East-C Altaic'

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Yet another phonology excercize. This one originated from the observation that labialized velars are common; labial-velars and labialized uvulars are restricted to certain areas, but still common within them. These areas (chiefly: west Africa on one hand, Ethiopia and northwest America on the other) however do not overlap [1], and thus labial-uvular consonants do not exist in any natlang. Clearly this a basically random gap that needs to be filled! The overall sound here seems so far quite unique to me, which is good.

This will probably eventually be forked to a separate daughterlang page.



Labial Alveolar Retroflex Postalveolar Velar Labial-velar Uvular Labial-uvular Glottal
Voiceless stops (P) p t c /ʧ/ k kp q qp
Voiced stops (B) b d dr /ɖ/ j /ʤ/ g gb xb /ɢb/
Nasals (N) m n nr /ɳ/ ŋ (ng) gm /ŋm/ xm /ɴm/
Fricativs (F) v /β/ s sr /ʂ/ sy /ʃ/ x /ʁ/ h
Approximants (A) l ll /ɭ/ y /j/ w
  • /β/ is written <b> after /t/ and in some words intervocally.
  • /ʂ ʃ/ are written <s> in coda position.
  • /ɭ/ is written <l> before another retroflex.

Long vowels

Front Back
Hi í /iː/ ú /uː/
Mid ie /iɛ̯/ ua /uɔ̯/
Lo é /aɪ̯/ á /ɑː/

Short vowels

Hi i, u /ɪ ~ ʊ/; lo e, a /ɛ ~ ʌ/.

There's a front-back harmony in effect which prohibits short back vowels occuring after front vowels, and vice versa. Factor in that the first vowel of a word is always long, and hey presto, we have only two short arkivowels.

A final lo short vowel is reduced to shwa or elided wholesale before a word beginning with a sonorant.


Final if it's a long vowel, on the penult if that has a long vowel but the final doesn't, initial otherwise. In the first 2 cases, there's secondary initial stress.


CV{t, c, S, m, n, ŋ, L}

dr nr ll xm do not occur word-initially. b does not occur intervocally.

Occuring clusters:

  • tP tŋ tb (=/tβ/) ty tw
  • ck cy cw
  • SP Sv SS Sw
    • This arkiphoneme is /ʂ/ before another /ʂ/, /ʃ/ before /ʃ ʧ/, as well as word-finally or before a non-coronal after a front vowel; and /s/ elsewhere.
  • mp
  • n + coronal other than /ɖ ɳ ɭ l/; ny nw
  • ŋP ŋB ŋŋ ŋF ŋl ŋy ŋw
    • except ŋb ŋɖ ŋʤ
    • ŋq ŋqp ŋx ŋxb have [ɴ]
  • lP lB lF ly lw
    • ldr lsr are /ɭɖ ɭʂ/)

A final t or c is elided before a word beginning with a voiced stop.

Sound changes from Proto-East Altaic'

(partial list)

  • Vowel shift:
    • e → əɪ → aɪ
    • æ → ɛ → iɛ
    • ʊ → ɔ → uɔ
    • stage 2 conditional - block'd in closed syllables (prenasals notwithstanding)
  • syncope
  • ɪ ɜ → ɪ~ʊ, ɛ~ʌ as decribed
  • ʈ → ɽ
  • Prenasalization drops before stops, creating a voiced stop series
    • also mβ → mw → ŋw intervocally
    • remaining preconsonantal non-postvocalic nasals vocalize
  • Labialized velars & uvulars become labial-velars & -uvulars
  • ɢ → ʁ; b → β intervocally
  • cluster cleanup:
    • elimination of 1st member
      • t d → ∅ / _ɽ
    • regressiv gemination
      • m n → l / _l
      • S → N / _N
      • t → m / _m
      • P → S / _S
    • tb → tβ
    • labiodorsalization w/ regressiv voicing
      • kb km → gb ŋm
      • qb qm → ɢb ɴm
      • gp gm → kp ŋm
      • etc.
    • sj → ʃ
  • ɽ → ɭ in coda position, → ɖ intervocally, → ∅ elsewhere
  • ll → ɭ
  • ʂ, ʃ → j intervocally in front-harmonic context, later generalized in certain suffixes to back-harmonic context too

Test words

orthography pronunciation late PEA'?
diesetbeyi /ˈdiɛ̯sɛtβɛjɪ/ *dēsa-t-baṣ-ī
srúxmu /ˈʂuːɴmʊ/ *ṣū-q-mi
syétbenná /ˌʃaɪ̯tβɛnˈnɑː/ *šay-t-baṣ-nā
nguajasqí /ˌŋuɔʤʌsˈqiː/ *ŋ°ōnja-səq-ī
déxessikpi /ˌdaɪ̯ʁɛsːɪkpɪ/ *ndayŋxa-səq-sik°i