Picking up the threads

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.

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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Eastern Dahu : a linguistic overview

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.

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The sound of Lemohai dialects

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.

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What does Lemohai sound like?

Vowels

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.

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Lemohai : a linguistic overview

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.

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