Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

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Language interference

Fun when languages interfere… while I was practising Klingon flashcards, the word 'IrneH (maternal uncle—mother’s brother) came up, and my initial instinct was to read it [ɪɴnɛχ]: interpreting the sequence rn as in Inuktitut! (Where the r here stands for a uvular nasal.)

For what it’s worth, I think that in Greenlandic rn is [ɴː]: it may be the only case where the first consonant did not assimilate completely to the second one, but instead the uvular-ness of the /ʁ/ “survived” and was carried over onto the nasal.

The confusion was aided, no doubt, by my knowledge of the Inuktitut word irniq “son”, which starts very similarly to the Klingon word. (Greenlandic spelling would be erneq.)

In other Inuktitut-related news, it’s always fun to see a bit of Greenlandic and understand it based on the bit of Inuktitut I know so far: recognising the cognates and undoing the sound changes.

Latest example: the Greenland Language Secretariat Oqaasileriffik, which I understood as Uqausilirivik (uqausilirivvik, uqausiliribvik, depending on dialect): uqaq- “speak” + -siq (something like “abstract quality of; -ness”, I think) = “speech” + -liri (something like “to deal with something professionally”, I think) = “linguistics”(?) + -(b/v)vik “place where something is done”—so something along the lines of “linguistics institute”?

Hm, looking it up on Uqailaut, I see that it’s probably -usiq “custom, way, habit” in the middle, not just -siq. And uqausiq is indeed “speech” or “language”.

Anyway, the Greenlandic derives from this straightforwardly by converting the diphthong au into the long vowel aa, spelling u and i as o and e, respectively, before the uvular consonants q and r, and turning geminative (voiced) fricatives into voiceless geminates, which in the case of *vv --> ff is marked in the spelling. (I suppose because the letter f happened to there in the Latin alphabet.)

Tags: greenlandic, inuktitut, klingon, language, tlhingan hol
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