
|fricatives||ɸ||θ · s · ɬ||ʃ||x||h|
The affricates /ʧ ʤ/ are transcribed č j, the fricatives /ɸ ɬ ʃ/ are f ł š, and the approximants /j ʁ/ are y r.
The vowels /ɛ ɔ ʉ/ are transcribed e o ü.
All other phonemes are transcribed using the IPA or Latin-text equivalent.
Phonotactics and distribution
The voiced plosives /b d ʤ ɡ/ are distinguished only after nasals, and all except /d/ are very rare. In eastern dialects they have generally merged with their unvoiced equivalents.
The glottal consonants /ʔ h/ may not occur adjacent to any consonant other than /j w/, and are deleted if they do.
Aside from these caveats, syllables may start and end with any consonant. Coda clusters of a nasal followed by a (non-glottal) stop are also permitted, and occasionally a coda cluster may comprise an approximant followed by another consonant. Intervocalically, a variety of two-consonant clusters are allowed, and occasionally three consonants if the first is a nasal or semivowel.
However, if two fricatives or two plosives occur in sequence, they dissimilate into a fricative and a plosive in that order, retaining their original places of articulation (/ʁ/ patterns as an approximant); and a semivowel is deleted before another semivowel.
Nasals always assimilate to a following plosive but not to other consonants.
If an illegal cluster occurs and is not resolved by the above processes, an epenthetic /ɛ/ is inserted at the morpheme boundary or progressively.
Vowels cannot occur in hiatus; if they do they are separated by an epenthetic /ʔ/, though certain other processes can override this and resolve hiatus differently.
The regular pitch accent of Óhylvídós has become a dynamic stress accent in almost all dialects, which falls uniformly on the first syllable of the root. Prefixes are never stressed.
Allophony and phonetic detail
/ɛ ɔ/ tend to become mid or high-mid [e o] finally.
The high central vowel /ʉ/ varies considerably in its realisation. It is typically [ʉ̞~ɵ] in western dialects and [ɨ] in eastern dialects, while in some areas it is [y], or merges into /i/.
/n/ has velar and uvular allophones before /k ɡ/ and /q/ respectively.
The dorsal fricative /x/ is realised as [χ] when adjacent to a back vowel (/ɔ/ or /u/), or when separated from another uvular by a single vowel.
Word-final /h/ is somewhat unstable: it is sometimes merged with /x/ or /ʔ/, or deleted.
Word-initial /ʔ/ is not always audibly distinguished, especially in western dialects, although it still affects the behaviour of prefixes (na-ʔay → naʔay, while na-ayi → nayayi).
Sound changes from Óhylvídós
Ayčasamo has continued its parent's trend of devoicing and fricativising stops, and simplifying clusters. However, it has lost the palatal series and gained post-alveolar consonants, uvulars, and a phonemic glottal stop, almost certainly as a result of Habeo influence. Though it has a six-vowel system similar to Óhylvídós, this has been affected by a chain shift in which long vowels raised and fronted and then lost phonemic length.
Ayčasamo has a moderately simple fusional nominal morphology, retaining Óhylvídós' synthetic cases (though their functions have changed, and the dual number has fallen out of use). Its verbal morphology is somewhat more complex and agglutinative.
Aside from the assimilation rules detailed above, three main morphophonological processes can occur in Ayčasamo. These the hard and nasal mutations and dorsal fronting and backing, which all affect consonants, and vowel raising.
This can occur both word-initially and word-finally due to affixing; the mutation of x is different depending on environment.
- f → p
- θ → t
- s → ʔ
- š → č
- x → k (initially)
- x → q (finally)
- h → f
- p → mb
- t → nd
- č → nj
- k → ng
- q → nq
- ʔ → ł
- f → mp
- θ → nt
- s → ns
- š → nč
- x → nk
- w → lw
- y → ly
- r → ng
- Ø → l
Each of these processes is the inverse of the other. The first in each pair is fronted, and the second is backed.
- č ↔ k
- j ↔ g
- š ↔ x
- k ↔ q
- a → o
- e → i
- u → ü
An important part of Ayčasamo morphology shared with the other Western languages (and with parallels in the Habeo languages) is its system of classifiers. These identify nominals by a combination of physical properties, sapience, and edibility.
|1||-ʔ||-wa-||humans, speaking beings|
|2||+θ||+ta-||solid or bulky objects|
|5||+x||+ki-||soft edible substances|
|6||-xu||-xuwu-||soft inedible substances|
|7||-y||-yi-||liquids and other visible fluids|
|8||-x||-xe-||intangible or invisible things; miscellaneous|
- As expected, "final" forms are used when the affix is at the end of a word, and "non-final" forms are used otherwise.
- A "+" sign before a suffix indicates that it triggers vowel raising.
- Following e or i, the Class 5 and 8 affixes undergo dorsal fronting; Class 8 also undergoes fronting following a.
- For purposes of adding case suffixes, classifiers undergo vowel raising in the same way as regular nouns - see the Declension section below.
- The Class 7 affix, when followed by the genitive ending, absorbs it to form the combined suffix -x, which itself undergoes dorsal fronting following a, e or i.
Ayčasamo has a moderately simple nominal morphology. Nouns decline for four cases and two numbers, and have head-marking for possession.
Sound change and analogy have changed the declensions of Óhylvídós to a relatively simple system of suffixing and vowel change. Each noun has a "stem vowel", which is mostly predictable from the citation form (the direct singular): it does not always surface there, but is always present before a suffix.
The basic suffixes are the same for all declensions.
- A "+" sign before a suffix indicates that it triggers vowel raising.
- When the stem vowel is e or i, the dative singular suffix undergoes dorsal fronting to become +č.
Around a third of nouns have a "mixed" stem vowel: this is -e when not subject to raising (i.e. in the instrumental singular), but undergoes vowel raising irregularly, to -u.
- If a noun ends in a consonant, its stem vowel may be e, i, u, or "mixed". The missing stem is indicated in the lexicon with a hyphen: for example "hiy-i" has the citation form hiy and takes suffixes as hiyi. "Mixed" stems, the most common type, are not explicitly indicated: for example "šink" has the citation form šink and takes suffixes as šinke/šinku.
- If a noun ends in a vowel and does not have an "extended form", the final vowel is its stem: for example "renu" has the citation form, and takes suffixes as, renu.
Some nouns undergo fortition when case suffixes are added (i.e. in any form other than the direct singular). In this case the final consonant of the root undergoes the hard mutation. These nouns are indicated in the lexicon with an asterisk: for example "fos-*u" has the citation form fos but takes suffixes as foʔu.
A few nouns have an "extended form", where an additional consonant and sometimes vowel is added to the citation form. These forms are listed in the lexicon with a hyphen; if there is no vowel after the hyphen the word has a "mixed" stem. For example "fi-nu" has the citation form fi and takes suffixes as finu; while "me-n" has the citation form me and takes suffixes as mene/menu (it is a "mixed" stem, indicated by the lack of an explicit stem vowel).
A very small number of nouns undergo irregular changes when suffixing, which must be learned. These forms are listed in the lexicon along with the citation form. For example "šint, šind" has the citation form šint and takes suffixes as šinde/šindu (again, it is a "mixed" stem).
še-n "palm (of the hand)"
ren, ro "leaf"
Possessed nouns take a prefix marking the person and number of the possessor. All possessive prefixes trigger the hard mutation of the noun's initial consonant; if prefixed to a word that is vowel-initial, an epenthetic -y- is inserted between the prefix and the root.
Examples of possession
Ayčasamo has retained most of its inherited pronouns, though the second person dual and the instrumental case have fallen out of use. As in Óhylvídós the first and second person pronouns behave differently to the third person, which uses phoric pronouns instead.
|1st person||2nd person|
- The 1st person dual has the sense of "thou and I" - it is always inclusive.
There are two phoric pronouns: the anaphoric ya-, which refers to a nominal already mentioned, and the cataphoric he-, refferring to a nominal yet to be introduced. Both of these require the appropriate classifier as a suffix, and the combined form is declined as a regular noun.
For instance, the anaphoric pronoun with a Class 1 suffix, in most instances equivalent to "he/she", declines as follows:
The core verbal inflections in Ayčasamo are for tense, mood, and ergative participant agreement. However, influence from the Habeo languages has led to the development of a more complex verbal system allowing for the addition of lexical preverbs, incorporated classifiers, and finals; some analyses treat these as derivational, but they are highly productive and can be used to convey some quite detailed information.
The order of affixes is summarised as follows:
|preverb||classifier||modal prefix||tense prefix||ROOT||final||modal suffix||agreement suffix|
* Only one modal affix is required, and it can be null (indicative).
† A classifier is obligatory if there is an explicit instrument.
Almost all verbs end in a vowel in the citation form. For any verb whose citation form ends in a consonant, an epenthetic -e is inserted before any suffixes; this undergoes vowel raising as normal.
Verbs have two tenses, nonpast and past. The nonpast has a null affix, while the past is marked by a prefix immediately before the verb root:
- x- before (y)o, (y)u, or (y)ü; the y is deleted if present
- š- before (y)a, (y)e, or (y)i; again, the y is deleted if present
- se- before n
- su- before any other consonant; causes t θ s to become k x x
Verbs are obligatorily marked for mood using either a prefix or suffix (though the indicative is null). Unlike its parent Óhylvídós, Ayčasamo permits up to one modal prefix and one modal suffix on the same verb. Different combinations have different idiomatic meanings; for example, the interrogative and potential combine to mean "is it possible to...?".
- The negative suffix triggers vowel raising in the preceding vowel.
- The subjunctive prefix triggers the nasal mutation in a following consonant.
The last suffix in a fully inflected verb is the agreement suffix, which matches the ergative participant in person and number. If there is no ergative argument this suffix is null.
- The "+" sign indicates that the 3rd person suffix triggers vowel raising.
- Following e or i, the 2nd person singular and 3rd person suffixes undergo dorsal fronting; the 2nd person singular also undergoes fronting following a.
The first type of optional affixing, and the one which is most clearly inflectional rather than derivative, is classifier incorporation. This involves prefixing a classifier to the verb (before the tense and mood prefixes) to indicate an instrumental argument of the appropriate class.
If there is an explicit instrument, the verb must take a classifier.
Preverbs and finals
These are the second and third types of optional affixes, and are both derived from the Habeo languages. They are intermediate between inflectional and derivational morphology in many respects: neither is a closed class, but they interact in an unusual manner with other affixes (finals come immediately after the root, while preverbs precede all other affixes).
Because of the large number of preverbs and finals they are listed in the lexicon. Generally speaking preverbs indicate manner or place, while finals indicate manner, evidentiality, or effect.
The passiviser xa- is nonetheless noteworthy; it derives from an Óhylvídós case suffix, and changes the order of the subject and direct object.
Example verb phrases
Adjectives agree with their head nouns in class and case, but not number (they behave as though singular). The appropriate classifier is added as a suffix, followed by the appropriate nominal case suffix.
Adjectives always precede their head.
Classifiers have become optional on determiners that are not the head of a NP (probably as a result of Habeo influence), though they are still required when a quantifier is used substantively.
Ayčasamo uses the characteristically Western base-eight numerals.
- The ordinal suffix is transparently +ʔu.
- The numeral 6 has the ordinary form mič and takes suffixes as miče.
- Multiples of 8, 64, and 512 are formed by prefixing the ordinal form of the multiplier; in this instance the numeral 8 causes the final -u of an ordinal to mutate to -e. For example: šiʔenowa "16 (208)", mitoʔurenmula "2048 (40008)".
- Numbers are added with ta, for example: mula ta nantenowa ta mič "94 (1368)".
When used attributively, no classifier is required for either cardinal or ordinal numbers, though one can be added (with the case/number suffix) to avoid ambiguity:
However, the addition of a classifier and the appropriate case/number suffix allows a cardinal number to be used as a substantive. It is declined as a singular.
These work the same way as numerals. The most common are süpi "a few", ripa "some", and lota "many".
The Western four-way deixis has collapsed to just two forms in Ayčasamo due to phonetic mergers. As with other determiners, a classifier is only strictly required if the demonstrative is used substantively; otherwise the bare forms are used.
|far from speaker||θa|
Ayčasamo has inherited a productive system of derivational suffixes from its parent.
|+w||+w-i||abstract nominal or gerund from verb|
|+ʔay||+y (irregular mixed stem)||agent nominal from verb|
|+s||+s-u||instrument nominal from verb|
|-l||(mixed stem)||result of verb action|
|+x||+x-i||location nominal from verb or object|
|+ra||offspring of base nominal|
|+t||+t-u||abstract quality from adjective or concrete nominal|
|-x||(mixed stem)||nominal related to base nominal|
|-mpa||non-stative using base nominal|
|+ʔa||increases valence of base verb to create transitive or causative|
|-inda||movement towards focus point (usually speaker)|
|-oʔu|| triggers dorsal backing
in preceding consonant
|movement away from focus point|
|+tu||adverb from nominal or verb|
- The "+" sign indicates that a suffix triggers vowel raising.
Nominal compounding is productive and head-final. In general the first component takes the citation form, unless this would result in vowel hiatus or an illegal cluster (in which case the extended form or stem vowel is used).
Verbs can also be compounded, with the result taking the arguments of the second verb. The meaning is roughly equivalent to the English "to X to Y" although there are some idiomatic variations. As with nouns, the citation form is used by default.
Sentence word order
The basic word order is ergative-verb-absolutive, which equates to VS for intransitive sentences and SVO (or AVP) for transitives.
Indirect objects typically follow the verb.
However, case marking allows them to be moved around the sentence, and they may be placed following the direct object for more emphasis.
Minor constituents usually precede the verb, although they too can be moved around if the meaning remains clear.
The eastern dialects of Ayčasamo - which have a particularly strong Habeo influence - are developing a split-S alignment, where some verbs are "accusative" rather than "ergative". The most obvious sign of this is that accusative verbs take SV word order in intransitive sentences; in some dialects they also show agreement with intransitive subjects, effectively turning the ergative agreement marker into nominative agreement.
Here are two example sentences from a southeastern dialect known locally as Wiysamɨ. In this dialect meʔu "cook" is still an ergative verb, but riyi "run" has become accusative. (Another local feature is the sound change /q/ → /ʔ/, picked up from Plains Habeo.)
Nominal phrases (NPs) comprise a head nominal optionally preceded by one or more modifiers. Types of modifiers include:
Relative clauses –
The absolutive case is used for the subject of an intransitive verb phrase (VP), or for the direct object (patient) of a transitive VP. It is also used for the objects of most postpositions. Only personal pronouns have a morphological absolutive.
The ergative case is used for the subject (agent) of a transitive VP. Again, only personal pronouns have a morphological absolutive.
The direct case merges the functions of the absolutive and ergative: it is used for the subjects and objects of VPs, and the objects of most postpositions.
The instrumental case is used, straightforwardly, for instruments of VPs. Where an explicit instrument is present the head verb must also be marked with a matching classifier.
The dative is derived from Óhylvídós' allative. It is used for the indirect object (recipient) of a VP, and the objects of some postpositions.
The genitive is derived from Óhylvídós' ablative. It is used to mark possession and composition, for locative expressions referring to time, and for the objects of some postpositions.
Wiy soh akše sušindoq ripa meʔüq. Ayimya sufisoq sowoʔu meʔüs iful; fil sułaθoq šiʔu meʔu; lamya suweyiʔoq nantüʔu meʔu. Čiʔay naθ, suhiqu mitoʔu meʔu.
Akše suxoxik meʔük heš: Yamyoq ʔohasoq meʔüq heš wuyoʔoq na.
Meʔu suxoxik akšič heš: Kełereyaš na. Netotsungiyi akše xahošišik sa xayiqüq yawoq heš wuyoʔoq na. Yamyoq ʔofinopik yawoq pahasoq šiwiqüt heš. Hi yawoq wišnis finoq. He se sel huyaš yamyoqüs čirimp!
Heʔ sureyoq yaš hešis xüθ, wočasuriyišoq akše linkuk ši.
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.