Galà is a North Andanic language with a fusional, polysynthetic grammar. Like its neighbor, Play, the language mystified outsiders and the speakers had no worries about foreign nations spying on them. Galà was only distantly related to Play, however, and the speakers of both languages knew this. Both groups had difficulty learning each other's languages, even having mastered their own; thus the two languages persisted side by side for thousands of years. Due to differences in lifestyle, the Play speakers outgrew the Galà, who never left their northern mountain habitats even as the Players expanded in all directions, eventually encircling the Galà people.
When the Players took over the Galà mountain region at the height of the Play nation's power, the Players reassured the Galà people that they would be allowed to keep their language and culture despite the Players having assimilated various other groups in recent history. This unusual promise, and the knowledge that the two parties involved spoke two notoriously difficult languages, led outsiders to wonder if the people in this region were hiding important cultural knowledge from the outside world.
- 1 Scratchpad
- 1.1 Short roots, long stems
- 1.2 Lava Beds
- 1.3 Generalization of classifiers
- 1.4 Stray morphology
- 1.5 Sociolinguistics
- 2 Basic information
- 2.1 Phonology
- 2.2 Grammar
- 2.3 Climate and geography
- 3 Notes
Short roots, long stems
- 06:28, 21 April 2022 (PDT)
Galà inherited grammatical processes that depend on root words having a maximally CVCV structure. Yet, Galà words are often quite long. This is because of the many mandatory affixes that appear on every noun and verb, and also because of compounding processes to distinguish homophones. Even with a four-syllable stem like kamihàma "drain pipe" (which usually appears even longer because this is just the bare stem), which is for all practical purposes atomic, only one of the two CVCV sequences can be the head, and that is important in determining the placement of the inflections and for consonant and vowel harmony prcoesses.
Because Galà is head-initial, one might expect the first CVCV unit to always be the head, but this rule does not apply in compounds that have become atomic, which in some cases arose from asymmetrical sets such as CV + CV + CVCV, at a time when the language still allowed classifier stacking. Also, stress sometimes shifted, meaning that the stress could appear on any syllable even in long words. When this happened, the CVCV segment that contained the stressed syllable became the new head.
- 10:58, 11 April 2022 (PDT)
Gala uses Lava Bed morphology for its nouns, described by learners and critics alike as being the most difficult noun declension system in the world. Unlike Play, it was not based on infinities, zeroes, and ones — it really was a language built on large numbers, with a different paradigm needing to be learned for every single noun, and with no master formula capable of generating the many paradigms.
Although Gala is a predominantly prefixing language, Lava Bed morphology means that all parts of a word can change: for example, àko "port" becomes kăki "his port", with a new initial consonant, a different tone, and a new final vowel. Essentially the root is parsed as an atomic whole, so from the Galà standpoint, only one thing is changing: the morpheme in question. It can be bookended by other morphemes, as in Thaoa, which will not change. Thus in this way Gala resembles the head-final Trout languages, but as below this is because both languages are so consarvative (Thaoa is not conserative, is it old).
The Lava Bed mutations are used for inflection, unlike Late Andanese where inflection and derivation are merged into the classifier prefixes. This means the nouns do not change meaning, although with some semantically vague nouns, especially those derived from verbal roots, it could be said that from the standpoint of English they do change.
For example the root kĭ "diaper" still means diaper if it is inflected with a transformation that marks male or female gender, whereas in some other languages there might be no root word for diaper at all but only "clothing" marked with an affix that specifies that it belongs to a baby. This is arguably the case for Late Andanese, with kinu "diaper" being just ki- "baby" followed by a word for clothing generically. (However, Late Andanese more commonly uses longer words.)
Use of tone
The diaper word is one of the very few roots that consists of just a single CV syllable on the low short tone (marked with a breve). None of these words are inherited directly from the parent language, since in the MRCA all CV monosyllables had a high tone. This means that there was a preceding syllable that got reanalyzed as a classifier prefix, and that in turn means that the diaper word's Lava Bed inflections act on the missing prefix. Thus, mikĭ "her diaper", etc, instead of using infixes.
Yet, the tone is not sufficient to predict verbal morphology, because it happens that kì "claw" also inflects using prefixes, simply because it also once had a preceding syllable that got lost through sound change instead of analogy. Thus mikì "her claw". (Note that this word normally needs a true classifier prefix, not just ma-, but is here presented as a bare root for comparison's sake. For that matter, the diaper word needs ho- "clothes" as well.)
The masculine agent prefix ki- changes to hi- to mark the accusative. This, however, becomes a simple -h- before most consonant-initial stems, and since coda /h/ is not permissible, this /h/ metathesizes across the syllable boundary and creates aspirated consonants. Thus, stems beginning with b d Ø instead come to have p t h. A small number of vowel-initial stems instead shift the /h/ to -s-; these are the words which were vowel-initial even in the parent language. However, this distinction has not been inherited faithfully. Stems beginning with m n ŋ shift this to mp nt ŋk.
With this process, a word that has no /B/ can still show gender inflections.
Generalization of classifiers
The original classifier prefix for boys in Tapilula was ndu-, but the dictionary lists just a single word, ndʷombàgə, using this prefix. The language may have passed through a stage in which any word of three syllables or more was assumed to begin with a classifier prefix. In this case, it may be that the word was originally a simple compound of two roots, /ndʷò/ and /mbàgə/, with no classifier.
Assuming that at some stage an analogy was made between V[B]V, VV, and V, what was originally a free particle could be reanalyzed as a suffix, and then this suffix would be reanalyzed as an infix. But it would need to have begun with words in which the final vowel already happened to match that of the gender particle. For example, Tapilula tìku "gemstone" could become tìku ndù, "the boy's gemstone", but also tìku ù "[his/her/their] gemstone" with no gender consonant, and since /uu/ > /u/, this would just return the word to its original form. Then, reanalysis could turn ndù into -und-, making the suffix into an infix.
This process could happen either before or after the MRCA broke up, since the Andanic and Trout branches both underwent similar vowel-dropping processes independently, while the MRCA also had vowel elision.
Nonetheless, such a clean process of generalization is problematic, as it ignores all other final vowels, and also ignores all final consonants. It would make most sense if it happened in the daughter languages, with perhaps just the beginnings of the process in the MRCA. For example, with the root word tà ~ tə̆ga "horse", it would be unlikely for the speakers to generalize a form like tə̆ga ndù into *təgùndu, let alone the *təgùnda that would be required later for it to be a true infix.
If necessary, vowel analogies stretching back thousands of years could be reapplied. Since both /i/ and /u/ can come from primordial /ɨ/, for example, the /ndu ~ undu/ morpheme could be assumed to be from /(ɨ)ndɨ/, giving rise to forms like undi, indi, and indu alongside the "preferred" undu. Then, since /ai/ > /o/ (the pine tree rule), the forms ending in -i would be used when the root ended in /a/, since it was becoming /o/ by the same process. This would still not make a true infix, but would let the word end with /o[B]i/, which would fit a reanalysis of a-iB-i.
The same two morphemes, pòpʷo and ndù, could form pondìpʷo ~ popʷòndi ~ popùndʷo depending on where the infix is placed. All words of two syllables would have at least two of these choices, and the third could be added in if it is assumed that one vowel in the word was really VV > V. Note that this is NOT the way to mark agent/patient/identity because that is done by changing the infixes themselves.
CV low tones
CV low tones come in two types, neither of which was found in the MRCA. The first type is like kĭ "diaper", where an accented initial syllable was dropped because it was mistaken for a classifier. The second type is like pă "chrysanthemum", where a low-tone schwa dropped out and made the following vowel low tone instead (that is, a tone that had earlier been high was lowered). Note that both of these words are just the root, and because the classifiers are not shown here, they did not have these meanings independently.
It is possible that Galà merges the two types, perhaps splitting the paradigm so that the new merged class has traits of both. If not, details are below:
Type A ("kĭ")
In compounds, the short stem can appear. Otherwise, the stem is expanded to [C][∀]+(stem), meaning that here it would be kòki "diaper" (or possibly kokĭ). This is "marking the noun for itself" since all nouns must have such markings on. The vowel here symbolized ∀ is as follows, where the left column indicates the root vowel:
a > [a e o] e > [e] i > [e o] o > [o] u > [a e o]
Values of /i/ and /u/ may also appear but only when other morphemes are fused and bleed into this ∀ vowel.
The ∀ vowel may be then taken apart for further inflections, as in e.g. kaBìki, or the first syllable may be entirely replaced, as in BVki. This would mean that this paradigm is fairly simple.
Type B ("pă")
This time, the etymology is respected. The word pă is expanded to pə̆Ba, and ideally to pVBa, but it is possible that Galà was not fully able to turn all BV particles into VB infixes.
- 02:22, 17 April 2022 (PDT)
These are used for deriving new words, not inflecting them. They are similar to those of Late Andanese, but less "wasteful" because they typically use less reduplication. The stress is on the syllable before the beginning of the suffix, unlike in Late Andanese where the stress is always on the final syllable regardless of what it is. By contrast, the inflections in Galà, unless including classifier prefixes as such, always at least overlap the accented syllable (e.g. they can be t-ìk-u or t-ik-ù but even in the second example the /k/ goes with the accented syllables).
It may be that the stress pattern must be back-dated to Tapilula in order to preserve this in Galà, since it would be difficult to evolve from nothing.
These circumfixes may be a very large closed class, and not an open class as one would expect in a language such as Play. This is because they use reduplication, and therefore cannot be tied directly to content words. For example, from nukòna "grape" comes yokonăhana "wine", where three of the four phonemes in /hana/ are reduplications of part of the root of the word for grape. Put another way, yo- is the classifier for handheld objects, retained from the MRCA, and -h[V₂C₂V₂] changes the meaning from handheld objects generally to handheld drinks specifically.
In fact, the suffix adds very little meaning to the word, since a word like yokòna might by itself be understood to mean wine, as a "handheld grape" could not be much else. And this is why the derivation process was seen as wasteful. Nonetheless it is still less so than the similar process in Late Andanese, which consists almost entirely of reduplicated syllables. The placement of the stress accent prevents these supplementary syllables for being mistaken as part of the stem, and they can be spoken more quickly than the rest if the speaker is in a hurry.
Feminine verbal ending
- 07:53, 13 April 2022 (PDT)
Galà preserves the feminine verbal marker -ṁ from the MRCA, appearing as a plain -m. Dreamlandic reflects -n, a very rare point of agreement between these two otherwise dissimilar languages. It is possible that Gold also preserves it as -ṁ, but it is in an inconvenient location in the word for Gold's grammar to make use of it. If it stays, it would become a regular /-m/ in Leaper and early Moonshine. Play does not preserve this at all.
Though originally a third person marker, if the Lava Bed paradigm frees up the end of the word to take affixes, this could spread to 1st and 2nd person use as well.
There is also a masculine final -t, designed after the feminine, but it arose thousands of years later than the feminine and thus appears in fewer forms. More often, the masculine is expressed without a final suffix. For example, assuming Tapilula -undi- "boy" ends up as -uk- ~ -ik-, a final /-t/ could be added to this to mark it out from anything else it merged with, but no such padding would be used for the more common adult male forms.
Masculine patient marker
- 07:59, 13 April 2022 (PDT)
As above, this is intended to mark words relative to which a male is a patient. Therefore, it appears on the agent of any sentence where the patient is male, and also adverbs (serial verbs), etc, and can even appear on inanimate objects. It co-occurs with the agent markers instead of replacing them.
This marker is just an ʰ, found at the beginning of the word, thus for example turning m n ŋ into mp nt ŋk and b d into p t. If there is no change, then a prefix syllable using partial reduplication appears before the root.
This formula collides with the 2nd person patient marker, and the collision is quite old, appearing just when the MRCA lost the final /-t/ in the 2nd person patient morpheme /hət/. But there may be other ways of taking care of this, such as using bundled prefixes, even if redundant.
Because of /qi/ > /Ø/, sequences of a high tone followed by a vowel are more common here than in other languages, but the least common following vowel is /i/.
Galà lacks a way to evolve Late Andanese's baby gender, so might use the boy and girl genders for young children instead of lumping them together. The boy gender, in particular, is important in Galà because it provides an s- which is otherwise a rare consonant. In fact, Galà lacks a neuter gender as well. However, it has a distinct "child" gender, which is applicable to both boys and girls, and this could take over the functions of the Late Andanese baby gender and therefore not require the speaker to know the gender of the children in question.
The Moonshines, having failed to learn Play, comforted themselves by describing Play as the most difficult language in the world. At later meetings, the question came up of whether there existed a language even more difficult than Play. The Moonshine diplomats thus asked what Players considered to be the world's most difficult language. Rather than claim their own, the Play diplomats pointed to the mountain nation of Galà.
The Galà language had held on in the high mountains of Nama for thousands of years, defying the many waves of immigration that had repopulated the surrounding lowlands. The Galà speakers were not aboriginals; they were much shorter than the Naman aboriginals and did not typically associate with them. But Nama accepted the Galà speakers as part of their society, and therefore they came to be identified as aboriginals after all.
Like Thaoa, the people of Galà considered themselves to be culturally superior to other peoples, but unlike Thaoa, they were isolationists who preferred to live in poverty instead of invading and exploiting other nations. Therefore the ancestors of the Players had never seen any need to subdue the people of Galà. Galà had been pro-Nama as it had come to consider itself part of Nama, but by this time Nama had become a victim nation incapable of pursuing its own needs, so they were still effectively isolationists. When the Players took over this area of Nama, they considered Galà to be part of the Play nation. Thus, they wanted to assimilate the speakers and turn them into monolingual Play speakers. But the Play Parliament was hesitant to enforce this, saying that the Galà people had never done the Players any harm and should not be forced into the same punishment as the people of Thaoa.
The Moonshines had actually contacted the Galà speakers even before they had contacted the Players, but because Galà was politically unimportant (surrounded by lowland tribes on all sides), they had never tried to learn the language. Later, the Play army encircled the Galà homeland and made them fully dependent on Play support, promising to never force them to assimilate linguistically or culturally so long as they supported the Players politically in their wider war against their own invaders.
The Moonshines spread their positive stereotypes of the Players to the Galà people, who were mostly ambivalent about whether they were considered Players or not, so long as they were not invaded by an outside power. This meant that the Moonshines expected Galà people to be very intelligent, and that their children from age 5 onward would be as smart as their adults, at least when measured on the scale that the Moonshines found most impressive.
The Galà mountain habitat was incapable of supporting the explosive population growth of the lowlands. At one point, Galà had been perhaps 5% of the population of Pubumaus, but when the Players began expanding aggressively in all directions, Galà did not participate and fell to less than 1% of the total population of the Play nation. The Play laws requiring children (and later, some adults) to fish the sea applied to Galà and other mountainous territories too; they merely used rivers and lakes instead of the sea. However, as above, the food supply in landlocked bodies of water was limited and so the Galà people could not afford to have large families like the Players.
Because of the planet's high eccentricity, the seasonal temperature swings were stronger than Earth's, and trees could grow in climates that were very cold overall. The highest terrain in Galà may have been so cold that the soil was frozen, but even here (e.g. in Siberia) trees can sometimes grow.
The syllable structure is CVC, and vowel sequences cannot be shortened into diphthongs. This means that the palatal glide y is not an allophone of i. This is unlike Late Andanese, which is purely CV but uses glides (spelled "y" and "v") as allophones of /i/ and /u/ respectively.
Open syllables predominate overwhelmingly over (C)VC. Even so, the consonants p t k m n ŋ l all occur in the coda in a few words, and the high tone ` sometimes adds a glottal stop to the end of the syllable, depending on what follows.
The language is much more guttural than Play, but from the speakers' standpoint, and that of Moonshine, Leaper, etc it is Gala that is normal and Play that stands out. It resembles Late Andanese with a slower speech tempo.
Bilabials: p b m Alveolars: t d n l s Palatals: y Velars: k ŋ h Uvulars: q
There is very little allophony. Consonants are never palatalized before front vowels, and because y patterns as a consonant, it cannot occur in clusters such as /ty/, /sy/, and the like even when a vowel follows. This sets Galà apart from Play, Late Andanese, and most other languages spoken nearby.
Voiceless stops are weakly aspirated.
The voiceless stops p t are mostly found at word edges, and b d mostly intervocalically. Thus they are almost in complementary distribution. But distinctions still occur, such as the classifier prefix du- and word-internal voiceless stops from collapse of earlier /bəh/ and /dəh/ sequences.
The velar stop k is by far the most common stop.
The uvular stop q occurs mostly after a high tone, but in a few words, analogy has led to isolated /q/. For example, heqŏ "bass (fish)", which was transferred from a different noun class.
The voiced stops b d are often lenited to fricatives (IPA [β ð]) after a low tone.
The voiceless fricative h is not usually found after a high tone. Its pronunciation varies from velar to uvular to glottal. It is never palatalized.
The voiceless fricative s has no significant allophony. Like the /s/ of Late Andanese, it arose from contraction of earlier sequences /ti hi ki/ before vowels, and is therefore as rare as these syllable sequences once were.
The vowels are /a e i o u/ on three tones: ă, à, and ā. There is no vowel harmony and very little allophony. The uvular stop /q/ backs the /i/ to a central vowel, [ɨ], when occurring adjacent in either direction.
This five-vowel inventory is quite rich by the standards of the family, and even the planet; most languages with five or more vowels have restrictions on which vowels can occur adjacent to other vowels (that is, vowel harmony), or reduce all vowels in unstressed syllables.
The grave tone (à è ì ò ù) indicates a short high tone. When it precedes another vowel, a glottal stop is inserted between them. All following unstressed syllables are allophonically lowered.
The breve tone (ă ĕ ĭ ŏ ŭ) indicates a short mid tone, although because it is considered to be identical to the tone of unstressed syllables, it is also called the low tone. All following unstressed syllables are allophonically lowered.
The macron tone (ā ē ī ō ū) indicates a long falling tone. The pitch begins high and ends low. All following syllables are allophonically lowered, and the last syllable preceding the macron, if there is one, is also allophonically lowered.
Galà distinguishes between the macron tone and sequences of two short vowels; òo "horse", ō "ring", hōo "cloud", and oō "border" all have distinct vowel sequences. A sequence of ŏo is also possible and would contrast with all of the above. This sequence is more commonly found with differing vowels across the syllable boundary, as in kŏu "twig", showing that Galà not only distinguishes all of the above tone patterns but also distinguishes /oo/ from /ou/ in all of them.
Most syllables are open and hiatus is common. The clusters mp nt appear as medial voiceless alternants of /m n/ in the same manner that p t replace /b d/. This occurs in the genitive of most CVCV nouns.
All three tones can occur before a hiatus, which is again unusual.
The inherited classifier system is expanded slightly further by splitting of classifiers, primarily before vowel-stems, and by reanalysis of previously existing bare stems as classifier+stem compounds, producing new prefixes such as ko- "young boy". This same prefix also means "ocean" and is used in the names of fish. Galà is among the languages with the most classifiers in the world.
Climate and geography
Galà is located on the continental divide, within the highest terrain of the Hykwus Mountains, with even the lowest valleys having an elevation above 4000 feet. It shares this natural environment with the Pabap state of Blip to its east and the independent nation of Wimpus to its north.
Gala is spoken in upland Nama, for which the lingua franca is Khulls, and freely loans words from Khulls.
Despite being surrounded on all sides by nations with violent histories, Galà itself was not affected by most of these wars because of its highland location and terrain even more mountainous than those of its neighbors.
THe wind in Galà blows mostly from the south. Despite the high elevation, the climate is broadly similar to sea-level sites located a few hundred miles to the north, both in temperature and in precipitation. However, valleys can get very cold in winter, with temperatures below —30°F having been recorded in many towns, and it is in valleys where the greatest human population concentration is found. On the other hand, wind is generally calm during extremely cold winter nights, so even here the coldest weather is found in the mountains.
Relations with neighboring nations
Galà bordered Litila. The Galà word for crab was hekăba, and they referred to the crabs of Litila with this name.
The Pabap conquest of the state of Blip occurred during Paba's Thousand Year Peace, and thus was not conquered by force. They may have instead signed a tripartite alliance with Galà and the Repilian aboriginals in which Blip was opened to Pabap settlement as it was in a strategic military position but offered a poor natural environment for human habitation. In other words, Blip was open to anyone party to the treaty who wanted it, and as Pabaps moved in, aboriginals moved out, likely in both directions (into Paba proper and also into their still-free arctic homeland).
This also assumes Galà ēa > yā, but īa > ya. As in Japanese, the shfit fails if the second element is /e/ or /i/.