Kelenala Phonology

There are a couple of missing steps in the Kelenala phonology. In a real creole, you would have at least two separate language, one of which would supply most of the words. These words would then be phonologically reduced to fit in with the various phonologies of the languages of the speakers of the new creole. Here's a couple of examples from Tok Pisin, a creole spoken in Papua New Guinea:

English Word Tok Pisin Equivalent
fellow pela
him em
this dis

Both the [f] and the "th" sound in "this" were foreign to the original speakers of this pidgin, so they were replaced, respectively, by [p] and [d]. As for the loss of [h], that happens a lot (if simplification is going to happen, that's usually one of the first to go, after consonant clusters). So, that's what happens in the real world. Kelenala, however, is a super creole, and has no input languages; just the word list. As such, I could have invented phonologically complex words, and then simplified them, but since there were no real languages to take the words from, I cut out the middleman, and just created phonologically reduced words. So, here's the phonology:


  Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stops p t   k  
Nasals m n      
Fricatives   s     h
Liquids   l      
Glides w*   j** w*  

* The sound [w] is labio-velar, so that's why it's listed in both places.
** The sound [j] is represented as "y" in the romanization.


  Front Central Back
High i   u
Mid e   o
Low   a  

These are the basic five vowels, though the diphthongs /ay/ and /aw/ are treated as vowels, as well.


The only syllables allowed are V and CV (where V can be /a/, /e/, /o/, /i/, /u/, /ay/ or /aw/). There are a couple wrinkles, though:

1.) Neither /t/ nor /h/ appear intervocalically.
2.) /y/ doesn't appear after /ay/.
3.) /w/ doesn't appear after /aw/.
4.) /z/ doesn't appear at all!

An imagined sound change is that /t/ became [s] intervocalically.


Stress is generally on the second to last syllable. Where a word ends in a heavy syllable (that is, when it ends in a diphthong), it's stressed word-finally. So, for a word like naykiway, "alcohol", the stress falls on the last a. Other than this, there are some words that are stressed in unpredictable places. These will always be the result of compounding. So, for example, the word for "January" is composed of the word for "star", hayseli, and the word for "month", ayma (because David Bowie was born in January). The result is Hayselima, which is stressed on the e, and not on the i, as one would expect. As a result, all unpredictable stress is marked with an acute accent, giving us Haysélima for "January".

All content words must be stressed. Plus, all stressed monosyllabic words must have at least two morae. Thus, all monosyllabic content words whose vowels are not diphthongs have long vowels.

A Note on Word Building

First, I'd like to say that I used a random word generator to try to insure that I didn't go wild using particular consonants or syllables, but had an even balance. It didn't exactly work out (there are /y/'s everywhere!). Part of the reason for that, though, is, as with all my languages, I try to make the words that are used most frequently shorter than those that are not. It just so happens that several of the short words used most frequently have a /y/ in them, so the language is very /y/-y (try to pronounce that!). Anyway, but the point I want to make is this: I used a program created by none other than Josh Brandt-Young: A genius of immense proportions! And, to top it all off, he did it for Mac OS X. Brilliant. Maybe someday he will market his program, but that day has not yet come, otherwise I'd give you a link to somewhere where it could be purchased. For now, though, that looks like it. No more phonology. Say goodbye, Phonology! We'll revisit you another day.

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