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Classical Ngade n Tim Ar (CT: Ĝate n Tim Ar /ŋa˩te˩ n̩ tim˩ aɹ˩/ [ŋa˩de˩ n̩ tim˩ aɹ˩]) is the ancestral language to the various Tim Ar languages and is currently in use as a lingua franca for the Kmtön n Tim Ar.

Phonology

Consonants

Consonants
Labial Dental Alveolar Velar Radical
Nasal m n ŋ ĝ
Stop t k
Fricative θ ð s · ɬ ł x ȝ h
Approximant ɹ r · l ʕ ʕ

Voicing of voiceless obstruents (except /h/) between two voiced sounds within the same word was productive in CT—e.g., híðia /hi˥θi˩a˩/ → [hi˥ði˩a˩] 'crab'.

Vowels

Vocoids

Vowels
Front Central Back
High i · y ü ɯ ï · u
Mid e · ø ö ɤ ë · o
Low a
  • High-tone vowels are written with an acute if the low-tone grapheme has no accent mark or with a circumflex if it has an umlaut, which the circumflex replaces (q.v.).
  • Fronting of /a/ to [æ] immediately preceding a nasal within the same word was productive in the CT period, e.g. saman út /sa˩man˩ ut˥/ → [sæ˩mæn˩ ut˥] ' saman úd '

Syllabic consonants

/m̩ n̩ ŋ̩ ɹ̩ l̩/ m n ĝ r l

Tone

/˩ ˥/

There are two tones, low and high. Low tone is indicated with either no diacritic or an umlaut; high tone is indicated with an acute accent or a circumflex (replacing an umlaut).

Syllabic consonants cannot take distinctive tone.

Sandhi

When the genitive particle (m, n, or ĝ, as appropriate) precedes a nasal in the next words, that nasal elides.

n noȝo ü /n̩ no˩xo˩ y˩/ → n 'oȝo ü [n‿o˩ɣo˩ y˩] 'of the nojo-plant'

This contrasts with vowel-initial words:

n oȝo ü /n̩ o˩xo˩ y˩/ → n oȝo ü [n̩ o˩ɣo˩ y˩] 'of the washbasin'

Writing system

CT is natively written using a form of cuneiform called e nákhî ar.

Linguistic history

Development from Proto-Tim Ar-O

Phonological situation in Proto-Tim Ar-O

Proto-Tim Ar-O appears to have had only two phonemic vowels, *o and *e. As in CT, several consonants appear to have had the ability to stand without *o *e in the nucleus, i.e. *w *ɹ *l *j *ʁ. Of these, *w *j *ʁ seem to have had syllabic allophones [*u *i *a].

Tone split

The apparent voicing contrast in Proto-Tim Ar-O seems to have generated a tone split. Voiced onsets created a low tone on a following vowel. Voiceless consonants generated a high tone, with the exception of the glottal stop *ʔ, which patterned with the voiced onsets. This was followed by voiced-voiceless pairs merging to the voiceless consonant, with *h becoming *ʔ. Additionally, original *VʔV and *VhV sequences, where the vowels are identical, yield low-tone and high-tone variants of the vowel.

Cluster resolution and metathesis

Clusters consisting of three consonants resolved as follows:

  • If the first consonant was a resonant, it was deleted if it came before two obstruents (the "ROO rule").
  • Remaining clusters of three consonants dropped the third consonant.

Syllable-initial clusters of an obstruent plus one of *l *ɹ also simplified. *p was deleted before *l when both occurred in onset position; onset *t *k *s *x combined with this *l to form a lateral fricative *ɬ. All five consonants combined with *ɹ yielding *ʃ when these consonants were in onset position.

After this, sandhi rules changed the plural marker from a standalone word to a proclitic. The eroded plural marker then triggered metathesis of a following CVC sequence to VCC; that is, *#ɹa=CVC > *#aɹCVC > *#əɹVCC > *#VCC. This once more permitted clusters of three consecutive consonants in the language, though these only appear in plural forms (e.g., híðia ~ íhðia). Extensive analogy has converted this to a productive plural pattern.

New syllabic *ʁ appears to have vocalized at this time; this ultimately leads to forms such as łoʕ ~ oła.

Fricative processes

Several lenitions appear to have occurred. The uvular plosive *q lenited to /x/. Additionally, a shift of the spirants *s *ʃ forward occurred, ending up as *θ *s. Additionally, pursuant to this process, *p lenited to /h/ through an intermediate *f (as attested by evidence from loanwords). These latter two processes are exemplified in the history of PTO *pjsjʁ 'scorpion' > CT híðia /hi˥θi˩a˩/ 'crab'; cf. PO *pjhjr [pfihja] 'scorpion' > O fư:yè [fɨːjɛ].

Vocalic developments

Two vowels of unlike frontness/backness (*a was exempt from this process) merged into a vowel with the height, tone, and place of articulation of the second vowel and the roundedness of the first—e.g., *u˩e˥ > ø˥. Following this, the glottal stop *ʔ dropped, leading to hiatus. *w *j near a vowel then gained fully vocalic surface forms, and the uvular *ʁ backed to a pharyngeal resonant /ʕ/.

End-state processes

Consonants, with the exception of *h, voiced when in between two voiced sounds within a word. Additionally, the low vowel *a fronted slightly to [æ] immediately preceding a nasal. These remained a productive allophonic process in CT.

Subsequent developments

The primary diagnostic for how CT developed into the various Tim Ar dialects involves the evolution of original /θ/. No current idiom preserves /θ/ as /θ/. The current Imperial dialect has merged this with /s/, leading to a number of homophones.

Grammatical differences

Proto-Tim Ar-O had a nominalizing infix *-e- (the "*e-infix") that appears to have generally been used to derive agentive nouns from verbs. Classical Ngade n Tim Ar, for unknown reasons, eschewed this infix, leading to an abundance of zero-derivation processes, to the point that nouns and verbs often have the same form. Some derivational processes do appear to have arisen or to have been retained.

CT also developed a copula, áʕe, from a PTO phrasal verb *hʁ ʁe 'stand there'.

Grammar

Verbs

Voice

CT has four verbal voices: Active, reflexive, reciprocal, and cooperative. (What would be phrased as a passive in English is expressed using the dummy subject .)

Reflexive/Middle voice

ðek

Reciprocal voice
Cooperative voice

Aspect

Momentane

êðsáu

Continuous perfective

itü

Discontinuous perfective

áłaʕ

Experiential

ĝîn

Habitual

kurn

Attemptive

tóál

Voice

Voice in CT can be expressed several ways.

Passive

. . .lü (dummy subject)

Reflexive

intëĝ. . .lü

Reciprocal

mho. . .lü

Cooperative

áȝné. . .(signa/whatever)