Hlou-Shum languages

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Hlou-Shum languages/Lexicon

Hlou-Shum (Hlou: Ntzog Ntzog Schlaub-Xön; Ko: lees yoo ndoigh Hloodh-Xoo) is a placeholder name for a language family that includes Hlou. Most modern Hlou-Shum languages are tonal. The proto-language, Proto-Hlou-Shum (PHS), is about 2500 years old. The family is based on the idea of recasting IE languages as Hmong-like languages. TODO: actually look at OC more

Family tree

  • Proto-Hlou-Shum
    • Hlou (Ntzog Schlaub)
    • Shumic
      • Shum (lhàu śúṃ)
    • Ko (lees ndoigh Komh)
    • Tlu (χμῶ Τλὣ)
    • Liai (hmỳ Liaĩ)
    • Clooa (Mois de la Crouet)


Proto-Hlou-Shum: 2500 years BP

Writing system

Proto-Hlou-Shum was written with a system of logographs. Hlou, Ko and Shumian developed the logographs separately into their own writing systems.



A Proto-Hlou-Shum word had the structure

(preinitial) + (C)C(r/l)V(C)(C) tone.

Preinitials were unstressed derivational prefixes.


  • p t tθ ts tx ḱ k kw ʔ
  • bh dh dθh dsh dxh ģh gh gwh
  • b d dθ ds dx ǵ g gw
  • f θ s x h
  • F Θ S X H = voiced/breathy f θ s x h
  • m n ń ŋ y r l w
  • M N Ń Ŋ Y R L W = breathy counterparts

θ-series > ɬ-series in some descendants

Ko and Clooa gain uvulars through velars + r/l.


a e i o u ə ai au ei ou iə uə


Allowed finals:

  • -p -t -k
  • -mp -nt -nk
  • -m -n -l -w -y
  • -ʔ -s
  • nasal + s or ʔ
  • plosive + s


PHS was non-tonal. The tones in daughter languages are actually reflexes of final types in PHS:

  • A: -0, -N, -l
  • B: -ʔ
  • C: -s
  • D: -t
  • E: -p, -k

The incidence of tones A, B, C in Hlou-Shum words follows the ratio 2:1:1.


Proto-Hlou-Shum was head-initial like Vietnamese.


Total reduplication was used for noun plurals, verbal imperatives, and adverbs from adjectives.

Some descendants turned this into partial reduplication.


Sometimes two prefixes could be used.

  • s-: nominalization, "metonymy", adjectivizer
    • louʔ 'spring (season)' > slouʔ 'springlike, where there is spring'
  • : nominalization
    • lou 'to plant' > louʔ 'spring (season)'
  • m- preinitial
  • r- preinitial
    • lenition/retroflexion in Hlou
  • θ- preinitial
    • changes some consonants in Shum
    • maybe it's the same as the r-preinitial




Initial clusters (not every cluster may be allowed)

  • ḱ ǵ ś > tx dx x
  • pl tl ḱl kl ʔl > pl tl schl kl schl
  • npl ntl nḱl nkl > npl ntl nkl nkl
  • bl dl ǵl gl > bl dl gl gl
  • nbl ndl nǵl ngl > nbl ndl ngl ngl
  • fl vl sl śl > fl fl schl schl
  • tzl tsl > tz ts
  • ntzl ntsl ntxl > ntz nts ntx
  • dz ds dxl > dz ds dx
  • ndzl ndsl ndxl > nl nl nl
  • ml nl > ml nl
  • pr, br > pf, v
  • kr, gr > sch
  • tr, dr > tr, dr
  • sp, st, str, stl, sc, sk > schm, schn, schr, schl, x, sch
  • sm, sn, sṇ, sń > schm, schn, schr, x
  • stz sts stx > tz ts tx

The n-preinitial turns some consonants into prenasalized consonants

The r-preinitial (some koineization)

  • r-p r-t r-ḱ r-k r-ʔ > f tr sch sch h
  • r-np r-nt r-nḱ r-nk > mpf ntr nk nk
  • r-b r-d r-ǵ r-g > v dr j g
  • r-nb r-nd r-nǵ r-ng > mpf ndr ng ng
  • r-f r-v r-z r-s r-x r-h > f w ntz nts ntx h
  • r-tz r-ts r-tx > z s x
  • r-ntz r-nts r-ntx > ntz nts ntx
  • r-dz r-ds r-dx > j j j
  • r-ndz r-nds r-ndx > ntz nts ntx
  • r-m r-n r-ń r-y r-l r-w > w n j j drl r
  • r-Cl > drl, trl, ndrl, ntrl

-k > glottal stop final


Tone split from voiceless initial/voiced initial?

Tone class Voiceless initial (5/8) Voiced initial (3/8)
A (10/27) -b (23%) -0 (14%)
B (5/27) -n (12%) -s (6.9%)
C (5/27) -s (12%) -g (6.9%)
D (4/27) (9.3%) -d (5.6%)
E (3/27) -hn (6.9%) -h (4.2%)

Among non-E syllables the distribution is:

b (23%) > s (19%) > 0 (14%) > n (12%) > ß (9.3%) > g (6.9%) > d (5.6%)


s- triggers tone split

b p > bh p

sb sp > b p

np nb > b mh

spr pr > ph p

sbr br > bh bh

nCl, r.Cl > nl or nlh

l > l, D.l > ll

f > h

Dp Db Dt Dd Dk Dg > f v th dh ch gh

f v th dh ch gh > p bh t dh k gh

x > tl

z > ś, s > s

k' > ś, g' > jh

  • kw > p
  • gw > v > vh in shum
  • w > w > v in shum


ʔouh ʔak zamp-zamp

The Sheep and the Horses