Wendoth/Historical phonology

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Correspondances between Proto-Wendoth and Wendoth


The reflexes of each Pre-Wendoth consonant can be classified into two groups: the slender (palatalised) reflexes and the broad (velarised) reflexes. Slender reflexes appear in slender syllables and broad reflexes appear in broad syllables. A syllable is slender if one of the following conditions holds.

  • The nucleus of the syllable is i or e.
  • The nucleus of the syllable is a, the coda of the syllable is empty, the syllable is not the final one in the word, and the syllable immediately precedes a syllable whose nucleus is i or e. (It is not sufficient for the preceded syllable to be slender; in the word baɣari, the syllables ri and ɣa are slender but the syllable ba is broad.)

Also, if the nucleus of the syllable is a and the coda of the syllable is a nasal consonant (m, n or ŋ) then the syllable may be either slender or broad; no regular rule is known which distinguishes the two possible reflexes.

The following table gives the reflexes of each Pre-Wendoth consonant in syllable-initial position, along with the environments in which they occur (via the footnotes). The environments are described with reference to the Pre-Wendoth forms of the words.

Pre-Wendoth consonant Slender reflexes Broad reflexes
m d̪ʲ (nd) mˠ (m)
n n (n) ŋ (ng)
ŋ ŋʲ (nj), ∅1 ʁ (h), ŋ (ng)2, ∅1, 3
p t̪ʲ (t) pˠ (p)
b d̪ʲ (d) bˠ (b)
t t͡sʲ (ch) tˠ ()
d d͡zʲ (jh) dˠ ()
k kʲ (k) q (q)
g gʲ (g) ʁ (h), ∅2, 3, q (q)1
f θʲ (th) fˠ (f)
v ðʲ (dh) vˠ (v)
s sʲ (sh) sˠ (s)
z zʲ (zh) zˠ (z)
x xʲ (c) χ (x)
ɣ ɣʲ (j) ʁ (h), ∅2, 3, χ (x)1
r r (r) ʁ (h), ∅2, 3, χ (x)1
l lʲ~j (y) lˠ~w (w)
ʔ jˤ~iˤ (į) wˤ~uˤ (ų)
ɦ jʱ~iʱ (i) wʱ~uʱ (u)
  1. Immediately before a word-final vowel.
  2. In word-initial position.
  3. Immediately after a vowel which is preceded by ʔ or ɦ.

In syllable-final position, the only consonants which occur are the nasals, m, n and ŋ, and the laryngeals, ʔ and ɦ.

Syllable-final laryngeals do not differ in their reflexes depending on whether the syllable is broad or slender when the preceding vowel is e, o or a. In this position, the outcome of ʔ is always ą /aˤ/ and the outcome of ɦ is always ã /aʱ/, and the preceding vowel is deleted. On the other hand, the syllable-final sequences , , and have the reflexes į, i, ų and u, respectively, unless they are themselves preceded as a laryngeal, in which case and become ą /aˤ/ and and become ã /aʱ/. Therefore, for example, the syllable ʔiʔ becomes įą /jˤaˤ/ and the syllable ɦuɦ becomes /wʱaʱ/.

As for syllable-final nasals, if these precede ʔ or ɦ, then they develop in the same way as they do in syllable-initial position (because the vocalisation of the following ʔ or ɦ results in them entering a syllable-initial position). Before other consonants they are unconditionally elided. In word-final position, m becomes m /mˠ/ (whether the containing syllable is light or heavy) and ŋ is always elided, while n becomes n /n/ when slender and ng /ŋ/ when broad.


The two high vowels of Pre-Wendoth, i and u, merged at an early stage as /ɨ/ and the two mid vowels, e and o, merged at an early stage as /ə/. The semivowels that were the reflexes of ʔ and ɦ merged with preceding /ɨ/ to reintroduce high vowels to the language: /ɨjˤ/, /ɨjʱ/, /ɨwˤ/ and /ɨwʱ/ became [iˤ], [iʱ], [uˤ] and [uʱ], respectively (these high vowels can be regarded as allophones of the semivowel phonemes /jˤ/, /jʱ/, /wˤ/ and /wʱ/, respectively, occuring after consonants [including these semivowel phonemes, even when they are realised as phonetic vowels]). The sequences įį, , įi, ii, ųų, ųu, and uu were regularly dissimilated to ųį, , ųi, ui, įų, įu, and iu, respectively (the initial vowel was simply altered in quality), although these sequences were often restored by analogy when they occured across morpheme boundaries.

Later on, a distinction emerged between nasalised and non-nasalised vowels. Nasalised vowels occured in all positions when a nasal consonant immediately followed in the Pre-Wendoth form of the word, non-nasalised vowels occured elsewhere; the loss of nasals before consonants and, later, the changes that occured to the broad reflex of Pre-Wendoth ŋ phonemicised the distinction. A chain shift then occured that affected the non-nasalised vowels only, triggered by the backing and rounding of non-nasalised a to o. The following table shows the effects of this shift.

Pre-Wendoth vowel Nasalised reflex Non-nasalised reflex
i, u ɨ ə
e, o ə a
a a o

The nasalisation distinction was subsequently lost, and the /ɨ/ phoneme was eliminated via merger with u adjacent to Wendoth labial consonants (that is, broad Pre-Wendoth labial consonants) and i elsewhere. It can still be analysed as a separate phoneme, which is conventionally written ü, because of the regular morphological alternations between u and i that are produced.

Some vowel elision also take place in the development of Wendoth. As mentioned above, i and u merged with following syllable-initial laryngeals and all vowels merged with following syllable-final laryngeals, with various reflexes appearing as a result. Vowels immediately preceded by ʔ or ɦ, and word-final vowels, were also unconditionally elided.


Pre-Wendoth had regular stress on penultimate syllables, or on final syllables if the final syllable had a non-empty coda. The elision of word-final vowels resulted in stress regularly falling on the final syllable.

Sound changes from Pre-Wendoth to Wendoth

(to do, but the above section on correspondances contains all the information needed)