This closed corpus of data shows numerous fascinating correspondences (in the phonology and lexicon, particularly) to languages from both Europe and Asia, indicating that this language, while genetically unrelated to the Indo-European or any Asiatic families, has extensively borrowed vocabulary; some of the clearly borrowed words have been incorporated at the expense of native words, which, considering that these borrowings are for such basic words as the numeral ‘one’ and the noun ‘king’, this language’s speech community had to share particularly close contact to other language families. As far as the phonology is concerned, it shares many similarities to Indo-European languages, showing a possible influence from an impactful neighboring sprachbund.
As this is a closed, written corpus, it is impossible to determine exactly what the phonetic and phonemic qualities of vowels and consonants were; however, looking at the qualities of the phonemes in surrounding language families from which there was certainly a great deal of borrowing, a chart of the vowels and consonants, with their approximate articulations and qualities, can be reconstructed.
The chart below explains the approximate articulations of the consonants, as well as giving a general inventory of those consonants, written in both the Romanized orthography found in the fragments and the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). If two symbols inhabit the same cell, the leftmost is voiceless, the rightmost is voiced:
|plosive||p [p] b [b]||t [t] d [d]||k [k] g [g]||’ [ʔ]|
|nasal||m [m]||n [n]||ng [ŋ]|
|fricative||m [m]||th [θ/ð]?||f [f] v [v]||s [s] z [z]||ch [tʃ͡ ] j [d͡ʒ]||kh [x]||h [h]|
It is ultimately very difficult to decipher the Romanized orthography of these sentence fragments, especially when faced with two orthographic symbols used to represent one sound; for example, kh indicates the voiceless velar fricative, the ch indicates the voiceless post-alveolar fricative, and the ng indicates the voiced velar nasal. That said, th cannot be said to be a voiced or voiceless interdental fricative, because those are cross-linguistically extremely rare; this could theoretically be possible, but there is not yet enough data to con rm or deny this postulation. Similarly, it is unknown what exactly could be represented by orthographic x; it could represent a phonemic [ks], but that is unlikely. Orthographic q could be a phonemic [q] as well.
The chart below explains the approximate articulations of the consonants, as well as giving a general inventory of those consonants, written in both the Romanized orthography found in the fragments and the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). If two symbols inhabit the same cell, the leftmost is unrounded, the rightmost is rounded:
|high||i [i] y [y]||u [u]|
Like with the consonants, it is ultimately very difficult to decipher exactly what the vowel qualities were; it can be seen, however, that orthographic y can occur in both vowel and consonant environments, leading to an assumption that it is in fact both a vowel, a glide, or a palatal approximant.
The phonotactics of this language are complex; it includes geminated syllabic consonants, irregular consonant clusters (many of which are word-initial), and syllable-final glottal fricatives.
2.1 The Syllable
As can be seen from these fragments, the base syllable can be said to be CVC, but this can be easily expanded into CCVC, CVVC, etc.; CVC is, however, the most basic. A syllable onset can be a single consonant or a consonant cluster, as in firk ‘branch’ and pleurr ‘wave’ respectively. In the rime, syllable nuclei (or full rime itself) can be made of individual vowels, a diphthong/ triphthong, or a syllabic consonant, as in kliy ‘tender’, wiiy ‘falcon’, and virkxhu ‘ resplashes’ respectively. Also in the rime, a coda (if included), can be a consonant, approximant, or consonant cluster.
2.2 Consonant and Vowel Clusters
Initial consonant clusters usually (but not always) subscribe to the sonority hierarchy; for example, kr- is allowed, but rk- is not (as far as these fragments tell). Liquid consonants are always allowed after stops or fricatives (kr-, khl- pl-, pr-, -, vl-, vr-, all occur, for example), as are glides (kw-, for example). Syllable- nal consonant clusters often obey the sonority hierarchy as well (-rk/, -nk/, for example); it is allowed for a liquid or sonorant to come immediately before a syllable-final stop. Syllable-final consonant clusters may also allow glottal fricatives to come before stops, such as in vaihr ‘in truth’. A different syllabic interpretation shows the last -r in vraihr being its own syllable, but that is as of yet unknowable.
Vowel clusters occur in both diphthongs and triphthongs: the diphthongs allowed are ai and ei, for example. Long or geminate vowels do not count as their own clusters; the vowels i, u, and e, for example, can be lengthened; the exact length (long vs. overlong) is unknown, nor is it known whether these two orthographic letters indicate two separate syllables (perhaps separated by a phonetic – not phonemic – glottal stop).