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Ūlari
Type Polysynthetic
Alignment Split-Nom.
Head direction Initial
Tonal No
Declensions Yes
Conjugations Yes
Genders 5
Nouns decline according to...
Case Number
Definiteness Gender
Verbs conjugate according to...
Voice Mood
Person Number
Tense Aspect
Meta-information
Progress 0%
Statistics
Nouns 0%
Verbs 0%
Adjectives 0%
Syntax 0%
Words of 1500
Creator Elector Dark

General InfoEdit

Ūlari (natively Uulár) is the language of some of the dragon-herding peoples in the middle lowlands, in the Ūlari dominion, which acts as a semi-independent tributary of the Dragon Imperium. It reflects some features of the Lowlands Sprachbund, but is for the most part independent from it. It is part of the Agumic languages, and is closely related to the extinct Alnari.

Ūlari is very distinctly a polysynthetic language, with a core nominative alignment that is split along animacy lines.

PhonologyEdit

Labial Coronal Velar Glottal
Laminal Apical Retroflex
Plosive p (p) b (b) t (t) d (d) (ty) (dy) k (k) g (g) ʔ (x)
Fricative ɸ (f) β (v) s (s) z (z) (sy) (zy) ʂ (š) ʐ (ž)
Affricate ts̠ (c) dz̠ (j)
Nasal m (m) n (n) ɲ (ny) ŋ (ng)
Sonorant w (w) ð (ð) j (y) r (r) ɣ (ɣ)
Lateral l (l) (ł) ʎ (ly) ʎ̥ (ły) ʟ (lw) ʟ̥ (łw)
Front Back Diphthong
High i (i)
i: (ii)
u (u)
u: (uu)
(ie)
(uo)
Mid-High e (ë)
e: (ëë)
o (ö)
o: (öö)
ɛɑ (ea)
ɔa (oa)
Mid-Low ɛ (e)
ɛ: (ee)
ɔ (o)
ɔ: (oo)
Low a (ä)
a: (ää)
ɑ (a)
ɑ: (aa)
au (au)
ɑi (ai)

Ūlari also has a prominent pitch feature: a phonemic upstep can appear on any one mora of a word, including individual morae of bimoraic long vowels and diphthongs. It is marked by an acute over a vowel (as in aáða — cat, feline), or by a circumflex that replaces the diaeresis of already accented vowels (as in êune — cricket, firefly). Roots can have a maximum of one accented (marked) syllable, and roots tend not to have more than one marked syllable — though certain noun and verb forms (especially if sufficiently long) can allow two accents.

There also exists a minor harmonic rule: if the accented or (if none are accented) first syllable of the root of a word has one of the vowels /e o/ (or their long counterparts, which are analysed as a sequence of two vowels), the word shall only take affixes that contain vowels from the set /i u e o a ɑ/, forcing all /ɛ ɔ/ to, respectively, raise to /e o/. This applies to both verbs and nouns, but doesn't apply if the accented vowel is another vowel, or if the affixed /ɛ ɔ/ are inherently accented.

PhonotacticsEdit

Ūlari syllables are generally relatively simple. A typical, native Ūlari word must not start or end with more than one phonemic consonant. Syllable nuclei can contain a maximum of two morae, and most Ūlari dialects (though not all) limit this to the short monophthongs, long monophthongs, and the six diphthongs listed above. Some words with their origin in cross-dialect borrowings that have remained intact can have different nuclei, as in the bisyllabic êune, atypical of standard Ūlari.

A typical Ūlari syllable can thus be described as maximally being «CVVC». It is rare for monosyllabic words to have both an onset and a coda, and rare for long monosyllables to be closed. Neither the onset nor the coda are obligatory, though some dialects add a glottal stop to every vowel-initial word.

Some processes regulate the shape of Ūlari words.

Most prominently, Ūlari restricts the occurence of voiced obstruents to initial and medial positions: word-final voiced obstruents always suffer changes across all dialects. Word-finally, the voiced plosives /b d ɡ/ lenite to sonorants /w ð ɣ/ (underlying |b# d# ɡ#|), while the sole remaining voiced plosive /d̠/ devoices and merges with its counterpart /t̠/. The other obstruents, /β z z̠ ʐ dz̠/, likewise devoice to /ɸ s s̠ ʂ ts̠/ respectively.

Ūlari also features a prominent word-final phonetic depalatalisation process, where the palatal /s̠ t̠ ɲ ʎ ʎ̥ ts̠/ change to [js jt jn jl jl̥ jts], giving Ūlari's only (phonetic) word-final consonant clusters. This also applies to the voiced palatal obstruents (which devoice word-finally and then depalatalise in the same manner as their voiceless counterparts do).

There are also several principles that guide the selection of word-internal consonant clusters.

All sonorants from the set /r j l l̥ ʎ ʎ̥ ʟ ʟ̥ m n ɲ ŋ/ may be geminate (where this counts as two consonants), and these are orthographically represented either by doubling the letter (for monographs), doubling the first letter (for digraphs), or by wholesale replacement with { -lh-, -lhy-, -lhw- } (in the case of /l̥ ʎ̥ ʟ̥/ respectively). Gemination of the sonorants /w ð ɣ/ fortites to the obstruent set /bb ddz̠ ɡɡ/. The sequences /{bw βw wb wβ bβ βb} {dð ðd d̠ð ðd̠ ðz dz̠} {ɡɣ ɣɡ}/ also simplify to /bb ddz̠ ɡɡ/ respectively. Typically, the voiced obstruents /b d d̠ ɡ dz̠/ cannot geminate word-internally; there are no /dd d̠d̠/, and all /bb ddz̠ ɡɡ/ are simplifications or fortitions of other sequences. All other attempts at forming these obstruents' geminates are obstructed by epenthesis of (typically) an echo vowel. The voiced obstruents /β z z̠ ʐ/ can geminate regularly, as can all voiceless obstruents except /ʔ/ (as it occurs only root-internally).

Additionally, it is exceptionally rare for a cluster of a voiced stop and some other consonant to form: they are non-existent root-internally, and may form only due to affixation, where they may be avoided by epenthesis. A sequence of two voiced plosives is explicitly disallowed, while a sequence of voiced sonorant (other than /w ð ɣ/) and plosive is generally greenlit. Other sequences are essentially handled per speaker discretion.

A prominent internal process is the spread of palatalisation. Internally, all consonant clusters will assimilate in palatalisation to a palatalised segment. For sonorants, this means that /n l ɣ/ respectively change to /ɲ ʎ j/. This, notably, doesn't happen with /j/ as the palatal segment.

If the sequence is fully made up of coronals, they will, with the exception of /r/, all change to one of /t̠ d̠ z̠ ʎ ɲ/, and /ð/ will fully shift to /j/. Sequences of any palatal other than /ts̠ dz̠ j/ followed by /r/ are disallowed. The retroflexes /ʂ ʐ/ may optionally remain distinct as [ʂ ʐ] and not palatalise.

In most other cases, palatalisation tends to force itself onto the rightmost segment. In cases where this is phonemically impossible (as with the sequence /ɲ+b/, for example), it tends to manifest as a full palatal segment [j], giving a triconsonantal internal consonant cluster (|ɲ+b| > /ɲbʲ/ > [mbj]).

Nasals tend to assimilate to the following plosive in place of articulation (with palatalisation taken into account), but fail to do so to a plosive that precedes them.

MorphophonologyEdit

Ūlari employs several prominent morphophonological processes for a variety of goals.

The primary morphophonological alternation in Ūlari is the absolutive form of nouns. It is a prefixed noun form that undergoes a sort of historically obscured palatalisation, and many nouns have irregular absolutive forms. The absolutive is expressed primarily through the nominal prefix #i-Cʲ which attaches to the 'underlying' forms of nouns and palatalises their initial consonant. The most common irregularities in absolutives are either the change in vowel quality or accent, or the surfacing of an otherwise lost |h ɦ|, otherwise null /Ø/, that palatalise to different segments. Very frequently, the absolutive prefix can wholesale replace the first vowel (usually with its front counterpart) if it isn't shielded by an underlying glottal.

The regular absolutive palatalisations:

Class Unprefixed Absolutive
Laterals l ł ly ły lw łw ly ły zy sy zy sy
lana; łöye ilyana; iłyöye
Nasals m n ny my ny y
möyn; nyora imyöyn; inyera
Plosives p b t d ty dy k g sw zw ty dy c j c j
böri; däla; koya izwöri; idyäla; iceya
Sonorants ð r gh ðy r y
ghu iyu
Fricatives f v s z sy zy š ž c j fy vy sy zy y y (ss zz) ssy zzy
sora; žäära; šolári isyöra; ižäära; isselári
Underlying h ɦ s z
aáða; awäm izáða; isâwäm


The remaining segments /j ŋ ʔ/ do not undergo absolutive palatalisation: the word xoca > ixeca exemplifies this the best. Due to the confusion between words with underlying |h ɦ| and those with a zero segment |Ø|, there are two opposite regularisation trends: the first is the elimination of the underlying glottals and y-insertion in many resulting regularised absolutives, and the second is the regularisation of apparent s/z-insertion (derived from the palatalisation of the underlying glottals). A generalised resulting insertion pattern emerges: {ṼR VV́R V́VR} > {iyṼR izV́R izV́VR}, where R represents the root remnant without the initial vowel(s), and V ~ Ṽ ~ V́ respectively represent an unaccented vowel, a vowel with any accent, or a specifically accented vowel. A prototypical example of this is the word êune > izêune, which has undergone z-insertion as if it were underlying | ɦé.u.nɛ |. Many of these z-inserted words also accept s-insertion (generally in free variation), or y-insertion (competing pattern). Some words allow only some, or just one, of the strategies, and some preserve their old (formerly regular) absolutives.

The absolutive has multiple uses. Primarily, it is used to form the absolutive stem to which postpositions and possessive suffixes may attach. Many nouns, furthermore, lack absolutives, and cannot be possessed or take postpositions in the usual ways; an example of this are iyu "world" and isu "candle, candlelight", and their derivatives isuya "animal fat" (that which candles are made from), iyuya "candle" (that which light is made by, where iyu once used to mean "light, brightness") and iyuriya "light" (dissimilated from *iyuyiya, that which candles are made of). Many of these nouns are ancient and form a closed class. The absolutive palatalisation is a grammaticalised change: no other i-prefix causes it, neither in nouns nor in verbs.

Nominal MorphologyEdit

The class of Ūlari nominals includes nouns and pronominals, which reflect similar categories and share some syntactic similarities. They collectively inflect for case, number and nominal class; individually, nouns additionally may reflect possessedness, derivation and other categories, while pronouns reflect person of reference (for personal pronouns), distance (for demonstratives), and other pronominal qualities.

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