Thearpoy - a typo made conlang

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Thearpoy - a typo made conlang

Post by gestaltist »

I haven't posted here in a long while but it doesn't mean I haven't been conlanging. Life makes it harder to participate online, though. Recently, I created a conlang sketch based on a random typo Davush told me about: someone misspelled "therapy" as "thearpoy" and my brain went "this sounds like a conlang name". So I went to work.

I decided the language name would be read /ˈtʰeə˞pɔj/ so this is what I started with:
<th> = /tʰ/
<ear> = /eə˞/
<p> = /p/
<oy> = /ɔj/

To give a nod to the word "therapy" I further decided that Thearpoy is a compound of thear-puu and means "healing words." It followed that the speakers of ancestral Thearpoy were a nomadic group of renowned healers and medics preserving ancient wisdom through oral history. Something like alchemist medic gypsies I guess.

I'll continue with specific parts of the language in separate posts.
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Re: Thearpoy - a typo made conlang

Post by gestaltist »



Code: Select all

		Bilabial	Dental		Retroflex	Palatal		Velar		Glottal
Aspirated			tʰ				t͜ʃʰ~t͜ɕʰ		kʰ		ʔ

Plain		p				ʈ				k

Fricatives					ʂ		ʃ~ɕ				h
Approximants			l		ɽ		j
Nasals		m		n				(ɲ)		(ŋ)
The stop series has a some gaps which are motivated diachronically. The phoneme /ʋ~ð/ can be realized as labiodental or purely dental, and can behave like a fricative or approximant, depending on the speaker and dialect. It enjoys a somewhat special status in the morphophonology.

In some dialects, palatals became alveolopalatals to dissimilate from retroflexes, while in other dialects they are in the process of merging.

The palatal and velar nasals are only marginally phonemic (i.e., mostly allophonic but there's a restricted set of morphemes where they are phonemic.) The reason for this is that ancestral Thearpoy only had two nasal phonemes /m n/.

Historically, the language had a voiced stop series */b d dʒ g/ which became nasals in coda and devoiced in onset. However, coda nasals generally morphed into low tone or vowel nasalization or disappeared outright. More on this later.

Onset */b d dʒ g/ devoiced into */p t tʃ k/ and then coronals lenited further while peripheral consonants merged with the existing plain stops, creating a series /p l ʃ k/ (the modern /l/ is a merger of historical *d and *r).


Code: Select all

Full:		ɐ	e	i	o	u
Reduced:	Ø	ɪ	ɪ	ʊ	ʊ

Full:		eə˞	iː	uː
Reduced:	ə˞	ɛj	ɔj

Full:		ɛ̃ː	ɔ̃ː
Reduced: 	ɪ	ʊ
Thearpoy vowels have a full (stressed) and a reduced (unstressed) form. Stressed vowels can also carry low tone. More on stress later.


/p tʰ ʈ t͜ʃʰ kʰ k ʔ/ <p th t ch kh k ‘> - however, the "h" is omitted in consonant clusters
/ʋ~ð ʂ ʃ h/ <w s sh h>
/l ɽ j/ <l r y>
/m n ɲ ŋ/ <m n yn~ny ng> (the latter two written <n> if preceding a palatal/velar consonant they assimilate to)

/ɐ e i o u/ <a/á e i/í o u/ú>
/ɪ ʊ/ <i u>
/eə˞ iː uː/ <ear ii uu>
/ə˞ ɛj ɔj/ <ar ey oy>
/ɛ̃ː ɔ̃ː/ <enn onn>

The acute marks stress in words where stress would otherwise be ambiguous (i.e., if there's no vowel graphemes exclusively used to mark full vowels).

Low tone is marked with the grave: <à è ì ò ù èar ìì ùù>
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Re: Thearpoy - a typo made conlang

Post by gestaltist »



Thearpoy has rhythmic stress, with every second or third syllable bearing stress and expressed fully, and the other syllables having reduced vowels. For reduced /a/ this can lead to complex clusters. While it can reduce the number of vowels on the surface, such elided a-s are still counted for the sake of stress patterns, and an epenthetic super-short schwa can be added by some users to break up difficult clusters.

Morphophonologically final stress is dispreferred and somewhat uncommon. As a result, most apparently finally stressed words are that way due to eliding /a/ and are therefore consonant-final.

In polysyllabic stems with all vowels being /a/ and available for elision, the stress can be labile, as final codas which violate the sonority hierarchy are avoided. E.g., *kasata -> kast but *sakala -> skal as final -kl would create an infelicitous final coda.

The placement of the main stress is lexical and unpredictable. As a rule, every stem has at least one stressed syllable, and at least one stressed syllable every three syllables. Since two stressed syllables are avoided next to each other within a word, the stress of the left-side stem in a compound can shift or be lost to mitigate that.

A stressed vowel can bear mid-high pitch (unmarked) or a falling/low pitch (marked). Low tone seems to be a remainder of lost historical nasal codas, and is most frequent in final-stress syllables. It is also common in borrowings but is generally not very frequent.


The maximal underlying syllable structure in Thearpoy is CCV. However, due to the eliding reduced /a/, the surface syllable structure can be up to CCVCC. Underlying vowel-only syllables are not allowed. Minimally, a glottal stop onset is required. However, there are some instances with initial aC syllables in the surface form (where <a> stands for a schwa), as outlined later.

Onset clusters are limited as per the following rules:
  • aspirated stops can be followed by a nasal /m n/, allophonically losing aspiration; note that the glottal stop patterns with aspirated stops so ʔm ʔn are valid clusters, predictably written <‘m ‘n>
  • plain stops can be followed by a sibilant, with /ʈ/ assimilating in place to it; they can also be followed by ʋ~ð
  • /p l ʃ k/ (historical voiced stops) can also be followed by any of /m n ɽ j ʋ~ð/, creating the only onsets to violate the sonority hierarchy (e.g., lma) with some assimilations: l+ɽ assimilate to /ɽ:/, and ʃ+ɽ to ʂɽ.
Surface -CC final codas are permitted even with violations of sonority hierarchy:

*sikala -> sikl
*suuchava -> suuchv

In educated speech, such final codas are enunciated clearly, with optional slight syllabicization of the final consonant. In uneducated speech, such final consonant is often omitted. Other dialects often retain a medial or final /a/ in such words. One divergent dialect omits the voiceless stop instead, and adds high tone on the vowel (creating a non-standard three-tone system.)

The elision of *a can also cause complex initial or medial clusters to appear. These need to be resolved as outlined below.

If the first cluster ends in a nasal, the nasal assimilates in place to the following consonant, and an epenthetic unstressed schwa (written <a>) is added before it. This is the only source of codas in the language, and also the only source of vowel-initial words:
*naksear -> nksear -> anksear
*‘napsiini -> ‘mpsiini -> ‘ampsiini

If the onset preceding the eliding /a/ doesn't end in a nasal, the /a/ not only doesn't elide, it gets a compensatory low tone and secondary stress. In addition, if this stressed à would now be adjacent to the syllable bearing the main stress, the main stress is lost:
*tapsiini -> tpsiini -> tàpseyni
*psatmiini -> pstmiini -> psàtmeyni
*lalwuutu -> llwuutu -> làlwoytu
*takuute -> tkuuti -> tàkoyti
*kalwotii -> klwutii -> kàlwutii

Note how this combines with rules for multiple elisions of /a/:
*ta"tana -> tàtn


The historical phonology of Thearpoy is poorly understood due to it not being a written language, and due to the multitude of its dialects. However, some inferences can be made from borrowings, and a number of traditional oral sagas which retain many otherwise lost characteristics point to some likely developments:
  • the aforementioned loss of a voiced stop series
  • generation of retroflexes and ear/ar from earlier rhotic codas
  • retroflexion of alveolars (probably by dissimilation to dentals)
  • the stress of old Thearpoy was likely fixed, perhaps penultimate
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Re: Thearpoy - a typo made conlang

Post by lsd »

gestaltist wrote: 13 Feb 2021 10:03"healing words."
this is certainly a very accurate and concise definition of what a conlang is for many of us...
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