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The Tapilula languyage is much more guttural than its ancestor of 8000 years ago, but is almiost entirely CV, so does not necesarrily sound harsh or intidimating. e.g. /plam/ > /ḳà/. This is a matter of preference. The name Tapilula refers to the continent, as this was the language spoken by the first Laban settlers to reach the continent in over a thousand years.[1]

The mother of Tapilula was Mumba . This is the same word as the tribal name Hupa.



The Tapilula language had an unusual phonology that set it apart from its neighbors on the islands of Laba:

  • The labialized alveolar consonants /tʷ dʷ nʷ/ contrasted with plain alveolars, but the only other labialized consonants in the language were the velar fricatives /hʷ gʷ/. Previously, there had been labialized stops and nasals at other places of articulation, but these merged into other consonants while only the alveolars remained. Both branches of the Tapilula family that were spoken on the continent of Rilola changed these into lateral consonants /tɬ dɮ nl/.
  • There was a labiodental fricative /f/, which contrasted with /hʷ/.
  • Stops produced towards the front of the mouth (/p b t d tʷ dʷ/) came in voiced and voiceless pairs; the two stops in the dorsal area (/k ḳ/) were both voiceless, but distinguished a plain and an ejective version.
  • Stops produced in the front of the mouth (/p b t d tʷ dʷ/) were more common in speech than those in the dorsal area (/k ḳ/). By contrast, the only fricative produced in the front of the mouth was /f/, and it was much rarer than the dorsal fricatives /h g/. The labialized velar fricatives /hʷ gʷ/ were more common than /f/ but less so than the plain /h g/, but note that /gʷ/ is commonly realized as [w].
  • Tapilula was the only language in its area that had tones; it had developed them independently, without being influenced by other languages.
  • All syllables were CV, but there were three syllabic nasals /m n ŋ/ which behaved as vowels except for the fact that they could not take contrasting tones. They could, however, carry stress in a word (as in afṁ "dolphin") and even stand alone as words of their own (e.g. "breast").


/p b m f t d n l tʷ dʷ nʷ j k ḳ ŋ h g hʷ gʷ/

/a e i o u ə/


The mainland branches of the language developed an etymologically spurious contrast between vowels separated by /g/ and vowels in hiatus. Thus a word like bòo "blade of grass" and hʷògo "cloud" arose from the same original form. Most words with hiatus are compounds in which the first word lost its final consonant due to analogy with the free form of the word, where final consonants were always dropped; however, sometimes a /g/ was restored, corresponding to no consonant in the proto-form.


Original syllabary

Tapilula was written with a 100-glyph syllabary derived from the Astyzzian aboriginal peoples. There were actually only 10 symbols, and the 100 glyphs were instances of these 10 symbols stacked on top of each other. However, the top row of the syllabary consisted of just the bare symbols, because one of the ten symbols simply disappeared in its "on top" form.

The Astyzzians had used their syllabary both as a numeral system and an alphabet. There were 10 vowel rows and 10 consonant columns. The first column was for the null consonant; thus only 9 consonants were distinguished. No final consonants were present.

Tapilula adaptation

When borrowed for Tapilula, the Tapilula speakers at first used the 10 vowel rows to write the vowels /a e i o u/ on low and high tone, in that order. /y/ was written as /i/. But they soon abandoned writing tones and used the 10 vowel rows to write the vowels /a e i o u/ with a "primary" and a "secondary" consonant, respectively. This worked better because Tapilula had 19 consonants in its phonology, which was exactly the right number suited for a syllabary with 20 consonant slots, and although it also had six vowels and two tones, these had a lower functional load than some of the consonant distinctions did.

Primary & secondary consos (western alphabet order)
Ø  p  m  l  t  n  k  ḳ  ŋ  h
gʷ b  f  y  d  nʷ tʷ dʷ g  hʷ
Note, one form of the script actually had the order 0-l-j-h-ḳ-k-ŋ-p-m-t-n, which partly explains why in Late Andanese the consonants /p/ and /t/ do not appear in the first 10 symbols at all. Another used 0 L J H Ŋ K .... ḳ WASNT REPRESENTED AT ALL.
Primary & secondary consos (eastern alphabet order) <--this order is from a retention of Laban alphabet 
order, not a borrowing from aborigines
Ø  l  y  h  ḳ  k  ŋ  p  m  t
gʷ nʷ n  hʷ dʷ tʷ g  b  f  d

These were used as numbers:

Ø  l  y  h  ḳ  k  ŋ  p  m  t  gʷ nʷ n  hʷ dʷ tʷ g  b  f  d
0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Daughters of the Tapilula syllabary

The Gold branch of the family quickly evolved closed syllables, and dumped the syllabary entirely. The Andanese branch also evolved closed syllables, but they were much more rare, having evolved entirely from the dropping of Tapilula /ə/, which had never been distinguished properly to begin with. Thus this was not seen by the speakers as a loss. The general trend in Andanese was towards a smaller and smaller phonology, and the syllabary soon came to have too many symbols rather than too few. Eventually, by the time of Late Andanese, final consonants had disappeared again and the language distinguished only 30 syllables (albeit with allophonic shifts such as /sia/ > [ša]). The Andanese developed their script into elaborate artistic varieties that were the envy of the surrounding peoples to such an extent that some of them switched back to using syllabaries again in order to imitate the Andanese.



Consonant gender system

Tapilula had a grammatical gender system based on consonants, which are reflected primarily in the noun class prefix but also show up elsewhere in the word in various grammatical operations. There are four feminine genders, one masculine gender, and three that could be considered epicene or neuter. However, the /p/ gender behaved in some ways like the feminines, so it could be said that there are five feminine genders instead of four.

Conso	Applies to
-----	----
 p     Pregnant women; humans in general; human epicene (not including neuters)
 b     Babies of either sex
 t     Men and boys
 d     Young children of either sex
 m     Adult women
 f     Adult women
 j     Young girls
 n     Young girls

The consonants l h ḳ k ŋ gʷ nʷ hʷ dʷ tʷ g were not considered part of the gender system. Since inanimate objects did not have genders, words for inanimate objects tend to use the guttural consonants outside the gender system more often than words for humans and other animals. Also, many animals, such as fish, had a gender consonant corresponding to their noun class prefix rather than their true biological gender. Thus, for example, all fish and clams are classified as feminine. Placenames, fruits, vegetables, and most other foods are also feminine, as are worms, snakes, fire, celestial objects, and some buildings. This is because there are four feminine genders and only one masculine.


See Tapilula verbs.

Tapilula and its descendants share an inventory of private verbs, which are mostly monosyllabic verbs whose meaning is entirely dependent on the noun class of the subject and object. For example, a word that means "bite" with a human subject and an edible object means "kiss" when the subject and object are both humans.

Tapilula family tree

Tapilula has three branches: one for the Gold language and its descendants, one for the Andanese people, and a third one for the islanders.

Characteristics of the dependent languages include:

  1. Often only three points of articulation. Phoneme charts with more rows are including coarticulations.


  1. I dont remember the internal history of this name. It has nothing to do with the town in Mexico, which I've only just now learned about.