Outline of the phonology of Thomoraii

This is part of the third incarnation of my language Thomoraii, otherwise known as Tǎi, Tą and Tâï (the current name is Thomoraii or Tǎi). My translations of a seakitty notice and a scene from Super Paper Mario are in the second version of Thomoraii, so they’re outdated at the moment. This rough phonology is the beginning of a new grammar of the modern, standard literary dialect of Obtobian Thomoraii.

Phonemes

Thomoraii has only 13 consonant phonemes. In their basic form:

Labial

Labiodental

Dental

Alveolar

Alveolar-Palatal

Velar

Glottal

Stop

Fricative

f

θ

s

h

Approximant

w

l

j

Trill

r

Nasal

m

n

But then Thomoraii has 15 vowel phonemes. These are generally divided into three sets – the basic set, the pharyngealized set, and the epiglottalized set. Thomoraii grammarians typically call the basic vowels the green vowels, the pharyngealized vowels the blue vowels, and the epiglottalized vowels the black vowels. I will be using this traditional terminology throughout this grammar.

Green vowels:

Front

Central

Back

Close

i

u

Close mid

o

Mid

Open mid

ɛ

Open

a

Blue vowels:

Front

Central

Back

Close

i

u

Close mid

Mid

ə

Open mid

ɛ

Open

a

Black vowels:

Front

Central

Back

Close

u

Close mid

e

ɵ

Mid

Open mid

ɛ

Open

a

The actual phonetic realization of a consonant depends on the color of the vowel nucleus of the syllable it’s in. In syllables with a monophthong nucleus, the nucleus determines the realization of both onset and coda. In syllables with a diphthong nucleus, however, the onset is determined by the first sound of the diphthong, and the coda is determined by the second sound of the diphthong.

Here’s a table of how consonant phonemes are realized according to the color of the determining vowel. In general, green vowels are associated with lack of voicing, blue vowels with retroflex place of articulation, and black vowels with voicing, but many phonemes break these patterns. Please also note that this chart only shows the general realization; there are a few more processes that occur after vowel color has its say.

Green

Blue

Black

p

b

ʈ

d

q

ɢ

h

ħ

ʔ

f

v

s

ʂ

z

j

j

ɰ

w

w

ɰ

l

ɭ

ɫ

r

ɻ

ɻ

n

ɳ

ŋ

m

m

θ

ʃ

d͡ʒ

The phonological processes that occur after vowel color determination vary by dialect. Here are a few of the major processes that occur in most modern Obtobian dialects.

/ai/ and /oi/ of any combination of colors are diphthongized
[kʰ] → [g] before blue /i ɛ u/
[h] → [h̰] before [i ɛ e] of all colors
A single vowel following [h̰] is nasalized
Doubled consonants are not geminated

Phonotactics

Most syllables are CV or VC, with any consonants being allowed in the consonant slots. However, there are several other possible syllable shapes, too:

CV(/s r m n t θ/), e.g. [tʰas], [baŋ], [joʃ]
[stop]/r/V, e.g. [tʰra], [dɻa]
/s/[stop]V, e.g. [stʰa], [zda]
V, but this syllable shape is rare in roots – it’s mostly found in inflected words and loanwords

Stress

Stress patterns vary significantly by dialect. This grammar, however, will assume typical Obtobian stress, which is always initial.

Romanization

Thomoraii is rather tricky to romanize, since if you do it phonetically, there are too many sounds to be able to elegantly represent them. But if you do it phonemically, the romanization does not clearly show what the actual pronunciation is. Since neither is ideal, this grammar will use a phonetic romanization when it is important to emphasize how something is pronounced, and will use a phonemic romanization in all other cases.

Phonemic Romanization

pʰ <p>
tʰ <t>
kʰ <k>
h <h>
f <f>
s <s>
j <y>
w <w>
l <l>
r <r>
n <n>
m <m>
θ <sh>

Green

Blue

Black

i <i>

i <ǐ>

e <î>

u <u>

u <ǔ>

u <û>

o <o>

ə <ǒ>

ɵ <ô>

ɛ <e>

ɛ <ě>

ɛ <ê>

a <a>

a <ǎ>

a <â>

Phonetic Romanization

Vowels are romanized in the same way as in the phonemic transcription.

pʰ <ph>
p <p>
b <b>
tʰ <t>
ʈ <ţ>
d <d>
kʰ <k>
q <q>
ɢ <qh>
h <h>
ħ <hh>
ʔ <‘>
f <f>
v <v>
vˠ <vg>
s <s>
ʂ <ş>
z <z>
j <y>
ɰ <yg>
w <w>
l <l>
ɭ <ļ>
ɫ <lg>
r <r>
ɻ <ŗ>
n <n>
ɳ <ņ>
ŋ <ng>
m <m>
mˠ <mg>
θ <th>
ʃ <sh>
d͡ʒ <j>

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