The Neokasshi languages are a modern language family descended from Classical Kasshian, or, more precisely, from Common or Old Neokasshi, considered a dialect of Classical Kasshian.
Common Neokasshi was very similar to Classical Kasshian, and the two were mutually intelligible. The term Common Neokasshi covers several centuries, during which there were various small changes.
There were several phonological differences between Common Neokasshi and Classical Kasshian:
- The complex consonants (ch, j, ç) were treated as single phonemes, and thus could be geminated before any vowel.
- /t/ and /d/ were pronounced [ts] and [dz] before i/e/y
- Geminate voiced stops and affricates were replaced by nasal-stop sequences, that is, -bb-, -dd-, -gg-, and -jj- were pronounced as -mb-, -nd-, -ng-, and -nj-
- Later stages lost ng' as a phoneme, replacing it with either ng or n by dialect
- zr was pronounced as r in Late Old Neokasshi
- tw, dw, nw, sw, zw dropped the /w/ in Late Old Neokasshi
- Plural forms of gender prefixes lost (number marked only by -i suffix)
- Many loan-words adopted without a gender-prefix added
- The hidden-consonant paradigm was lost, those nouns becoming geminating.
- Type 2 L-final paradigm was (mostly) lost, generally becoming type 1 L-final, but sometimes vowel-final
- Class IV long-vowels were lost entirely
- For some dialects, alternating nouns changed the absolutive singular from -f/-s/-v/-z to -pa/-ta/-ba/-da and long vowel I/II to -ka/-ga
- Class III long vowel sometimes became simple vowel-final.
- Comparative and superlative were simplified by the adoption of the intensifier prefix mā- with forms (nu)pā-/(nu)pak- for comparative and (nu)lā-/(nu)lak- for superlative.
- In Late Common Neokasshi, gender VI came to be used as an honorific for noblewomen
- Loss of os- prefix
- Loss of prohibitive forms
- Reduced use of fa- and nai-, with increased reliance on perfect and prospective aspects
- Loss of dual in 3rd person
- Change of meanings of 1st person forms; 1st person dual -> 1st person inclusive dual; 1st person paucal -> 1st person dual/plural exclusive; 1st person plural -> 1st person plural inclusive
- Most type 2 l-final verbs become either type 1 or vowel-final, varying by dialect
- Most complex verbs become vowel-final
- Increased importance of animacy hierarchy
- Three main levels: human/non-human/inanimate; highest-animacy noun in the absolutive, ergative used for agent if lower animacy, dative used for patient if lower animacy
After the fall of the Third Empire, dialects of Common Neokasshi began to diverge increasingly, evolving into separate languages, this stage is referred to as Old Post-Imperial Neokasshi, and gradually transitioned into such languages as Old Ivetsian or Old Ratan
Most Neokasshi languages continued to tendency begun in Common Neokasshi towards using absolutive to mark a higher-animacy noun. Some lost absolutive, however, retaining ergative to mark agents and dative to mark patients, and marking the subjects of intransitive verbs with either one depending on usage. Verbal agreement is typically with the absolutive in those that retain a distinct absolutive, while in those that have lost it, verbal agreement tends to be with the agent. The gender system was reorganized in various ways in many descendants (and sometimes reduced). Simplification of the case system also took place in many branches. Verbal prefixes tended to be lost, tense and voice being marked by aspects or auxiliaries, and the conditional prefixes replaced by particles. Word order remained verb-initial in most languages, but some shifted to SVO or SOV order. A phonemic split between i/e and u/o took place in all Neokasshi languages, although it was probably still allophonic in Old Post-Imperial Neokasshi. Most Neokasshi languages remain highly inflected. Some languages have changed the sapient/non-sapient distinction in verbs to an animate/inanimate distinction. Articles have been acquired in many branches.