The Language of Okoto
That’ll do for the names Ekimu and Makuta for the time being. Now let’s turn to another part of the dataset, one word in particular: Toa. I’ve already hinted at how I intend to incorporate this term into the sketch of the Okotoan Language, so might as well get on with it:
Assumption: The term toa translates to “master” or “hero”.
Where do we go from here? Because we only have one term to look at, there isn’t quite the same opportunity for comparative reconstruction that we’ve had previously. However, we can still apply some of the knowledge we’ve pieced together related to phonological rules.
Observation: In all other instances of two-vowel sequences, phonological rules have reduced the sequence to a single vowel, so we would expect /oa/ to be subject to a similar rule (for example, /oa/ becoming /a/ at the ends of words, /o/ elsewhere). However, no such reduction applies in this case.
It could, of course, be that /oa/ is simply “immune” to this class of sound changes...but that’s a bit of a dead-end if our aim is to actually make progress in constructing the Okotoan Language. So, instead, here’s another option to consider:
Proposal: Reduction does apply to /oa/, but in a different way: The sequence /oa/ derives from an older sequence /oua/, which is indeed subject to phonological reduction, but in such a way that it results in the modern sequence /oa/. This means that the term toa derives from an older stage *toua.
Phonological Rule 3:
Subpart 3a: /ou/ > /u/ word-finally.
Subpart 3b: /ou/ > /o/ elsewhere. Example: /toua/ > /toa/.
Once again, we are able to use the exact same pattern of sound change that applies to sequences like /au/ and /ui/, this time affecting a postulated sequence /ou/ in such a way that it results in the preservation of a two-vowel sequence in the modern form of a word.
- We’ve assigned the meaning “master” or “hero” to the word toa, and also reconstructed an older form of this word, *toua, based on observations about the occurrence of postulated two-vowel sequences elsewhere in the language.
- Along the way, we’ve derived a third phonological rule affecting the vowel-sequence /ou/ (> /u/ word-finally, /o/ elsewhere).
e “?making, ?creating”
eki “maker” (< *ekui)
ekimu “mask maker”
ki “agent” (< *kui)
kuta “hoarder” (< *kuita)
makuta “mask hoarder”
mu “mask” (< *mau)
ta “?hoarding, ?grouping”
toa “master, hero” (< *toua)