Phonology and Orthography
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Vowel length is non-phonemic and all vowels are usually short. However, certain morphological conditions cause lengthening of the primary vowels a, e, u, i (but not ə). These are then written aa, ee, uu, ii.
The semi-vowels i̯ /j/ and u̯ /w/ may occur after any vowel, effectively creating diphthongs, though for the purposes of syllable structure these are analysed as combinations of vowel + consonant: /aj, ej, uj, ij, əj, aw, ew, uw, iw, əw/. The combinations /ij/ and /uw/ may be analysed as [iː] and [uː]. The primary vowels may still be lengthened in these combinations, e.g. aai̯ /aːj/, eeu̯ /eːw/. /iːj/ and /uːw/ are therefore equivalent of [iːː], [uːː].
Proto-Rathmosian is written with the Roman alphabet using the following graphs.
- a b d e f g h i k l m n p r s t u ə
The breve is used below i̯ and u̯ to signal the semivowels /j/ and /w/. Long vowels are doubled.
The following table shows the sound to spelling correspondences:
Words are constructed from a root plus various derivation or morphological affixes. Roots must be minimal CVC (e.g. ret- 'go, move') and may be CCVC (glis- 'live, stay'), CVCC (tii̯k- 'touch, feel'), CCVCC (psau̯m 'breathe'). Affixes may be V, VC, VCV, C, CV, CVC.
Nouns belong to one of three classes and are declined into eight cases and three numbers.
Nouns are divided into two main classes: animate and inanimate. The fundamental distinction between these two classes is that animate nouns may be the agent of a verb, i.e. they may actively carry out the action of a verb, whilst inanimate nouns may not. Animate nouns therefore include all humans, deities and spirits, animals and certain celestial bodies such as belan "the sun". Inanimate nouns include all other common objects, plants and abstracts.
The class of animate nouns is further divided into masculine and common nouns. The distinction is based on natural gender, so that all male humans, deities and spirits are masculine, as are male animals where the sex is known. All other animate nouns are common.
- Animate Masculine: male humans, male deities and spirits, male domestic animals and some distinctive male wild animals.
- Animate Common: all other humans, deities, spirits and animals.
- Inanimate: all abstracts, non-living things and plants.
Nouns are declined according to eight cases:
- Absolutive denotes the subject of an intransitive verb and the object of a transitive verb.
- Ergative denotes the subject of a transitive verb.
- Dative denotes the indirect object of a verb and describes motion towards.
- Genitive denotes the possessor of an object.
- Ablative denotes motion away from.
- Instrumental denotes use of.
- Locative denotes location in, at or on.
- Comitative denotes location with or beside.
There are three numbers: singular, plural and collective, the last of which may denote a discrete group of objects or a class as a whole.