Swamp Lizardman languages
The Swamp Lizardman language family is a family of languages spoken by the indigenous Lizardman population of Southern Etrand. It is currently the only exant branch of the Continental Lizardman languages besides the Charnek Lizardman language, which is an isolate. It consists of several languages that have varying degrees of mutual intelligibility.
Evolution from the Common Continental Lizardman language
While the Swamp Lizardman languages are multiple and divergent, they all share certain traits, including some of the shifts they went through during the evolution from the Continental Lizardman proto-language. These shifts include:
- Palatalization of velars /kʰ k x/ to a new class of alveolo-palatals /t͡ɕʰ t͡ɕ ɕ/ before front vowels and /j/
- A heavy amount of vowel reduction and vowel elision, resulting in the complete collapse of the initial-medial-final system, a large number of syllabic consonants, and complex consonant clusters not allowed in any other Lizardman languages. Syllabic consonants inherited the tones of the elided vowels that produced said syllabic consonants, such as /ʂɨ˩˥/ → /ʂ̩˩˥/.
- An additional tendency of desyllibifaction, as in, formerly syllabic consonants losing their syllabic status. Syllabic consonants with tones are never desyllibified.
- The two processes combined together could even result in a four-syllable word being reduced to just one syllable, such as /ʂɨ.tʰɑ.ʂɨ.tʰə/ → /ʂ̩.tʰɑ.ʂ̩.t̩/ → /ʂtɑʂt/
- It is important to note that neither the vowel reduction, nor the desyllibification were entirely predictable or even consistent. Additionally, there was more to the desyllibification process than just producing consonant clusters by removing the syllabic status of consonants. Sometimes, syllabic consonants also produced a prosthetic vowel, when the new word would have resulted in a consonant cluster too complex. Nevertheless, Swamp Lizardman languages remain rich in syllabic consonants, including the infamous "long hiss".
- The most common "victims" of vowel elision are/were /ə/ and /ɨ/, but other vowels - chiefly /i/ after palatal consonants - can get reduced or elided too. Other vowels can also get reduced.
- Heavy decrease in analyticity, the opposite of the process observed in most other languages of Artograch. Some Swamp Lizardman languages even employ agglutination, which was previously unheard of in the Lizardman languages, a language family historically overwhelmingly analytic or isolating.
- Some Swamp Lizardman languages created a third class of stiff-voiced tenuins consonants in addition to the previously existing fortis and lenis consonants. These consonants originated from the transmission of stiff/creaky voice or laryngealisation of the following vowel (or a lost vowel, in case of vowel reduction) onto the consonant that is/was followed by said vowel. The creaky-voiced vowels originated from the vowel + glottal stop clusters, but not even all variants of Swamp Lizardman had these creaky-voiced vowels to begin with, let alone the stiff-voiced consonants evolving from them.
- Such an example would be /tʰɑʔ/ → /tʰɑ̰/ → /tꟸɑ/ or /tɑʔ/ → /tɑ̰/ → /tꟸɑ/. In such languages, even syllabic consonants can have this kind of articulation, though creaky-voiced syllabic fricatives - especially sibilants - tend to lose their creaky-voicing and compensate by becoming geminated: such is the origins of the infamous long hiss.