Proto-Rathmosian

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Background

Phonology and Orthography

Consonants

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n
Plosive p b t d k g
Fricative ɸ s x
Trill r
Approximant w j
Lateral app. l

Vowels

  Front Near- front Central Near- back Back
Close
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
i
u
e
ə
a
  Near-close
Close-mid
Mid
Open-mid
Near-open
Open

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 /j/ and /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].

Orthography

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 and to signal the semivowels /j/ and /w/. Long vowels are doubled.

The following table shows the sound to spelling correspondences:

graph a aa b d e ee f g h i ii k l m n p r s t u uu ə
IPA a b d e ɸ g x i j k l m n p r s t u w ə

Phonotactics

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.

Morphology

Nouns

Nouns belong to one of three classes and are declined into eight cases and three numbers.

Noun Classes

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. Masculine nouns are generally marked forms, with a base form usually ending in l or k. Thus, ker means "ruler; queen" and is common, but keril means "lord, king" and is masculine.

Summary of Noun Classes
Animate Common Female humans, deities and spirits; female animals and those with unspecified gender
Masculine Male humans, deities and spirits; specifically male animals
Inanimate All plants and non-living objects; abstracts

Case

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.

Number

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.

Syntax

Vocabulary