What did Proto-Dahu-Kemba sound like?

Proto-Dahu-Kemba is reconstructed as having 27 phonemes. It was characterised by its few points of vowel articulation, a lack of voicing contrast amongst consonants and the prominence of velar, uvular and pharyngeal sounds. Syllables were simple or moderately complex.

The standard model of PDK has stood the test of time, but some uncertainties remain. These are indicated below. The language was unwritten. We must assume that it had dialects, but nothing is known about them.



PDK had four short monophthongs each with a long equivalent, giving a total of eight. Long vowels are written double. It is assumed that they were made at the same points of articulation as their long equivalents, but this is not known for certain.

Short: a, e, i, u = /a, ə, i, u/

Long: aa, ee, ii, uu = /a:, ə:, i:, u:/

The location of e is particularly problematic. It is generally regarded as mid-central, but could have been higher or lower. It may also have been further forward, though not fully a front vowel.

Diphthongs & Triphthongs

The combination of any monophthong with short i or u was a valid diphthong in PDK. I and u reduced nearly to /y, w/ whilst a and e kept their full sound. At this stage, it is impossible to tell which vowel reduced in the diphthongs iu and ui.

Unlike a number of its descendants, the language does not appear to have possessed any triphthongs.

Vowel Allophones

High vowels were lowered to mid-high when adjacent to uvular consonants. So i would be pronounced /e/ and u would become /o/.




The language had five plosives, all voiceless. They had no apparent allophones.

Voiceless: p, t, k, q, ‘ = /p, t, k, q, ʔ/


The language had four nasal consonants, a high number.

m, n, ng, nq = /m, n, ŋ, ɴ/

The uvular nasal is transcribed here as nq, but this should not be taken to mean that it was a voiceless sound. The q is there simply to illustrate uvularity. The digraph is consistent with the use of ng.


The language also had six fricatives, a similar number to many European languages in our world.

f, z, s, x, xh, h = /f, s̻ , s̺ ,  x, χ, h/

As in Basque, z is used to represent a laminal /s/, whilst s represents a apical one. The first is more hissing, the latter more hushing. Xh represents the voiceless uvular fricative, a sound midway between /x/ and /h/, hence its chosen symbol.

Other Consonants and Allophones

Finally, the language possessed four other sonorants. These were:

l, r, y, w  = / l, ɾ, y, w/

They were normally pronounced as above, but l became /ʟ/ in syllable coda position and r became trilled /r/ word initially.

Consonant Gemination

Consonants could be geminated. Geminates are written double in this transcription. Logically enough, the only consonants that could geminate were those that could appear in syllable coda position. These are listed in the next section. Geminated consonants were normally pronounced like single ones, though rr had a trilled /rr/ sound instead of the usual flap.


Supra-segmental Features

Only the following syllable types were permitted in Proto-Dahu-Kemba:

(C)V, (C)V:, (C)VV, (C)VC

Any consonant could appear in coda position except for y, w and .

Stress fell on the penultimate syllable unless the final syllable was heavy (i.e. unless the final syllable was CV:, CVV or CVC). Heavy final syllables took the stress instead. Secondary stress occurred two syllables before the one with primary stress.


Proto-Dahu-Kemba : a linguistic overview

The Proto-Dahu-Kemba language, the ancestor of the Dahu-Kemba language family, was spoken by the Proto-Dahu-Kemba people who lived in North-East Aheku until Omun Hemwan-186X (what we would call 1500 BC). OH -186X was the first of several years of migration for the PDK people.

They moved west to establish two new settlements, one in what is now Heiko and one in modern Pekau. Once the two colonies were established, their speech patterns began to diverge. Separate Dahu and Kemba languages were recognisable from somewhere around OH -1722 (i.e. 1300 BC).

Their language is known to us as Proto-Dahu-Kemba. What its speakers called it, though, is unknown. They kept no written records, so PDK is known to us only through reconstruction.

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The Dahu-Kemba language family

The Dahu-Kemba languages are spoken today across much of North-West Aheku, including on Mohai, though they originated further east. There are, or have been, twenty-four Dahu-Kemba languages of which fourteen are extant.


Proto-Dahu-Kemba was spoken by the Proto-Dahu-Kemba people who lived in North-East Aheku until Omun Hemwan-186X (what we would call 1500 BC). In OH -186X the PDK people began to migrate west. They established two new colonies, one in what is now Heiko and one in modern Pekau. The dialects of the two colonies  became separate Dahu and Kemba languages from around OH -1722 (i.e. 1300 BC).

The Dahu language had a strong sub-stratum influence from local languages in the Macro-Senduri family. For reasons which are not clear, Kemba had no influence from pre-existing local languages. It is therefore considered closer to PDK.

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Some nations and languages of Tekuo

Most of these states and territories are on the north coast of the continent of Aheku and are peopled by Ikhe. Ikhe are one of the three sapient species of Tekuo.


Mohai is an island to the north of Aheku. It has an area of 162,350 square kilometres (62,683 square miles), approximately 450 miles by 150. The population stands at 13,280,000. This works out at 82 per square kilometre.

Mohai was the ancient home of the Senduri, before the Dahu arrived. The Dahu conquered much of north-west Aheku. Later, it was absorbed into the Kemba Empire. Mohai attained independence in the early modern era. At this point, Lemohai (an Eastern Dahu language) became the official language and its people became known as the Romohai.

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Taking stock

This blog is now some nineteen months old. During this time, content and appearance have been unusually stable by my standards and until recently there has been a regular updating.

I took time off in the Spring for a period of political activity. That has now finished and I have come back to the blog following another period of reflection on content and presentation.

My attempts to produce a set of sound changes from a proto-language have suffered setbacks, but the project has emerged stronger for them. I can now see what a couple of Lemohai’s sister languages will look like.

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Simplifying the site

This post is the counterpart to the previous wherein I outlined the changes I have made to the concept of my study area. This post states what I am doing to content posts and subject metadata to realise the changes to the scenario.

As luck would have it, not much change is required on the site. I will now list all the posts, categories and tags I need to alter. I will update this post to record when changes are made.

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Simplifying the scenario

This post brings together my current thoughts on the overall scenario discussed on mohai.conlang.org.

There needs to be a plausible number of peoples and languages in the study area. I mostly have this now. The site looks at the north coast of the continent of Aheku and focuses on the island of Mohai. The timeline post notes the existence of Etsuri and Pekau, mainland states speaking languages from the same Dahu language family as Lemohai. Other unnamed Dahu states are hinted at.

The existence of Heiko is well-documented. This is Mohai’s main rival for power within its culture sphere. Heitak speaks a language from the Kemba family and the existence of other Kemba language states is hinted at.

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More previous

I’m pleased to report that I have found four more old files and added them to my Previous page, a list of old projects from before the Mohai scenario.

There’s two new language files been added and two new sports files. The language files are sketch grammars of Suomina (a Finno-Latin hybrid) and Xelhara a moderately head-marking language from the Lesdeka scenario. These flesh-out the brief descriptions of those languages already on the page.

As to sport, I’ve found the oldest version of Yhebano. Yhebano was a ball-handling team game and ancestor to the Mohaian sport of Hebanon. I’ve added a description of the rules and history of the game plus a set of results from the league I once ran.

You can check this all out following the link above.


Who were the Proto-Dahu-Kemba?

The ancient people now known as the Proto-Dahu-Kemba (or just PDK) were a race of Ikhe who lived on the coast in the north-east of the continent of Aheku. Archaeology tell us that they remained in this area until around OH -186X (-1500 BC in our world).

Evidence from this date on indicates a migration to the west along the coast. We know from the speed of their movement and its narrow pathway that this was not a gradual spreading west, but a conscious migration. The speed of their travel suggests movement was partly by land and partly by sea. We do not know however what motivated the move.

We know the Proto-Dahu-Kemba had boats, including outrigger canoes and katamarans. They also had good navigation skills. It is thought that katamarans were used to transport goods and passengers and outriggers as scouts and protectors of the larger vessels.

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