Page 1 of 1

Ch'in Scratchpad

Posted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:16 pm
by Max1461
This one really made me scratch my ch'in... Ok, horrible puns aside, this is the first bit of actual conlanging I've posted here. For about a year or so, I've unfortunately not had that much time to spend on conlanging, and I fear I may have gotten a bit rusty. Now that I do have a bit more time, I thought that instead of jumping right back into the languages of my main conworld, I'd "warm up" a bit, so to speak, with something completely new. In particular, I'm interested in experimenting with some morphological elements that I don't usually include in conlangs: fusional, suffixing morphology, and a noun class system more complex than simple animacy. The result is Ch'in [tɕ'ɪn], a language which I think seems to have ended up with a somewhat African feel (though I don't have that much experience with African languages, so it may just be superficial). In addition, I took inspiration from Japanese at various points, though I'm not sure it's particularly visible in the final product.

1 Old Choʔine

Ch'in descends from Old Choʔine, a broadly agglutinating language with quite regular suffixing morphology. Old Choʔine is strongly head-final, with basic SOV word order.

1.1 Old Choʔine Phonology

Consonantally, Old Choʔine has the following phonemes:

/p t tɕ tɕʷ k kʷ ʔ/ <p t ch chʷ k kʷ ʔ>
/b d g gʷ/ <b d g gʷ>
/f s ɕ ɕʷ x xʷ h/ <f s š šʷ x xʷ h>
/v r j ɥ ɣ w/ <v r y yʷ ɣ w>
/m n/ <m n>

There is no distinction between voiced fricatives and approximants, and I'd say /r/ probably originates from rhoticism of earlier [z]. Old Choʔine has a simple five-vowel system /i u e o a/ <i u e o a>, as well as contrastive vowel length. Stress is always penultimate. Old Choʔine has a fairly restrictive syllable structure of CV(N), where N is a nasal, and V is an single vowel, or a diphthong ending in /i/ or /u/. With a small number of exceptions, all content roots in Old Choʔine are two syllables.

1.2 Old Choʔine Verb Morphology

Old Choʔan verbs conjugate for aspect, as well as the the person, number, and noun class of the subject. The basic template is


1.2.1 Aspect

Old Choʔine verbs are marked for one of three aspects, in a system heavily inspired by (mostly stolen from) Japanese:

Incompletive (INCPL): -∅ - Used for incomplete actions; usually future or habitual.

Completive (CPL): -n - Used for completed actions, generally in the past tense. Has the allomorph -an after a consonant.

Progressive (PROG): -i - Used for an action in progress, generally in the present.

1.2.2 Person/Number

Old Choʔine distinguishes three numbers: singular, plural, and collective(?). The collective is used when referring to a group entities as a single object, rather than the multiple individuals themselves.

Person/Number Suffixes:

Code: Select all

            1       2      3
sg.      -(ʔ)e   -gʷo    -∅

pl.       -te   -tigʷo   -ti

col.      -ha   -hagʷo   -ha
For the first person singular suffix, the form -ʔe appears after vowels, while -e appears after consonants.

1.2.3 Noun Class

There are five noun classes. The noun class system is somewhat tied in with politeness, in a way that I'm not sure is quite realistic, so I'd appreciate some feedback on it:

Animate 1 (AN1) - Used for discourse participants: always used for 1st and 2nd person subjects, as well as any 3rd person human subjects who are considered participant in current discourse. Additionally, this class is used for all names of deities and all titles of address. In particularly polite speech, it is also used for one's superiors (in social rank or generation), whether they are present or not. This class is always unmarked, both on nouns and verbs.

Animate 2 (AN2) - Used for animals, and any humans not covered by Animate 1. Verbal agreement marked with the suffix -(ʔ)acha, unmarked on nouns themselves.

Plant (PLN) - Used for plants, as well as some landforms (such as the names of rivers, and the word ʔīyʷe - "river" itself). Verbal agreement marked with -ki, optionally marked nouns with the suffix -nīso < nīso - "grass".

Locational (LOC) - Used for locations. Verbal agreement marked with -xʷim. Marked on some nouns by -xʷe < xʷe - "to be, to stand".

Inanimate (INAN) - Other inanimate nouns. Verbal agreement marked with -no, nouns unmarked.

1.3 Old Choʔine Noun Morphology

Old Choʔine nouns are marked only for number and possession, in the order root-number-possession.

1.3.1 Number

The number suffixes are:

Singular (sg.): -∅

Plural (pl.): -ti

Collective (col): -ha

1.3.2 Possession


2 Changes from Old Choʔine to Ch'in

Ok, with that out of the way, we can actually get to the sound changes from Old Choʔine to Ch'in. Most of my focus so far has been on the verb paradigm, and to some degree these sound changes were chosen with creating interesting verbal morphology specifically in mind. I'm not really sure to what degree I actually succeeded though...

In any case, here are the sound changes in their current form. These are somewhat subject to change, but for the most part I'm happy with them. I would certainly like to know what everyone thinks of them though; in particular, if any seem unrealistic. I'm also curious how long, more or less, it would be realistic for these changes to take (I'm horrible with that kind of stuff), if anyone has an idea.

Old Choʔine > Ch'in

Code: Select all

e, o, a > ə /_#
i, u > e, o /_#
iɣ, eɣ, uɣ, oɣ > ij, ej, uw, ow /_V
aɣa > aː
ɣ > x
[+syl, -long] > [-voice] / [-voice]_[-voice], blocked in stressed syllables.
ai, au > eː, oː
ia, uo > iː, uː
[+syl, -voice] > ∅, blocked if previous vowel is voiceless (i.e., if the previous vowel would undergo deletion). Note that stress moves to the new penultimate syllable.
Pʔ > P'
f > h
xʷ, w > f, v
x > h
ʔ > h
s, h > ɕ / _[+alveolo-palatal]
s, h > ∅ / [+alveolo-palatal]_
V > Vː / _h$
h > ∅
gʷ > w
k, g > tɕ, dʑ / _{i, j, ɥ}
[-syl, +round] > [-round]
Və > Vː, ə > ∅
V > V̀ / [-syl, +voice]_
[-sonorant, +voice] > [-voice]
i, u > j, w /_V
j, w > i, u / if not adjacent to a vowel. This change only affects /j w/ which previously preceded [ə]; is it realistic for it to occur so late, as opposed to immediately after [ə] is dropped?
eː, oː > ja, wa
e, o > ja, wa / in stressed syllables
f > h / _$
s > h
ɕ > s
V̀, V̄ > V̌, V́ / _h$
h > ∅ /_$
e, o > ə
aə, uə, iə > ai, wa, ja
ə > a / _{a, i, u}
I'll post the resulting phonology and verb/noun paradigms for Ch'in soon.