Katafalsen (pronunciation: [ˈkɑtɑfɑlsɛn]) is an apriori language, which is partially inspired by Basque, Hebrew and Latin. The aim was to construct a language with simple phonology along with unorthodox grammar and syntax. Katafalsen is highly synthetic and features a free word order and ergative-absolutive alignment.
The consonant phonemes of Modern Katafalsen are as follows:
The vowel inventory of Katafalsen is quite symmetrical as there are each three front, back, rounded and unrounded vowels.
The only vowel that distinguishes length is /ɑ/ contrasting phonemically with /ɑː/. The long vowel is represented by 〈ä〉. The sequences /ɑj/ and /ɑw/ are realised as diphthongs, while adjacent vowels are usually pronounced in hiatus.
The Latin alphabet used for Katafalsen therefore contains the following letters. Uppercase letters are used for the first letter of a sentence and proper nouns.
The syllable structure in Katafalsen is (K)V(K), where K denotes a consonant and V a vowel.
Sound changes from Old Katafalsen
A lot of the complexity of Katafalsen arises out of the sound changes from Old to Modern Katafalsen. So it is reasonable to consider these before occupying oneself with morphological processes in Modern Katafalsen. In the following, we shall leave the exact pronunciations out of consideration.
Old Katafalsen had six vowel phonemes: /ɑ, i, u, ɑː, iː, uː/. The consonant inventory was very similar to Modern Katafalsen but had two additional phonemes /ħ/ and /ʔ/. In contrast to Modern Katafalsen, the syllable structure was KV(K), that is onsets were mandatory. Due to previous loss of word final vowels, words always had to end with a consonant, the only exception being word final /ɑ/.
The sound changes took place in different phases:
Phase 1: Loss of geminated consonants
|CC > ħC|
Phase 2: Lowering of short vowels, loss of word final ɑ, fusion of syllable final ħ, j, w
|i > e|
|iː / iħ / iy / iːħ / iːy > i|
|u > o|
|uː / uħ / uw / uːħ / uːw > u|
|ɑħ / ɑːħ > ɑː|
|ɑːj > ɑj|
|ɑːw > ɑw|
|iw / uy / iːw / uːy > y|
|ɑ > ∅ (word final)|
Phase 3: Loss of ħ and ʔ