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Kamakawi Phonology

To be quite honest with you (and, you should know, honesty is number one with me), I feel bad including a phonology section for this language, because its phonology is so itsy-bitsy. Nevertheless, here it is: A page on the world wide web. A whole page! No one will ever be able to use the above url so long as I live. Why? Because the tiny little phonology of Kamakawi will be there. Forever! So, here goes.



Consonants

 

Bilabial

Labio-Dental

Dental

Palatal

Velar

Labio-Velar

Glottal

Stops

p

 

t

 

k

 

' (=ʔ)

Fricatives

 

f, v

       

h

Nasals

m

 

n

       

Approximants

   

l

y (=j)

 

w

 

So, those are the sounds. As for the rules, well, since there aren't many sounds, there aren't many rules. Yet, rules there are. They are:

  • /h/ > [ʔ] / V_V ([h] otherwise)
  • /f/ > [v] / V_V ([f] otherwise)
  • I think that's it for consonants, so now onto the fabulous vowels!



    Fabulous Vowels!

     

    Front

    Central

    Back

    Close

    i

     

    u

    Close-Mid

     

    ə

     

    Open-Mid

    e (=ɛ)

     

    o (=ɔ)

    Open

     

    a

     

    Not very exciting, actually. Again, there are only a couple of rules. Here they are:

  • /a/ > [ə] / when not tonic or pretonic or word-initial ([a] otherwise)
  • /i, u/ > [j, w] / #...V_V ([i] and [u] otherwise)
  • The above can lead to minimal pairs such as the following:

    Romanization

    Phonologically

    Phonetically

    Meaning

    poiu

    p-o-i-u

    [pɔ.'i.u]

    "to go out of/from"

    poyu

    p-o-i-u

    ['pɔ.ju]

    "chin"

    kaui

    k-a-u-i

    [ka.'u.i]

    "matchmaker"

    kawi

    k-a-u-i

    ['ka.wi]

    "cloud"

    Notice the phonological spellings. It's important to note, though, that both "kaui" and "poiu" (using the Romanization) are comprised of two morphemes: "ka" (two) + "ui" (to conjoin) = "kaui"; "po" (outside) + "iu" (to go through) = "poiu".

    The last thing to note in this phonology section (other than the stress, which is on the penultimate syllable) is that hiatus is possible and frequent. There is, for example, a word "aeiu" which is phonetically [ʔa.ɛ.'i.u], and it means "to go inside" (it's also bimorphemic). And, as you may have noticed, words beginning with vowels really begin with glottal stops--just like words beginning with /ʔ/ really begin with [h]. Funny world, isn't it?


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