Illheng [ˈiɬːeŋ] is another language spoken in my far-future Antarctic conworld. It is spoken on an island in the Ross Sea, and is distantly related to Kämpya (spoken on the west side of the Trans-Antarctic mountains), and shares a number of similarities. Due to the spread of the Laikyâr religion to the island, the language has been further influenced by Kämpya.
In terms of syntax, both distinguish between alienable and inalienable possession, and both are topic prominent, secundative, and syntactically ergative (though in some aspects Illheng is more like a fluid-S language), with some conflation between the ergative and the genitive case. Both mark restrictiveness on adjectives and relative clauses, but whereas Kämpya uses word order and tone, Illheng uses prefixes. The morphology is considerably more complex than Kämpya, especially on verbs, which mark polypersonal agreement as well as inflecting for tense. In contrast, the phonology is simpler than Kämpya (although quite similar, with aspirated stops and voiceless approximants though no voiceless nasals).
There are 5 phonemic vowel qualities /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/ and /u/. There are 6 diphthongs: /ai/, /au/, /ei/, /ou/, /eu/ and /ou/. However, in word final position, /ei/ and /ou/ cannot occur.
In stressed syllables, all vowels and diphthongs contrast for length except /ei/ and /ou/.
The following sounds are heard in Illheng:
|Stop||(pʰ) p b||(tʰ) t d||(c) (ɟ)||(kʰ) k g|
/ŋ/ cannot occur at the beginning of words.
Sounds in brackets are underlyingly clusters:
- [ɲ] is underlyingly /nj/.
- Aspirated consonants are underlyingly clusters of stop + /h/.
- [c] and [ɟ] are underlyingly /kj/ and /gj/ respectively.
- [ɬ], [ç] and [ʍ] are underlyingly /hl/, /hj/ and /hw/ respectively.
Only syllables of the form (C) (C) V (C) are permitted.
Initial Consonant Clusters
There are several types of initial clusters permitted:
- Voiceless Stop + Voiceless Stop (rare) e.g. /ktaˈnaːi/ - dirty
- Voiceless Stop + Voiceless Fricative e.g. /ˈtxipːa/ - intestine
- Obstruent + Approximant e.g. /ˈgjuːb/ - world
- Nasal + Semivowel (/j/ or /w/) e.g. /ˈmjuːzjik/ - music
/ŋ/ and /x/ cannot be followed by /j/.
At the end of words, any nasal or obstruent can appear in a coda (other than /h/). However, elsewhere, the only possible coda consonant is a nasal, than must be homorganic with the following consonant e.g. the first person masculine singular present involitional is marked by the circumfix /um/ ... /di/. But when this is added to the verb stem /ˈhleipjeŋ/ - to sleep, the result is /unˈhleipjendi/ - I (masculine) sleep (involuntarily), with the /m/ and the /ŋ/ assimilating to /n/.
Restrictions on /h/
Only one instance of /h/ is allowed in a word. For example, the 3rd person masculine plural present involitional is marked by the circumfix /hja/ ... /di/. But when this is added to a verb root such as /ˈhleipjeŋ/ - to sleep, then the initial /h/ is lost, yielding /jaˈhleipjendi/ - they (masculine) sleep (involuntarily).
One syllable in each word is stressed. Each stressed syllable either has a long vowel (e.g. /ˈmjuːzjik/ - music), or geminates the consonant or consonant cluster after it (e.g. /ˈihlːeŋ/ - Illheng).
Pluralisation is done by reduplicating the stressed syllable of the noun. The reduplication is placed after the noun root e.g.
/baˈnaː/ - banana -> /baˈnaːna/ - bananas
/ˈwindːu/ - wind -> /ˈwindːuwin/ - winds
If the stressed syllable is open, but not the last syllable of the word, then the first consonant of the next syllable is reduplicated with it e.g.
/ˈpxutːa/ - fruit -> /ˈpxutːapxut/ - fruits
/ˈmadːle/ - mother -> /ˈmadːlemad/ - mothers
However, if the reduplication would cause an illegal consonant cluster, the second member of the clusters is deleted e.g.
/ˈgjuːb/ - world -> /ˈgjuːbjub/ - worlds (not */ˈgjuːbgjub/)
/ˈzwebːjit/ - rabbit -> /ˈzwebːjitweb/ - rabbits (not */ˈzwebːjitzweb/)
/ˈzwekːod/ - record -> /ˈzwekːodwek/ - records (not */ˈzwekːodzwek/)
If the reduplication would create a word that ends in /j/ or /w/, then a diphthong is formed instead e.g.
/ˈnawːa/ - rope -> /ˈnawːanau/ - ropes
/ˈbajːa/ - bay -> /ˈbajːabai/ - bays
If the reduplication would create a word that ends in /l/, then the final /l/ is deleted e.g.
/osjiˈbolːji/ - hand towel -> /osjiˈbolːjibo/ (not */osjiˈbolːjibol/)
If the reduplication involves duplicating a /h/ phoneme, then the /h/ phoneme in the root is deleted. This is due to the restriction that only one /h/ phoneme is allowed in a word. e.g.
/ˈhunːe/ - bone -> /ˈunːehun/ - bones (not */ˈhunːehun/)
/ˈthetːso/ - test -> /ˈtetːsothet/ - tests (not */ˈthetːsothet/)
/ˈhjuːka/ - mark / grade / score -> /ˈjuːkahjuk/ - marks / grades / scores (not */ˈhjuːkahjuk/)
If the reduplication involves duplicating a /h/ phoneme and placing it at the end of the word, both copies of the /h/ phoneme are lost e.g.
/ˈmahlːa/ - thug -> /ˈmalːama/ - thugs (not */ˈmahlːama/)
If the noun root ends with a nasal, then it assimilates to the place of articulation of any following consonant in the reduplication e.g.
/aˈlaːm/ - booby trap -> /aˈlaːnlam/ - booby traps (not */aˈlaːmlam/)
If the noun root ends with a diphthong (/ai/, /au/, /ei/, /ou/, /eu/ or /ou/), and the stressed syllable is an initial syllable without an onset consonant, then the second part of the diphthong becomes a semivowel e.g.
/ˈekːau/ - echo -> /ˈekːawek/ - echoes (/u/ changes to /w/)
If the stressed syllable is an initial syllable without an onset consonant, then there is a possibility of the reduplication forming diphthongs /ai/, /au/, /eu/ or /oi/ e.g.
/ˈunːja/ - fingernail -> /ˈunːjaun/ - fingernails
/ˈimːa/ - moment -> /ˈimːaim/ - moments
/ˈimːo/ - sweet potato -> /ˈimːoim/ - sweet potatoes
/ˈumːe/ - plum -> /ˈumːeum/ - plums
If one of the above four diphthongs cannot be formed, then some kind of contraction occurs. If the two vowels are identical, then they contract to one vowel e.g.
/ˈotːxo/ - other -> /ˈotːxot/ - others
/ˈasːa/ - morning -> /ˈasːas/ - mornings
Likewise /e/ + /i/ contracts to /i/, and /o/ + /u/ contracts to /u/ e.g.
/ˈumːo/ - fume -> /ˈumːum/ - fumes (not */ˈumːoum/)
If the two vowels are not identical, but are both front vowels or both back vowels, then they contract to give /ei/ and /ou/ respectively e.g.
/ˈembːa/ - ember -> /ˈembeim/ - embers (not */ˈembːaem/)
/ˈeːŋka/ - anchor -> /ˈeːŋkeiŋ/ - anchors (not */eːŋkaeŋ/)
/ˈoːna/ - achievement -> /ˈoːnoun/ - achievements (not */ˈoːnaon/)
If other illegal vowel sequences are formed, the first member of them is deleted e.g.
/ˈasːji/ - leg -> /ˈasːjas/ - legs (not */ˈasːjias/)
/ˈiŋkːwu/ - ink -> /ˈiŋkːwiŋ/ - inks (not */ˈiŋkːwuiŋ/
/ˈonːlwe/ - man -> /ˈonːlwon/ - men
/ˈantːju/ - wilderness -> /ˈantːjan/ - wildernesses
If the stressed syllable contains long /eː/ or /oː/ followed by a consonant, then they become /ei/ and /ou/ in the reduplication e.g.
/ˈmeːdjik/ - spell (magic) -> /ˈmeːdjikeid/ - spells (not */ˈmeːdjiked/)
/ˈeːnto/ - ant -> /ˈeːntwein/ - ants (not */ˈeːntwen/)
/ˈboːtan/ - button -> /ˈboːtambout/ - buttons (not */ˈboːtambot/)
The reason for this irregularity is that, in an earlier stage of the language, Ihlleng also had the vowel phonemes /ɛi/ and /ɔu/. However, these phonemes underwent a split. In stressed syllables, they became /eː/ and /oː/. Elsewhere, they became /ei/ and /ou/. So in reduplications, they became different vowels.
The only exception to the above irregularity is if the stressed syllable has an alveolar stop (t or d) in the onset. In this case, the vowel is reduplicated as /o/ e.g.
/ˈdoːkta/ - doctor -> /ˈdoːktaˈdok/ - doctors
The reason for this is that there was another sound change that applied to */ɛi/ and */ɔu/, that was triggered by a preceding alveolar stop.
If the stressed syllable begins with a single voiceless obstruent (perhaps with a semivowel after it), then this is usually lenited in the reduplication e.g.
/ˈsjelːo/ - sky -> /ˈsjelːozje/ - skies
/x/ and /h/ both lenit to /b/ e.g.
/sjiŋˈxilːo/ - club (weapon) -> /sjiŋˈxilːobi/ - clubs (weapon)
However, voiceless obstruents do not undergo lenition if there is another voiced obstruent nearby (separated by nothing more than sonorants) e.g.
/ˈsuːdja/ - soldier -> /ˈsuːdːjasud/ - soldiers (not */ˈsuːdjazud/)