Shinasthana

Shinasthana
Themiclesian, Sinastani
震旦語系
Pronunciationtjər˥˩.tɑn˥˩.ŋjɑ˩˥.geg˥˩
Native toThemiclesia
EthnicityMeng
Native speakers
51,240,000 (2010)
Menghic
  • Shinasthana
Early forms
Proto-Meng
  • Old Meng language
Standard forms
l′ong-ngja′
DialectsSee "dialects" below
Mengja
Official status
Official language in
Themiclesia
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1sh
ISO 639-2tem
ISO 639-3

Shinasthana (震旦語系, tjerh-tanh-ngja′-′kêgh) is a group of languages most widely spoken in Themiclesia, with 22 officially-recognized dialect groups. It is a member of the Menghic language family, originally spoken in Menghe and introduced to Themiclesia by Meng merchants and settlers in several strata. The variety of Shinasthana that is the official language in Themiclesia is l'ong-ngja', or the "Common Speech". Language policy in pre-modern Themiclesia had curtailed the dialectal variety present in the country, with several now critically endangered; modern efforts to preserve them are in effect. Shinasthana has around 41 million native speakers, domestically and abroad, as well as several million second language speakers. The language is widely taught and researched in foreign educational institutions.

Etymology

The word Shinasthana is from an early transliteration of tsjinh (name of a dynasty) into Old Maverican, suffixing -sthana, which means "place"; this term was later further transliterated by Casaterran scholars into Shinasthana, Sinastana, Xinastana, Zenaktana, Shenaclana, and also Themiclesia. Though technically the same word, Shinasthana is now exclusively used to refer to the language, and Themiclesia the country.

History

The phylogeny of Shinasthana was considered settled in the 19th century, as a branch of the Menghic languages, which is distributed in Menghe, Themiclesia, Argentstan, Dzhungestan, northern Maverica, and communities outside them. However, in 1935, Themiclesian scholar S. N. Kip discovered that the 22 dialects of Shinasthana do not form a monophyletic clade of languages; that is, there is no single language was the ancestor to all Shinasthana dialects and only them. Rather, the language shows at least two strata of Menghic influence, which may be connected to waves of Menghean immigration to Themiclesia.

Old Menghean

The oldest layer corresponds to Themiclesia's lengthy pre-dynastic period and reflects phonological features of Old Menghean; S. G. Mang places this layer around the 10-4th c. BCE, or the founding of Themiclesia as a trading post, ending at the start of the Hexarchy. This layer is not represented as any single dialect in Themiclesia, but traces of its structure can be evinced in some of the more archaic ones as irregular readings. Systematic reconstruction of this layer is difficult due to lack of material. The main characteristics of this stratum are:

  1. Non-monosyllabic or "iambic" words, with a minor syllable preceding the main syllable;
    • Non-obstruent prefixes in *s(ə)-, *N(ə)-, and *m(ə)-;
    • Obstruent prefixes, such as *p(ə)-, *t(ə)-, *k(ə)-, and *q(ə)-;
    • *r- infix;
    • Certain items seem to contain dual or trial prefixes;
  2. A series of uvular consonants *q, *qʰ, *ɢ, *ɴ, and *ɴ̥ and their labialized counterparts *qʷ, *qʷʰ, *ɢʷ, *ɴʷ, and *ɴ̥ʷ;
  3. Codas, some compound, and suffixes in *-nC, *-k, *-q, *-ʔ, and *-s;
    • Syllabic coda in *-kə.

Southern dialects

The Southern Dialect Group, represented by the common dialect, descends from the lingua franca of the learned elites from the 3rd c. BCE to the 3rd CE. It is, by a considerable degree, the most conservative of modern Menghean languages, and the fullness of its phonetic variety is preserved only with the assistance of Maverican writing, which was used to transcribe Shinasthana characters phonetically by Mavericans. This system was later used by Themiclesians themselves as a guide to proper pronunciation. The main characteristics of this layer, as they evolve into the common dialect are:

  1. Prefixes
    • *N- is preserved before obtruents as prenasalization, e.g. *N-p > mp, *N-t > nt, and *N-k > nk
      • but preserved before continuants assimilating to the place of articulation, e.g. *N-l > nl and *N-h > nh
    • *m- and *k- > ′ [ə] before obstruents, e.g. *m-prong > ′prjong
      • but preserved before non-obstruents, e.g. *m-ljə-s > mljeh and *k-rak > k.rak
    • *s- is retained
    • *r- is retained before non-obstruents; otherwise, it metathesizes with the following consonant
    • Iambic prefixes in *Cə-C- simplify to C-C-, while simple prefixes and unprefixed initials *(C-)C- > (C-)Cj-.
  2. Initials
    • Plain and labialized uvulars merge with corresponding laryngeals in all environments, *q(ʷ) > ′(w), *qʰ(ʷ) > h(w), *ɴ(ʷ) > ŋ(w), and *ɴ̥(ʷ) > ŋ̊(w)
    • *ɢ > l; *ɢʷ > ghw
  3. Codas
    • Suffix *-ʔ and *-q is lost and generates the rising tone;
    • Suffix *-s lost after vowels, liquids, and nasals, generating the lowering tone;
      • but voices final stops, *-ps > -bh; *-ts > -dh; *-ks > -gh; *-kws > -gwh
      • retained in *-ʔ-s > -s, e.g. 好 *huʔ-s > hus "liked", from 好 *huʔ > hu′, "to like"; 上 *daŋʔ-s > djangs "up, high", from 上 *daŋʔ > djang′ "raise"

Northern dialects

The Northern Dialect Group is thought to represent the language of the Chǒllo aristocracy and of the migrants to Themiclesia in the mid-6th century. This stratum sees general phonetic shifts in the syllabic core, unlike in previous strata, where only the onset and coda seem to participate in them. The dialects spoken in northern Themiclesia represent this stratum best, and, given changes shared with the common ancestor of Menghean dialects today, seem much more familiar to speakers of that language today.

In the following list, acute refers to dental and liquids, and grave refers to everything else.

  1. Prefixes
    • *p- and *q- are lost before obstruents
    • *t- displaces the following obstruent
    • *k- is lost before obstruents
      • *k-r- > k-; *k-r̥ > kʰ (Div. II)
      • *k-l- > k-; *k-l̥ > kʰ (Div. I)
    • *s- displaces the following voiced nasal and *l(j)-
    • *s- interacts with the following consonants
      • *sn̥- and *sŋ̊- > t͜sʰ-
      • *sm̥- > ɕ-
      • *sk- and *sq- > s-
      • *skʰ- and *sqʰ- > h-
      • *str- > ʈ͜ʂ-
      • *stj- > ɕ-
      • *sdj- > ʑ-
      • *sdrj- > ʐ-
      • The fates of **sɴ-, **sŋ̊ʷ-, **sɴ̥, and **sɴ̥ʷ-, if such sequences existed, are unclear
    • *r- causes the following alveolar to become retroflex and metathesizes with other following obstruents
    • *N- interacts with the following consonants
      • *N-s > tsʰ-
      • *N-l > d-
      • *N-r > ɖ-
      • causes voiceless initials to become voiced
    • *m- interacts with the following consonants
      • *m-r > m- (Div II/III)
      • *m-lj > zj-
      • lost in other environments
  2. Initials
    • Liquids
      • *l̥- and *r̥- > tʰ-; *l̥j > ɕ; *l̥r(j)- > ʈʰ(j)
      • *l- > d; *lj- > j
    • Nasals
      • *n̥- > tʰ-; *n̥j- > ɕ-
      • *ŋ̊- and *ɴ̥- > x-
        • *ŋ̊- before *e > ɕ-
        • *ŋ̊r- > ʈʰ-
      • *m̥-, *ŋ̊ʷ-, and *ɴ̥ʷ > xʷ-
    • Retroflexes
      • *tr- > ʈ-, *tʰr- > ʈʰ-, *dr- > ɖ-, *nr- > ɳ-, *sr- > ʂ-
    • Palatals
      • *tj- > t͜ɕ- , *tʰj- > t͜ɕʰ-, *dj- > d͜ʑ-
    • Velars
      • *g(ʷ)- and *ɢʷ in Div. I, II, and IV > h(ʷ)-
      • *kj- > t͜ɕ- , *kʰj- > t͜ɕʰ-, *gj- > d͜ʑ- before front vowels
    • Labiovelars
      • *kʷ > kw; kʰʷ > khw; gʷ > gw
  3. Glides
    • *-r- after iambic initials gives rise to Division II vowels
      • weakened to subphonemic [ɯ] after grave initials
    • *-r- after simple initials disappears except after grave initials and preceding front vowels, where it is weakened to -ɨ-
    • -j- is inserted after all simple initials without *-r-
  4. Rhymes
    • *-s suffixes
      • *-ps and *-ts > -j(H);
      • *-ks and *-s > -(H);
    • Liquids codas
      • *-l > -j
      • *-r > -n
        • *-aj > -a
    • Labialvelar codas
      • *-ikʷ > ek; *-rikʷ > -rek; *-(r)jikʷ > -juk
      • *-akʷ > -ok; *-rakʷ > -ruk; *-(r)jakʷ > -jak
      • *-rjiw > -rji
    • Vowels
      • *ra > æ
      • *re and *rə > ɛ
      • *o before acute coda > wa
      • *u before acute coda > wə
      • *ja and *je before acute coda > je
      • *-a > -o; -ja > -jo
      • *-ro > -o
    • Diphthongization of *u
      • *-u > -aw
      • *-ru > -æw
    • Assimilation of velar and alveolar codas after *i
      • *-iŋ and *-ik > -en and -et
    • Assimilation of labials
      • *-jə following bilabials and labialized consonants > -ju
      • Div. II rounded vowels before velar codas
      • *-ruŋ and *ruk > -ɵŋ and -ɵk
      • *-roŋ and *-rok > -ɞŋ and -ɞk
    • Merging of mid-vowels
      • *-ə > -əj
      • *-rə > -ɛj
    • Others
      • *-ə between acute initial and coda > -e
      • *-rjə > -ɨi
      • *-jo > jwo
      • *-rjaŋ and *rjak > -jɛŋ and -jɛk except after acute initials
      • *-jam > -jem

Modern loans

Modern loans are a blanket term for Menghean influence after the 6th century. As Themiclesia's language has been well-established after then, loans rarely add more than an alternate readings to existing words. In the earlier period, between the 6th and 19th centuries, loans generally agree with the Menghean Gwanhwa; after Gwanhwa was abolished as lingua franca in Menghe, later loans originate from both Chǒllo dialects and the Menghean Botong-ǒ (普通話, p′a′-l′ong-gwradh). A prominent example is the reading meng as a proper name; the standard reading in Themiclesia would be mrangh. The former reading is used as an abbreviation for "Menghe", while the later as the name of the Mrangh dynasty.

Morphology

Shinasthana as a family of languages exhibits both agglutination and isolation. In the more archaic languages, as in the reconstructed ancestral language, morphology is productive, while in the more derived ones, morphology, often obscured by phonetic change, is unanalyzable and vestigial. It is assumed that loss of morphology is an innovation shared by most members of the Meng language family, though notable exceptions exist; as for the conspicuous derivational system in the Common dialect, scholars agree it has been retained mainly through conscious effort and an early bloom in linguistics, likely inspired by Maverican grammarians during the early years of Themiclesian settlement.

It should be noted that there is contrast between lexical and morphological segments that appear before r, e.g. 兢 krjang ≠ 京 k.rjang. Themiclesian grammarians consider k the root consonant in the former, but r in the latter. A comparable but imperfect contrast in Anglian is that between redress and re-dress. While prefixes can occur before any number of root consonants, confusion only arises before r; a prefix is separated from it by means of a full stop or period <.>.

Prefix *k-

The function of prefix *k- is not clear. In the Old Menghean period, scholars believe it had two allomorphs, *k- (simple) and *kə- (iambic), with no discernable difference in meaning. Gleamed from very limited examples in old texts, it appears to have a concretizing function.

  • 囧 *k-mrang > kwrjang "window", from 明 *mrang > mrjang "bright"; 格 *k-rak > k.rak "arrive", from 落 *rak > rak "descend"

Prefix *s-

The prefix *s- has multiple functions. In the Old Menghean period, scholars believe it had two allomorphs, *s- (simple) and *sə- (iambic), with no discernable difference in meaning. The existince of these allomorphs is inferred through early borrowings into Maverican and other languages that either preserve the opposition or possess differing reflexes; in Shinasthana, the opposition is closely linked to that of syllable types A and B, where A is a syllable without medial yod /j/, and B, one with. Prefix *s- is phonologically preserved in the Common dialect, but the script does not always reflect the derivational relationship. Words derived from each other may not be co-phonetic with each other, and the simple character may not be the root. The following are functions of s- that scholars have recovered through semantic comparison:

  • Transitive verbs from intransitive verbs, e.g. 升 *s-təŋ > steng "raise", from 登 *təŋ > teng "rise"; 喪 *s-maŋ > smang "lose", from 亡 *maŋ "escape".
  • Denominal verbs, e.g. 使 *s-rək-s > srjegh "to task", from 吏 *rək-s > rjegh "office".

Prefix *N-

The prefix *N- has the primary function of deriving intransitive (often stative) verbs from transitive verbs. Its effects are opposite to those of prefix *s-. That both prefixes exist has been considered evidence that certain roots were inherently transitive or intransitive, thus necessitating two opposing affixes to derive them, while preserving semantic consistency. Prefix *N- is phonologically reflected in the Common dialect as prenasalization before obstruents, but remains a separate segment before continuants. While it is no longer transparent before obstruents, its morphological functions are recognized and even productive in some instances. Moreover, *N- derivations tend to be reflected in the script, often with the same character.

  • Stative verbs from transitive verbs, e.g. 敗 *N-prat-s > mpradh "to be defeated", from 敗 *prat-s > pradh "to defeat".
    • N.B. 敗 *prat-s is itself a suffix -s derivative from 別 *prat "break, split", where "defeated" is a derivative meaning of "break"; 別 *prat also has its own *N- derivation in 別 *N-prat > nprat "to depart".
  • Intransitive verbs from transitive verbs, e.g. 現 *N-kenʔ-s > nkens "to be present" (i.e. to be seen present), from 見 *kenʔ-s > kêns "to see".
    • 見 *kenʔ-s > kêns is itself a derivative of 顯 *kenʔ > kên′ "to shine", which also has an N- derivation in 顯 *N-kenʔ > nkên′ "to be renowned".

Prefix *m-

Prefix *m- at the Old Meng level has a number of functions that may have resulted from the merger of several older prefixes, though this remains controversial amongst linguists. Phonologically, *m- is reflected in the Common dialect through the affix usually written as ‹′› in the Sylvanization scheme; different schools of traditional philology ascribe a variety of phonetic values to it, although all but one acknowledge its existence apart from *N- and *s-. The oldest Maverican transcriptions give the have the value [a], though later texts also use [e], possibly showing that the prefix was only used in literary circles and no longer saw use in daily language.

  • Volitional verbs from non-volitional verbs or nouns, e.g. 學 *m-kruk > ′kruk "learn (consciously, as in education)", from 覺 *kruk > kruk "to learn (unconsciously, as in becoming aware)"; 背 *m-pək-s > ′pəgh "to betray", 背 *pək-s > pəgh "to have one's back facing".
  • Nouns from verbs, e.g. 廷 *m-leŋ > mlêng "place for standing", from 定 *leŋ > lêng "stop"; 朝 *m-traw > ′trjaw "morning meeting", from 朝 *traw > trjaw "morning".
  • Agent nouns from nouns, e.g. 袍 *m-pru > ′pru "robe (i.e. something which wraps the body)", from 胞 *pru > pru "seed casing".

Infix *-r-

The infix *-r- is morphologically prolific and is suspected to have an intensive or distributive function.

Suffix *-s

The suffix *-s was a prolific suffix and also had a number of functions. As it generates the departing (falling) tone in all varieties of Shinasthana, it remained productive for longer, well after the suffix itself was lost. In the Common dialect, it voices the final obstruent and also gives the departing tone in all instances. There is a vestigial /h/ after obstruents, but in the sequence of *ʔ-s it is reflected as -s.

  • Deverbial and agent nouns, often called the "agent *-s", e.g. 內 *nup-s > nubh "inside", from 納 *nup > nup "take inside"
  • Denominal verbs, often called the "participle -s", e.g. 冠 *kor-s > korh "to crown", from 冠 *kor "crown"; 王 *ɦʷaŋ-s > ghwjangh "to rule", from 王 *ɦʷaŋ > ghwjang "king, prince".
  • Transitive verbs, e.g. 好 *huʔ-s > hus "to like, prefer", from 好 *huʔ > hu′ "good"; 惡 *ʔak-s > ′agh "to dislike", from 惡 *ʔak > ′ak "bad".

Writing Systems

Menghean characters

Inherited from the Menghean language, each Menghean character is monosyllabic and morphemic. This writing system is common to all Shinasthana languages and is the standard script. Under traditional reckoning, there are six methods that govern the formation of characters:

  1. Pictographic (象形, sghjangh-gêng), where the character depicts the physical appearance of an object; however, the actual meaning of the character needs not be constrained by the object depicted.
  2. Pictophonetic (形聲, gêng-l′jêng), where a pictogrammatic character used determinatively is combined with another, unrelated grapheme that represents the character's pronunciation.
  3. Ideographic (指事, klji′-dzrje′), similar to pictogrammatic characters, but the depiction (or at least part thereof) does not correspond to a physical attribute or object.
  4. Ideosynthetic (會意, gobh-′jeh), where multiple pictogrammata are combined and meaning deduced from the relationship between them.
  5. Transideographic (轉注, trjon′-tjoh), where the definition of an existing character is given to a new character.
  6. Substitution (假借, krai′-tsrjaih), where a completely unrelated character acquires the definition of a word that otherwise cannot be formed according to the principles above.

There are certain differences between characters used in modern Menghe and Themiclesia. In the late 3rd to early 2nd c. BCE, a process called yebyeon (隸變; Shinasthana: rjebh-bronh) that prioritized ease of writing at the expense of fidelity. This process was not yet complete when the first non-monumnetal writing is attested in Themiclesia. As a result, the preferred character forms in both countries diverged. More than half of the characters are wholly identical, and where they differ they are usually not difficult to identify. In a few cases, the characters have become totally unrecognizable. Such changes are cumulative, since Themiclesians continued to modify the shape of the characters for artistic reasons well after the yebyeon stage was complete in Menghe.

Devanagari transcription

Sylvanization

Various schemes, based on the Sylvan Alphabet, have been used by Casaterrans to notate Shinasthana since the 14th century, when the first Casaterran merchants landed in Themiclesia and began to study its language. Few Casaterran languages have the same phonemic or phonetic inventory as Shinasthana, resulting in the use of several alphabets to represent a single phoneme or the agglomeration of several phonemes into one Casaterran alphabet; the former leads to cumbersome writing and reading, and the latter, ambiguity. Between the 14th and 19th centuries, Sylvan, Sieuxerrian, Rajian, Tyrannian, and Columbian scholars each Sylvanized Shinasthana according to idiosyncratic rules. That they often draw on different dialects or even mix them further reduces intelligibility. As printing Shinasthana characters was nigh-impossible in Casaterra, academic work was hampered by this confusion.

In 1807, the first Sylvanization reference with government backing appeared, devised by Columbian scholar, George Figley, who worked for over three decades on the Shinasthana. Keenly aware of the difficulties that Casaterran scholars encountered in writing about Themiclesia, not only about its tongues, but also whenever proper terms are mentioned, they presented to and received sanction for their proposal from the Magistrate of Tonning. As he lived in Tonning, the Sylvanization plan was based on the dialect there, albeit aware of other dialects. While it found a somewhat sympathetic audience in Casaterra, other scholars, based elsewhere in Themiclesia, found their choice of dialect to generalize for Shinasthana, as a whole, unacceptable. Figley continued to defend their system and improve upon it, publishing a final revision in 1829, then presented it to the Imperial Court. Ratification was granted, but its use was not made mandatory. This standard eventually gained widespread acceptance and today is known as the Figley Transcription System, or F for short.

Revision

As phonemic theory gained prominence late in the 19th Century and crested in the early 20th, there was significant impetus to rework Figley according to phonemic lines (it was originally phonetic) and suggestions from the government to adopt a more generalist system that worked for all dialects in some way. In theory, by applying phonemic analysis to the most archaic dialect of Shinasthana then known, one can describe a set of syllables that encompass all syllable varieties in any dialect, since it was assumed that the oldest stage of the language must be the most complex, and subsequently phonemes could not be added; this was later convincingly disproven. Nevertheless, the revision was announced in 1930, known as Revised Figley or R. Though widely acclaimed by lingiusts as a successful and accurate practice of phonemic theory, phoneticians and lay persons criticized it for being distant from the actual, spoken language. The government maintained that the revision better represented all the major dialectal groups unambiguously. To demark this scheme from the previous, a drop capital R was printed ahead of the sylvanized phrase.

Meng dynasty

Initials:

IPA p b m t d n r t͜s t͜sʰ d͜z s k g ŋ ŋ̊ kʷʰ ŋʷ ŋ̊ʷ ʔ h ɦ ʔʷ ɦʷ l
Sylvanization p p′ b m m′ t t′ d n n′ r r′ ts ts′ dz s k k′ g ng ng′ kw kw′ gw ngw ngw′ h gh ′w hw ghw l lh

Vowels and medials:

IPA a i ə u e o r j
Sylvanization a i e u ê o r j/i


Middle Menghean

IPA p b m t d n ʈ ʈʰ ɖ ɳ r t͡ɕ t͡ɕʰ d͡ʑ ɕ ʑ ɲ t͜s t͜sʰ d͜z s z ʈ͡ʂ ʈ͡ʂʰ ɖ͡ʐ ʂ ʐ k g ŋ q ɢ ɴ ʔ h ɦ 0
Sylvanization p p′ b m t t′ d n tr tr′ dr nr r c c′ j sh zh gn ts ts′ dz s z tsr tsr′ dzr sr zr k k′ g ng q q′ G N h gh

Vowels and medials:

IPA a æ ɛ e i u o ɞ ɵ ɨ ɯ
Sylvanization a ae ea e i u o eo eu i y

Phonology

Meng dynasty stratum

The Meng dynasty stratum loses the Old Menghean uvular series completely but otherwise preserves its consonants well.

Consonants Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plain Lab. Plain Lab.
Stop Lenis p t k ʔ ʔʷ
Asper kʰʷ
Voiced b d g
Nasal Voiced m n ŋ ŋʷ
Unvoiced ŋ̊ ŋ̊ʷ
Affricate Lenis t͡s
Asper t͡sʰ
Voiced d͡z
Fricative Unvoiced s x
Voiced ɣ ɣʷ
Liquid Voiced r
Unvoiced
Approximant Voiced w l j (w)
Unvoiced
Vowels Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə o
Open a

Middle Meng stratum

Consonants Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Stop Lenis p t ʈ t͡ɕ k q ʔ
Asper ʈʰ t͡ɕʰ
Voiced b d ɖ d͡ʑ g ɢ
Nasal m n ɳ ɲ ŋ ɴ
Affricate Lenis t͡s t͡ʂ
Asper t͡sʰ t͡ʂʰ
Voiced d͡z d͡ʐ
Fricative Unvoiced s ʂ ɕ x
Voiced z ʐ ʑ ɣ
Approximant w l j (w)
Vowels Front Central Back
Close i ɵ u
Close-mid e ə o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open æ ɞ ɑ

Syllable structure

The syllable structure Shinasthana varies considerably due to its paraphyletic composition. While the Old Menghean language is agreed to have a syllabic structure at least similar to CCCCCVCCC, most dialects have undergone some sort of secondary simplification. For example, the Common dialect permits five onsets, with much more restrictive phonotactical options, and tolerates only two codas, of which the second must be -s. While such long onset sequences are typologically uncommon, it is noted that, with rare exceptions, there could only be one obstruent in each onset sequence; linguists working with the Menghic family, term this obstruent the onset nucleus, and elements aside from it often correspond to morphological affixes. The syllable permits glides between the onset and syllable nucleus. The Common dialect both permit two glides, the first of which has a retroflective value (typically /r/ and /l/, but not simultaneously), and the second has a palatalizing effect. Though most dialects descended from the Old Menghean language have tonal contrasts, all can be attributed to lost but attested suffixes; most scholarly work on Old Menghean phonology therefore do not recognize phonemic tones. Synchronic studies may consider such suffixes and tonal contrasts allophones of each other, in an unusual way.

Those dialects that descend directly from the Old Menghean language generally allow more complex syllable structure, as exemplified by the two above. In contrast, those that are descended from Middle Menghean are relatively simple. Their syllabic structure can be observed in the Menghean Gwanhwa and dialects spoken in the Themiclesian North. Scholars have debated what the maximal syllabic structure of Middle Menghean was, without much consensus; the most-commonly cited form is CCCVCT. The first C, representing the onset nucleus, can either be a consonant inherited from Old Menghean or an affricate or fricative resulting from a prefixed obstruent. The second C represents the pre-vocalic glide, which could have one of three contrastive values (/ɯ/ /ɨ/ /i/); the third C represents a rounding element /w/. This rounding element is thought to result from Old Menghean labialized consonants and diphthongized, rounded vowels.

Comparison

Menghean

Within the Menghic family, Shinasthana is more closely related to the Menggok-descended group of dialects. Having diverged around 2,700 years ago at the oldest stratum, differences between modern Menggok dialects and Shinasthana are considerable. An obvious example is the absence of phonemic tones in Standard Menghean, though they remain in conservative dialects of the south and west of Menghe. These dialects are more closely related to Gwanhwa, the language of the Menghean court; however, scholars do not classify them as descendants of Gwanhwa, since Gwanhwa itself lost tones between the 9th and 11th centuries. Not all these dialects retain the three tones presumed to have existed in the Old Menggok period. Moreover, under the influence of modern Standard Menghean, some of the younger generation have dispensed with tonal distinction when speaking a dialect that canonically retains it.

The collapse of a three-way distinction between between voiceless, aspirated, and voiced consonants has occurred in most of Menghe. In Themiclesia, a similar but less pervasive change occasioned the phonemization of relative pitch in the tonal system (previously only distinguishing contour), while in Menghe it seems to have simply devoiced formerly voiced consonants, merging them with their unvoiced and unaspirated counterparts.

Vocabulary

Pronouns

First person

余 / la

The most basic first person pronoun, can be used as nominative and accusative. The referent is usually singular. Genitive use is uncommon.

我 / ngai′

Meaning is similar to la, but usually used as a plural. Sometimes given the blanket translation "we". Accusative use is uncommon.

朕 / lrjem′

Called the emphatic I in some literature, use is nuanced. In nominative function, lrjem′ draws attention to oneself, which can be expressed as "I, this person". For this function, it has been characteristically used in Menghe by sovereigns, forbidden from others, but in Themiclesia the pronoun was not exclusive to the monarch. In genitive function, it tends govern inalienable, highly valued, or humanly significant things, particularly family relations; where the governor can be either alienable or inalienable, lrjem′ can provide additional information, e.g. ngar′ kra "my house", but lrjem′ kra "my household"; ngar′ kjung "my (physical) body", but lrjem′ kjung "my person, my personhood". Abuse of this pronoun may make the speaker appear arrogant or inconsiderate, e.g. lrjem′ gwrje′ "my friend (who has no choice but to be my friend)". Accusative use is uncommon.

臣 / gjên and 妾 / ts′jap

Respectively meaning "slave" and "slavewoman" originally. These two terms were only used to identify oneself when addressing monarchs (of any nationality). In modern Themiclesia, these two terms are deemed unnecessary.

民 / mrjing

Originally meaning "commoner", it was used by individuals not in public office towards those who are. It is still used by some individuals in letters to the government, though most would consider it old-fashioned.

僕 / bok

Originally meaning "groom", it is most often found in writing by men with their peers.

愚 / ngja

Meaning "ignorant", it is often found in academic writing to express circumspection or humility about the idea one is about to expound.

私 / sje

Meaning "private, personal", individuals use this term to express a non-qualified opinion.

Second person

女 / nja′

General second-person pronoun in nominative and accusative position.

乃 / ne′

Second person genitive.

爾 / nji′

Meaning "near", also used as second person pronoun.

子 / tsje′

Originally meaning the leader of a clan, it has been generalized as an honorific in second-person function.

君 / kljur

Originally meaning "lord", it is often used in the second person as an honorific to equals.

公 / klong

Originally meaning "lord", it has a similar function and semantic evolution as above.

卿 / k′rjang

Originally meaning "companion", it was used by monarchs to address their servants, acquiring honorific value when used for social inferiors bound in some sort of relationship with the speaker. However, it is also used between couples, since they are bound in an equal relationship.

郎 / rang

Originally meaning "gentleman", it is used by unmarried females to their male partners.

良人 / rjang-njing

Originally meaning "good person", it is used between couples.

陛下 / prêdh-gra′

Usually translated as "your majesty", used to address monarchs.

殿下 / denh-gras

Usually translated as "your lordship", used to address hereditary nobility.

Dialectal variation

Common dialect

Comparative phonology

Mengja Menghean Sinmun
Sylvanized
Middle Meng Stratum Old Meng Stratum
國之語音
異乎中國
與文字不相流通
故愚民有所欲言
而終不得伸其情者多矣
予爲此憫然
新制二十八字
欲使人人易習便於日用耳
guk ji eo eum
i ho jung guk
yeo mun ja bul sang yu tong
go u min yu so yo geon
i jong bul deuk sin gi jeong ja da ui
yeo wi cha min yeon
sin je i sip pal ja
yok sa in in yeo seup pyeon eo il lyong i
kwek chi ngjo' iim
ih gho tiung kwek
ngjo' mjun dzih' pjut sjang lju t'ung
koh ngjo miin ghju' srjo' yoh ngjan
nje cung pjut tek shin gje dzjeng tja ta ghwje'
yo wjeh ts'i' min njen
sjin c'iai njih zip peat dzje'
yok srje' nin nin yik zjek pianh yo njit yungh ni
kwek tje ngja' 'rjem
lis ga trjung kwek
la' mjen dzje' pje sjang rju l'ung
kah ngjo mrjing gwje' sk'rja' ljuk ngjan
nje trjung pje tek l'jin gje dzjeng tja' tai ghwje'
la gwrjarh sn'ji' mrjen' njen
sjing djêdh njih gjep prêt dzje'
ljuk srje' njing njing lêk sgljap prjanh gwrja njik l'ongh nje'

Scholarship

Dedicated references

The canonical anthology of ancient phonology consists of the following twelve works.

Title Year Compiler(s) Status Categorization Notes
聲類   hling-rjed 2nd c. 李登  ′rje′-teng Fragmentary 322 rhymes extant Compiled in Menghe
韻集   ghjwonh-dzjep 275 呂靜  glja'-dzjingh Extant 539 rhymes
釋韻   st'jak-ghjwonh 334 李軌  ′rje′-krju′、徐邈 sdja-mrawk Extant 421 rhymes
四聲   sjed-hleng 472 沈約  st'jem-'jawk Extant 252 rhymes First work to describe tones concretely
玉篇   ngjowk-p'rjan 531 梁惠帝 Emperor ghwid of Rjang Fragmentary 260 rhymes Reflects speech in Kien-k'ang
經典音義 king-ten'-'rjem-ngjars 560 陸明  rjuk-mrjang Extant 212 rhymes With definitions
切韻   ts'it-ghwjens 601 陸法延 rjuk-pjap-lan Mostly extant 193 rhymes Reflects speech in Glak-lang
廣音錄  kwang-'rjem-rjuk 732 張常拱 trjang-djang-kjung′ Mostly extant 2,742 dialectal peculiarities
廣韻   kwang'-ghwjens 1001 丁重  teng-drjong Extant 206 rhymes With definitions
集韻   dzjep-gwjens 1030 孫皓青 sun-ghu'-ts'ing Extant 238 rhymes With definitions
韻鏡   gwjenh-krjangs 1161 uncertain Extant 3,324 syllables A table-style summary of all known syllables in the language
簡韻略  kren'-ghjwonh-gljak 1210 顧平水 gah-brjang-hljei′ Extant 106 rhymes Abridged ver. of dzjop-ghjwohn

Epexegesis references

To support the study of classical literature that often possessed much philosophical and political esteem in imperial-period Themiclesia, many authors have written epexegeses (a work that explains another) that offer analyses of the canonical texts, including definitions of terms, notable contrasts with other works and other epexegeses, and correct pronunciation of words. The corpus of such explanatory literature has since accumulated, over many centuries, to be dozens, if not hundreds, of times longer than canon. Authors provide their opinion on how individual characters should be read, often reflecting the speech of their own environment and age.

Poetry analysis

In 972, Dzi-dynasty scholar Mak Mjon-ghwedh developed a method of the phonological relationship between rhyming syllables in verse. This is known as the Rhyme Identification Method (歸韻法). It stipulates:

  1. If a poem has lines XXXA / XXXB / XXXC / XXXD, and if each line is known to rhyme with each other, then syllables A, B, C, and D must rhyme with each other.
  2. If a second poem has lines XXXA / XXXE / XXXF / XXXG, then syllables E, F, and G must rhyme with each other and B, C, and D, since they are "connected" by syllable A.

These two principles proved incredibly potent in reconstructing the phonological structure of ancient languages based on a logical and consistent analyses. Though Mak himself did not pursue this subject much further, his students proceeded to apply this method to hundreds of poems dating to the archaic and classical eras of Menghean history. In the 1100s, scholars concluded that ancient Menghean poetry had nine "rhyme departments"; for many generations afterwards, this conclusion was refined by exhaustive studies to remove connections made by incorrect rhyme identification (i.e. connecting two words that do not actually rhyme) and glyph conflation (i.e. assuming each glyph corresponds to only one syllable). This heralded the birth of Ancient Phonology (古音學) in Themiclesia.

In 1594, it was known that ancient poetry rhymed according to 33 departments; upon this conclusion, scholar Drjen Lih (陳第) asserted that the pronunciation of some words have changed since ancient times, but a number have not. He (using methods not rigorous) identified some such syllables as "anchor rhymes" and consulted well-established analyses to assert that words, in his time not rhyming, must have been pronounced in a way that did rhyme with his so-called "anchor rhymes". The majority of modern scholars believe that Drjon's theories, though factually flawed, pioneered the assignment of phonetic values to abstract phonological structures and the principle that sound changes occurred under specific phonological conditions (i.e. not randomly).

His successors focused on the criteria under which such changes occurred, though until the modern period and the arrival of Casaterran phonology in 1757, their results have been limited. Of the types of criteria they could assert as a conditioning factor for a phonetic change, place of articulation (i.e. glottal, velar, alveolar, and bilabial), manner of articulation (i.e. plosive, nasal, approximant), voicedness, aspiration, tone, and vowel quality have all been used to explain the causes of sound change. This in turn allowed more recent scholars to describe accurately the phonological and phonetic characteristics of languages lost to time, e.g.

  • What has been analyzed as two separate groups of consonants under Modern Phonology (今音學), the /t/ and /tr/ groups, were in complimentary distribution and should be the same group in Ancient Phonology, and the /tr/ group diverged under the criteria of second-division and third-division-type-B factors.
  • The /pf/ group in some modern dialects diverged from /pj/ in others, and /pj/ is asserted to be the "ancient pronunciation".

Cognates and borrowings

Cognates

Borrowings

As Shinasthana shares a writing system with and Menghean, terms from the latter are sometimes borrowed with their written forms intact into the former. However, since the written form of the borrowing may represent an existing term in Shinasthana, the phonetic pronunciation is sometimes borrowed together to distinguish the borrowed term in speech. The same situation occurs when homographs are introduced.

Term Domestic reading Domestic meaning Alternate reading Alternate meaning
皇帝 gwang-têgh Emperor of Themiclesia hwang-tsjêh emperor (generally)
mrangh eldest, Mrangh dynasty mêng Menghe (abbreviation)
東京 tong-k.rjang Rak tong-kjong Donggyŏng
dzjên a unit of mass; 1/100 of one mjen dzen Jŏn, 1/100 of a Menghean Won

In popular media

Notes


See also