Lamuan languages

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This article is about the Lamuan languages descended from Khulls and spoken on the planet Teppala. There exists another conlang called Lamu which is not part of this world.

Lámū is a name for the southern branch of the Khulls family, including the languages which are spoken inside Pabap territory. Lamuans are not immigrants; they are an indigenous minority of Khulls speakers who never moved away from their homelands even as they were outgrown by the Pabaps.

Proto-Lamu was spoken around 6800 AD, contemporary with the early stages of classical Poswa. Thus, the modern Lamuan languages have not had much time to differentiate, and are very similar to each other, differing more in vocabulary than in sound changes or grammar.

note, deleted much text that doesnt apply anymore. originally i had merely scrubbed it, but the formatting was messing up. literally every single idea that i had been planning to use has now been discarded, so the family i was originally calling "lamu" will simply have to take on another name.

Proto-Lamuan phonology

Vowel shifts

/a e i o u/ > /a ɜ ɨ ɜ ɨ/, probably unconditionally with no effects at all on the surrounding phonemes. This is because /e/ and /u/ were much rarer than /o/ and /i/, and had in many cases arisen in tandem with consonant shifts, so that, for example, /čo/ never existed in Khulls, since /čo/ > /če/ in an earlier shift.

Soon, /a ɜ ɨ/ in turn shift unconditionally to /a u i/. Tones were eliminated, with the à tone turning into vowel + /ʔ/ and the ā tone remaining as a long vowel but no longer a high-pitched one. á merged into ā very early on, since its only distinction even in Khulls was different tonal sandhi effects on surrounding vowels.

Thus the vowel system of proto-Lamu was /a i u ā ī ū/. The /u/ vowels were possibly not fully rounded, as they were still in the process of changing from /ɜ/.

Consonant shifts

Palatalization and simplification of velars

  • The language palatalized velar consonants that were not labialized, and then delabialized the labialized ones. However, /ḳ ḳʷ/ shifted to /q q/, and resisted palatalization.
  • note, this last shift MUST be conditional, or else /q/ would be more common than /k/.
  • Also there will be a gap of almost no /ći/ and very little /či/, but there will be plenty of /ki/, which would be typologically unusual. So perhaps /kʷi/ > /ćʷi/ > /ći/, part of a pushchain shift that also causes /qi qʷi/ > /ki kʷi/ and probably the rest of the /q/ > /k/ later on.

The workup below assumes /q/ > /k/.

  • /h/ and /x/ both become palatalized to /ś/. It is possible that /h/ could remain, but it is so rare that little difference would be made.
  • /hʷ/ and /xʷ/ become one, although they might remain distinct long enough for conditional shifts to take hold, such as reintrepreting hʷ as /fʷ/ and therefore changing it to /f/ instead in some positions.

Unconditional consonant shifts

  • The nasals /m n ŋ/ remained unchanged.
  • /g/ > /j/ in all positions (normally spelled as /y/).
  • /ʕʷ/'s pronunciation shifted roughly to ʀ, which still contrasted with the voiced velar fricative /g/.
  • /r d z/ > /r/. /ǯ ž/ > /ž/. These shifts happened simultaneously, and were related to the perception of /r/ and /d/ as allophones of each other.


  • /p ṗ b/ changed to /f f v/, but the labialized versions remained as stops. However, this shift did not happen when they occurred before another consonant (a situation that came to be seen as analogous to labialization), or after the nasal /m/. Thus Khulls pampĭsi "small baby" becomes proto-Lamu fampisi. Lastly, the shift also did not occur after the glottal stop, which meant it did not occur after a vowel on the à tone. (This could also be explained as `p > `f > pf > pp.)

Loss of ejectives

The ejectives /ṗ ṭ/ had survived the shift that had removed /ḳ/, but they soon merged in with the corresponding aspirated voiceless stops unconditionally. (Unless they triggered gemination instead.)

Loss of syllabic consonants

All syllabic consonants are lost. If preceded by a vowel, they simply become plain. If not, they change according to the formula /ḷ ṁ ṅ ŋ̇ ṡ ṣ̌/ > /il im in iŋ is iš/. However, this shift occurred later than the shift that changed consonants such as /p/ into /f/ when not before another consonant. Also, the fricatives did not harden into affricates because there was never a vowel before them in Khulls, and therefore never an allophonic glottal stop. Thus Khulls ʕʷŏpṡ "sun" became proto-Lamu ʀɜpis, not *ʀɜfis or *ʀɜfit.

Note that this shift preserves clusters such as /mp/ at the ends of words, so long as the original /ṁp/ was preceded by a vowel. Khulls had a distinction between /ṁp/ ( as in pēmp "pregnant belly") and plain /mp/ (as in imp "to wake up"). The same was true of the less common /nt/ and /ŋk/ clusters.

Other sound changes

  • /hʷ/ might actually be preserved as /f/ rather than the expected /h/ so that the agentive suffix -hʷ would not be such a fragile phoneme. Alternatively, this could simply be a case of lexical subsitution, if the speakers began to use the word (i)f "teacher" as the agentive instead of h "human". It is also possible that /h/ at the end of a syllable would be pronounced closer to [x], but only if either the distinction between /h/ and /x/ is dropped or a conditional sound change of /h/ > /x/ is set up for word-final position.

Tone shifts

The high tone "crystallized" into low tone plus /ʔ/, as in Thaoa. This caused gemination of the following cosnonant except before a fricative, in which case it formed an affricate. This allophonic gemination/affrication was already part of standard Khulls, such that, .e.g. in Khulls /àx/ was always pronounced [àk], but in Lamu it became truly phonemic because the tone contrast disappeared.

The glottal stop was probably lost in final position.

ā and á merged as ā, which lost its tonal contrast but retained its length contrast.

Pharyngealization survived, but was no longer considered a tone. Instead, it was considered to be /g/ in the syllable coda.

NOTE, this doesnt work because a literal /g/ can also occur in the syllable coda and the two are unlikely to merge. /R/ would not work either. It is possible that instead it could merge into a velar consonant of the same manner as the following consonant, with /ŋ/ appearing in word-final position. This would still collide in some cases but not as many.

Thus, all tones had been eliminated.

Summary of phonology

Thus the phonology of proto-Lamu was:

p b m f v t n s ř č š ž ʀ l ć ǵ ś j k ġ ŋ g ʔ h
a ɜ ɨ

There are no diphthongs.

The consonants that could occur word-finally were /p m n ŋ s l ʔ ʕ/, plus those that had resulted from delabialization. Thus, all except some of the palatals.

Consonant that cannot occur wordfinally: /t r č ž ć ǵ ś/, but note that word-final /s/ was allophonically [ʔs] all along and might change to a simple [t].

/q/ might be a mirage, if it shifts to /k/. Likewise, since the true palatals /ć ś/ are more common than the alveopaltals /č š/, they might merge. (/ǵ/ was very rare.)

Note that in the list above, r spells the IPA /ʀ/ phoneme referred to above, and ř spells IPA /r/. This is in keeping with the orthography for Moonshine.

  • /ǵ/ is so rare that it could simply be deleted from the phonology, saying that it merged with /j/. This would make sense since /ǵ/ comes mostly from an allophone of the same phoneme that otherwise became /j/.

Khulls to Proto-Lamu wordlist

This list uses the /a i u/ orthography for the vowels and assumes /q/ > /k/ and /h/ > /x/ (but spelled h). The letter r represents IPA /ʀ/, and the letter ř represents IPA /r/. Note that this list assumes no semantic shifts.

  • ʕʷŏpṡ > rupis "sun"
  • tēnta > tūnta "pepper"
  • ŋàṭi > ŋatti "towel, washcloth"
  • ŋàti > ŋatti "swimsuit, beachwear" (that is, these two words merge, and have to be disambiguated by compounding)
  • Kʷoxʷudas > Kuhiřat (placename; possibly corrupt kʷ to ḳʷ on purpose for folk etymology)
  • kʷō > "bed"
  • pā > "school"
  • papōpa > fafūfa "preschooler, toddler"
  • pʷôn > puŋ "nest" (assumes ʕn > gn > ŋn > ŋ)
  • săbʷ > sab "saddle"
  • xigēs > śiyūt "curly-haired"
  • boé > vuyū "cat"
  • pʷaṗen > pafun "lollipop, lickable candy"
  • psăxʷu > tsahi "eyelash" (assumes /ps/ > /ts/)
  • sṅpà > simpa "to ask for, search for, request"
  • lē > "toddler"
  • lé > "diaper"
  • pʷsŏ > pisu "diaper" (this solves the conflict created above)
  • tákʷi > tāki "palm wine" (unless kʷi > ći)
  • tòṭa > tutta "flowering plant; skirt"
  • xâha > hahha "snow" (if ʕh > hh)
  • xʷūbʷa > hība "flag"
  • xʷàma > hamma "braid of hair"
  • xʷăni > hani "teacher" (replaces Khulls p "teacher")
  • peyèta > fuyutta "blue hedgehog"
  • elinka > ulinća "butterfly"
  • pyî > fiŋ "bubble of air in water"
  • gĭko > yiću "seagull"
  • pṡlăšiġʷis > pislašigit (placename)
  • ḳʷû > kiŋ "urine"
  • šôn > šuŋ "bathroom"
  • xaǯên > hažuŋ "city"
  • kʷŏli > kuli "sleep flower"
  • čê > čuŋ "pants"
  • ṡ > is "sleep"
  • ṣ̌ĕ > išu "day" (possibly make this irregular)
  • ʕʷámp > rāmp "vagina"
  • pʷō > "vagina"
  • pî > fiŋ "vagina" (collides with "bubble")
  • pēmp > fūmp "pregnant belly"
  • lĕma > Luma (a name for God)
  • kʷăkʷ > kak "stone tablet"
  • naʕʷ > nar "thunderstorm"
  • ôṭo > uktu "barnacle"
  • tolp > tulip "wheel"
  • îl > il "lemon" (assumes loss of /ʕ/ in a closed syllable, which may not be correct)
  • imp > imip "to wake up" (possibly BAD)
  • pyĭŋa > fiŋa "swamp, wetland"
  • síkʷ > sīk "spider"
  • xâ > haŋ "cloud"
  • nàma > namma "nectar, honey"
  • hʷàmas > hammat "pillow"
  • misàṗ > misap "tip of the tongue" (assumes that à > ă in a closed syllable)
  • ġʷràgʷa > ġiraġa "man's name"
  • sôpa > sukpa "owl" (or is it suhfa?)
  • làḳil > lakkil "beard" (possibly use ć)
  • xàpemo > happumu "bathtub"
  • àmà > amma "cherry" (unless final /ʔ/ survives)
  • pʷĕ > pu "icecap, glacier, wall of water" (found in placenames)
  • pʷīpe > pīfu "icecap, glacier" (standard form)
  • ʕʷirī > riřī "wooden park bench"
  • ġʷîto > ġiktu "salad bowl"
  • ḳăxi > kaśi "sword"
  • gʷēga > gūya "road" (NOTE: this could be a candidate for a conditional vowel shift such as ūy > ī, which would lead to hiatus)
  • xî > śiŋ "wine"
  • tanči > tanči "wine" (this word was originally a compound of tan "grape" + "wine")
  • kòseyebʷ > ćutsuyub "kneepad" (NOTE: see above)
  • ḳēki > kūći "mud puddle"
  • ḳĭko > ćiću "spill, stain" (assumes early ḳi > ki > ći)
  • bà > va "pine wood"
  • ḳóḳa > kūka "drum"
  • găḳa > yaka "horse"
  • lâ > laŋ "stomach"
  • gōló > yūlū "flower petal"
  • lolí > lulī "to stand up"
  • pʷō ŋìso > pūŋitsu "tampon"
  • ŋìŋon > ŋiŋŋon "menstrual cup"
  • hʷes > hut "war"
  • kekī > ćućī "paper"
  • kūkō > ćīćū "book of prophecy"
  • pàno > fannu "plum"
  • pìlagi > fillayi "purse"
  • nŏġʷ > nuġ "house"

Descendant languages

Some shift the vowels to /a i u/, since there was no palatalization or labialization to pull the vowels to the edges of the vowel space. This shift essentially restores the original system that the Gold language had had more than 4000 years earlier, which makes these languages look especially conservative, but this is false. It is reminiscent of the situation where Moonshine appears to be the only Khulls daughter language that preserves the Khulls á tone, when in fact it lost that tone and then redeveloped it from sequences of other tones.

For consistency, if this shift happens in *all* daughter languages (Lamuan languages share many areal traits), or even most of them, the vowels of the parent language could also be written as /a i u/ with the explanation that the parent language /u/ was very close to schwa.

  • ʀ > /w/ before a vowel, and perhaps in other positions as well. This, too, generally corresponds to its original form in the Gold language, and therefore appears falsely to be very conservative.
  • Development of allophones for vowels, either related to length, or to being in a closed syllable, or both. However, the basic /a i u/ setup generally remains intact at the phonemic level.
  • If allophones are based on vowel length, there are two choices. The simple method would be to do /a i u/ > /a i u/ (i.e. no change), and /ā ī ū/ > /a e o/. This would be in keeping with changes in Palli, although the Lamuan languages are unlikely to have been in contact with Palli. The complex method would be to have a bunch of conditional changes, possibly including vowel harmony, as was the case with Poswa and Pabappa, languages that Lamuans were in intimate contact with. However, Poswa's and Pabappa's changes happened about 2000 years too early to have affected Lamu directly, so the new vowels would need to come from imitation of their speech rather than being actual shared changes.
  • Loss of vowel length in a closed syllable.
  • Japonic-like loss of /h/ unconditionally, quickly followed by unconditional /f/ > /h/ and monophthongization of the vowel sequences created by the first shift.


Interaction with Repilians and allied peoples

Lamuans were more masculine than the Poswobs and Pabaps they lived among. This was a long-standing cultural trait, but was backed by distinct physical characteristics as well. The Lamuans were originally racially diverse, because they were continuations of previously existing tribes of various origins who had all adopted the Khulls language and (mostly) the Crystal religion. But their diversity was drawn mostly from tribes who shared in common a robust body type and a tendency for men to be much taller than women.

The Lamuans saw that all around them lived people who tended to be physically frail, with men scarcely any stronger than their wives, and seemingly acceptive??? of women holding power at the highest levels of society.

The Lamuans did not allow the "effeminate" tribes they lived among to marry into their culture, and Lamuan men who married Poswob or Pabap women were expelled from Lamuan settlements and forced to live the remainder of their lives as members of the culture from which they had taken their wife.

The Lamuans referred to all of the people believed to be too effeminate as Repilians, since Repilia was near the geographical center of the effeminate peoples' homelands and because they saw the Repilians as the most effeminate people of all. This was true in the sense that nearly all of the effeminate peoples had acquired some Repilian blood due to genetic drift, but the Repilians remained as a distinct culture and considered themselves to be just one of many tribal groups in their part of the world. Nevertheless, the term Repilian, when used by Lamuans, soon came to refer to all of the tribes of people whom the Lamuans considered too effeminate.

The Lamuans understood basic genetics and they worried that if Lamuan men were allowed to indulge in their temptations to mate with the often more visually appealing Repilian women, those women would then give birth to sons that would be less masculine than their fathers. The Lamuans went so far as to imprint on their children that a female body type was unattractive, and that their women should be embarrassed if they developed secondary sex characteristics such as large breasts and wide hips as they matured into teenagers. For Lamuans, the ideal female body type was one that mixed masculine and feminine characteristics, such that they were not seen merely as "failed males", and thus retained a distinct identity of their own, but at the same time were distinct from the much more feminine women of the Repilians they lived among.

Treatment of crimes against Repilians

Although they considered Repilians to be unwelcome, they did not consider them morally inferior or subhuman. Lamuan men who wandered into Repilian settlements to have fun beating up Repilians were considered criminals by the Lamuans, and could be punished with expulsion, which would force them to live among the Repilians they had abused. However, Lamuan criminals deported into Repilian territory often found that the Repilians would refuse to punish them for their crimes, as the Repilians were worried that if they tried, they would get beat up even more badly than before.

Intertribal rape was considered a more severe crime than assault. Lamuan men who entered Repilian settlements and raped their women would be arrested when they attempted to return to their homes, since the Lamuans assumed that a Repilian woman would have no reason to lie about being raped. This was considered a crime both against the victim and against the Lamuan people's honor, since they believed that only morally depraved men would even be tempted by the more visually appealing body types of the Repilian women. Thus, such a rapist would not be imprisoned in Repilian territory, where the soft, timid Repilian people would be afraid of being subject to even more rapes, but among the Lamuans themselves, where they would be considered among the least of all prisoners and given the most painful labor to perform in prison.

Abortion was generally legal among the Repilian tribes, although many women who were rape victims chose to carry the baby to term and then raise the child as their own.

Homosexual rape was much less common, but was treated similarly. Repilian men were remarkable for their lack of embarrassment in reporting having been raped by a Lamuan man; this was due to the common cultural trait among Repilians of both sexes to see themselves as weak, and therefore equally rapable by an aggressive intruder.

However, despite the Lamuans' seeming invincibility, they were not as powerful as they often pretended. The Repilians, despite being effeminate and pacifistic, were not as physically small as the Andanese people who had been the majority thousands of years earlier; this was because the Andanese had blended with other tribes. Thus a Lamuan man wandering around a Repilian village beating people up was able to do so primarily because the Repilians were afraid of violence and typically focused on protecting themselves rather than fighting back. On the rare occasions when the Repilian victims did fight back, they often took the Lamuan intruder by surprise and often "won" in the sense that the Lamuan man chose to run away rather than risk injury. It was particularly humiliating for Lamuans to lose a fight in this manner against a Repilian woman. Such a fight was generally assumed to be attempted rape, and was punished as though it had been an actual rape.