Hnyengu

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Hnyengu (pronounced [ˈɲ̥əŋgu]) is another language of my far-future post-apocalypse Antarctican conword, spoken along the Ross Sea coast to the north and west of where Kämpya is spoken. Genetically, it is a Japonic language, however it has been heavily influenced by other languages. In the generations after the initial colonisation, Hnyengu speakers were usually multilingual, and the language absorbed a huge amount of loanwords, especially from English and Spanish. Over the centuries, it continued to be subject to areal influence. A strong Sprachbund has emerged on the Ross Sea coast, and there are also a number of Antarctic areal features.

There are four major dialect groups: Eastern, Central, Southwestern and Northwestern. The Central dialect is spoken in the major city in the region, Myinatu. For a long time it had been the prestige dialect, but after the city was conquered by Kämpya speakers, the inhabitants of the city switched to Kämpya, and within the city there is now a strong stigma attached to the Central dialect of Hnyengu. However, this stigma does not extend to the other dialects, and there is still a large amount of bilingualism between them and Kämpya.


Brief Description

Like modern Japanese, Hnyengu is a topic comment language. However, a succession of sound changes has led to the morphology becoming more fusional.

The morphosyntactic alignment is split ergative (the ergative suffix /-ŋ/ being an erosion of the Japanese genitive /no/). The exact rules of the split vary between dialects, but depend on animacy and relative topicality of the subject.

The TAM system depends on the dialect. The dialects use roughly the same set of verb affixes, however different dialects use them to mark different things tense/aspect/evidentiality.

The syntax also depends on the dialect. Most dialects have SVO word order, except for the Eastern dialect which is syntactically ergative. In all dialects though, nouns can be brought to the front of the sentence as topics.

The grammar is fairly typical for the region, secundative ditransitive alighment, postpositions, indirect objects coming before the verb, split ergativity (the details of which depend on the dialect), pronouns marked by verbal prefixes, a reciprocal voice marked by a reduplicative prefix, a large number of grammatical moods, and no obligatory plural marking.

The phonology is also fairly typical for the region, with a three way aspirated vs. tenuis vs. voiced contrast in stops, a voicing contrast in sonorants consonants, moderately restrictive phonotactics, and a phonation contrast in vowels.


Phonology

Vowels

There are 6 monophthongs /a i u e o ə/. Schwa cannot occur in stressed syllables. There are also 4 diphthongs /ai au əu əi/. In the Central dialect /əu/ has the allophone [ou] after velar consonants, and /əi/ has the allophone [ei] after palatal consonants. The Eastern dialects have taken this sound change even further, shifting /əu/ to /ou/ and /əi/ to /ei/ in all cases. Meanwhile, the Northwestern dialects have shifted the diphthongs in a different way, with /əu/ becoming /eu/ and /əi/ becoming /oi/.


Consonants

Labial Dental Alveolar Alveolo-Palatal Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m̥ m n̥ n (ɲ̥) (ɲ) ŋ̊ ŋ*
Stop pʰ p b tʰ t d (cʰ) (c) (ɟ) kʰ k g* ʔ
Affricate tsʰ ts dz (tɕʰ) (tɕ) (dʑ)
Fricative θ ð sʰ s z (ɕ) (ʑ) (ç) h
Lateral Fricative ɬ
Approximant ʍ w j
Lateral Approximant l (ʎ)
Flap ɾ

Central Hnyengu, as well as some nearby NW and SW dialects merge /θ/ and /ʍ/ into /f/, and /ð/ and /ⱱ/ into /v/. However, the more outlying NW and SW dialects preserve these phonemes.

The NW dialect has a series of palatalised labial consonants /pʰʲ/, /pʲ/, /bʲ/, /ⱱʲ/, that correspond to sequences of labial consonant + /j/ or /i/ + labial consonant in other dialects.

The alveolo-palatal consonants could be considered to be underlyingly clusters of alveolar/dental consonants + /j/ (in the Eastern dialect that is how they are pronounced). Likewise, in all but the NW dialect the palatal consonants could be considered to be underlyingly clusters containing /j/ i.e. [ɲ̥] is underlyingly /n̥j/, [ɲ] is underlyingly /nj/, [cʰ] [c] and [ɟ] are underylingly /kʰj/, /kj/ and /gj/ respectively, [ç] is underlyingly /hj/, and [ʎ] is /lj/ underylingly.

[ŋ] and [g] are in free variation. After vowels, [ŋ] is more common, and elsewhere, [g] is more common. So the name of the language Hnyengu could be pronounced either [ˈɲ̥əŋgu] or [ˈɲ̥əŋŋu].

The pronunciation of /tsʰ/, /ts/ and /dz/ varies a lot between dialects. There is a strong tendency for them not to be sibilants, or to be less sibilant compared to /sʰ/, /s/, /z/. In SW dialects they are retroflex /ʈʂʰ/ /ʈʂ/ /ɖʐ/, in NW dialects they are dental /tθʰ/ /tθ/ /dð/ and in the East they are lateral /tɬʰ/, /tɬ/, /dɮ/.

Especially in Eastern dialects, /z/ is often pronounced as /ɹ/.

There is often a degree of velarisation to /l/, and this tendency increases the further west you go. In NW and SW dialects, /l/ is pronounced as [ɫ].


Phonotactics

Syllable structures can be of the form C (C) V (C), where C is a consonant and V is a vowel (monophthong or diphthong). When two consonants form the onset of a syllable, the second must be /j/. Excluding the previously discussed cases, the only permissible clusters consist of a labial consonant + /j/.

In all dialects, /p/, /t/, /k/ and /ʔ/ can occur as codas.

Nasals can also occur as codas, but in most dialects they do not contrast phonemically with one another. Before another consonant a nasal is always homorganic with that consonant, and at the end of words the only nasal coda heard is [ɲ] after front vowels and [ŋ] elsewhere (in the SW dialect this is simply nasalisation of the preceding vowel).

In the NW dialect, /m/, /n/, /ɲ/ and /ŋ/ are phonemically distinct from one another in codas. /pʲ/, /c/, /ʎ/ and /l/ can also occur as codas in these dialects.

In the Eastern dialect, the flaps /ⱱ/ and /ɾ/ can also occur as codas (in other dialects, the corresponding words end in /ⱱə/ and /ɾə/.


Grassman's Law

Eastern Dialect

In the Eastern dialect, a sound change analagous to Grassman's Law in Indo-European has occured. In a single word, there can only be a single aspirated consonant. In words that contain more than one, all but the last is deleted e.g. /pʰuˈɾepʰe/ - "to prepare" is /puˈɾepʰe/ in the Eastern dialect. Voiceless nasals, /ʍ/, /ɬ/ and /h/ count as aspirated consonants, and change to voiced nasals, /w/, /l/ and /ʔ/ respectively e.g. /ˈkʰoɬi/ - "coffee" is /ˈkoɬi/ in the Eastern dialect.


NW Dialect

Grassman's Law also operates in the NW dialect, albeit in the opposite direction. All but the first aspirated consonant is deleted, so /pʰuˈɾepʰe/ - "to prepare" is /pʰuˈɾepe/. Also, /ɬ/ lenites to /ʎ/ rather than /l/ e.g. /ˈkʰoɬi/ - "coffee" becomes /ˈkʰoʎi/.


Noun Morphology

Case