Woltu Falla

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Woltu Falla
[ˈwɔl.tu ˈfal.lɐ]
Period c. 1100 YP
Spoken in Oltu valley
Total speakers 1.5 million
Writing system adapted
Fáralo script
Classification Edastean
 Fáralo
   Central
Typology
Basic word order SOAuxV
Morphology fusional
Alignment nom-acc
Credits
Created by Thedukeofnuke

Woltu Falla is the language of the mediaeval kingdom of Woldulaš and its capital Ussor, and the prestige dialect of a larger dialect continuum covering the Woltu (Oltu) watershed. It is a direct descendant of Fáralo and a sister language of Namɨdu and Cəssın.

Phonology

Consonants

 labial   alveolar   palatal   velar   glottal 
nasals m n ɲ ŋ
stops p · b t · d k · ɡ
affricates ʦ ʧ · ʤ
fricatives f · v s · z ʃ · ʒ h
liquids r · l ʎ
  semivowels w j

Vowels

 front   back 
high i · iː · yː u · uː
mid e · eː · øː o · oː
low a · aː

Transcription

As in Fáralo, the palatals /ʧ ʤ ʃ j/ are transcribed č j š y; /ɲ ʒ ʎ ŋ/ are transcribed ñ ž ly ng. Note that word-internally, ng represents [ŋɡ], phonemically /nɡ/.

/øː yː/ are transcribed ö ü; other long vowels are transcribed with a macron.

All other phonemes are transcribed as in IPA, or the Latin text equivalent.

(An alternative romanisation is also used that avoids diacritics, in which /ʧ ʃ/ are transcribed ch sh and /ɲ ʒ/ are transcribed ny zh.)

Phonotactics and distribution

Syllable structure is (C)(C)V(ː)(C).

Any consonant except /h j w/ may be geminated; consonants may be geminated initially or medially but not finally. (/hh jj/, should they occur, reduce to single /h j/, although /ww/ simplifies to /v/.) At the start of an utterance, an initial geminate (should one occur) is pronounced as single.

Nasals always assimilate in place of articulation to a following consonant. /ŋ/ is in complementary distribution with /ɲ/, the former appearing word-finally and the latter in other environments; diachronically, however, it is from a different origin (Fáralo /ŋ/, which was phonemic in all environments). Note that due to the assimilation rule, [ŋ] also appears as an allophone of other nasals before a velar; word-medially, orthographic ng represents [ŋɡ], phonemically /nɡ/.

The palatal resonants /ɲ ʎ/ only occur before vowels. /h/ only occurs word-initially, and only before a vowel or /w/.

/j/ does not occur after consonants; /w/ does not occur after labials; /l/ does not occur after word-initial affricates (it merges with /r/ in this environment). Neither /l/ nor /r/ may occur adjacent to /w/.

/ʦ/ may or may not be phonemic; the best evidence in favour of its being an independent phoneme is that it is not subject to the usual assimilation rules, and it also occasionally forms onset clusters such as /ʦw/. Some linguists, however, prefer to analyse it as a cluster /ts/.

Phonetic detail and allophony

Stress is on the last long vowel of the root, or on the penultimate if there are no long vowels. Prefixes and suffixes do not receive stress.

Voiced obstruents devoice word-finally, though they are still written as voiced. Consequently they are not distinguished from phonemically unvoiced obstruents in this environment - in the Ussor dialect at least; but some inland dialects maintain a contrast by not releasing final unvoiced stops.

Short /e o/ are pronounced [ɛ ɔ] unless word-final; long /eː oː/ tend to lower to [ɛː ɔː] before /r/ or a consonant cluster. Long /aː/ tends to back to [ɑː]. Short unstressed /a/ laxes to [ɐ] before a stop or word-finally; short unstressed /i u/ lax to [ɪ ʊ] before a stop, and word-finally after a resonant. /øː yː/ are pronounced short when unstressed if a (phonemically) long vowel is in an adjacent syllable or if they precede a geminate or cluster.

/r/ is trilled when geminated. Single /r/ is a tap [ɾ] in most environments. Some speakers pronounce it as an approximant; retroflex [ɻ] is characteristic of people of Doroh descent.

/ʎ/ is pronounced [j] after a consonant. However, it does not trigger palatalisation.

The initial cluster /hw/ is pronounced [ʍ] by most speakers. /w/ is sometimes elided between a consonant and a rounded vowel; this is particularly common in urban areas.

Morphophonology

Palatalisation rules

ty tsy ky kš become č; dy gy gž become j; sy zy ry become š ž ž.

ly /lj/ always becomes /ʎ/. A cluster of a velar stop and l, in either order, forms a geminate lly. Any nasal followed by y becomes ñ.

y as an independent phoneme is deleted after a consonant (after undergoing these rules). Remember that ly is a digraph representing /ʎ/, although in many cases it does derive from /lj/.

Assimilation rules

Consonants always voice preceding a voiced consonant (including m n ñ r l ly, but not w y).

Nasals always assimilate in place of articulation to a following consonant. [ŋ] in this environment is considered an allophone of n and is written as such.

Stops and affricates always assimilate into a following stop, affricate, or fricative, or a preceding s or z, with the exception that the clusters st sts sk zg resolve to ts tts šš žž, and clusters of a fricative and č (in either order) resolve to šš. Fricatives always assimilate into a following fricative.

In a cluster of two of l, ly, and r, in any order, the first assimilates to the second.

w is deleted if it occurs after a labial. l changes to r after an affricate.

hh jj, if they occur, reduce to single h j; ww simplifies to v.

If either of l r occur adjacent to w, they assimilate to it, forming a geminate ww which duly simplifies to v.

If a nasal occurs before a liquid (l, ly, or r) a voiced stop agreeing in place of articulation with the nasal is inserted between the two.

Consonant clusters must agree in voicing with the last consonant.

Other rules

Final obstruents always devoice (though this is not indicated in writing). Furthermore, final affricates weaken to fricatives, and final geminates reduce to single consonants.

Front vowels always become rounded after a cluster of a consonant plus w - so e ē become ö, and i ī become ü. This also applies after v if it is formed from a geminate ww.

h is deleted if it occurs non-initially (unless it is transformed to s by the consonant mutation).

Sound changes from Fáralo

WF shares some phonological developments, especially in the early stages, with its relative Namɨdu; for instance, it shares the merger of non-syllabic /ɔ/ with /w/, and underwent a similar (though more extensive) simplification of diphthongs.

However, it has a more complex vowel system as well as a full series of palatal consonants, in which it more closely resembles Cəssın. It has also undergone the most thorough simplification of consonant clusters in any descendant of Fáralo.



Nominal Morphology

Noun declension

Nominal morphology is prefixing. Nouns are marked for number and two for cases, the nominative and accusative.

gešša "sheep"

 singular   plural 
nominative gešša kagešša
accusative gešša žžešša

kuzrem "olive"

 singular   plural 
nominative guzrem kkuzrem
accusative kuzrem ššuzrem

monšeza "council"

 singular   plural 
nominative monšeza kamonšeza
accusative monšeza zmonšeza

ižnon "journey"

 singular   plural 
nominative ižnon gižnon
accusative ižnon zižnon

The citation form of a noun is the accusative singular.

For most nouns, the nominative singular is identical to the accusative singular. However, for those beginning in one of p t k h, and some in w, it is marked with the consonant mutation if the noun is preceded by a clitic:

  • p t kb d g
  • hs
  • wš

The nominative plural is marked as follows:

  • vowel or w ➝ add g
  • geminate consonant ➝ reduce to single and add ge
  • r ➝ add k-
  • p t ts č k f v ➝ geminate
  • b d j g m n ñ ➝ geminate if preceded by a clitic
  • b d j g m n ñ ➝ add ka- otherwise
  • s z š žts dz č k
  • h yk j
  • l lylly

The accusative plural is marked as follows:

  • vowel, resonant, or w ➝ add z-
  • geminate consonant ➝ reduce to single and add ze-
  • p sss
  • b d zzz
  • č k ššš
  • j g žžž
  • tts
  • vvv

Determiners

 pre-C   pre-V 
definite
article
lu- v-
indefinite
article
edu- edw-
definite
genitive
emblu- emblung-
indefinite
genitive
endu- endw-
prefixed
genitive
em- em-
this wa- wa-
that si- š-

Woltu Falla has retained Fáralo's system of clitic determiners and extended their use; they are used with almost all nouns (exceptions being the predicate of a copular clause, indefinite nouns with a numerical quantifier, and most proper nouns). More so than in Fáralo, these clitics tend to affect their head noun - they are indeed considered to be a part of it, and are subject to assimilation rules. (They are still written separated by a hyphen, however.)

The genitive clitics use the accusative form of the noun. The "prefixed genitive" is a special clitic, only used before other prefixes and clitics (such as cliticised posessive pronouns) or before nouns that would normally have no determiner (such as proper nouns).

  • The "pre-V", or prevocalic, forms are used before a vowel or semivowel; the "pre-C", or preconsonantal, forms are used before any other consonant.
  • When a clitic ending in v or w is added to a noun beginning in y, the y is deleted; when it is added to a noun beginning in w, the w is deleted and a final w of the clitic fortifies to v. Remember that the cluster dv always simplifies to vv. All clitics ending in v and w trigger rounding of front vowels.
  • When the clitic emblung- is added to a noun beginning in y, the y is deleted and the clitic is palatalised to emblunj-.
  • In the accusative singular only, lu-/v- becomes lung- before a vowel (and luñ- before y, following palatalisation rules). In this instance it does not trigger vowel rounding.
  • Remember that the consonant mutation applies in the nominative singular. The addition of a clitic also affects the formation of the nominative plural in some nouns.

Even when attached to monosyllabic words, determiners never receive stress.

(The example words in the table below are gatel "plank" and ižnon "journey".)

 nominative   accusative 
lu-gatel lu-gatel "the plank"
edu-gatel edu-gatel "a plank"
wa-gatel wa-gatel "this plank"
si-gatel si-gatel "that plank"
lu-ggatel lu-žžatel "the planks"
edu-ggatel edu-žžatel "(some) planks"
wa-ggatel wa-žžatel "these planks"
si-ggatel si-žžatel "those planks"
v-üžnon lung-ižnon "the journey"
edw-üžnon edw-üžnon "a journey"
wa-ižnon wa-ižnon "this journey"
š-ižnon š-ižnon "that journey"
lu-gižnon lu-zižnon "the journeys"
edu-gižnon edu-zižnon "(some) journeys"
wa-gižnon wa-zižnon "these journeys"
si-gižnon si-zižnon "those journeys"
 genitive 
emblu-gatel "of the plank"
endu-gatel "of a plank"
emblu-žžatel "of the planks"
endu-žžatel "of planks"
emblung-ižnon "of the journey"
endw-üžnon "of a journey"
emblu-zižnon "of the journeys"
endu-zižnon "of journeys"

Pronouns

Standalone forms

 nom.   acc.   dat.   gen. 
1 sg. i ību īm
2 sg. lyöku lyökung lyökum allyöku
3 sg. a abu am aga
1 pl. luki luzis lūtam ačī
2 pl. do dong dom angu
2 f. ak abu am agā
3 pl. ga gabu gam gaga
int./rel. jega jegung jegum agga

Genitive pronouns cliticise to their head noun as a prefix and are subject to assimilation rules.

The form marked 2 f. is the second person formal. Semantically it may be either singular or plural; but it is derived from the older third person plural, and as such the verb takes the plural when the subject is ak.

Combination forms

subj. object
 1 sg.   2 sg.   3 sg.   1 pl.   2 pl.   3 pl. 
1 sg. īng iša igis ius išas
2 sg. dwoi dwoga dwois dos dwogas
3 sg. ai aung asi as aus agas
1 pl. iči iddung iča iddus igas
2 pl. doči dwoddung doča dočis dwogas
3 pl. ači addung ača ačis addus asis

The combination forms are used when both the subject and the direct object are pronouns. There are no relexive pronouns, since reflexivity is marked on the verb; hence asi and asis indicate distinct subject and object.

Numbers

cardinal ordinal 10x cardinal 10x ordinal
1 če čen ro ron
2 gi gin giro giron
3 wos wosin wozra wozran
4 bu bun buro buron
5 do don doro doran
6 ešin ežra ežron
7 mam mamin mambra mambron
8 huda hudan hudro hudran
9 nil nilin nirra nirran
10 ro ron īb ībin

Verbal Morphology

Main verbs

As in Namɨdu, the vast majority of verb phrases comprise an auxiliary verb and a main verb. The former inflects for tense, and gives mood and aspectual information; the main verb inflects only for number and reflexivity.

Number is marked by a suffix or a change in final consonant. Plurals are frequently irregular; where this is the case it is indicated in the lexicon. The most common changes, considered to form "regular" plurals, are as follows:

  • vowel ➝ add -k
  • m y w ➝ add -ek
  • nng
  • p t fk
  • s zš ž

Reflexive verbs take the suffix -či, which is subject to normal assimilation rules.

The main verb has two other inflected forms - the interrogative and the imperative. The interrogative inflects for past/nonpast tense as well as number. The formation of the interrogative is prefixing:

  • front vowel ➝ add -
  • back vowel or a ➝ add ug-
  • mm nn ññunč-
  • rr ll lly ➝ reduce to single and add uče-
  • other geminate ➝ add u-
  • consonant cluster ➝ add uga-
  • other consonant ➝ geminate and add u-

The nonpast plural of the interrogative is formed in the same way as the ordinary plural; the interrogative past forms are marked by different suffixes. The formation of the past singular is as follows:

  • vowel ➝ add -n
  • stop ➝ voice and add -a
  • other consonant ➝ voice and add -en

The formation of the past plural is as follows:

  • e ē ö ➝ add -še
  • other vowel, sonorant, or semivowel ➝ add -e
  • other consonant ➝ voice and add -e

The imperative is also formed by prefixing:

  • apply consonant mutation
  • vowel or semivowel ➝ add m-
  • geminate consonant ➝ reduce to single and add me-
  • single consonant or cluster ➝ add ma-

Auxiliary verbs

Auxiliary verbs are the workhorses of the verbal system. They occur immediately before the main verb - in fact the combination is subject to assimilation rules, as it is treated as a single word phonologically. In writing the auxiliary and main verbs are separated by a hyphen.

As mentioned above, the auxiliary inflects for tense, and the choice of auxiliary indicates aspect and mood. The inflected forms are the present, past, and imperfect; at an earlier stage in the language, auxiliaries also inflected for negative polarity and irrealis mood, but these are now lexicalised in a handful of auxiliaries, such as ussiš "might", mis "shouldn't", and meta "continues".

 present   past   imperfect 
does
(null)
siš sišen sišed
doesn’t
(negative)
masiš maššen maššed
might
(irrealis)
ussiš ussišen ussišed
really does
(emphatic)
peta petan petad
has done
(perfect)
ta tan tad
hasn't done
(neg. perfect)
apila apilan apilad
shall
(future)
non nonen noned
starts
(inceptive)
habba habben habbed
stops
(terminative)
eta etan etad
continues
(durative)
meta metan metad
causes
(causative)
ūm ūmen ūmed
can
(potential)
ba ban bad
can’t
(neg. potential)
eba eban ebad
should
(desiderative)
is isen ised
shouldn’t
(neg. desiderative)
mis misen mised
wants, will we wen wed
won’t me ñen ñed
must so son swod
mustn’t eso eson eswod
needs ada adan adad
seems idar idren idred

More than one auxiliary can be used per clause. For instance, if a negative is needed where the auxiliary does not have a negative form of its own, the negative auxiliary masiš is added before the main auxiliary.

A
a
3SG.NOM
maššen-idar-mata.
maššen-idar-mata
not_do.PST-seem-know
He didn't seem to know.

A different order of auxiliaries can be used to convey a different meaning - for example:

A
a
3SG.NOM
idrem-masiž-mata.
idren-masiš-mata
seem.PST-not_do-know
He seemed not to know.

Note that only the first auxiliary is inflected for tense, and also the assimilation at morpheme boundaries.

The copula

The copula in Woltu Falla can be used either in a clause of its own or as an auxiliary indicating a progressive state. It has a full set of indicative, negative, and irrealis moods, and also inflects for number (since it is often the only verb in a clause).

present sg. present pl. past sg. past pl. imperfect
indicative
"is"
wodu woduk wodun wodwö wodud
negative
"isn't"
modu moduk modun modwö modud
irrealis
"might be"
uddu udduk uddun ugodwö uddud


Šaša
šaša
this_one.NOM
aš-šabaš
aš-čabaš
1SG.GEN-meal
modu.
modu
not_be.PST
This isn't my meal.
Lyöku
lyöku
2SG.NOM
wodun-lyegal.
wodun-lyegal
be.PST-write
You were writing (at the time).

Derivational Morphology

Derivational affixes

Segments in brackets are only included to break up vowel hiatus or an illegal consonant cluster. Note that assimilation processes apply to all derivational affixes.

Vowel syncope sometimes occurs with the addition of a suffix, for instance höteka+ga > hötegga. This applies to vowels that were unstressed in the Fáralo etymon, but only if the syncope does not result in an illegal cluster.

Nominalisers

Affix Morphology Gloss Example
-(a)l diminutive navor "horse" > navol "pony"
āk(a)- augmentative idūng "sea" > ākidūng "ocean"
-bu person, agent čaniz "to exile" > čanizzu "exiled person, outlaw"
-sa female dabbu "host" > dabbusa "hostess"
-u thing used or affected napoča "play" > napočau "toy, game"
-la location adö "safe, secure" > adöla "fortress, fortification"

Verbalisers

Affix Morphology Gloss Example
-(y)ü causative kuin "holy" > kuinü "to bless, to consecrate"

Adjectivisers

Affix Morphology Gloss Example
-ga general adjectiviser & adverbialiser höteka "navy" > hötegga "naval"
-in general adjectiviser laš "country" > lašin "national"
ga- participial adjective twol "shine" > gatwol "shining"
m(a)- triggers consonant mutation negative abiu "guilty" > mabiu "innocent; not guilty"

Zero-derivation

Like most of the other Eastern Edastean languages, Woltu Falla makes wide use of zero-derivation. The most common form of this is using a verb or adjective as a noun; in this case the appropriate article is used. Some nouns can also function as verbs.

Another notable phenomenon is that the valency of verbs is very flexible. Many verbs listed as intransitive can be used as transitives, and most transitives can also be used as ditransitives.

Syntax

Basic word order

Default order is SOV or SOAuxV.

Ačī-bōddö
ačī-bōddö
1PL.GEN-elder.uncle
wa-atöa
wa-atöa
this-tiller
sišem-foga
sišen-foga
NULL.AUX.PST-make
Our uncle made this tiller.

Indirect objects occur immediately after direct objects. If there is no direct object, the indirect object takes its place.

Lu-rud
lu-rud
the-man
isa-Ussor
isa-Ussor
to-Ussor
wodu-ižnon
wodu-ižnon
be-journey
The man is travelling to Ussor.

The noun phrase

Quantifiers and adjectives precede their head noun; acrolectal variants favour seperating adjectives with ōa "and". Articles, demonstratives, and possessive pronouns cliticise to the head noun. Genitives and other modifiers of more than one word follow the head noun.

v-omol
v-omol
the-younger.sister.NOM
the younger sister (nom.)
edu-ššumi
edu-ššumi
INDEF-dolphin.PL.ACC
dolphins (acc.)
ītta
ītta
friendly
edu-ššumi
edu-ššumi
INDEF-dolphin.PL.ACC
friendly dolphins (acc.)
nama
nama
some
ītta
ītta
friendly
edu-ššumi
edu-ššumi
INDEF-dolphin.PL.ACC
some friendly dolphins (acc.)
až-badö
aš-badö
1SG.GEN-father
my father
v-öpela
v-epela
the-throne.NOM
em-až-badö
em-aš-badö
of-1SG.GEN-father
my father's throne (nom.)
mam
mam
seven
lu-nneča
lu-nneča
the-wife.PL.NOM
pen
pen
with
mam
mam
seven
edu-ššila
edu-ššila
INDEF-basket.PL.ACC
the seven wives with seven baskets (nom.)

Case usage

Case usage is very simple for nouns. The subject of a verb phrase takes the nominative; all other nouns take the accusative.

For pronouns, usage is similar, but there are two more cases. The genitive is used to show possession; the dative is used for the indirect object of a verb phrase, and is governed by prepositions.

Subordination

Relativisation in Woltu Falla uses the particle rōm. A relative clause, as a long modifier, follows its head.

Ga
ga
3PL.NOM
lung-adlu
lung-adlu
the-city.ACC
ta-sakka.
ta-sakka
PERF-besiege
They have besieged the city.

becomes

v-adlu
v-adlu
the-city.NOM
rōm
rōm
REL
ga
ga
3PL.NOM
ta-sakka
ta-sakka
PERF-besiege
the city that they have besieged


Clauses referring to time instead use relative "when", sižrūm; those referring to place use relative "where", sirrūm. In both cases it is usual, though not obligatory, to front the clause.

Uga
uga
after
sižrūm
sižrūm
when.REL
aung
aung
3SG.NOM>2SG.ACC
sišem-piffi,
sišen-piffi
NULL.AUX.PST-beat.up
lyöku
lyöku
2SG.NOM
habben-apam.
habben-apam
INCEP.PST-cry
After he beat you up, you started to cry.

Sample texts

Woltu Falla sample texts

Lexicon

Woltu Falla lexicon