Oyster language

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See history for non-linguistic information.


Is there still a language anywhere that has CVC- classifiers? The Subumpamese family has been crushed out of existence, so it can't be the source of that.


See Lenian_languages#Oyster.

A few FILTER people may have settled in baeba or southern Dreamland.

Some Oysters may have spoken Andanic_languages#Proto-Olati_.281300.29_to_Olati-A_.282672.29, from the South Andanic (Olati) branch. This family is very conservative, and shows many similarities with the languages of Atlam, even though Atlam is far away both geographically and genetically. West Andanic and Atla have lack of innovation in common, meaning that they resemble each other because they both still resemble their MRCA even after 2,000 years apart (long branch attraction). It is possible that the Oysters, so proud of their language, find kinship in Atlam even after they slaughtered thousands of soldiers in Lobexon and Kxesh (and perhaps even some in Atlam).

If the language is assumed to be identical to Olati-A (which it probably isnt), then the consonant inventory would be

Labials:     p   b   m   f   v       
Alveolars:   t   d   n   s       l
Palataloids: č   ǯ   ň   š       y
Velars:      k

And the vowel inventory would be /a e i o u/, on two tones, and a long series.

/ǯ/ may be a mistake, as there seem to be no paths to it in the sound changes. But perhaps it comes from /dʲ/, in which case it would be much rarer than /č/ but still phonemic.

The Oysters likely meet up with a group of settlers speaking a Southwestern Tip language. This group is the furthest west in the tropics, but also settled one area of land further north in the desert.

Both languages had simple syllables and fairly small phoneme inventories, but there were many differences between the two inventories. Southwestern Tip may have had only four vowels, likely /a e i u/, meaning it was unbalanced. Also, Oyster had three tones while Southwestern Tip probably had only two. The consonant inventories were quite different as well: Southwestern Tip had /m̄ n̄ ŋ̄ ŋ g h w/, all unmatched in Oyster; there was also a /b̲/, but it may have still been /mb/ at the time. Meanwhile Oyster had /p f v s č ǯ ň š/ all unmatched in Southwestern Tip. Most of Tip's coronals were palatalized before /e i/, however, so they could count as /č ǯ ň/ for transcription purposes.

If a unified script appears, they may consider /v/ and /w/ to be the same sound, as well as writing the palatals as coronal + /i/. Southwestern Tip apparently does not have /ke ki/, even at the phonetic level.

Note that Oyster is being compared with the Southwestern Tip proto-language because the Oysters were an earlier migration than the SW Tip colonists. It may be that Oyster is older even than the Tip proto-language and that the comparison will have to be still further back. Alternatively, Oysters do not meet up with the SW Tip colonists until several hundred years after the Oysters' colonies were founded.

Proto-Olati (1300) to Oyster (2057)

It is not clear if 2057 is the correct date for the break with the mainland, but it would likely mean little. The Islanders considered themselves to have their own language, but it was very similar to Olati-A.

Pre-Oyster changes

The Andanese/Gold dialect of Tapilula had the consonants

Rounded bilabials:                     hʷ  w
Spread bilabials:      p       m   b   f  (Ø)
Alveolars:             t       n   d       l
Rounded alveolars:     tʷ      nʷ  dʷ         
Velars:                k   ḳ   ŋ   ġ   h   g
  1. The accent pattern involved in certain infixes with accented schwa switched to favor the following vowel. e.g. ăpo "field", apə̀ho "field (possessive) became /ăpo apəhò/.
  2. The "labial" vowel ə disappeared, syllabified nearby consonants or turned to i if the nearby consonants were not possible to become syllabic. Note that it never occurred after labialized consonants. Sequences such as /pəh/ collapsed to form aspirated consonants, though these behaved as clusters.
  3. The velar nasal ŋ changed to n in all positions.
  4. The stops p b t became w w k (the /t/ shift was allophonically [th > tx > kx > kh]) except when occurring:
    After an accented or high-tone vowel (but not before);
    In a consonant cluster of any kind; or
    In a monosyllabic word.
  5. tʷ dʷ nʷ > kʷ ġʷ ŋʷ.
  6. The labial fricative f shifted to .
  7. The labialized sounds kʷ ġʷ hʷ w changed to k ġ h g when they preceded a vowel followed by a labial consonant (including /w/).
  8. ŋʷ> ŋ.
  9. final /b/ > /w/. must, now, add to other list!
  10. Tautosyllabic vowel sequences òi ài èi converged to ē. This did not affect syllable-straddling words like /tùya/. Likewise, èu àu òu in the same environment converged to ō.
  11. Duplicate vowel sequences àa èe ìi òo ùu shifted to long vowels ā ē ī ō ū. But the same sequences with the opposite tone pattern did not shift.

Independent changes

  1. The labialized consonants kʷ ḳʷ ġʷ hʷ w shifted to p p b f v unconditionally.
  2. The aspirate clusters bh dh shift to p t.
  3. The velar nasal ŋ shifted to m except when a vowel followed by a labial consonant, in which case it became n.
    This assumes that the Islanders retained an earlier dialectal pronunciation of /ŋʷ/; this is why the shift is conditioned in a way reminiscent of the earlier shift.
  4. The velars k g ġ h shifted to č y y š unconditionally.
    Some /k/, particularly in root-medial position, will defy the shift due to a grammatical alternation similar to those described elsewhere. In effect, /č/ will become the genitive form of /k/ just as /š/ becomes the genitive form of /y/.
  5. The uvular stop became k.
  6. The sequences lh shifted to s.
  7. Remaining aspirated clusters deaspirate.
  8. Before a vowel, the sequences ay ey oy shift to ē. iy uy shift to ī. For grammatical reasons, the sequences /aš eš iš oš uš/ sporadically shift as well.
  9. Long vowels before hiatus became short, but retained their stress. (Thus, /ia/ is really /ia/, not /ja/).
    At this point, it's possible that some of the original vowels that merged will return since they had survived in the genitives.
  10. The voiced stop d shifted to r.

Thus the consonant inventory was

Labials:     p   m   f   v   b    
Alveolars:   t   n   s   r   l
Palataloids: č       š       y
Velars:      k

The inventory here differs slightly from the mainland dialect.

Medial /t/ and /k/ both gradate into /č/.

Analogy might repeat the old vowel shifts. For example, when /ayu/ > /ēu/, it could trigger a repeat of the earlier /eu/ > /ō/ shift because that old shift would have still been operating as a surface filter when words changed from one classifier to another. Thus /payùta/ >> /pōta/. Words that do not do this will likely soon undergo a different shift as the prevocalic /e i/ turn into /j/ and create palatalized consonants.


Proto-Oyster (~2050) to Birch (~3310)

Labials:     p   m   f   v   b    
Alveolars:   t   n   s   r   l
Palataloids: č       š       y
Velars:      k
  1. The postalveolars č š shifted to c s.
    This may allow for some grammatical shifts of /s/ > /l/, reflecting inherited /lh~h/ and /l/. A preceding shift had already shifted some of this analogically to /y/.
  2. The labial fricative f shifted to h.

Proto-Oyster (~2050) to Plume (3431)

This may be the same language as Birch. It may borrow many loans from Baywatch.

Plume (3431) to High Thunder (4149)

When the Play party takes over the Anchor Empire, they note that there are still people speaking the Thunder language living in the northern states.

Plume (3431) to Creamland Intruder (4149)

At one point,[1] Sapeepa invaded all of the south, trying to conquer Aboan nations like Thaoa. They poisoned water and claimed that they would make the land unlivable. (This is why Lenians still lived in Subumpam in later ages despite losing the war against the Stars; they were not merely immigrants from Paba.)

They by this time had some slaves from Baeba. Baeba had invaded and conquered them, but when they revolted, many Baebans were trapped in their territory and became slaves.

This language likely differs little from Thunder.

Proto-Oyster (~2050) to Paleo-Nunabetari (~3350)

Within months of their defeat in Repilia, the Lenians declared war on the dark-skinned aboriginals of Baeba Swamp. The war ended in a stalemate, but a third army soon arrived and conquered Baeba; they were more favorable to the Lenians than to the aboriginals.

This language only exists if some of the Lenians remained in Baeba after the war.

Proto-Oyster (~2050) to Poise (~3700)

Only if Poise has its own language. If this exists, it likely has Dreamer influence, but from an isolated branch of the family, not from Baywatch, Soap, or any other one of the major Dreamer languages. Minor Lenian languages states that Poise's Dreamers spoke a language practically identical to Baywatch, but this may be wrong, as they immigrated to the area at least a few hundred years earlier than the Baywatchers' contact time. Poise's Dreamers by 3700 AD spoke a language with no geminates and very little /s/. It may also have phonemicized /k ŋ/ but they would be confined to occurring before /o u/ except in loans. (Note the name of the state was Posisse early on.)

  1. All s was deleted.

Proto-Oyster to RCV

This language was spoken by the RCV party in Nōslina.

Proto-Oyster to DOZ

This language was spoken by the DOZ party in Gàqa.

Proto-Oyster to Olansele

This language was spoken by the XIG party and some others in Olansele. It was just one of several languages spoken there.

Proto-Oyster to TOT

This language was spoken by the TOT party in Sapeepa. It was just one of several languages spoken there. There was no significant influence from Baywatch or Birch, just from Khulls. The contact began just as Khulls was shifting /d/ > /r/. At first the TOT speakers were dominant, but soon Khulls became the language of administration.

  1. The palatalized labials pʲ bʲ mʲ shifted to p b m .
  2. Coda stops disappeared, changing the preceding vowels to high tones unless the stops were voiced.

Proto-Oyster to Teacher

This language was spoken by in Hōkī.

Proto-Oyster to HOL

This language was spoken by the HOL party in Šelpa (Sàkwalo).

Proto-Oyster (2057) to Rusted Pearl (4143)

It is unlikely that the Rusted Pearls remained in place for over 2,000 years as their homeland changed hands from one outside power to another. It is not clear that they even continued to speak their ancestral language, because although their tribal identification was indeed passed down for 2,100 years their language may have changed several times as they moved. Note that the writeup simply gives their name in Late Andanese. If they did not remain in place, it is possible that they are part of the #Creamland Intruder branch, perhaps the westernmost part, and therefore their language would be identical to Plume until at least the year 3431.

At any rate, the tribe identifying itself as the Rusted Pearls lived in eastern Subumpam, near but not quite in the same area from which the original Oysters set sail.

Proto-Oyster (2057) to Soap (4205)

The Soap Bubbles considered themselves descendants of the Lazy Palms tribe, not the Oysters, but the Lazy Palms adopted the Oyster language fairly early in their history, and therefore the Soap language can be traced back to the same starting point.

I have always pictured the Soap Bubbles as having spent a long period of time in the southern deserts ("Dahawu"), in the same territory that the Blue Oysters moved to. (Eastward of "Sun Country".) However, they were politically a branch of the Thunderers, having split from them only in 3844, which means that their language is also identical to Plume up until 3431 and identical with Thunder until 3844. Thus the Soapies spent at the very most 350 years in the desert, and are unlikely to have absorbed any significant linguistic influence from the people living there, be they Crystals, aboriginals, or some other group.

Contact with other languages

Some Gold-speaking Pabaps were moved to Lobexon in the year 2057.


  1. The year of this war is given simply as "2800 + f" in STRAWB.DOC and is likely unretrievable. It appears between an event that happened in 3844 and one that happened in 3886, but this does not mean it happened during that time period; indeed this would be impossible as the Thunderers were under Dreamer control for all but the last two years of this time interval. It is likely that it at least postdates the founding of the Thunder party, as the invaders are identified as Thunderers, so it could have happened around 3500 AD.