So, I’m back! While I’ve been away, I’ve been thinking. This is always dangerous and usually heralds a big rewrite somewhere. This is also true now.
Gradually, and without my consciously deciding it, the project has become less about Lemohai and more about the rest of the Dahu-Kemba language family. I’ve been looking at how language families are modelled on the Akana collaborative conworld site and have been struck by a number of impressively concise phoneme inventories there.
Languages like Kataputi, Proto-Lukpanic, Pencek and Proto-Tulameya have only nineteen or twenty phonemes, yet still have interesting phoneme inventories. I thought I’d been brief-but-interesting with Lemohai’s twenty-eight sounds, but clearly I could go briefer and still maintain interest value.
A couple of points have long bothered me about the current Lemohai inventory. Eight of the twenty-eight phonemes are written with digraphs and that’s a high number. Whatsmore, nine of the eighteen consonants are obstruent stops, another high number. I’m also struggling to derive all twenty-eight sounds from Proto-Dahu-Kemba.
If I reduce the number of phonemes in Lemohai, this makes it easier to model the sound changes from Proto-Dahu-Kemba to Lemohai. It also frees up phonological ideas for use elsewhere in the family. Most of the family will still only be sketched-out and act as naming languages and sources of loanwords for Lemohai, but I think it’s worth getting the basics right for them.
I have a new inventory in mind for Lemohai. It’s settled bar a couple of points which I shall mull over some more between now and New Year. I also have positive plans for re-using the phonemes I drop from Lemohai. I still like these sounds and moving them will enhance the project as a whole.
Proto-Dahu-Kemba is reconstructed as having 21 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.
Continue reading “What did Proto-Dahu-Kemba sound like?”
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.
Continue reading “Proto-Dahu-Kemba : a linguistic overview”
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.
Continue reading “The Dahu-Kemba language family”
The modern Lemohai language is descended from Eastern Dahu, a language spoken on the island of Mohai and in Etsuri and Pekau, the nearest parts of mainland Aheku. ED was in turn descended from Dahu and ultimately Proto-Dahu-Kemba.
The Proto-Dahu-Kemba were a race of Ikhe, living in the north-east of Aheku. They then began a westward trek along the north coast. Archaeological evidence suggests the trek began around OH -186X (-1500 BC in our calendar).
Some PDK tribes reached what is now Pekau, others only went as far as modern Heiko. From this point on the speech of the two communities diverged, becoming separate Dahu and Kemba languages.
Continue reading “Eastern Dahu : a linguistic overview”
There were seven dialects in Eastern Dahu, four of which were represented on Mohai. By the modern era these have reduced to three thanks to a mixture of education, broadcasting and increased travel. The three modern dialect areas are: Northern, Central and Southern. The Central dialect has most speakers.
The phonology of Modern Standard Lemohai (MSL) is based on educated speech from the capital Orisu and the surrounding area. This lies within the Central dialect zone, half way up the east coast.
Continue reading “The sound of Lemohai dialects”
Modern Standard Lemohai has a so-called “pure” vowel system, consisting of five oral and five nasal monophthongs. These keep their full value in all circumstances. In theory, they are never swallowed-up and cannot form diphthongs or triphthongs. Where two monophthongs meet, a slight hiatus is sounded between them. So words like Mohai and Tekuo consist of three syllables not two.
In rapid or colloquial speech, diphthongs will sometimes be encountered, though the practice is non-standard.
Oral monophthongs: a, e, i, o, u = /a, ɛ, i, ɔ, u /
Nasal monophthongs: an, en, in, on, un = /ã, ɛ̃, ĩ, , ɔ̃ , ũ/
Nasal vowels are sounded in the same place as their oral equivalents in the standard language. They are not permitted before sonorants. When compounding therefore, nasal vowels become oral in this position. Before a labial b or p in the same word, nasal vowels are written Vm. This also applies on compounding.
Continue reading “What does Lemohai sound like?”
Lemohai is a contemporary language from the planet Tekuo. Its speakers are a race of Ikhe, who call themselves the Romohai. They are found mainly on the island of Mohai, though some moved to colonies on the mainland during the island’s Imperial Era.
There are some 15.6 million native speakers in all. Around 12.1 million live on Mohai, whilst the rest live in nearby mainland countries, mostly in ports and large cities. The language is also used as a lingua franca across much of North Aheku and widely studied as a second language.
Continue reading “Lemohai : a linguistic overview”