Cwindoià: Phonemes, syllable structure and prosody

Cwindoià is a language I started coming up with a few days ago.  I intend to make it a polysynthetic language, as I’ve never really played with constructing one of them before.  It’ll probably be based heavily on Aymara.

Phoneme Inventory:

Nasal (N): /m n ŋ/ <m n nh>
Stop (T): /p t k ʔ/ <p t c ‘>
Prenasalized (D): /mb nd ŋg/ <mb nd ng>
Fricative (S): /f θ s ɬ ʂ ʃ ç xʷ h/ <f th s hl hr sh hy hw h>
Liquid (L): /r l/ <r l>
Glide (Y): /j w/ <y w>

Short vowel (V): /a ɛ ə ɔ e o i u/ <a è à ò e o i u>
Long vowel (V:): /aː ɛː ɔː eː oː iː uː/ <á ê ô é ó í ú>
Diphthong (V:) : /aɪ ɛɪ ɔɪ oɪ aʊ ɛʊ ɔʊ eʊ eə oə iə uə/ <ai èi  òi oi au èu  òu eu eà oà ià uà>

A note: I split long vowels and diphthongs up here for space concerns; they are treated identically both phonotactically and prosodically, so they got the same letter.

Syllable Structure:

The maximal syllable structure in Cwindoià is:

[C/TL/TY][VC/V:]

What this means is that within a syllable, a long vowel or a diphthong cannot be followed by a coda consonant, and that the only real consonant clusters allowed in a syllable are in the onset position and consist of a voiceless stop followed by a sonorant consonant.

Syllable Weight:

In Cwindoià, there are three syllable weights, that are determined by onset weight and rime weight added together.  Weight may never exceed 2.

Light onsets (+0 weight): T,  N, S, L, Y
Heavy onsets (+1 weight): TL, TY, D

Light rimes (+0 weight): V
Heavy rimes (+1 weight): V:, VT, VN, VS, VL
Superheavy rimes (+2 weight): VD

Prosody:

The language has a pitch accent system.

The assignment of high pitch is based on syllable weight.  The rules for assignment are as follows:

  1. Weightless (0-weight) syllables cannot take high pitch.
  2. On weighted syllables (1 or 2), stress occurs on alternating syllables starting at the word onset.  Two stressed syllables may not occur contiguously in any circumstance.
  3. In any sequence of weighted syllables with unequal weights, the heavier syllable takes pitch.

There is, in addition, a low pitch to be assigned:

  1. Low pitch is assigned to any unassigned syllable that occurs between two unassigned syllables, starting at the word onset.

After high and low pitch are assigned, all syllables with neither high nor low assignments are assigned middle pitch.

Next stop: allophony.

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2 thoughts on “Cwindoià: Phonemes, syllable structure and prosody

  1. I’ve just looked here after clicking your shameless plug on the ZBB. Syllable weight, eh? I’ve been wondering for years now how my conlang actually assings stress. Maybe that’s something I should look into as well 🙂

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