Habyela (pronounced [xæ̀bʲɛ̀ɫɑ̀] is another language spoken in my far-future Antarctic conworld. It is descended from a mixture of languages spoken around the NE Indian Ocean area, with the greatest influence coming from Amharic. Other languages that heavily influenced Habyela were Swahili, Arabic, Urdu and Bengali. Later on, it received areal influence from surrounding languages, which can be seen in its simple phonotactics, vertical vowel system, and by how it distinguishes alienable and inalienable possession. However, it retains some features that are atypical for the area, such as SOV word order.
Habyela has a vertical vowel system, distinguishing /a/, /ə/ and /ɨ/, but making no contrasts for frontness or backness. All of these vowels have front or back allophones depending on the surrounding consonants.
There are no phonemic diphthongs, however, word-finally [ai] and [au] are heard. However, it simplifies the phonology to analyse these as /aj/ and /aw/ respectively.
The situation here is very similar to neighbouring languages such as North-East Antarctican. Even though there is no phonemic contrast between front and back vowels, this does not mean that sounds such as [i], [u] and [e] are absent from the language. Front and back vowels occur as allophones of their corresponding central vowels.
There is no difference between how consonants influence the preceding vowel and the following vowel. So if /ɨ/ is between /j/ and /w/, in both cases it will be pronounced /y/, no matter whether the sequence is /jɨw/ or /wɨj/.
The allophones of each vowel are given in the table below. Note that a "lowering" consonant is defined as a retroflex or uvular consonant (labialised or non-labialised, including /ɫ/):
|Adjacent to a Palatal or Palatalised Consonant||[i]||[e]||[æ]|
|Adjacent to a Non-Labialised Lowering Consonant||[ɤ]||[ʌ]||[ɑ]|
|Adjacent to a Labialised Non-Lowering Consonant||[u]||[o]||[a]|
|Adjacent to a Labialised Uvular Consonant||[ʊ]||[ɔ]||[ɒ]|
|Adjacent to a Labialised Palatal Consonant||[y]||[ø]||[œ]|
|Between a Lowering Consonant and a Labialised Non-Lowering Consonant||[ʊ]||[ɔ]||[ɒ]|
|Between a Palatal / Palatalised Consonant, and a Labialised Non-Lowering Consonant||[y]||[ø]||[œ]|
|Between a Palatal / Palatalised Consonant, and a Labialised Uvular Consonant||[ʏ]||[ɵ]||[ɐ]|
|Between a Palatal / Palatalised Consonant, and a Non-Labialised Lowering Consonant||[ɪ]||[ɛ]||[ɐ]|
Habyela has a complex system of consonants, contrasting many secondary articulations.
|Labial||Pal. Labial||Dental / Alveolar||Lab. Alveolar||Alveolo-Palatal||Retroflex||Palatal||Velar||Uvular||Lab. Palatal||Lab. Velar||Lab. Uvular||Glottal / Placeless|
|Stop||p b||pʲ bʲ||t d||tʷ dʷ||c ɟ||k g||q||cʷ ɟʷ||kʷ gʷ||qʷ||ʔ|
|Affricate||tɕ dʑ||ʈʂ ɖʐ|
|Flap / Trill||ʀ||ʀʷ|
/çʷ/ and /ɸʲ/ are in free variation, as are /xʷ/ and /ɸ/.
Although /ɫ/ and /ɫʷ/ are strictly speaking uvularised dental laterals, in the phonology they pattern as uvular consonants.
/ɴ/ is similar to the Japanese moraic nasal, or the Burmese placeless nasal. It only occurs in syllable codas. At the end of words, it is heard as nasalisation of the preceding vowel. Otherwise, it assimilates in place of articulation to the following consonant.
Habyela phonotactics are quite simple. The only possible syllable shapes are CV and CVC. In a non-word final syllable, the only possible coda consonant is /ɴ/. In word-final syllables, /j/ and /w/ are also possible as coda consonants, but only after /a/.
When a word ending with /j/ or /w/ takes a suffix, the /j/ or /w/ is deleted, however it turns into secondary articulation on the first consonant of the suffix (if the resulting consonant would be legal in Habyela).
For example, the word for "leaf" is /paɴtaj/. When it takes the possessive suffix /-mà/ - "her", the result is /paɴtamʲà/ - "her leaf". The /j/ has assimilated with the /m/ to become /mʲ/. But, when the same suffix is attached to /banàw/ - "beach", the result is /banàmà/ - "her beach", since there is no consonant */mʷ/. However, when /banàw/ - "beach" is combined with the diminutive suffix /-jɨtə/, the result is /banàɥɨtə/ - "little beach", since /j/ can labialise to /ɥ/.
If a suffix begins with a glottal stop, a preceding /j/ or /w/ simply replaces the stop e.g. /paɴtaj/ - "leaf" and /banàw/ - "beach" combines with the first person plural possessive suffix /-ʔaɴʈɨnə/ to become /paɴtajaɴʈɨnə/ - "our leaf" and /banàwaɴʈɨnə/ - "our beach" respectively.
Habyela is mora timed, like Japanese. Syllables ending in /j/, /w/ or /ɴ/ count as two morae, all the others count as one. So /banàw/ - "beach" consists of three morae ba-na-w, and /paɴtaj/ - "beach" consists of four morae pa-ɴ-ta-j.
Habyela has a pitch accent system reminiscent of Japanese. Any mora can either be accented or unaccented. An accented mora (marked with an acute accent e.g. /à/) always has low pitch. An unaccented mora has high pitch by default, but this changes to low pitch if there is an accented mora earlier in the word. The result of this is that pitch can either remain level or fall across a word, but cannot rise.
For example, /banàw/ - "beach" has accent on the second mora, so the pitch pattern is High-Low-Low. But /paɴtaj/ - "leaf" has no accent, so every mora is pronounced with high pitch. In contrast, /xàbʲəɫa/ - "Habyela" has accent on the first mora, so the pitch pattern is Low-Low-Low.
If a process such as affixation would result in more than one accented mora, the first accented mora determines the pitch pattern of the word, and the others are ignored. For example, /paɴtamʲà/ - "her leaf" is pronounced with the pitch pattern High-High-High-Low, with the pitch only dropping on the final vowel /a/. However, /banàmà/ - "her beach" is pronounced with the pitch pattern High-Low-Low (not High-High-Low).
Word-final coda /w/ and /j/ can also bear accent, for example in the word /qaẁ/ - "chief". When these words take a suffix (which deletes the /w/ or /j/), the accent shifts onto the first mora of the suffix e.g. /qaɥɨ̀tə/ - "minor chief".
Nouns have a suffixing, mostly agglutinating morphology. The template for nouns is: Root - [Possessive Suffix] - [Plural] - [Case Suffix]
Where English would use a possessive pronoun such as "my" or "his", Habyela uses suffixes. These are:
1st person singular /-ʎə̀/
1st person plural /-ʔaɴʈɨnə/
2nd person singular /-mə̀/
2nd person plural /-ʔaɴʈɨxʷɨ̀/
3rd person male singular /-mɨ̀/
3rd person female singular /-mà/
3rd person plural / nonhuman /-ʔaɴʈa/
These suffixes are used no matter whether or not an explicit possessor phrase is used. For example, /ɖəwə̀-mɨ̀/ means "his ear", and /qaẁ ɖəwə̀-mɨ̀/ means "the chief's ear". In both cases, the noun /ɖəwə̀/ takes the 3rd person male singular suffix /-mɨ̀/.
Many nouns have special abbreviated forms when they are combined with possessive suffixes. For example, the word for "leg" by itself is /ʔɨʀəʔə̀/, however when combined with possssive suffixes, it becomes:
/ʔɨʀəjə̀/ - "my leg" (not */ʔɨʁəʔə̀-ʎə̀/)
/ʔɨʀəʔàɴʈɨnə/ - "our leg" (not */ʔɨʁəʔə̀-ʔaɴʈɨnə/)
/ʔɨʀəʔə̀mə̀/ - "your (sg.) leg"
/ʔɨʁəʔàɴʈɨxʷɨ̀/ - "your (pl.) leg"
/ʔɨʀəwɨ̀/ - "his leg"
/ʔɨʀəʔə̀mà/ - "her leg"
/ʔɨʀəʔàɴʈa/ - "their leg / its leg".
Like most Antarctican languages, Habyela makes a distinction between alienable and inalienable possession https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inalienable_possession. Alienable possession is marked by adding the suffix /-qa/ to the possessor, while keeping the same possessive suffixes on the possessed noun e.g.
The dog's bone (that it is chewing on / has buried etc.)
Compare the above to the inalienable equivalent:
The dog's bone (in its body)
Pluralisation is marked with the suffix /-wəɴ/ e.g. /ʔasətɨ̀/ - "bone", /ʔasətɨ̀-wəɴ/ - "bones".
Like with possessive constructions, there are many cases when plural forms are contracted e.g.
/ʔɨʀəʔə̀/ - "leg", /ʔɨʀəwə̀ɴ/ - "legs" (not */ʔɨʀəʔə̀wəɴ/)
/qənə̀bə/ - "dog", /qənə̀bəɴ/ - "dogs" (not */qənə̀bəwəɴ/)
When the plural suffix /-wəɴ/ comes after the second person plural possessive suffix /-ʔaɴʈɨnə/, they fuse to become /-ʔaɴʈɨnəɴ/, (not */-ʔaɴʈɨnəwəɴ/) e.g.
/ʔasətɨ̀ʔaɴʈɨnəɴ/ - "your (pl.) bones" (not */ʔasətɨ̀ʔaɴʈɨnəwəɴ/)
There are only two cases, absolutive (unmarked) and genitive (marked with the suffix -qa). The genitive case also functions as an ergative marker e.g.
/qənə̀bə-qa ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ ʔaɴɖà-wɨ/
dog-ERG man.PL bite-3PS.NONHUM.TEL
The dog bit the men.
/ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ-qa qənə̀bə ʔaɴɖà-wɨ/
man.PL-ERG dog bite-3PS.PL.TEL
The men bit the dog.
In the above sentence, it is clear that /-qa/ is functioning as an ergative marker and not a genitive marker, because the word for "dog" is not marked with a possessive suffix. Compare:
/ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ-qa qənə̀baɴʈa ʔaɴɖà-wɨ/
man.PL-ERG dog.3PS.PL.POSS bite-3PS.PL.TEL
The men's dog was bitten.
The absolutive case is also used for indirect objects. If a sentence contains both a direct and an indirect object, the indirect object always comes first e.g.
/ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ-qa qənə̀bə ʔasətɨ̀ dəna-wɨ/
man.PL-ERG dog bone give-3PS.PL.TEL
The men gave the dog a bone.
Reversing the direct and the indirect object yields nonsensical sounding sentences:
/ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ-qa ʔasətɨ̀ qənə̀bə dəna-wɨ/
man.PL-ERG bone dog give-3PS.PL.TEL
The men gave the dog to a bone.
Habyela is an active-stative language of the Fluid-S type https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active%E2%80%93stative_language. In addition to marking the subject of a transitive verb, /-qa/ is also used for the subject of an intransitive verb, as long as the action is volitional. Compare:
The men fell (involitional, as in they accidentally fell over)
The men fell (volitional, as in they fell to the ground to hide or to duck something).
Adjectives always precede the noun. They are marked for Restrictiveness. Restrictive adjectives end in /-(w)aw/, and descriptive adjectives end in /(t)aɴ/.
For example, the restrictive form of the adjective meaning "black" is /qanʷə̀-waw/, while the descriptive form is /qanʷə̀-taɴ/. To say "the black dog" (selecting one out of a group of dogs containing ones with other colours), a Habyela speaker would say /qanʷə̀waw qənə̀bə/. However, in other cases, they would say /qanʷə̀taɴ qənə̀bə/. When an adjective is used predicatively (e.g. to say "the dog is black"), the suffix /çà/ is used for singular subjects, and /çàɴ/ for plural subjects e.g. /qənə̀bə qanʷə̀-çà/ - "the dog is black", or /qənə̀bəɴ qanʷə̀-çàɴ/ - "the dogs are black".
In some cases, it does not make sense to use a restrictive adjective, e.g. to use the adjective /qanʷə̀/ - "black" to describe the noun /ʔàtə/ - "night", the descriptive form is used i.e. /qanʷə̀-taɴ ʔàtə/ - "the black night". Using the restrictive form ?/qanʷə̀-waw ʔàtə/ - "the black night" would imply that the speaker is selecting a black night out of a set of other nights that are not black. While English has the expression "white night" to refer to periods of midnight sun (which occur in Antarctica where Habyela is spoken), Habyela speakers would not consider such a period to be "night".
Adjectives are normally negated with the prefix /ʔanə-/ (or /ʔanə̀-/ to be emphatic). For example /ʔanə-qanʷə̀-waw/ - "not black" (restrictive). However, if the adjective root begins with a glottal stop, it is deleted, and the negative prefix is /ʔan-/ e.g. /ʔaɴcà-waw/ - "good" (restrictive) -> /ʔan-aɴcà-waw/ -"not good" (restrictive).
The verb template is [Relativiser] [Aspect / Subject-Agreement] [Negation] Root [Aspect / Subject-Agreement] [Switch Reference]
Verbs are negated in the exact same way as adjectives i.e. with the prefix /ʔanə-/ (or /ʔanə̀-/ to be emphatic) e.g. /nama/ - "to sleep" -> /ʔanə-nama/ - "not sleep"
TAM / Agreement
These are conflated, so will be discussed together.
Habyela verbs do not inflect for tense at all, but Telicity is very important. Marking of telicity is conflated with subject person / number agreement. Telic verbs take suffixes, and atelic vebs take either prefixes or circumfixes (depending on the person). There is also an irrealis mood that is used for suggestions, commands, hypothetical situations, and whenever a verb is negated. In the irrealis mood, telicity is not marked, and some forms are identical to the atelic forms.
|1st person singular||... -qʷɨ||ʔə- ...||nɨ̀- ...|
|1st person plural||... -nə||ʔəɴnə- ...||ʔəɴnə- ...|
|2nd person||... -kɨ||tə- ... -wɨ||tə- ... -jaj|
|3rd person masculine singular||... -ʔə||ɫə̀- ...||ɫə̀- ...|
|3rd person feminine singular||... -ʔaɴʈə||tə- ...||tə- ...|
|3rd person plural / nonhuman||... -wɨ||ɫə̀- ... -wɨ||ɫə̀- ... -wɨ|
Habyela has a complex switch-reference system. When a speaker combines two verbs or verb phrases, by default they are understood to refer to different people e.g.
"He slept and he died (another person)"
To indicate that it was the same person that was sleeping and dying, a clitic has to be used after the first verb.
Subject Switch Reference
To indicate that the subject of the first clause is involved in the second clause, the clitic /ɟʷə/ is used e.g.
"He slept and he (the same person) died".
/ɟʷə/ is also used if the subject of the first clause is the object of the second e.g.
"He slept and we killed him (the same person)"
Object Switch Reference
If the object of the first clause is involved in the second clause (as either subject or object), the clitic /ɟɨsə/ is used if the object is both human and singular, and /ɟɨɴ/ otherwise e.g.
/qàʈana-nə=ɟɨsə xamʲɨ̀ɫaɴ ɫə̀-paʔà/
kill-1PS.PL.TEL=SR.OBJ hell 3PS.MASC.SG.ATEL-fall
"We killed him and he (the same person) is in hell"
If /ɟɨsə/ is omitted from the above sentence e.g. /qàʈana-nə xamʲɨ̀ɫaɴ ɫə̀-paʔà/, it is understood that the person who went to hell is different from the person who was killed.
Indirect Object Switch Reference
A similar thing can be done if the indirect object of the first clause is somehow involved in the second, using the clitic /ɟɨɕə/ e.g.
/ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ-qa qənə̀bə ʔasətɨ̀ dəna-wɨ=ɟɨɕə ɫə̀-pənʷa-wɨ/
man.PL-ERG dog bone give-3PS.PL.TEL=SR.INDIR ATEL-bark-3PS.NONHUM
"The men gave the dog a bone and it barked"
Multiple Switch Reference
If more than one argument of the first clause are involved in the second clause, the clitics are agglutinated (in the order ɟʷə - ɟɨɕə - ɟɨsə~ɟɨɴ)
"We stabbed him and killed him (the same person)"
Without the clitic /ɟɨsə/, the second clause would be taken to be involving a different person than the first e.g. /cʷə̀ma-nə=ɟʷə= qàʈana-nə/ - "We stabbed him and killed him (a different person)".
Without the clitic /ɟʷə/, the second clause would be taken to be involving other members of the speaker's group to the first e.g. /cʷə̀ma-nə=ɟɨsə qàʈana-nə/ - "We stabbed him and others of us killed him".
It is perfectly possible for the subject and the object of the first clause to "flip over" and have opposite roles in the second e.g.
"We stabbed him and he (the same person) killed us"
Habyela has Internally-Headed Relative Clauses. Word order is not used to indicate a relative clause, or mark the head noun. Instead, this is done by inflecting the verb.
If the head noun is the subject of the verb, the verb takes the enclitic /ɟʷə/ (the same as for subject switch reference). If the head noun is the direct object of the verb, it takes the enclitic /ɟɨsə/ (for singular human nouns) or /ɟɨɴ/ otherwise, and if it is the indirect object, it takes /ɟɨɕə/.
In addition to the above enclitics, verbs in relative clauses also take prefixes depending on the nature of the head noun, as well as whether the relative clause is restrictive or descriptive. These are:
|Human Plural / Default Nonhuman||wə-||ba-|
|Adverbs/ Instrumental Nouns||cʷə-||bacʷə-|
For example, in the phrase:
/qənə̀bə-qa ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ wə-ʔaɴɖà-wɨ=ɟʷə/
dog-ERG man.PL RESTR.REL.NONHUM-bite-3PS.NONHUM.TEL=SR.SUBJ
"The dog that bit the men"
The verbal prefix /wə-/ marks a restrictive relative clause, where the head noun is either human plural or nonhuman. The enclitic /ɟʷə/ indicates that the head noun is the subject of the verb.
Compare the above to the phrase:
/qənə̀bə-qa ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ wə-ʔaɴɖà-wɨ=ɟɨɴ/
dog-ERG man.PL RESTR.REL.NONHUM-bite-3PS.NONHUM.TEL=SR.OBJ.PL
"The men that were bitten by the dog"
The verbal prefix remains the same, since /wə-/ marks head nouns that are either human plural or nonhuman. However, the enclitic changes from /ɟʷə/ to /ɟɨɴ/, since the head noun of the phrase is the object of the verb (and is human plural).
Using the prefix, indirect objects can also become the head noun of a relative clause e.g.
/ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ-qa qənə̀bə ʔasətɨ̀ wə-dəna-wɨ=ɟɨɕə/
man.PL-ERG dog bone RESTR.REL.NONHUM-give-3PS.PL.TEL=SR.INDIR
"The bone that the men gave to the dog."
When the head noun is a genitive possessor (alienable or inalienable), the clitic /ɟɨɲa/ is used e.g.
/ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ-qa qənə̀baɴʈa-qa ʔasətɨ̀ ʎə̀-ʔaɴɖà-wɨ=ɟɨɲa/
man.PL-GEN dog.3PS.PL.POSS-ERG bone RESTR.REL.HUMAN.SG-bite-3PS.NONHUM.TEL=SR.GEN
"The men whose dog bit the bone"
The prefixes /mə-/ and /bamə-/ are used where English would say "the place where ...". They do not require a clitic after the verb e.g.
/qənə̀bə-qa ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ paxàʔə mə-ʔaɴɖà-wɨ/
dog-ERG man.PL hill RESTR.REL.LOC-bite-3PS.NONHUM.TEL
"The hill where the dog bit the men".
Similarly, the prefixes /cʷə-/ and /bacʷə-/ are used where English would say "the time when ...". They do not require a clitic after the verb e.g.
/qənə̀bə-qa ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ ʔàtə cʷə-ʔaɴɖà-wɨ/
dog-ERG man.PL night RESTR.REL.ADV-bite-3PS.NONHUM.TEL
"The night when the dog bit the men"
The same form is used to talk about a tool or a method that was used to accomplish something e.g.
/ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ-qa qənə̀bə daʀa cʷə-qàʈana-wɨ/
man.PL-ERG dog knife RESTR.REL.ADV-kill-3PS.NONHUM.TEL
"The knife that the men killed the dog with"
Habyela is a Pro-drop_language, meaning that pronouns can be freely left out of a sentence if they are obvious from context. This elision is especially common if the pronoun is the subject of a sentence, since verbs take affixes to indicate the subject anyway. Unlike nouns, pronouns do not inflect for case:
1st person singular: /ʔana/
1st person plural: /naxə̀nʷɨ/
2nd person: /ʔanəʈa/
3rd person masculine singular: /xʷɨ̀ma/
3rd person feminine singular: /çɨ̀ɫa/
3rd person plural: / nonhuman: /xʷɨ̀mɨ/
There are special reflexive forms for each of the pronouns:
1st person singular: /ʔàɕə/
1st person plural :/ʔàsaɴʈɨnə/
2nd person: /ʔàsʷə/
3rd person male singular /ʔàsʷɨ/
3rd person female singular /ʔàsʷa/
3rd person plural / nonhuman /ʔàsaɴʈa/
Habyela does not have prepositions or postpositions. Rather it uses nouns for bodyparts to indicate location. English does this with the phrase "the foot of the mountain" (to mean below the mountain), but Habyela does this across the entire language. For example, to say "in ...", a Habyela speaker would say "...'s belly" e.g.
/paɲɨ pʲəʈaɴʈa paʔà-qʷɨ/
water belly.3PS.NONHUM.POSS fall-1PS.SG.TEL
"I fell in the water" (literally "I fell water's belly")
These are possessive phrases, as is evident from the fact that possessive suffixes are used. Also, when they are relativised, the clitic /ɟɨɲa/ is used (which is normally used when English would use "... whose ....") e.g.
/paɲɨ pʲəʈaɴʈa wə-paʔà-qʷɨ=ɟɨɲa/
water belly.3PS.NONHUM.POSS RESTR.REL.3PS.NONHUM-fall-1PS.SG.TEL
"The water that I fell in".
To say "on ...", Habyela speakers would say "...'s back" e.g.
/saʔə̀ pʲatɕaɴʈa paʔà-qʷɨ/
grass back.3PS.NONHUM.POSS fall-1PS.SG.TEL
I fell on the grass
/pʲatɕə/ - "back" can also take a possessive suffix to mean "more than ..." e.g.
/qənə̀bəɴ-qa ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ pʲatɕaɴʈa ɫə̀-nama-wɨ/
dog.PL-ERG men.PL back.3PS.PL.POSS ATEL-sleep-3PS.NONHUMAN
Dogs sleep more than men do.
Habyela's demonstrative system is very much like English. There is a two-way distance contrast, and no contrast between pronominal and adnominal demonstratives.
Habyela sentences are strictly verb final. SOV is much more common than OSV. Noun phrases have the word order [Demonstrative] [Number] [Adjective] Noun.
Adverbs are formed by reduplicating the last syllable of a bare root e.g.
dəməqə̀ - loud
dəməqə̀qə - loudly
In a sentence, adverbs come immediately before the verb e.g.
qənə̀bə dəməqə̀~qə ɫə̀-pənʷa-wɨ
dog loud~ADV 3PS.NONHUMAN.ATEL-bark
The dog barked loudly.
To combine two nouns A and B to make a sentence meaning "A is B", Habyela would say /A B-ça/ (if the subject is singular) and /A B-çaɴ/ (if the subject is plural). No matter whether or not A is singular or plural, the singular form of B is always used. For example:
This is the/a beach
These are (the) beaches.
Note that -ça(ɴ) is the suffix for a predicate adjective e.g.
The night is black.
-ça(ɴ) can also attach to a relational noun, to express location. Like English, Habyela conflates nominal and locational predication e.g.
/qənə̀bə paɲɨ pʲəʈaɴʈa-ça/
dog water belly.3PS.NONHUM.POSS-COP.SG
The dog is in the water.
Habyela has no verb corresponding to English "have". Where English speakers would say "A has B", Habyela speakers simply say "B is on A" (even if B is not technically "on" the object, Habyela speakers still use this construction) e.g.
/qənə̀bə ʔàɟʷɨnəɴ pʲatɕaɴʈa-ça/
dog man.PL back.3PS.PL.POSS-COP.SG
The men have a dog (literally "a dog is on the men")