Poswa phonology

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Poswa's phonology is much more complex than that of Pabappa. Most words begin with a single consonant. Very few words begin with vowels, and there are only a few permissible initial clusters. However, note that Poswa considers labialized consonants such as /pw/, /bw/, etc to be single consonants rather than clusters.

Words that begin with a vowel generally do not follow that vowel with a consonant cluster.

Contents

Consonants

There are 31 consonants, all in pairs of plain vs labialized, except /w/, which is considered a labialized version of silence, and the pair /tš dž/, which have no labialized forms. The others are /p b m f v t n s l š ž k g r/ and their labialized counterparts.

Bilabials:       p  b  m       (w)
Labiodentals:             f  v
Alveolars:       t     n  s     l
Postalveolars:   tš dž    š  ž
Velars:          k  ġ   
Uvulars:                        ʀ  

There is no bare /d/, but [d] appears as an allophone of /ġ/ when in the cluster /nġ/.

/tš/ and /dž/

Sometimes /tš/ and /dž/ are not considered proper consonants, instead being analyzed as clusters, which would reduce the number of consonants to 29. This is because they cannot occur in word-final position. Nevertheless, word-initial /tš/ and /dž/ have survived, whereas the other clusters /ps/ and /pš/ have been reduced to /p/ in word-initial and often also medial positions. If /tš/ and /dž/ are analyzed as clusters, they are usually analyzed as /t/ + /š/ and /t/ + /ž/, because there is no /d/ in the language. However, this presents a problem, because Poswa does not allow dissimilar voicing in clusters.

Labiodentals

The consonants /f v/ are labiodental, but /fʷ vʷ/ are rounded and bilabial. /fʷ/ is very rare at the beginning of a word, except in loans, because the primeval /fʷ/ changed to a simple /w/.

Some speakers living in mountainous areas of Nama pronounce the labiodentals as simple dentals (IPA [θ ð]) instead. Other speakers in the mountains pronounce them sometimes as dentals and sometimes as labiodentals, depending on the history of the word. This distinction represents the original situation of the language; until fairly recently, Poswa had a four-way distinction between /f v θ ð/, which has now been resolved in the standard dialect by merging all of them as labiodentals. Speakers who maintain the distinction can therefore distinguish between word pairs that are spelled the same, since the standard orthography is based on the dialect of Blop, which has no pure dentals. This is one reason why there are a large number of homophones in Poswa containing the sound /v/.

Dorsal consonants

Poswa's dorsal series consists of /g k r/ and their labialized counterparts. Of these, /g/ is the rarest of the six in all positions because it changed to /dž/ in most environments and this change happened very recently. Presently most plain /g/ is either from /gʷ/ before a front vowel or is a loanword. The /r/ is canonically a uvular approximant, but its pronunciation is very weak, and can simply be a non-syllabic schwa in the coda. Likewise, coda /rʷ/ is phonetically [w].

Note that unlike most languages of Teppala, the sound spelled as g here is a true IPA [g] rather than a fricative.

Sibilants

Poswa has six sibilants: /s š ž sʷ šʷ žʷ/. None of them assimilate in voicing when placed next to opposite-voiced consonants; however, such clusters are very rare in native words.

Note that Poswa allows unusual clusters which are difficult for foreigners to pronounce. For example, pušse "screw" contrasts with pusše "cave" and pušše "your screw".

Labialization in syllable-final position

Labialization is robust and can be contrastive everywhere: rulpu "face" /rulpu/ and rulpu "bandage, napkin" /rulʷpu/ are not homophones and not even considered a rhyme. Another such pair is peftum "tantrum, frenzy, spasm"[1] and peftum "arrow, weapon".

Consonant gemination

In theory, all consonants can be geminated across syllable boundaries. However, this is only because Poswa considers the labiovelar approximant /w/ to be a labialized version of silence (/∅/), meaning that it is its own geminate. This analysis is common in neighboring languages that also have contrastive labialization, even those that are only distantly related to Poswa.

Any consonant cluster that is acceptable at the beginning of a syllable can have its first element become a geminate and still be a valid cluster.

Labialization across syllable boundaries

Labialization can change across a syllable boundary, and therefore across an otherwise geminate consonant. For example, the word pappa "forest, grassland" is phonetically /papʷpa/, with a labialized /pʷ/ at the end of the first syllable but a plain /p/ immediately after it at the beginning of the second syllable. This is not distinguished in Romanization.

However, note that labialization cannot change within a cluster that does not straddle a syllable boundary. Thus, for example, a cluster like /pʷl/ at the beginning of a syllable is impossible; it would instead change to /pʷlʷ/, which is always spelled plw.

Historically, clusters such as /pʷl/ that straddled syllable boundaries were pushed to the second syllable and therefore became /pʷlʷ/ by the previously stated sound rule. However, in modern Poswa, one occasionally finds clusters of dissimilar labialization due to compounding. These are rare, but not prohibited by the sound rules so long as the syllable boundary comes between the two consonants. For example, the word pypwabluvu "to peel a banana by hand" is phonetically /'pʷ(ə).pʷabʷ.lu.vu/, with a heavy syllable /pʷabʷ/ exhibiting labialized consonants at both ends, followed immediately by another consonant which does not.

Sound rules affecting consonant gemination

Poswa has a sandhi process that simplifies all geminate consonants in a word after the first. That is to say, words obeying this rule can have only one geminate consonant. This applies to all types of geminates, be they stops, nasals, fricatives, or liquids, but does not apply to other types of consonant clusters.

Thus, the compound of talap "face" and bavva "back section" is talabbava "later half of a period of time".

However, words can disobey this rule for any of several reasons:

  • Words which are dynamic compounds, not intended to be common words, and are not perceived by listeners as indivisible concepts will often disobey the rule: nappapuppos, "circle lake dam", is not considered a unitary concept because there is nothing about such a lake that will make a dam built on it unique in a way that other dams are not. Indeed, a compound like this is more commonly seen as two separate words, nappa puppos, but may be united into a single word during a conversation about various local dams.
  • Likewise, compounds in which the second element is perceived as more salient than the first may also keep their second gemination: puppuppo "my snow tire" has two geminates because the second element, puppo "my wheel" is considered more important to the meaning of the word than the first element, which means snowshoe.
  • Compounds in which the first element is only one syllable long are usually not degeminated, unless the entire word is itself often used as the second element of a compound.
  • Loanwords are usually not degeminated.

Vowels

Poswa has a six-vowel system, /a e i o u ə/, with no distinctions of tone or length; a system that is common on their continent. For example, it is the same system found in Thaoa. The order of the vowels in the native Poswob alphabet is the same as above, an order taken from Pabappa.

The sixth vowel is spelled y but corresponds to a vowel similar to the IPA schwa /ə/. For convenience, it is here referred to as /y/ in phonetic notation as well.

Poswa is a firmly "consonant-strong" language, in the sense that its vowels do not trigger separate allophones of its consonants whatsoever, but its consonants strongly affect the pronunciation of its vowels. This is a trait shared with Khulls, Moonshine, and most other languages north of the Popoppos mountains.

The scarcity of /y/

The vowel y is mostly an allomorph of consonantal labialization, appearing when the reduction of a previously existing /o u y/ to simple labialization was not possible, generally due to being blocked by consonant clusters on one or both sides, or by occurring at the end of a word after a cluster. For example, the word puppypem has a true syllabic /y/ because the expected sound change to *pupppem could not occur. (Triple /p/ did briefly occur at one stage in the development of the language, but both before and after this stage, it was illegal, and remains so today.)

However, there are a small number of words that have /y/ in a position in which it could have collapsed to form a legally permissible consonant cluster but did not. One example is pampyte "(to) promise". One might expect the /y/ to reduce, since /mpʷt/ is a valid consonant cluster, and then for the /t/ to drop out due to the sound rule mpt ---> mp, thus leaving /mpʷ/. However, in this word the /y/ remains as a full vowel. Words like these are always either compounds or words that had previously had denser consonant clusters. Pampyte is of the latter type; it was earlier spelled pampfyte, a cluster from which the -y- could not be dropped.

A three-way minimal contrast exists:

pappa "medicine, cure, drug", pronounced /pappa/
pappa "forest, grassland with trees", pronounced /papʷpa/
papypa "pineapple", pronounced /papəpa/

Diphthongs

The only firm diphthong in Poswa is /ae/, which is pronounced, true to its expected value, as [ae]. It is rarer than the pure vowels. In some dialects in the Poswa-Pabappa border highland areas, /ae/ is instead pronounced as a seventh vowel, IPA [æ] (spelled as [ä] below for visual distinctness). Lastly, some Pabappa natives who learned Poswa as a second language pronounce it as a sequence of two vowels, [ai], as illustrated by Poswa loanwords into Pabappa such as pusai "office, workplace" from Poswa pusae.

Diphthongs and vowels behave identically, meaning that syllables with a diphthong as the syllable peak can still end in a coda consonant.

Falling diphthongs and vowel sequences

Poswa allows the vowel sequences /ia ie io iu/, which are pronounced by most speakers as falling diphthongs (that is, the /i/ part of the diphthong is longer), but by other speakers, particularly in the southern states, as vowel sequences. This is due to influence from Pabappa, where all such vowel combinations are pronounced as two-syllable sequences. The origin of these sequences is a merger of previously existing diphthongs and previously existing vowel sequences.

In some mountainous regions of the Poswob empire, they are pronounced as two-syllable vowel sequences when the first vowel is stressed, but as falling diphthongs when the first vowel is unstressed. Since all words are accented on their initial syllable, this is equivalent to saying they are pronounced with hiatus when occurring in an initial syllable.

Note that these diphthongs are never pronounced with the palatal glide [j]; unlike most languages in its area, all of Poswa's diphthongs stress the first element.

Neither /iy/ ([iə]) nor /iae/ occurs in Poswa, even in loanwords. /iy/ does not occur because /y/ cannot occur after a vowel, and /iae/ does not occur because Poswa only has falling diphthongs; although the spelling -iae- sometimes appears for etymological reasons, it is pronounced /ie/ in most dialects. Dialects that have [ä] for /ae/ will have [iä] for this sequence; dialects that pronounce all diphthongs as vowel sequences will have [iai].

Delabialization before /i/-diphthongs

Poswa has undergone a recent sound change that delabialized all consonants except word-initial /w/ when occurring before one of the diphthongs beginning with /i/. Thus, for example, potia "to lick candy" emerged from an earlier potwia, and wawie "curly-haired" is pronounced [waje] by most speakers. Nevertheless, syllables like /tʷia/ are still permitted by the phonotactics of the language, and occur in placenames, personal names, and occasionally compounds.

Vocalization of coda consonants

The consonant /rʷ/ is pronounced [w] after a vowel, and thus words like pwar "bubble" can be analyzed as [pʷaw], and thus as containing diphthongs. However this is a property of allophony and these words are not considered by most speakers to contain diphthongs because they cannot take additional consonants in the syllable coda. That is, a word like

Pwaem!
On the bottom!

Is a valid word, but a word like *pwarm cannot exist. Instead, the locative case of pwar "bubble" is

Pwarom!
In the bubble!

Likewise, the sequence -ea- occasionally occurs in Poswa, but this is just a nonstandard phonetic respelling of -er- in words such as peapup "name" and weaby "to surround"; that is, Poswa's /r/ sound has an allophone similar to [a] when occurring after the vowel /e/. But because this is still an /r/, there cannot be a further consonant in the coda of such a syllable; that is, a hypothetical words like *weamby could not exist.

Resolution of vowel sequences

Very few Poswa words begin with vowels due to a historical sound change which inserted a consonant which later became /b/ at the beginning of a vowel-initial syllable if that syllable was accented. At that time, most words were accented on the initial syllable. Nevertheless, a few native words beginning with vowels do exist, and when noun compounds are made with these words as the second element, sound rules apply in order to resolve the illegal vowel sequences. Below is a chart detailing these rules, with nouns as example words:


Vowel Sequences
apa etto ipi oba umu
apa afapa apaetto[2] apaepi afoba apomu
pupe puplapa pupletto puplipi puploba puplumu
ipi iplapa ipletto iplipi iploba iplumu
etto ettarapa ettaretto ettaripi ettaroba ettarumu
umu ubrapa ubretto ubripi ubroba ubrumu
plae plalapa plaletto plalipi plaloba plalumu

Note that the vowel /y/ is not on the chart because words that end in it are considered to end in an allophone of /w/, and because no native words begin with it. Likewise, very few native words begin with the diphthong /ae/, and those that do, such as aežo "expansion, buildability" behave fully as if they began with the simple /a/ vowel.

NOTE
There ma be cme residual of the "KARAOKE shift" whereby all vbowels become high before other vowe;ls. that is, they become /i/ or /u/.

Allophones

Like other descendants of the Gold language, Poswa remains a firmly "consonant-strong" language, in the sense that it is the consonants that determine the allophones of surrounding vowels rather than the other way around. Consonants can also influence the pronunciation of other consonants, but the rules for how consonants interplay with each other are better treated as morphological processes than as allophones, because the same sequence can resolve in different ways depending on context. For example, in verb endings and certain other compounds, a morpheme beginning with b- will have it devoice to p- when following a morpheme ending in one of the voiceless sibilants s sʷ šʷ; however, when forming plurals of nouns, in the same consonant sequence, the b- may dominate instead and simply delete the preceding -s frm the stem of the noun, while if the noun ends in or šʷ yet a third solution appears; the b- deletes itself rather then devoicing or deleting the preceding consonant.

Allophones of consonants

Consonants are not affected by vowels in any way; the only allophones of consonants are those determined by the presence of other consonants. Thus one can say

Pupipupa pepo!
Universal foam!

And every /p/ will be pronounced the same. (The rare vowel /y/ can cause labialization, but this is considered sandhi, since the consonant actually changes from /p/ to /pʷ/, rather than shifting to a different allophone.)

The liquids /l/ and /r/

The liquid consonants /l/ and /r/ have voiceless allophones after a voiceless consonant (most commonly /p/, and often /s/). This is important because the mutated forms of these consonants are normally /ž/ and /b/ respectively, but when the original consonant is voiceless, the voicelessness spreads to the mutated forms as well, producing /š/ and /p/, a change which has become phonemicized.

When the triple consonant -ppp- appears in the underlying form of a word, the third /p/ is deleted. Thus, for example, the mutated form of the verb tšippra "to pick out one's reflection (in a mirror)" is tšippa-, not *tšipppa-. This oddly specific verb appears in one of the words for homosexuality, but can also be used literally:

Sampama tšippel.
The octopus recognized its reflection in the mirror.

Note that vowels have no effect whatsoever on the pronunciation of consonants. Every consonant is pronounced exactly the same regardless of which vowels come before and after it; allophones are determined only by the presence of other consonants.

Labial fricatives

Poswa distinguishes between the labiodental fricatives /f v/ and the rounded bilabial fricatives /fʷ vʷ/, which in turn are both distinct from the rounded bilabial approximant /w/. However, the labiodentals become pure bilabials [ɸ β] before a bilabial consonant, mostly commonly /b/ or /p/. Thus the consonants in bavbebi "I hurt you" are pronounced entirely with the lips. In this position, these consonants are still distinct from /fʷ vʷ/ because they are not rounded.

The voiced velar stop /g/

Poswa has a voiced velar stop /g/, although it is extremely rare in native words. It comes mostly from its parent language's /ŋ/ sound, but most occurrences of /ŋ/ in the parent language correspond to Poswa /dž/, /v/, or the vowel /i/. However, /g/ does appear in a small number of words.

After the alveolar nasal /n/, Poswa's /g/ takes on the allophone [d]. That is, unlike most languages in the area, in the consonant sequence /ng/, the /n/ pulls the /g/ forward in the mouth rather than the /g/ pulling the /n/ further back. Note that /nk/ does not occur in native words.

Allophones of vowels

Vocalic allophones are primarily determined by their position with respect to labialized consonants. Vowels are pronounced with greater lip-rounding before a labialized consonant in a closed syllable. Thus, popip "sponge" sounds like IPA [popypʷ]. However, labialized consonants have no significant effect on the pronunciation of a following vowel; they simply add a /w/ offglide to the beginning of that vowel, even if that vowel is itself already rounded.

Each vowel has three main allophones. One is for open syllables and is the commonest of the three. The second is for closed syllables ending in a plain (nonlabialized) consonant. The third is for closed syllables ending in a labialized consonant. The consonant /rʷ/ tends to be pronounced [w] in syllable-final position, and could thus be characterized as a fourth possibility, namely an open syllable ending in a labialized "consonant". However, no dialect treats this situation differently from the third allophone; vowels in this position are pronounced with their rounded allophone, which may or may not allow for the perception of an audible [w] glide after the vowel.

IPA descriptions of the allophones of the vowels can be applied fairly accurately to all dialects of Poswa, since there is very little variation in pronunciation, even of the allophones, between the different dialects of the language.

  • The vowel a in isolation or in an open syllable is pronounced as a cardinal IPA vowel [a], with no variation between stressed and unstressed syllables. It is slightly centralized, approaching [ɐ], in a closed syllable followed by a nonlabialized consonant, except if that consonant is a nasal followed by a stop, when it retains its full open pronunciation of [a]. Before a closed syllable ending in a labialized consonant, the pronunciation resembles IPA cardinal [ɔ]. Note that, in Romanization, labialization is not usually indicated in closed syllables, so in a Romanized Poswa text the vowel spelled {a} will sometimes be pronounced [ɔ] instead of [a], with no indication in the spelling as to when this happens. For example, tažžus "thigh" sounds like [tɔžʷžus].
  • The vowel e in isolation or in an open syllable is pronounced as an IPA cardinal [e], with no variation between stressed and unstressed syllables. In closed syllables before a nonlabial consonant, it is lowered and centralized somewhat, approaching a vowel between schwa and IPA [ɜ]. Before a closed syllable ending in a labialized consonant, the vowel strongly resembles IPA cardinal [ø] although it is sometimes a bit lower, which can be represented as [ø̞].
  • The vowel i in isolation or in an open syllable is a true IPA cardinal [i] in both stressed and unstressed syllables. In closed syllables before a nonlabial consonant, it is lowered and centralized, resembling IPA [ɪ]. However, there is much less movement if the coda is a nasal followed by a stop in the next syllable. Before a closed syllable ending in a labialized consonant, /i/ shifts to a cardinal IPA [y], retaining its position at the top of the vowel chart (unlike in other closed syllables) but becoming fully rounded. Note that this vowel is never confused with the Poswa vowel y, which is used for an unrelated sound whose symbol is not related to its IPA value.
  • The vowel o in isolation or in an open syllable resembles IPA [o], although it is usually somewhat less rounded. A more precise transcription of the vowel in IPA could be [o̜]. For legibility, however, a simple [o] can be used, since there is no other [o] vowel in Poswa, even as an allophone. In a closed syllable before a nonlabial consonant, it is lowered and unrounded to a vowel strongly resembling IPA cardinal [ʌ], which resembles the vowel in English cut. Before a closed syllable ending in a labialized consonant, /o/ takes on additional lip-rounding, becoming rounder than the cardinal IPA vowel, and could be represented as [o̫] or [o̹].
  • The vowel u in isolation or in an open syllable resembles IPA [u]. Unlike all other vowels, u is modified when it follows a labialized consonant, becoming lowered and slightly less rounded. Also unlike other vowels, there is no significant audible difference between the open-syllable allophone and the allophone for closed syllables before a nonlabial consonant. In closed syllables before a labialized consonant, however, the vowel is pronounced as a very strongly rounded [u], more so than the cardinal IPA vowel, which could be represented as [u̫] or [u̹] for the variant following plain consnants and [ʊ̫] or [ʊ̹] for the variant following labialized consonants. This vowel often sounds somewhat like IPA [y] despite its different manner of articulation.
  • The vowel y in isolation or in an open syllable resembles IPA cardinal [ɨ]. Thus, there is a four-way contrast between high vowel allophones in open syllables: [i ɨ ʊ u]. Poswa y is the rarest vowel, and words featuring y in a closed syllable ending in a non-labialized consonant are so rare that there is no established standard pronunciation; most speakers simply retain the open-syllable pronunciation here while others merge it with [ɪ], the corresponding allophone of /i/ in this position. Before a rounded consonant in a closed syllable, nearly all speakers merge this vowel with the corresponding allophone of /u/, which is [u̫], an extra-rounded version of IPA [u]. Thus, pyp "insect" is pronounced [pu̫pʷ].

Note on syllable boundaries

Note that single consonants between vowels, including labialized ones, are invariably coupled with the following vowel, and have no effect on the pronunciation of the preceding vowel. Thus, both of the vowels in lapwa "flying insect" sound like cardinal IPA [a] sounds. Sequences of a nasal plus a following stop also couple with the following syllable for the purpose of analyzing allophones of preceding vowels, but in other ways, they behave as ordinary closed syllables.

Syllable structure

Every syllable has the same permitted structure, regardless of whether the syllable is initial, medial, or final. However, when Poswa borrows foreign words, it adapts them to Poswa's grammar, which means that they must fit into an inflection paradigm native to the language. This means that many otherwise permitted syllable structures never occur at the end of a word root. For example, the first syllable in žotte "stomach" ends with a -t, but no native word, not even a verb, can end in -t because there is no nominal declension pattern for such a word. A foreign word ending in -t would therefore be borrowed with final -p.

Syllabic division of consonant clusters

Medial consonant clusters are divided according to the rules of the syllable structure above, with precedence given to divisions that create open syllables. Thus for example, the word pupsa "problem, flaw, hole" is divided as pu·psa, not pup·sa, even though both divisions are permitted by the syllable structure. All polysyllabic morphemes will front-load syllables in this way whenever the possibility occurs. However, compound words with transparent morpheme boundaries will keep the morphemes in separate syllables: an ad-hoc compound word such as poppupsapa "to strike with a knife; to cut" splits its syllable as pop·pup·sa·pa, because it is a compound of poppup "knife" and sapa "to strike, hit".

On the other hand, compounds whose second element begins with a vowel or w are pronounced as if the final consonant of the preceding morpheme were the initial consonant of the second morpheme: mampomobompa "ambush" is syllabified as mam·po·mo·bom·pa, even though it is a compound of mampom "camouflaged, hidden" and obompa "surprise attack".

Labialized consonants

Labialized consonants (pw, bw, tw, etc) are treated as indivisible single phonemes rather than as clusters. Thus, even when a word ending in an -m is compounded with a word beginning in w-, the resulting -mw- goes entirely with the trailing syllable.

Syllable-final /m/

The bilabial nasal /m/ is very common at the end of a syllable, as it was more resistant to sound changes than most other consonants. Long sequences of syllables ending with -m are possible, as in the sentence

Pempambom pampomblembwambam.
Because the sailor was in the wine bottle shop.

Sandhi and other morphonological processes

Poswa does not have extensive sandhi. What exists is difficult to untangle from morphological processes, since analogy has led sandhi changes to extend to environments in which they did not originally occur.

Consonant mutation

Poswa has several active processes of consonant mutation.

Palatal mutation

The most important by far derives historically from sequences of consonants followed by the vowel /i/ before another vowel. This is called batšies popožaliempa. These changed into palatalized consonants, and then gradually, by steps, changed into other consonants. Today there are no palatalized consonants in Poswa, and many of the formerly palatalized consonants are today pronounced in ways that give little evidence of their former pronunciation. For example, the regular reflex of the previously existing /rʲ/ is /b/.


Base Mutated Lab. Lab. Mut.
p f pw pi
b b bw bi
m v mw mi
f f fw fi
v v vw vi
i w wi
t f tw ti
n v nw ni
s š sw si
š š šw ši
ž ž žw ži
l ž lw li
k kw ki
g gw gi
r b rw ri


Labialized consonants could be affected by the palatal mutation, as well, but here the transformation was much simpler, since the labialization itself was palatalized, leaving the basic consonant sound unaffected. The result of this process was that the labialization disappeared, and the full vowel /i/ remained in its place. Note that although the sequence /wi/ is pronounced [wi] in most environments, when it occurs between two vowels the [w] is indeed swallowed, leaving a phonetic [j] sound that is not considered an independent phoneme in Poswa. Thus wawia "playground" is pronounced [waja].

Some consonants may seem to have more than one mutated form, because of sound changes that caused certain clusters to become single consonants, and because of voicing assimilation for liquid consonants following voiceless consonants. For convenience, in the table at left the basic consonants are each shown paired with their labialized counterparts.

Consonant clusters mutate according to the paradigm of their outermost member. In many cases, previously existing consonant clusters have become worn down through sound change into single consonants; these still faithfully behave as they originally did, although in most cases the mutated form of the cluster is also worn down into a single consonant. Nevertheless, the previously existing outer consonant shields the remaining inner consonant from the sound change. Thus, for example, the mutated form of a syllable-initial cluster /ps/ is /pš/, as one would predict from the table, but the mutated form of a previously existing syllable-initial /ps/ that has been worn down into /p/ is also /p/, because the same sound change that removed the outer -s also removed every outer . These are called wet syllables (see below).

Note that in the consonant clusters /pr/ and /pl/, the liquids have voiceless allophones, and therefore their mutated forms are respectively /pp/ and /pš/, the latter of which simplifies to /p/ in many environments.

Post-nasal mutation

After the bilabial nasal /m/, consonants undergo a different mutation. This process is not universal, but occurs in most environments, and in some areas of grammar has been analogized to areas where it would not occur organically. For example, all locative verbs trigger the mutation, since they can only occur after a syllable-final /m/, but the mutation has been generalized to the temporal verbs which only occur after a syllable-final /s/, which would not ordinarily trigger the mutation.

Wet syllables

Wet syllables (pompamba twom) are syllables satisfying one of a few criteria:

  • Syllables beginning with the voiceless bilabial stops /p/ and /pʷ/, but which historically began with the consonant clusters ps pš pf and their labialized counterparts.
  • Syllables beginning with /ps pš pf/ in the present day, but which are susceptible to losing the fricatives in certain grammatical operations. In some environments, they lose the fricative offglide and retain just the p.

These syllables are called wet syllables because the consonant clusters /ps pš pf/ and their labialized counterparts are evocative of the sound of flowing water. In early Poswa, there was a word pys which indeed meant "flowing water", and many words began with /ps/ or one of the other clusters. In modern Poswa, however, the fricatives have mostly disappeared, and the word spoken of above survives only as part of a compound, pypo, which itself occurs mostly paired up with words in longer compounds such as pypopuwep "waterfall".

Nevertheless, the fricatives do still sometimes appear, and the syllables are still spoken of as wet syllables because they behave differently in certain grammatical processes and were until recently spelled with a different row of letters in the native syllabary.

The loss of the fricatives is mostly a historical process, and speakers do not need to think of it, but it does come into play when conjugating verbs and forming certain compounds.

For example, papsa means "white", and one can say

Bibabatšo papsa.
The top of my tongue is white.

However, if used as a compound, the papsa word is unstressed, and therefore one says

Bibabappapwa.
White (top of) tongue. (A symptom of candidiasis).

Since color words are nearly always used as adjectives, and all have the same historical -(y)s- infix, analogy has led them to be sometimes used without the -(y)s- even in stressed form. Generally, the -s- is retained when a color word is used as a noun. For example, one might say

Parobwemopwe apwa babuba.
The red cookie is hot.

But

Apsa babuba.
The red one is hot.

Wet syllables are important to recognize, especially in nouns, because when the last syllable of the stem of a noun is wet, it conjugates differently than one would otherwise predict. For example, in early Poswa the commonest word for "world" was pupsipšu. Today, however, the last two syllables have become wet, meaning that the word has become pupipu. Many of the inflected forms of the word are the same as what one would expect from a typical noun with this final syllable; for example, the accusative is pupipup:

Pupipupo prombalabo.
I control the world.

But in other forms, where one might expect the final -p- to mutate to an -f-, it remains -p-, because the mutated form of -pš- has always been -pš- itself, and therefore both clusters changed to -p- in the modern language.

Wet syllables in initial position

Historically, the wet clusters ps- and pš- occurred in initial position, but they have both changed to a simple p-. On the other hand, pf- still exists. /ps/ and /pš/ are still considered valid syllable onsets, because Poswa allows all onsets that occur within words to also appear word-initially, but there are no words beginning with these clusters in modern Poswa apart from placenames and reborrowings from archaic dialects that did not undergo the shift. For example, a mountain in the southern extreme of the Poswob Empire is known as Psempsepos, "Camel Mountain", which would be Pempepos if it had been named in the standard Poswa dialect.

Similarly, a few short words such as psu "music" and pša "imagination, daydream" survived in dialects that did not undergo the sound change, but disappeared in standard Poswa because they would have become indistinct from grammatical particles. However, mainstream Poswa restored the words to the lexicon by reborrowing from the southern dialects. Nevertheless, short words like these appear mostly in compounds, since monosyllables that end in vowels tend to merge with each other when inflected.

Wet syllables in initial position cannot be affected by suffixes, but, even after changing to a simple p-, they still affect other syllables in the word differently than do ordinary syllables beginning in p-.

Similar phenomena

The consonant cluster -tf- behaves in a similar fashion to the wet syllables, but is not considered to be one of them because /tf/ can only occur over a syllable boundary, with no other consonant preceding it. That is, words like bampfa "gas" and blolpša "license, passport" exist, but a word like *bantfa or *boltfa is impossible.

Likewise, a similar phenonemon happens with the consonant cluster -nt- by itself; it is not considered to form wet syllables by itself, but its mutated version does: the present progressive form of panta "to cry" is pampa. The sound change involved here is nt ---> nf ---> mf ---> mpf ---> mp (although the middle three steps are usually considered as two, by omitting /mf/).

Deaspiration

A related sound change occurring in only a few words involved the deaspiration of /p/ when occuring after a stressed syllable in the same environment in which wet syllables were losing their fricatives, if the previous syllable also began with a voiceless stop. This deaspirated /p/ resembled a [b], and it soon became /b/. This change is responsible for words like pambam "edge, side, face" from earlier pampam. However, this sound change occurred in only a few words, because by definition it was restricted to occurring in the second syllable of a word, and only when that word's first syllable began with a voiceless stop and ended with /m/.

Tasty syllables

By analogy with the voiceless p- and its associated consonant clusters, one can also talk about tasty syllables (pompamba blappsam), a similar consonant alternation involving syllables beginning with b-. This name is formed by analogy with the many words for foods that begin with bl-. However, these consonant alternations are less frequent and never occur at the beginning of a word unless that word was historically the second or later element of a compound.

The origin of the pattern of many words for food beginning with bl- is the ancient Gold language noun class system. Foods were marked by the prefix mi-. Normally, all noun class prefixes were lost, but in a few words, particularly those whose stems began with vowels, the prefix mi- changed to bl- and was not recognized by the speakers as being the same prefix. There was a similar noun class prefix, pi-, for drinks, but this did not survive into the modern language because even its sound-changed version still resembled the preserved version enough to be recognized by the speakers as the same prefix.

Morphophonology

Among scholars, Poswa is treasured for its extremely aggressive sound rules, which seemingly get more extreme the longer a word they are used to build. For example, someone unexpectedly late for work could say

Babioppompompibopom.
babom-wi-pys-abo-dži-wompub-abo-wi-t<ab>a-abo-dži
bed-ACC-find-INTR.1ps-LOC-sleep-INTR.1ps-ACC-fail<CAUS>-INTR.1ps-LOC
Because I couldn't sleep on the bed I just got.

While the sound rules involved in this extreme construction seem impossible for speakers to remember, in fact Poswobs have no trouble at all because they are never taught the underlying structure of words like this to begin with; they simply think of the surface form of the word. That is to say, Poswob children learn babom "bed" and babiop "bed-ACC" without thinking of the underlying form babom wi.

Onomatopoeia and expressive words

Onomatopoeia

There are relatively few onomatopoeic words in Poswa. Those that do exist tend to be new coinages, and historically, onomatopoeic words have tended not to remain in the language for a long time.

Onomatopoeia often makes use of rare allophones of the phonemes of Poswa in order to imitate sounds outside its basic phonology. For example, the common word ger /gerʷ/ "cat" may not sound much like a cat's meow, but given that Poswa uses its /g/ to loan foreign words with [ŋ], and that Poswa does not have vowel length, the intended pronunciation [ŋeeeeeeeeeeew] at least begins a closer approach to the sound being imitated. Likewise, of /ofʷ/, for a dog or a wolf, sounds more convincing given its intended pronunciation [of], with a sharper [f] than the phonotactic rules of Poswa allow.

The word bižub can be used to convey the meaning of "to make a noise like ..." Thus the word for a cat meowing is not just ger, but gerwižub, and with conjugation one would say

Polapufo gerwižibi.
My cat meowed.

Classic examples of onomatopoeic words are:


Apapi amnebebi.
I ate the cherries.
Šošši napwam.
I splashed in the puddle.
  • mamma "nose"

Some words, though not originally onomatopoeic, have become so as their meanings have changed over time.

Other words, which originally were onomatopoeic, have lost some of their similarity to the sounds they represent due to sound changes. One example is pypo "running water", which was originally pyspso, a word containing two wet syllables. Other examples are:

Wiwibebi džopfabbiep.
I blew on the candles.
Šišibi.
I laughed.
Was bammamempipwop fimbvafebel.
The wind blew me into the fence.
  • šossi "cold"

Words describing wind, cold weather, and rushing water often have twin forms in which the consonant -š- alternates with -f- and -w-; these go back to the parent language, Babakiam, where a grammatical process operating on these two consonants led both forms to appear in different environments. Though that grammatical process is no longer in operation, in many words whose sound was evocative of the things they represented, both forms survived.

Consonant symbolism and expressive use of rare consonants

The most commonly used consonants in Poswa are /p/, /b/, and /m/. In general, the further forward in the mouth a consonant is, the more common it is. Thus, the velar stops /k/ and /g/ are very rare, and any words containing a /k/ or /g/ stand out sharply from the rest of any sentence they appear in.

Indeed, most occurrences of the Roman letter k or g in Poswa are actually examples of the phonemes /kʷ/ and /gʷ/, which are considered to be separate consonants in Poswa. Whereas labialized consonants in general are less common than their plain counterparts, for velar consonants, they are actually more common because sound changes have turned most /k/ into /t/, /p/, or /w/, and most /g/ into /dž/ or a vowel hiatus, but both sets of sound changes affected the labialized forms of these consonants less frequently.


Remnants of the Gold consonant gender system

In the Gold language, gender was indicated by the consonants in a word, and there were eight genders. Gender was used both literally and metaphorically at this stage. The word for husband was ṭutə; the word for wife was mumhə. These words have survived in modern Poswa as tuti and mumi respectively, and most Poswobs are aware that the resemblance of the two words is no coincidence. However, the gender system ceased operation thousands of years ago and nobody could coin a new word by changing consonants such as this and expect to be understood.

In the Gold language and its early descendants, the consonant gender system became increasingly messy due to sound changes, and it stopped being operative in Babakiam when a series of sound changes eliminated many intervocalic consonants entirely. The t and m shown above were preserved, but many other consonants were lost, and some sound changes caused certain consonants to merge with others, frustrating the gender system.

Use of consonants in early Poswa to show metaphorical gender-like traits

When the gender system ceased to be used for literal purposes, an extension of the setup used for metaphorical expressions remained. For example, the masculine consonants t and k were inserted into words with vowel hiatus to form a word describing a larger, sharper, or otherwise more dangerous version of the object being described. Few words coined in this manner remained in the language, since their ability to be understood was dependent on the listener mentally substituting one word for another while parsing the sentence.

Instead, a much more common process at this time was syntactic drift. Words containing the masculine consonants t and k, for example, tended to change meaning over time into describing objects that were seen as more inherently masculine. Likewise, the feminine consonants p and m took on the implied meanings of softness and delicateness.

However, as the language developed, its phonology changed more and more into the infantile setup seen today in modern Poswa. The Gold language had been fairly guttural, with six of its 19 consonants being velar or postvelar, and with the voiceless velar ejective /ḳ/ tending towards a uvular pronunciation in some dialects. But Babakiam lost the ejective series, softened the velar fricatives /x g/ into the postalveolars /š ž/, and lost the voiced velar stop /ġ/. Moreover, the only two remaining dorsal consonants, /k/ and /ŋ/, disappeared from many words due to many other sound changes. For example, /kʷ/ became /p/ unconditionally, and in many positions, the plain /k/ became /p/ too. For example, the Gold word ʕʷakmaḳ "snake" became Babakiam papap; every consonant in the word had been pushed into the same outcome: /p/.

Thus, from the standpoint of a speaker acquainted with the Gold language's consonant gender symbolism, it was very difficult in Babakiam to talk about anything strong or dangerous; everything seemed to be soft and feminine. When speakers of the Moonshine language invaded Babakiam's homeland about 4800 years ago,[3] they found the Bābā soldiers adorable and promised to teach their children to speak Babakiam in the hopes that learning a soft, effeminate language would make their own people more peaceful in the future.

Remnants of the gender system in modern Poswa

As Babakiam developed into Poswa and Pabappa, its sound system changed far more than it had before. In Pabappa, velar consonants are entirely absent, and in Poswa they are very rare. But consonant symbolism has not died out; it has merely changed. Modern Poswobs no longer see the very rare velar sounds /k g/ as their preferred choices for describing something dangerous or aggressive; they are so rare that their presence makes a word sound foreign or remarkable, but not necessarily dangerous.

Unable to use their velar consonants, modern Poswobs have turned to other sounds to give a word an aggressive or dangerous feel. Primarily, these are taken from subconscious associations with words whose definitions are already associated with violence and danger; often these are words for weapons and other sharp objects. It has turned out that in modern Poswa, the consonants most clearly associated with violence are the labiodental consonants /f v/ and the rounded labiovelar approximant /w/.

The voiced labiodental fricative /v/ is entirely new to the language; even Babakiam had not had such a sound. Thus, /v/ is not a particularly common sound in Poswa, and due to the circumstances of the sound changes which caused it to arise, it is most common in word-internal position, and fairly rare at the beginning of a word. Since all words are stressed on the first syllable, modern Poswa's consonant symbolism relies heavily on the first letter of a word to give it its flavor. Thus, those few words beginning with /v/ have often come to take on violent associations even in those cases where their original meaning was less specific. This is especially true of verbs.

Examples of consonants used symbolistically to describe aggression

Below are some examples of words which have acquired aggressive meanings by subconscious associations with their consonants, particularly their initial consonants.

/v/

Babakiam did not have a /v/ sound; all /v/ in Poswa is due to recent sound changes. Most /v/ in Poswa is cognate to /n/, /d/, or /r/ in Pabappa, though the bilabials /p b m/ sometimes also correspond to Poswa /v/.

Vaffebi pispipypiep.
I destroyed the termites.
Vivi, bipos lattšop twifebi.
I cried when I hurt my thumb.
Vabžebi potibemwop.
I gobbled the candy.
Vubwab pummatšop pippibebel.
The alligator bit off my leg. (The word puswam also means alligator but is less commonly used.)

Although Poswa considers /vʷ/ to be a separate consonant from /v/, it still carries some of the same associations:

Levobampobiepi vwambebi.
I ate the strawberries rapidly.

The use of /v/ to symbolize violence echoes the similar use of /z/ in Khulls and Moonshine; although Poswa has never had a true /z/ phoneme, it did at one point have a phonemic IPA /ð/ sound, which later became /v/ unconditionally. Foreign words with /z/ are therefore commonly loaned with /v/ rather than /ž/ as one might expect.

For the other consonants mentioned, the association is also stronger when the word being used begins with that consonant rather than merely including it somewhere else:

/w/

Wiwibebi webabiep.
I blew on the leaves.
Sabas watubbwa.
The man is dangerous.
Wapiešo wiwafaba numbunia!
My opponent is hitting me too hard!
Wipipebi pwaepiap.
I broke the chair.
Mampum wawiebe?
Why did you beat me up?
Weswefi.
I stabbed him.
Warwatwebi žuftap.
I wiped the floor.
Poršo wumpsuffabo fupam.
My blood is spilling on the table.
Potwum wapfeži[4] blampub.
The poison is killing the soldiers.

/f/

Baepopebi faepašo žysop.
I pressed hard on the glass.
Fompwafo!
I'm making a mess!
Fopabo[5] papapatos.
I'm afraid of the snakes.
Fampem sašaepop pumpumpaba.
Somebody big is blocking the door.
Pwawam, swombwi potibemwop fefappwi.
Please, buy me the hard candy.
Fuffopi mavumpebi mesufaefum pumbi.
I threw my spear at the pig.

The voiceless rounded bilabial fricative fw- is very rare in initial position in native Poswa words because it changed to w- unconditionally, and no other phoneme fell in unconditionally to replace it. Instead, word-initial /fʷ/ results from a few conditional changes. Thus, word-initial /fʷ/ is very rare and does not carry the same mental associations as word-initial /f/. The only commonly used native words beginning with /fʷ/ are fwulpwa "menstrual blood" and its derivatives.

/r/

Other consonants can have a similar appeal. For example, the voiced approximant r is sometimes considered a "violent" consonant as well. Most occurrences of /r/ in modern Poswa can be traced back to earlier words in the Gold language that had /l/. /l/ was never considered a particularly aggressive-sounding consonant, so the association in Poswa is new. R is less common in modern Poswa than it was in earlier times because much of what was once /r/ has changed over the years into /v/ or /b/.

Famambava rinweža.
Surprise is a weapon.
Pubambep pimpwop rašebel.
The bee stung the boy.
Pubuwas pumbawa bivibom ruviatwebel.
The tiger's paws left open wounds across my body.

Note that, while Poswa's /r/ often corresponds to the Gold language /l/, and Poswa's /l/ often corresponds to an earlier /r/, it is not generally claimed that the two sounds switched places because the /r/ of modern Poswa is a uvular approximant whereas the /r/ of the primeval language was an alveolar flap. Moreover, both sound changes were polyconditional and they occurred more than 6000 years apart.

/pr/

Fessupwu prappubiba.
The pineapple is heavy.

Other consonants with symbolic meanings

/ž/

Many terms describing sex and intimate relationships begin with ž. For example, žašša "sexual intercourse"; žanam "sweetheart"; žam love; žabe "pillow"; žwa "mattress"; žuža "blanket"; žise "to devote oneself to another"; žužu "embarrassment, nudity"; žužužišaf "pornography"; žy "marriage".

This is no coincidence; far back in the past there was a root word, gi, which meant "bare skin; to feel, touch directly", and this turned into a simple ž- in most words in Poswa. Thus, many words for concepts related to the hands and feet also begin with ž, such as žiraes "handful".[6] Note that words for intimate body parts such as the breasts, buttocks, and genitalia do not generally contain this ž- morpheme, as its original meaning referred to bare skin and the sensation of touching or feeling something with the hands and feet; the secondary meanings such as cuddling came later on.

/tʷ/

The voiceless labialized alveolar stop /tʷ/ occurs at the beginning of only a few words, mostly unrelated to each other.

Nasals

Conditional sound changes in the early stages of Babakiam led to a few dozen word pairs in which words beginning with a voiceless stop sprouted variant forms beginning with a nasal. This happened when previously existing initial vowels dropped out, and occasionally in other situations; for example, a word beginning with the rare voiced velar stop /ġ/ could develop it into either initial /k/ or initial /ŋ/ depending on the tone of the following vowel, and that vowel's tone could be affected by whether the word was syntactically stressed (as when used independently) or not (as when used in a compound). This process came to be associated with diminution and hypocoristics, and many girls' names changed their initial voiceless stops into nasals.

In modern Poswa, the inherited velar nasal ŋ has mostly become , though due to conditional sound changes it has taken on many other reflexes as well. However, the other inherited nasals m n were mostly unaffected by sound changes, and so the derivation of hypocoristic names by changing initial stops into nasals remains productive. Few words coined in this way become established as independent words because speakers are always aware of the origin of the word.

Use of /p/ and /b/ to symbolize cold and heat

The voiceless consonants p pw f fw appear disproportionately often in words describing things that are cold or dark, and their corresponding voiced forms appear more often in words describing things that are warm or bright. When an object is both cold and bright or both hot and dark, there is no significant pattern to be found.

This symbolic association is weaker than others; one of the most common nouns in the language is the word for sun: pipi.

/bl/

Many words for food begin with bl-.

Bambas blem fupiamam pipiba.
The baby's bottle is on the table.
Blombabo!
I'm hungry!
Bluparapupi amnebebi.
I ate the carrot.
Blimmibum blubomba.
There are apples in my fruit salad.

This was originally a noun classifier, which hung around in some words even after the ancestors of the Poswobs had otherwise stopped using noun classifiers. Its original form was mi-, and is preserved as such in Late Andanese. The sound change of mi- to bl- happened only before another vowel; before a consonant, it was more recognizable as an archaic classifier and therefore was almost always dropped. Mus "salt" is another word where the classifier remained because it was no longer recognized as such by the speakers due to a sound change.

Cold drinks and artificial foods such as candy were at one point given the classifier prefix pi-, which would have evolved into pl- in modern Poswa and could have functioned neatly alongside bl-. However, this did not happen because pl- was recognized as the reflex of a classifier, even before a vowel-initial word.

Spelling

Like Pabappa, the Poswobs inherited the tradition of using multiple highly complex ornate orthographies for artistic purposes. Unlike the Pabaps, however, the Poswobs made even their ordinary everyday script, which was taught to children in school, also quite complicated. There were two main writing systems, a syllabary and a pure alphabet.

Pompatopie syllabary

Poswa can be written with a very complicated syllabary, named Pompatopie, in which some letters are drawn inside other letters. Not all possible syllables are represented, but all of the syllables that require two letters to spell are phonological reflexes of previously existing two-syllable sequences. Labialization, though not represented in the Romanized form of the alphabet, is distinguished in Toppwe. For instance the word pappa "medicine" contrasts with pappa "field" in that the second p in the second word is labialized. The first is spelled in Toppwe as pap-pa, the second as pabʷ-pa (because /bʷp/ is not a valid consonant cluster in the language, it is automatically read as /pʷp/). All in all there are about 1500 letters in Toppwe, including a small number of bisyllabic graphemes representing common sequences such as /bies/ and a few abbreviations.

The main advantage of the syllabary was that it was able to borrow letterforms from other languages and use them as if they were native. However, it was so difficult to learn that most of the population was illiterate and Pompatopie came to be seen as just another artistic script like the others that had been inherited from the Andanese calligraphers 5000 years earlier.

Pompatopie alphabet

The syllabary was never abolished, but it came to be used less and less as the complexity of the phonology grew. Poswa gradually came to be another alphabetic language using the alphabet it had inherited from Babakiam. Like its relatives, Poswa groups consonants and vowels in separate alphabets, with the consonants appearing first. The letter order is

p m s b y v k ŋ š ž t n f č

p m s b y v k ŋ š ž t n f č


Evolution in stages

p m s b y v k ŋ š ž t n f č
p m s b l r k g š ž t n w fʷ ps pš pʷ bʷ kʷ gʷ ñ 
p m s l r k g f v š ž b t n w fʷ ps pš pʷ bʷ kʷ gʷ ñ
p m s l r k g f v š ž b t n w ps pš pʷ bʷ kʷ gʷ ñ [other labialized consonants]
p m s l r k g f v š ž b tš dž t n w pʷ bʷ kʷ gʷ [other labialized consonants]
p m s l r k g f v š ž b t n tš dž pʷ mʷ sʷ lʷ rʷ kʷ gʷ fʷ vʷ šʷ žʷ bʷ tʷ nʷ

Mixed alphabet and syllabary

Some people learned the syllabary and continued to use the alphabet. Generally they would use syllabic glyph for abbreviations, such as writing bum for the plural using the syllabic form, which looks similar to a capital Roman letter X. However, people who used these systems tended to also use pure logographs, such as a picture of an apple instead of the word for apple, and so on, so this was not a true mixed script.

Sound changes and vocabulary retention

Poswa does much better than Pabappa at retaining old monosyllabic vocabulary from the Babakiam language due to its larger phonology and slower rate of sound change.

With the Poswobs' strong knowledge of their written history, some words which would not be used in normal speech, such as i "bubble" and ti "dream" are nevertheless widely understood and can be used in abbreviations and poetic compounds. For example, mabem means soap, and mabemi is widely understood as meaning "soap bubbles, lather" without having to use the longer form mabempwar. Note also that i as a standalone word is still widely understood to mean "buoy", as it has for the last 4000 years.

Nevertheless, the ability to create all-vowel sentences is long gone, and most words in Poswa have at least two syllables.

Sound changes

The many ways to /p/

As in Pabappa, there are many paths which lead from various Babakiam consonants to Poswa /p/. Many of these changes are found only in certain phonetic environments, but some of these environments are common. For example, immediately following an /m/ in a third or later syllable, the consonants /f s š tš t k/ all merged as /p/, and /v ž dž l r/ all merged as /b/. The intermediate paths here involved clusters; the steps of the first sound change were /f s š tš t k/ > /pf ps pš ptš pt pk/ > /p p p p p p/; and the steps of the second were /v ž dž l r/ > /bv bž bdž bl br/ > /b b b b b/.

Yet, the above sound changes are commonly found at the beginnings of Poswa words as well. This is because historically, many morphemes could appear either as stressed independent words or as unstressed clitics occurring immediately after a different word. For example, the verb tša "to transform, change into something else" changed into pa because it was a translative marker modifying a word in the locative case, which always ends in -m. Thus, tša was often unstressed, and the sound changes which took place when the word was unstressed were transferred by analogy to the stressed form as well.

The sound change champions

  • pobbas "war", from pau babibup mibeas. Note that this was originally a euphemism meaning "to destroy unarmed people", replacing many other words for war which, however, still survive in compounds.
  • pwubo "salary, rate of pay", from pepibu miaau "career value".
  • polfwatos "vegetarian", from pauyau pabaa kataus, "able to eat fresh fruit".


Most of the extreme examples involve deletion of /b/ in unstressed syllables, resulting in vowel sequences which then contracted into single vowels.

  • šas, used to mean "Can he/she/they have a...?" is derived from Babakiam saba a babas, thus collapsing five syllables into one; however, unlike the examples above, this expression involves verbal morphology, and Poswa's verbal morphology derives mostly from Babakiam content words that are much longer than the morphemes that were actually used as inflections at the time of classical Babakiam. Thus this is not a true example of a sound change champion.

Note that some modern Poswa words are actually longer than the Babakiam words they came from, primarily because of an early sound change reforming the old Babakiam long vowels ā ī ū into sequences. Of these, only ā had a regular outcome: aba. Thus Babakiam "face, facial (expression)" becomes modern Poswa waba.

Notes

  1. In the green dictionary, I wrote that the expected outcome of this word would be pevžum.
  2. Consider "afetto", and so on down the table, as words like "etto" would not exist if not for loans and a few random anomalies. Normally, to have an /e/ in the initial syllable, the parent language would need to have a closed syllable, which would mean that it was accented, except in a very few words which had two closed syllables.
  3. The exact date was August 3948.
  4. Collides with wappa "to win, defeat", though this is not necessarily bad.
  5. PROBABLY WRONG. The entry in the blue dictionary for this word lists it as "BAD!"
  6. This is just the word for five in Khulls, traced back up to the Gold language and then back down to Poswa, with an assumed different meaning since Poswa got its word for five from a different (distantly related?) word for five.