Proto-Albic

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Proto-Albic
Spoken in: British Isles
Timeline/Universe: League of Lost Languages; The Elvenpath
Total speakers: extinct (evolved into various daughter languages)
Genealogical classification: Hesperic
Albic
Proto-Albic
Basic word order: VSO
Morphological type: agglutinating
Morphosyntactic alignment: active-stative
Created by:
Jörg Rhiemeier 2001-

Proto-Albic is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Albic languages; it is assumed to have been spoken in southern Britain between 2000 and 1500 BC.

The language can be reconstructed very well from the attested dialects of Old Albic and their descendants.

Phonology

Consonants

Proto-Albic (at the time of beginning dialectal differentiation) is reconstructed with 19 consonant phonemes.

  Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
Nasals *m *n *ng  
Voiced stops *b *d *g  
Neutral stops *p *t *k  
Aspirated stops *p' *t' *k'  
Fricatives   *s   *h
Liquids and semivowels *w *l *r *j *3

As usual with protolanguages, the exact phonetic values of these sounds are uncertain. Especially the sound *3 (the "soft laryngeal") is somewhat mysterious, but the best guess is that it was a voiced glottal or pharyngeal fricative or approximant. The phonotactic behaviour at any rate shows that it had a high degree of sonority, in a class with the liquids and semivowels, effectively ruling out a glottal stop. The "hard laryngeal" *h is generally considered a voiceless glottal fricative, as which it is reflected in all dialects except XII (Ivernirin) where it is lost; though it may have been velar at an early stage (its Proto-Hesperic antecedent is the cluster *sx, see Drummond's Law).

An early stage of Proto-Albic had two further consonants, the voiced fricatives *z and , which merged with *d and *g, respectively, in all dialects. Of these, *z was the result of context-dependent voicing of Proto-Hesperic *s, e.g. PH *gans- > early PA *ganz- > late PA *gand- 'goose'. The consonant was the reflex of North Hesperic velarized liquids (in turn from Proto-Hesperic *lx and *rx by Drummond's Law, and preserved as and in Alpianic), e.g. PH *salx- > WH *saĺ- > early PA *saɣ- > late PA *sag- 'to fly'.

The oldest Razaric loanwords in Albic show *d as reflex of Razaric *z, as in the deity name OA Radro < Razaric *Razar. This shows that the fortition of *z (and probably also ) happened after the landtaking in the British Isles.

Stop correspondences in Old Albic dialects

PA I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII
*p p p p p p p p p p p p p
*t t t t t t t t t t t t t
*k c c c c c c c c c c c c
*p' ph ph ph ph ph ph ph ph p' p' p' p
*t' s th th s th s th th t' t' t' t
*k' ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch c' c' c' c
*b b b b b b b b b b b p b
*d d d d d d d d d d d t d
*g g g g g g g g g g g c g

Note: The letters k and c denote the same sound.

To summarize:

  • The neutral stops are preserved unchanged everywhwere.
  • The aspirated stops become spirants in dialects I to VIII (South Albic), are preserved as such in dialects IX and X (Neck Albic) as well as XI (North Albic), and lose their aspiration in dialect XII (West Albic).
  • The voiced stops lose their voicing in North Albic and are unchanged elsewhere.
  • In the easternmost South Albic dialects (I, IV, VI), th is shifted to s (Proto-Albic *s is itself shifted to sh ([ʃ]) in these dialects).

The "soft laryngeal" *3

The "soft laryngeal" *3 is normally lost everywhere except perhaps in the (extinct) Old Albic dialect of Madar (Isle of Man) where Mørdindo describes a feature which may have been a preserved soft laryngeal. However, when it was followed by another soft laryngeal in the coda of the same syllable as well as in certain morphologically conditioned situations, it hardened to h in all dialects except XII where it hardened to r.

The loss of a post-vocalic soft laryngeal caused the vowel to lengthen in all dialects except in XI, where instead the following consonant was pre-aspirated if a stop and otherwise geminated. The loss of an intervocalic soft laryngeal resulted in a long vowel with slipping tone.

Vowels

The vowel inventory of Proto-Albic consists of only three vowels.

  Front Central Back
Close *i   *u
Open   *a  

In addition, the language had the dipthongs *ai and *au, though these are better analyzed as *aj and *aw.

There is no length, nasality or other secondary distinction that can be reconstructed.

The vowels were autosegmental in Proto-Albic; they bound to morphemes and were inserted into the consonant string according to phonotactic rules. In a root, the vowel was inserted such that the maximum valid onset (see below) was obtained (e.g. *brit- 'to break', not **birt-). If the consonants following the vowel did not form a valid coda, the vowel was inserted twice (e.g., *3abal 'apple'). Such second vowels disappeared when a vowel-initial suffix was added (e.g. *3ablim 'apples').

Some affixes have a vowel position but no vowel feature; these show vowel harmony, i.e. their vowel agrees with the stem vowel. This is symbolized by .

Syllables

Valid onsets are:

  • A single consonant.
  • A stop followed by a liquid or semivowel (but not *3).
  • *s followed by any of the above.
  • A nasal followed by a homorganic stop (may not be preceded by *s).

Valid codas are ones in which the sonority decreases towards the end.

Accent

Accent was non-distinctive and probably fell on the first syllable of the stem.

Sound changes from Proto-Hesperic

This section gives an overview of the sound changes that occured on the way from Proto-Hesperic to Proto-Albic.

Common North Hesperic developments

Consonant changes

  • Loss of postconsonantal *j
  • ja > i /C_
  • Spirantization of stops before *s
  • Ks > h /_C
  • Ts > s /_C
  • Ps > w /_C
  • Spirantization of velarized liquids
  • ĺ > ɣ
  • ŕ > ɣ
  • Conditioned voicing of *s
  • s > z /R_V (R = n, l, r)
  • Loss of final stops after *s
  • stop > 0 /s_#
  • Onset stop+nasal simplification
  • Kn > ng /$_
  • Tn > n /$_
  • Post-laryngeal nasal strengthening
  • 3m > mb
  • 3n > nd
  • Strengthening of voiced spirants
  • w > b /$_C
  • z > d
  • ɣ > g

Autosegmentalization of vowels

This is certainly the most characteristic sound change of the Albic branch, and not easily formulated in sound change rules. In this change, vowels become autosegments which bind to morphemes rather than being segmental phonemes. Each morpheme has at most one vowel attached, one of *a, *i and *u. If the morpheme originally contained different vowels, *u takes precedence over *a, and *i takes precedence over both *a and *u. Some prefixes and suffixes lack vowels entirely.

The surface realization is such that the vowels are inserted into the consonant string as required by the phonotactic constraints:

  • A syllable onset may consist of a single consonant, a nasal followed by a homorganic stop, a stop followed by a liquid or semivowel or any of these (except nasal followed by stop) preceded by *s.
  • A syllable coda must not contain a consonant that is more sonorous than a preceding one.

A prefix without an attached vowel borrows the vowel quality from the following morpheme. A suffix without an attached vowel borrows the vowel quality from the preceding morpheme. Uniconsonantal verb roots (e.g. *d- 'make, do') are treated as having *a attached for the purpose of this rule.

Morphology

As the Old Albic dialects agree very closely in terms of morphology, the morphology of Proto-Albic probably was very similar to that of Classical Old Albic, though it is of course possible that all dialects innovated in some points into the same direction.

Root structure

A Proto-Albic root consists of one to four consonants and a vowel; the vowel is inserted according to the rules given above (if necessary twice, so a root can be bisyllabic but with the same vowel twice). Single-consonant roots are limited to pronouns and a few very generic verbs: *s- 'to be (permanently)', *t'- 'to be (not permanently)', *d- 'to make, to do', *g- 'to go'. These roots effectively has *a as their vowel (placed after the consonant), but this can be overridden by suffixes.

Nouns

Nouns are classified in a two-tiered gender system: There are animate and inanimate nouns, and animate nouns are grouped into common, masculine and feminine. The masculine and feminine subgenders correspond to the natural genders, and are derived from the common form with the suffixes *-wa and *-ja, respectively.

Nouns have three numbers (singular, dual and plural); the case system is two-tiered with five primary cases (agentive, genitive, partitive, dative, objective) and five secondary cases (instrumental, locative, allative, ablative, perlative). The secondary cases are formed with suffixes on the objective case. The primary cases of animate nouns are formed with suffixes on the number form; inanimate nouns have only one primary case, the objective.

The declension is thus (animate *3alba 'Elf', inanimate *k'ar 'stone'):

  Animate Inanimate
Common Masculine Feminine Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Agentive *3alba *3albawa *3albaja *3albu *3albi  
Genitive *3albas *3albawas *3albajas *3albus *3albis  
Partitive *3albal *3albawal *3albajal *3albul *3albil  
Dative *3alban *3albawan *3albajan *3albun *3albin  
Objective *3albam *3albawam *3albajam *3album *3albim *k'ar *k'arum *k'arim
Instrumental *3albami *3albawami *3albajami *3albumi *3albimi *k'ari *k'arumi *k'arimi
Locative *3albamal *3albawamal *3albajamal *3albumul *3albimil *k'aral *k'arumul *k'arimil
Allative *3albaman *3albawaman *3albajaman *3albumun *3albimin *k'aran *k'arumun *k'arimin
Ablative *3albamad *3albawamad *3albajamad *3albumud *3albimid *k'arad *k'arumid *k'arimid
Perlative *3albamat' *3albawamat' *3albajamat' *3albumut' *3albimit' *k'arat' *k'arumit' *k'arimit'

With personal names and other nouns denoting people, it is possible to add secondary cases to the genitive to form possessive local cases, e.g. *Tambawasal 'at Tambo's'.