The Proto-Peninsular language is the last common ancestor of the Peninsular languages.
The Proto-Peninsular language is spoken by the Proto-Peninsular people (autonym: *marnaç-(xa)) in the eastern peninsula (endonym: *mrisaŋfa) of Peilaš.
One of the major divisions in Peninsular is the Ehlaut-Äschlaut isogloss, which runs northwest-southeast along the peninsula. The Äschlaut group is characterised by a sibilant reflex for Proto-Peninsular */ç/, such as [ʃ] or [ɕ], as well as a uvular pronunciation of */r/; the Ehlaut group, on the other hand, may be thought of as the branches which did not have Äschlaut characteristics.
Selected cognate sets:
|the Sun||*tiçar-(xa)||[te̞ra]||[tsihæl]||[tʃɑχ]||[die̞] ~ [dija]|
One of the more striking features of modern reconstructions of Proto-Peninsular phonology is its triangular vowel system: */i a u/. Whereas older reconstructions typically posited four (*/i ə a u/), five (*/i e a ʌ u/) or even seven (*/i e ɛ a ʌ o u/) vowels, careful inspection of data revealed that many of the mid vowels could be correlated with nearby consonants or other vowels, and it was eventually shown that three vowels are sufficient. However, the four-vowel analysis remains somewhat popular, particularly with linguists who reject the existence of */x/ distinct from */h/.
With the existence of vowel harmony in some Peninsular subfamilies in mind, the three vowels of Proto-Peninsular may be characterised as [+front], [+open] and [+round] for /i a u/ respectively. A degree of feature-spreading may have been present in some dialects of Proto-Peninsular: see below for possible phonetic values.
As for consonants, Proto-Peninsular is reconstructed as having 13, not including the non-syllabic allophones of */i u/. Voicing does not appear to have been phonemic in Proto-Peninsular. Of note are the triplet */ç x h/, which are fundamental to the three-vowel reconstruction: whereas five-vowel reconstructions may have had */he ha hʌ/, under the three-vowel reconstruction, these are */ça xa ha/.
Proto-Peninsular is reconstructed as allowing resonants */m n ŋ r l/ and vowels */i a u iː aː uː/ to function as syllable nuclei. Additionally, the fricatives */ç x h/ may also have had syllabic allophones. In initial clusters of two potentially syllabic consonants, it seems that the first one was syllabic: e.g. */m̩ri/ for *mri-. Conversely, in final clusters, it is most likely that the last one was syllabic: */iamn̩/ for *-iamn. */i u/ are thought to be non-syllabic when adjacent to vowels. As such, it is believed that in general, resonants next to vowels, including semivowels, are non-syllabic.
Word-initial syllables may have no onset, but otherwise syllables almost always have a consonantal onset, and can have up to two non-syllabic consonants in the onset. Syllables may optionally have a coda consonant; this leads to potential three-term non-resonant consonant clusters at morpheme junctions in theory, however these seem to be avoided: *taxnp + *-isk- → *taxnpisk-, rather than **taxnpsk-.
There may have been long vowels in Proto-Peninsular, however they were exceedingly rare. */iː uː/ are often reconstructed where short */i u/ should have been non-syllabic; */aː/ is reconstructed in some words (mainly interjections) where the outcome in daughter languages is inconsistent with short */a/.
Although there are no records of what Proto-Peninsular sounded like, we can make some educated guesses based on the reflexes found in attested Peninsular languages or Peninsular loans in foreign languages, as well as internal considerations. First and foremost, the phoneme */a/ is generally thought to have had a primary value of a central mid-open [ɜ] or near-open [ɐ] vowel, rather than a proper open vowel [a]. However, when adjacent to */x/, */a/ was probably pronounced as a back open vowel [ɑ]; when adjacent to */ç/, */a/ was probably pronounced as a front mid-open [ɛ] or near-open [æ] vowel. Fronting is also thought to happen adjacent to palatal consonants or when near */i/, and backing when adjacent to dorsal (excluding palatal) consonants or when near */u/. Fronting may have also occurred near coronal consonants in some dialects.
This brings us to a second detail: the value of */r/. There is some evidence that */r/ was dorsal, for example, a uvular trill [ʀ]: the outcomes of word-final */ra/ and of syllabic */r/ in some languages have back vowels rather than the expected front vowel; however this is not regarded as conclusive.
Vowels adjacent to */x/ had a tendency to become more open than usual: as mentioned before, */a/ adjacent to */x/ tended to become a fully open vowel; while */i u/ adjacent to */x/ tended to diphthongise and/or become lax or mid vowels. It is suggested that these effects were due to */x/ being a pharyngeal fricative [ħ] rather than a velar [x] or uvular [χ] fricative, but again there is no conclusive evidence.
Plosives followed by */ç x h/ were probably aspirated: in languages where intervocalic voicing of plosives occured, plosives adjacent to */ç x h/ tended to remain unvoiced. Phonemic aspiration developed in at least one branch.
There have been no serious attempts to reconstruct Proto-Peninsular accent, largely due to the belief that Proto-Peninsular did not have phonemic accentuation and/or that the Proto-Peninsular had a fixed (regular) accent. Additionally, there is no consensus regarding the phonetic realisation of accent: Did Proto-Peninsular have a pitch accent, or did it have dynamic (stress) accent?
Although some Peninsular languages appear to have case endings, enclitic case-marking particles are more common, hence, Proto-Peninsular is usually reconstructed with little nominal inflectional morphology. On the other hand, the Proto-Peninsular verb appears to have had somewhat complex agglutinating morphology, with many categories marked on the verb.
While most of its descendants show a clear distinction between nouns and verbs (and in many cases, adjectives), it is more difficult to classify the lexical roots of Proto-Peninsular into neat categories: for example, the root *tiçar- has a verbal reflex in most languages meaning to shine (intr.), however, in some languages the unsuffixed form has a nominal reflex referring to the sun, and in others it is an adjective.
Reconstructed Proto-Peninsular roots are typically disyllabic. Most roots had augmented forms, which were formed by reduplication.
There were four major classes of words in Proto-Peninsular, morphologically speaking:
Although the Proto-Peninsular noun is thought to have little inflectional morphology, the shared features of number-marking in its daughters suggests that it had, at least, optional number-marking morphology.
There were signs of an animate-inanimate gender system in Proto-Peninsular: the animate nominaliser *-xa was often suffixed to non-personal pro-nouns to indicate an animate referent.
Of all the postpositional particles, the ones that most likely were either true case suffixes or derivational morphemes were the three genitives: *-hŋ, *-hn and *-thu. In the case of pronouns, it is fairly certain that some of these had been fused to the stem of some pronouns before the breakup of common Proto-Peninsular.
Two personal pronominal roots are reconstructed for Proto-Peninsular: *fŋ- for the speaker and *nax- for the addressee. From these, a number of derivatives were made:
|Addressee||Excluded||—||1sg: *fŋ, *fŋ-rix|
|Included||2sg: *nax, *nax-rix||1du: *fŋ-ra|
| 2du: *nax-ra|
| 1pl: *fŋ-hr|
The reflexive pronominal root is reconstructed as *ur-; but in most branches an extended root was used: *ur-nu-. The root *ur- may be related to the reflexive voice marker *-urs-. The animate nominaliser *-xa was added if the referent were animate, especially if human. As with the personal pronouns, the root could be suffixed to produce additional forms:
The singular form of the above pronouns fused with the partitive-genitive and the associative-genitive:
Seven series of demonstratives are reconstructed for Proto-Peninsular, though no single branch preserves all seven. The seven series include exophoric, endophoric and indeterminate-interrogative forms:
It is believed that the cataphoric and anaphoric demonstratives are derivatives of the proximal and medial demonstratives. In some branches, the generic endophoric root *i- was prefixed to the cataphoric and anaphoric roots, yielding *itku- and *itsu-. The use of the unsuffixed form varies from branch to branch: in most, it was used as a pronoun, but others use it as a determiner.
|Circumstantial (α)||*ku-nu||*su-nu||*ça-na||*i-ni||*tku-nu||*tsu-nu||*kpa-na||Typically developed into locational pronouns, but also appears as pro-adverbs in some branches.|
|Circumstantial (β)||*ku-ma||*su-ma||*ça-ma||*i-ma||*tku-ma||*tsu-ma||*kpa-ma||Typically developed into temporal pronouns, but also appears as locational pronouns.|
|Attributive-genitive||*ku-hn||*su-hn||*ça-hn||*i-hn||*tku-hn||*tsu-hn||*kpa-hn||In some branches this is the genitive form of the inanimate singular pronouns.|
|Manner||*k-ax-||*s-ax-||—||*i-ax- or *ī-ax-||*tk-ax-||*ts-ax-||*kp-ax-||Takes a phase suffix (*-u, *-i or *-a) in concord with the head verb.|
Proto-Peninsular adjectives were essentially morphological verbs, which are discussed below. Some minor differences included:
The Proto-Peninsular verb consisted of a number of affix slots, and may be considered to have three major parts: the verbal stem, which encoded aspect (and some voices), the voice-mood-tense complex that also encoded the syntactic role, and phase.
Each verbal root had a number of verbal stems, some of which were formed in a seemingly arbitrary fashion; conversely, some formations seem to have had arbitrary meanings. Some of the more common stems and derivations are listed below:
The Proto-Peninsular voice-mood-tense complex consisted of five affix slots:
|I: Voice||II: Tense||III: Polarity||IV: Mood||V: Syntactic role|
Certain combinations seemed to have been forbidden:
The terminal affix on a Proto-Peninsular verb marked an ill-understood category, traditionally called phase. There were three phases:
Possible semantic values are discussed in the syntax section below.
Adverbs also took phase suffixes, in concord with their head verb. The infinitives of a verb did not take any phase suffix, in contrast with the gerund and participle, which did.
A characteristic feature of the Peninsular family is the classification of participles and gerunds as finite forms, not only due to their marking for mood, but especially phase in those languages which have preserved it. In contrast, the infinitives, which were not marked for phase, may more accurately be described as deverbal nouns. Although no single language preserves all three forms as infinitives, we can be reasonably confident in reconstructing all of them as deverbal nouns in Proto-Peninsular. However, it appears that the three had different connotations with regards to the abstract-concrete scale: the α-infinitive tended to develop into highly abstract nouns; on the other hand, the γ-infinitive appears to have been a concrete nominalisation which formed compounds with other nouns. The β-infinitive was intermediate between the other two. Although the bare γ-infinitive usually did not survive, its agentive suffixed forms (see below) are widely attested.
Some element of zero-derivation may have been present in Proto-Peninsular, given the somewhat nebulous semantic space of some roots. However, even a cursory glance at etymological lexica of Peninsular languages will reveal that many words were built on suffixed forms of roots. For the most part, the semantic value and the etymology of these suffixes are unknown, but some common ones have been reconstructed for Proto-Peninsular:
Due to significant variations in Peninsular syntax, it is difficult to reconstruct much sentence-level syntax with as much certainty as the lexicon or morphology. However, the syntax of the noun phrase can be reconstructed with a fair amount of certainty: it appears that the Proto-Peninsular noun phrase was head-last and left-branching. We may extrapolate from this and the fact that most of the oldest attested Peninsular languages had default SOV order that the sentence-level syntax of Proto-Peninsular was also head-last and left-branching. Proto-Peninsular is also believed to have been a pro-drop language. A minority view is that Proto-Peninsular was a non-configurational language; the evidence for this is, at best, applicable mainly to those branches which had developed a more powerful gender agreement system.
A noun phrase was comprised of a noun optionally preceded by one or more determiners and at most one relative clause. Determiners included demonstrative determiners and noun phrases in a genitive case. "Light" relative clauses such as single verbs or adjectives were probably placed after determiners, while "heavy" relative clauses preceded determiners. Quantifiers, such as cardinal numbers, were placed after the head noun.
A postpositional phrase was simply a noun phrase, or in some cases a verb phrase, with a postpostional case particle (see below) following. An eccentricity of ancient Peninsular languages is the placement of quantifiers after the postposition; this is suspected to originate in Proto-Peninsular. It is suggested the reason for this eccentricity is that quantifiers were adverbial; however, a problem with that hypothesis is that quantifiers did not take phase suffixes, even in languages where phase concord was preserved.
What Proto-Peninsular lacked in case endings, it made up for with particles. These particles are reconstructed as usually-separable clitics in Proto-Peninsular with a tendency towards encliticisation. They are also found incorporated into verbs as prefixes in some branches (see next section), suggesting that some may have also functioned as proclitic adverbs, or that Proto-Peninsular permitted adposition stranding as a result of pro-dropping.
The following basic particles are reconstructed for Proto-Peninsular:
The following compound particles are also reconstructed for Proto-Peninsular:
In some branches, case particles are sometimes found prefixed to verbs in applicative constructions, e.g. *ŋi-mkut- (to give to), *niç-alum- (to walk to). This had consequences for relative clause for relative clause formation; in some languages, relativisation of oblique arguments required applicative verbs, e.g. xina ŋi mkut-isk-i ((he) gave (it) to the child) ↦ ŋi-mkut-isk-r-i xina (the child to whom (he) gave (it)).
The case particles could also be verbalised directly, e.g. inar-mhai niç-am-xas-u ((he) makes (her) go to the temple).
The simplest type of predicate clause adverbialisation was direct apposition, with the verbs of the clauses agreeing in phase. However, it was not the only way to form adverbs in Proto-Peninsular; the following types are also reconstructed:
Although a negative inflection is reconstructed for the Proto-Peninsular verb, we also reconstruct a negative adverb *mn. *mn is unusual in that it is the sole adverb that may appear after the verb. The semantics of *mn when combined with negative inflection in Proto-Peninsular is disputed, due to the conflicting treatments of the construct in the daughter languages: in some, the negative inflection is secondary and simply a case of negative concord, i.e. the overall polarity was negative; in others, the adverb and the inflection have equal status and a double negative is read as an affirmative.
The negative infix *-anh- also appears as a negative verb *anh-.
A verb phrase was at minimum an inflected finite verb, optionally preceded by adjunct and complement prepositional phrases and adverbs. The verb could not be scrambled, that is, except for certain postverbal particles, the verb was always the last element in the verb phrase. As previously mentioned, Proto-Peninsular is thought to have been a pro-drop language, therefore an inflected verb with no overt core arguments may also have been a grammatical verb phrase.
Note that the ergative and accusative voices (collectively the transitive voices) only occurred with transitive verbs.
One important particle in Peninsular syntax is the topic marker, reconstructed as Proto-Peninsular *mā. The function of *mā in Proto-Peninsular was most likely similar to the topic markers of modern-day topic-comment Peninsular languages: to mark the preceding phrase or phrases as "old" information, placing focus on the "new" information which follows. Similarly, the dubitative-interrogative marker *khā or *kxā marked the preceding phrase as being in question. A vocative particle, *la or *lā, is also reconstructed. The presence of /aː/ in these particles suggests that these were grammaticalised interjections.
Of conjunctions, Proto-Peninsular is reconstructed as having only *kta, which, in addition to its comitative-predicative function, also coordinated two clauses: clause *kta (and) clause.
In Peninsular languages with phase concord, the clause is defined as the level at which phase concord operates: all phase-marked elements in a clause, but not necessarily those in subclauses, must agree with the head verb in phase. Most clauses consisted of a verb phrase and an optional a noun phrase, the subject, which preceded the verb phrase if present.
To some degree phase was correlated with grammatical aspect: upsilon phase (*-u) with the perfective, iota phase (*-i) with the imperfective; it was also correlated with lexical aspect: upsilon with the dynamic, iota with the static. The negative polarity was associated with the iota phase. On the other hand, the imperative and prohibitive moods required the alpha phase (*-a), which was also used to indicate a non-nominalised subjunctive clause.
A main clause was a clause that contained a finite verb that was conjugated for voice, tense, polarity, mood and phase, excluding participles and gerunds. It is believed that the topic was a sentence-level element rather than being part of the main clause, since it is observed that classical Peninsular languages appear to have a one topic per sentence restriction.
The main clause was the only type of clause which a verb in the imperative or prohibitive could appear in.
A relative clause was constructed by inflecting the verb as a participle, and replacing the antecedent by a cataphoric pronoun (either *i- or *tsu-), which may be dropped. Similarly, a nominalised clause was formed by inflecting the verb as a gerund. It was not possible to form a nominalised clause with infinitives. A peculiarity of nominalised clauses found in classical Peninsular languages may have been inherited from Proto-Peninsular: the casting the subject of a nominalised clause as a genitive phrase modifying the whole clause.
A second type of relative clause may have been formed by inflecting the verb as a gerund and forming a postpositional phrase with either the partitive-genitive *hŋ or the attributive-genitive *hn. Where the two types of relative clauses were contrasted, usually the first type is attributive and the second type is restrictive.
A subjunctive clause was a clause that contained a finite verb in the alpha phase, excluding imperatives and prohibitives. Subjunctive clauses were mainly used to express the conditions or circumstances under which an action would occur, or the manner in which an action occurs or occurred; the precise type of clause was probably determined by the mood of the verb:
Although Proto-Peninsular is an unattested language, it is customary in Peninsular philological tradition to give a translation of a common Peninsular fable of the fisherman and the fish. A warning beforehand: The sample presented here may not be representative of all dialects of Proto-Peninsular.
Regarding abbreviations in the interlinear gloss, the following symbols are used:
xarru pihi niç, thuriarxa larut thu sunax niç pihi hn sumaç thuthuriskaxku mta titiskri mn fiksa ham mn thuritçlasku.
fiksa tkaxu katarisku. “thuriarxa lā, fŋrix mā titiskri mn fiksa tari mfiari mn. larut niç mā kakāraskri fifiksa plasa mfii lā. fŋ ham farnaxslaa mā, kāramrinhlau mn-khā? kāramrihuia mā mhuniski ham mampranhlai mn-khā? tari-lu, ham farnaxsŋa mkutia!”
thuriarxa mā sraŋa niç-am miçrntiskaxku tkaxu katarisku. “mn-mn, fiksa lā. naxrix mā ima niç tankapxari. ham farnaxsaxa mā laŋsu ham thurinhlai. tari-lu, nax ham mā farnaxsanhi.”